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Multi-profit Centers

Hiring and training lube employees

October 11, 2010
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Managers of any business will face difficult situations revolving employees. It’s a challenge to assemble a qualified staff driven to make your business succeed, especially for quick lubes.

The following situations outline problem circumstances and viable situations you may find yourself in at one time or another.

Deadwood Fred
It seems that many new hires, for whatever reason, don’t make it long with their new employer.

Sometimes the new employee (let’s call him Fred) is simply ignored after the hiring paperwork is processed. Fred’s physical presence is noticed but that’s it. No introductions to key people or peers, no facility tour, no in-depth policy review, no expectations are communicated regarding the company and it’s “brand” in the community. And very little, if any, training is provided. In reality, Fred may be doomed from the start.

If you sit down and ask the key management players if it is their intention to ignore Fred, they will certainly say no. In fact, in many cases they will attempt to give evidence that they are fully engaged in Fred’s orientation to the company. If you really want to know what’s going on, ask Fred. Usually, with a little nudging, he will tell you things aren’t what they could be.

It is important to understand the job design, purpose and demands. Benchmark top performers against the needs of that specific job. Be very clear about the requirements. Only then can you begin to consider candidates and evaluate their fit for the open position.

When hiring Fred, it’s not so much an issue of whether you’ve got live or dead wood on your hands. In many cases, it’s a simple question of whether you’re trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Looking for talent in the wrong places
Running a business can be very rewarding. It can also be hard work. Sure, some outsiders think you sit around all day and watch the sales just happen. But the truth is, performing at a high level requires a lot of effort.

Exceptional performance requires many key pieces coming together. Strong products. Manufacturer sales and service training and support. Financing arrangements with lenders that work well for you and your customers. Facilities that work for today and give you potential for the future.

But one of the most critical factors to your success is the quality of the players on your team.

Your daily schedule becomes so hectic at times it is hard to give the attention and focus needed to find the best of the best. Meetings, customer issues, just running the business…all tend to make you rely on the old, standard methodologies for finding people. “Besides,” you think, “our hiring methods have worked okay in the past, haven’t they?”

Slaying the myths
Instead of looking for experience and impressive resumes, start with a clear understanding of the specific skill and competencies required for the job. Know what it takes to excel at the job before beginning to interview candidates. Otherwise, you may find yourself impressed by the “achievements” of a candidate who has no significant talent for the job at hand.

Broaden your search area. How will you know if there aren’t better people just beyond the waters of your current “fishing holes” unless you move out farther? You’ve heard it said many times…”if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

You don’t rely on luck for a nice looking yard. You don’t rely on luck to actually arrive at your desired vacation destination. You don’t rely on luck to ensure that your children receive a proper education. Why think luck will play any significant role in consistently hiring the best of the best? Commit to using a disciplined, regular approach to bring on board the top talent you need. Build a reputation as being a fanatic about having the right people in the right places.

Great people are out there. You run a great business, and they would like to work for you. Elevate your performance by looking for talent in all the right places.

Majoring in the minors
Here’s a test….what are these? Swing of the Quad Cities, Greenville Drive, Springfield Cardinals, Lynchburg Hillcats, Modesto Nuts, Lowell Spinners.

What do all of these assorted locales have in common? Anything? Well, besides all sharing some strange titles, they are names of minor league baseball teams. Yes, these are some of the scattered homes that support the 30 teams of Major League Baseball. How many minor league teams does it take to train and feed the bigs of the great game? 15? 25? Even 50?

You’d be a little light there. How about 226? That’s right. To put it another way, there are about 6,000 minor leaguers working to find their way into one of the 960 major league roster spots. About a 15 percent chance. And in any given year, these small-town warriors have less than a one percent chance of making the rosters of a World Series team.

Why such an elaborate farm system and massive investment? Why the long, overnight bus rides? Why the goofy marketing promotions in suburbia? Why year-round baseball in unknown places?

Development. Growth. And a potential huge payoff. It’s all about giving the players with talent and passion ongoing development, coaching and chances to perform in game situations.

Most pros don’t just walk out of high school or college and slide into a major league starting line-up. In fact, many of those who do burn out early.

So how about your organization? On a scale of 1-10, how are you doing in the planned, strategic growth of your future leaders? Maybe great, or maybe you see an opportunity here.

Developing your staff
Just like any worthwhile endeavor in life, preparation is crucial to future success. Your company or organization will rarely just wander into Oz.

“Thinking the future” will always yield a steadier, predictable growth pattern for your team members. Those you lead deserve more planning for their futures than they need the time you invest in planning the next company party.

A growth plan for you as a leader or for your team overall, without clear ties to your vision and mission is simply busy work. A glossy, very expensive to do list with little purpose. Personal development for you and your leaders, if it’s to impact your organization and move it forward, must mutually support the individual and team purposes.

If the goal of growing people is only the new initiative from corporate for ’07, it is doomed from the start. Development yields few results as a one-time event. What if the Yankees, because of past playoff disappointments, decided to eliminate their farm system? Would it save money? Absolutely. Would it simplify their complicated HR system? Most certainly. Would it be the right thing to do? Hard to imagine.

Providing growth, coaching and in-game opportunities must be activities embedded in your culture. Are your people moving? Changing? Learning? Growing? For your group to remain healthy and dynamic, it must be fed and exercised.

Remember, you’re not playing for this inning alone, or even just this game. It is a long season. You can do little to change today. Commit to tomorrow. Design into your people systems the development mindset that will pull you into the future.

Whether it’s the Charleston Riverdogs, the Everett Aquasox, or the team you lead, development is essential to advance you from where you are to where you want to be.

For more than 20 years Boyne McHargue has helped develop leaders. For information, email him at