Although many carwash owners might not realize it, how their businesses perform 20 years from now heavily depends on the employees they have hired — and the candidates they let slip away during the interview process. As the U.S. slowly recovers from one of the worst economic setbacks in recent history, several carwash owners will look to add staff.

Several economists predict the U.S. economy will likely grow by more than three percent in 2015. In 2014 U.S. businesses created more than 2.95 million jobs — the most since 1999 — and experts predict this trend will continue in 2015.

Hiring is one of the most impactful aspects of a manager’s or owner’s job. We recently spoke with hiring expert and Executive Coach for the Middle Market Stacy Feiner, PsyD, author of Talent Mindset: The Business Owner’s Guide to Building Bench Strength, on the topics of interviewing, hiring and retaining.

A good first impression

Most people, including many hiring managers, view hiring as a short-term fix to fill an open position. But these hiring decisions directly impact your company in the years ahead.

“Recruiting and hiring fall under and are aspects of talent acquisition,” explains Dr. Feiner, adding hiring is directly related to a business’ succession planning in the big picture. A common pitfall is viewing the practice of hiring “in a vacuum,” separate from planning for future growth.From Subject Received Size Categories
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So what are the best practices? The actions and behavior of the hiring manager and committee bear half of the onus during the interview process.

“You have to realize that hiring is about 50 percent of your company — how your company performs during the hiring process — and it is 50 percent about the candidate,” asserts Dr. Feiner. Your company must be clear about its goals and expectations for the position from the onset to fill the pipeline with quality candidates.

A good hiring manager involves other employees who will directly work with or will be affected by a new hire. It is imperative for the hiring manager to perform good due diligence — calling references, performing background checks and thoroughly vetting the candidate.

“The interview process should also include a group of people — what I like to call a hiring committee — and a series of questions,” says Dr. Feiner. Those important internal questions can include:

  • Can the person function well in the role?
  • Do they have the attitude or leadership qualities that match the company’s culture?
  • Do they have potential to grow?

“But, remember, growing relates to succession planning,” continues Dr. Feiner. “It’s important to hire with the goal of moving people through the organization. I have designed a platform called ‘Strategic Talent Management,’ which is a guide for managing talent from the time you hire it, develop it and then deploy it. All of these things are connected and they need to be viewed that way from the beginning.”

When to hire and when to promote

For many local and franchise business owners, part of the reason to open a carwash is to provide jobs and support the community. Many business owners gain job satisfaction when they provide an employee with a stable career. Retaining motivated and loyal employees provides the business with several paybacks.

“These [current] employees are known entities and you already know how they fit in the company’s culture. They also have institutional knowledge that may be invaluable to the business. Developing talent and promoting can present less risk than hiring from the outside, but it is still important to have a good mix,” adds Dr. Feiner. A good rule of thumb, she says, is having a 70-30 or 60-40 percent split, depending on the company. “Therefore, 70 percent of your positions are filled internally and 30 percent are filled with external talent.”

Many managers mistakenly believe the hiring process is over after the position is filled. In fact, good hiring continues until employees leave the company. If you have hired correctly, those employees will eventually need to be interviewed again … for a promotion. But how can managers know when the best time to promote is?

According to Dr. Feiner talent for advancement can be assessed in several ways. “However, the most effective ways are to have thoughtful conversations, provide clear objectives and good instructions, require feedback and set the goals and expectations for the new position,” she explains, adding another step after the promotion: providing proper training for that employee.

Motivate employees through training

In addition to specific company training, employers can provide new hires and existing employees with industry-related training tools. The International Carwash Association (ICA), for instance, emphasizes industry-related education for carwash owners and operators in its annual convention. For more information on ICA and its programs, visit www.carwash.org. Various regional associations and industry  events also take place throughout the year. For more information on these, see our calendar of events at www.carwash.com/events.

While training is important for the company’s overall performance, it also helps keep employees motivated, satisfies their need for learning and elevates their status and value within the company. After hiring, notes Dr. Feiner, managers must consider the following to gauge their “employee engagement” level:

  • Does the employee have clear goals and objectives?
  • Does the employee feel that he or she has the tools to accomplish those goals and objectives?
  • Does the employee feel valued and that there is potential for growth?
  • Does the employee feel appreciated?

“If employees can answer ‘yes’ to those questions, then the business owner can feel confident that employees are engaged, productive and representing the company well,” concludes Dr. Feiner.

Minimize risk of improper hiring

As mentioned, managers sometimes approach hiring incorrectly for various reasons. However, after considering such factors as time, materials, job posting fees, impact on company culture and lost opportunity, the cost of an improper hire adds up.

“Another rule of thumb is that when you make a poor hiring decision, the cost of hiring the wrong person for the job can be upward of 10 times that person’s salary,” educates Dr. Feiner.

It is important to recognize issues early and then minimize risk. Don’t give poor performers too much time to work out any issues related to effectively performing their job responsibilities. Instead, managers should have clear, fact-based, data-driven discussions with these employees and then act swiftly when expectations are not met.

“And, despite what some managers might think, this does not have to be a tough conversation,” explains Dr. Feiner. “Simply explain what you are noticing wrong and in which specific areas the employee is underperforming. Most importantly, set a timeframe with the employee to give yourself and the employee time to resolve the issues.”

However, in most cases, you can minimize risk during the interview process. As your carwash looks to add new employees, remember the hiring manager represents your company’s culture and affects how new employees perform from the very first point of contact.