What Benchmarking is and How it Can Help You

Have you heard of benchmarking? Do you know what it is? Really know what it is, not have just a vague understanding?

Most small businesses owners have heard of benchmarking. They think they know what it is, and have decided it won’t help their company. But, any business can profit – literally increase its profits – from it. If don’t you think you can benefit from it, take another look at the concept by answering the following questions.

What is the standard margin for your industry? What have your margins been for the last 5 years? Have they increased, decreased or stayed the same? Why?

What are your industry’s best practices for productivity? How does your employees’ productivity track for the last 5 years? Has it increased, decreased or stayed the same? Why?

If you want to be successful you should be able to answer these simple questions with facts and figures – SWAGs (sophisticated wild a** guesses) don’t count. Most small business owners can’t. We get too caught up in the day to day operations to see the big picture, which limits our ability to go to the next level.

It’s hard to get there if we don’t have a way to identify and capitalize on our strengths and limit our weaknesses. Benchmarking is a process which looks at what’s working and what needs improving in the company.

It creates specific data which help you make reachable goals, streamline operations, have more control, increase profits and improve your quality of life. Internal and external benchmarking can give you the concrete answers you need to achieve sustainable, long term success.

64002400Internal benchmarks are set by figuring out how your company is currently doing (i.e. rework, amount of receivables, margins, profit and loss, productivity, overruns, billing, inventory). They give you a factual baseline to set future goals for improvement. Also, they can give you ideas about what systems you need to meet those goals, and how to monitor your progress to stay on track.

External benchmarks operate in the same way as internal ones, except they look at how your company compares to others in your industry. They measure your facts and figures against the standards and best practices of others who’re doing better and worse than you. They give you a real world way to evaluate yourself.

It’s impossible for a small business owner to know everything he needs to know to stay competitive. Internal and external benchmarking can give you the edge you need to stay ahead of your competition, especially since most of them aren’t taking advantage of it.

Just one more question – Why wouldn’t you take advantage of something that will make your life easier, happier and more productive?

Talking the Talk: Getting Connected and Networking

The old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Yes. It’s trite. It’s subjective. It’s vague. And, doesn’t it sound to you a bit devaluing? You’ve spent most of your adult life working at becoming the best you can possibly be at whatever venture you’re embarking on – school, sports, relationships, business – and someone has the audacity to essentially say to you, Listen, you’re really talented and hardworking, and that’s wonderful! But do you know the right people? It seems almost disrespectful. But there’s no way around it. People are going talk. And, what can be extremely excellent for your business, is that people are going to listen. Knowing the right people and becoming involved in networking groups will help your business soar.

It isn’t enough anymore to just start a business, get some marketing data, and advertise around town to really bring in new business. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a necessary beginning, but you can’t stop there. You have to get connected. There are two major avenues in which to connect yourself to other business owners in your area. But before I discuss the ways to get connected, let me explain a little more about why you want to get connected.

You want to get connected because every person you meet will know at least two people that you don’t…Period.

That, in all its brief glory, is why you want to get connected. Do the math. You’re at the center of this spider’s web. You meet one new person and they introduce you to two new people, who, by the law that I just stated, will each know two more people you hadn’t yet met. it’s all one big pyramid scheme, but the good kind. You get to keep your savings with this one. (Hopefully you’ll get to add to it, too.)

Of these seven new people you just met, who knows, five might be looking for someone exactly like you who does the exact work you’ve spent so much time working on. Now you have five new clients. The system works.

Or, maybe none of the seven people you just met will have any real use for you. That’s OK. They will now know your name, your business, and your telephone number. When they meet people from now on who are in search for a business like yours, your name will come surely come up.

And because you’re a smart business person who has taken it upon yourself to get connected, you will return that favor to the next seven people you meet. You will keep all of their business cards and in a year, say, when you meet a client who is looking for something specific that you cannot provide for them (new flooring for their storefront, a good mechanic, anything!), now you introduce them to two new people. The cycle continues.

So how do you get connected? Easy.

First, do some research about your city’s Chamber of Commerce, maybe they hold weekly meetings for local business owners to attend and meet one another. Attend these meetings as often as you can. Introduce yourself to everyone and be earnest when you talk to them about how you can help them. Remember, they may know “just the guy” for you to contact. If the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t offer these gatherings, then try to find any networking events that are happening in your area. You may have to pay to join, but your goal is to meet as many people as you can. These networking events are great for getting connected with an eclectic group of business owners.

Secondly, if you have already, create and vigilantly maintain an account on LinkedIn. It’s one vast networking meeting that takes place 24 hours a day and on every continent. Yes, even Antarctica.

Since I began this article with an overwrought yet true statement about how knowing the right people can lead to major success, remember this old, near-dead saying, “What goes around comes around.”

Go meet people.





3 Musts for Managing a Remote Team

Quickly: Think about your first email…Where were you? What were you feeling? Maybe you were using a brand new desktop at a school or library. You probably felt a bit overwhelmed, too. Where was this information going? And how did it know which “@” symbol to find? Now, think about the last email you sent. It was probably today and you probably didn’t even think twice. You had your address book take care of where it was going, and as for how it got there…well, it just did.

The Internet is here to stay. So why not embrace it…use it to its fullest potential to bring your business to its maximum potential?

In many industries it’s becoming more common and more acceptable to have teams working remotely. With the Internet’s growth and with the innovations that were borne from the wide expansion (Online Meeting platforms, office chat applications like HipChat, and online repositories), having teams work remotely can significantly help your business’ productivity by freeing up the team members’ rigid work schedule.  Sounds great, but you still have to manage. Here are 3 imperative virtual world managing tactics you must employ to effectively manage your remotely working team members.

1. Practice OverCommunication.

OverCommunication, as of yet, is not a word you’ll find in any dictionaries. But, trust me, after the writers and editors of the next edition of Roget’s begin working from home, you can bet you’ll start seeing “OverCommunication” right after “Overcoming.”

Since you won’t be working face-to-face with your team, you will need to find ways to be sure team members have a clear avenue to ask questions and have those questions heard. Email is great as a broad stroke form of communication, but as I’m sure you have experienced, sometimes emails slip through the cracks, especially when it’s crunch time. Establish multiple ways for the team members to interact with you, your team leaders, and, if you think it will benefit, other team members. HipChat is a great chat service. So is Google Chat. These are wonderful ways to informally talk with team members and solve minor problems in a convenient way for you and the question asker.

Also consider investing in software like Citrix’s GoToMeeting so your team can see each other and you can conduct a virtual version of an analog style meeting. This gives you and your team leaders a way to clearly align the goals of the business day.

The reasoning behind the OverCommunicating tenet of managing a remote workforce is (as you know) that problems arise even if team members are in the office next door. What if they are 500 miles and two time zones away? There is no need to pester or micromanage, but establish a system of “Mile Marker” style updates where the team member checks in periodically to let you or the team leaders know how the day is going and how much has been completed. This can be in the form of Chat, Phone, Email, or through the videoconferencing platform.

2. Be Generous.

Being generous (in this case) has very little to do with total compensation or being a push over. In fact, by being generous, you can establish yourself as the opposite of a push over. Since you’re already practicing OverCommunication, don’t shy away from presenting yourself as someone who cares for and supports the team. Often times, since your workforce may very well never meet you in person, or don’t often physically work with you , there is a sense of detachedness between team leaders and team members. By having a virtual workforce, there might be times where signals get crossed or deadlines aren’t met. While this isn’t something that should ever become a habit, it is important for you to understand that having team members who work from home, their personal lives will sometimes (inevitably) get mixed up in their workday. Or, if there is a lapse in communication, and work doesn’t come in as expected, the way it would in an office setting, there needs to be a little give to the situation. A Generous leader knows there is a problem, and understands the limitations of a virtual workforce. He will adapt the best way possible because in the long run, having a remote team pays off for his business.

Generous = Being firm… Being available… Being understanding.

3. Training Pays Off Big Time!

Imagine: You have a team working for you. A man in Houston, a woman in Minneapolis, and a fresh out of college young woman in Boston. You were new to the virtual office experience, so you trained them yourself at a painstaking rate. And now you’re enjoying not having to work in an office everyday. You spend your day checking in, chatting with each of the geographically scattered workers. Life is great.

Now it’s time to expand. Training and training systems are crucial to your growth.

Make sure you are spending the same amount of time (and actually, more time since your business is always evolving) training each new team member. It may seem like it is a waste of time and money for you to do this every time you hire, but it isn’t and training systems will help reduce time and money spent on effective training. The same way you would train a new team member in your physical office space needs to be applied to remote team member, but maybe multiplied by… 10.  This is where OverCommunication and being generous will come in handy.

You must develop training systems that develop well trained new hires. It is invaluable. If, on the other hand, you’re not taking the time to properly train (and retrain) your team about how your business operates and its culture, you WILL lose money. And more importantly, you will lose time. While the easiest path of allowing your new team member in San Jose to “learn on the job” or “learn to swim or sink” might seem like you’re saving time (and money), but over the course of the first few months, with the mistakes made and elongated learning curve, you will inevitably fall behind. And it will cost you.

Spend the time up front training and developing ongoing training systems even if it is arduous. Get the team member to a point where she is comfortable. Remember training is a continuous activity. And also remember: Be generous. And always OverCommunicate.


Training is an Ongoing Process

3 Essential Strategies for Successful Training

You’ve just conducted a wonderful interview with a promising candidate. She’s accepted your job offer. Phew! Thank Heavens that’s over.


Now comes the most important part of successfully building your team. Training. Frankly, I’ve been amazed at how many times businesses don’t have an effective training system. They seem to think their new team member will just do it. Even more frightening…do it right. And usually without the proper training they are disappointed and the new “promising” team member ends-up frustrated. If you don’t have one…develop a training system… here are 3 approaches to get you started:

1. Always Give the Trainee Context.

In an effort to keep your new trainee from feeling overwhelmed and to make them feel like they are joining the team, be sure you’re explaining not only what he needs to know, but why he is learning it. For example, if you are explaining the policy for customer returns, don’t just instruct the trainee on how to process a customer return in the mechanical sense, explain why the process is done in such a way. Maybe in the past there was a problem with customers taking advantage of your business or maybe you explain returns are done this specific way because it will help inventory. By letting the trainee in on the why, you are giving purpose to the position they are in training for. You’ll find that after the training is complete, the team member will have retained more information due to knowing how each procedure fits into the bigger picture of your business.

2. Use Different Teaching Styles.

Don’t rely solely on lecturing while training a new hire. If you’re talking about your business’ policies and procedures for too long, you’ll likely bore the trainee. And you know what? It isn’t her fault for being bored. The best way to be sure the trainee is retaining the knowledge you’re teaching, is to blend audio (you talking), visual (reading materials, projections, etc.), and hands-on (trainee talking and discussing) equally. You need to talk and show them the reading materials—that’s true. You also need to hear from her while she’s trying to process all of the new information. Include open discussions and encourage communication during the training sessions. Remember mistakes will happen, but we all learn from those mistakes.

3. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. Listen, listen, listen.

As the training sessions proceed, don’t assume that since you’ve been doing an excellent job imparting all of your business wisdom onto the new hire, you’re job is over. Assess the progress of the trainee but don’t be too hard on him right away. If you’re consistently monitoring the progress of a specific trainee, you will have the opportunity to assist the trainee and potentially shift your training plans to accommodate his needs. By taking measures to evaluate the progress of each trainee, you’re actually saving yourself time and money. Addressing certain issues in the training sessions will likely eliminate many future problems when he’s in the field, working for you and your business.

Finally, be alert and inviting. Always listen to the trainee. Whether it’s a question, a clarification regarding a procedure, or a response to a question you’ve posed, you must use the training period to establish open communication. Who knows….you may learn something new along the way.


Your Customer Hates You…

3 Rules for Dealing with Unsatisfied Customers:

People are people. And they come standard with emotions and egos. There’s no indictment here about you or your business. Even with the best service or most reliable product, there will be complaints. This isn’t always your fault. As an entity, business tries its best to be impartial, leaving emotion out of it altogether. But the old adage, “It’s not personal, it’s business,” works only in a cutthroat environment, which doesn’t apply in most business scenarios (at least you better hope not. We’ve seen the movies.) Sometimes, customers will become upset, unhappy, or downright resentful of you or your product. Here are 4 rules you should follow to quell your customers’ uneasy feelings and return them to a state of satisfaction.

Rule #1 – Adjust Your Attitude…

This can sometimes be difficult. After all, you, too, come standard with emotions and an ego. You are a hard worker who takes each customer seriously, so it might be difficult to imagine why a customer has issues with you or your product or service. Don’t allow this to make you resentful of your customer. Never respond with, “You don’t have a problem, everything is A-OK as I see it.” It will undoubtedly become a vicious circle of blame and ego in which everyone loses. The customer will generally be upset with some aspect of your product or service, but not with you. Instead of incredulity, use the adversity as an opportunity to showcase how much the customer means to you and to your business. Often times, angry customers just want to be heard. If they see that you’re working hard to solve the problem, they will calm down and the two of you can focus on a reaching a resolution.

Rule #2 – Always Take Responsibility…

Along with making sure you’re addressing any negative client issues with the right attitude, never, ever, even with a hint of innocence or bewildering shock, make excuses for allowing your customer or client to be unsatisfied. They simply don’t want to hear, nor should they have to. They are the customer. They are buying from you—from your company—to fulfill a specific need. It isn’t their problem that your car broke down or your worst employee messed up the ordering or you tripped in your front lawn, kind of hurting your leg… Solve the problem, apologize for any inconvenience, and spare the details.

Rule #3 – Open and Honest Communication…

When working with a client or customer who is unsatisfied with your work, the probability of him or her just coming out and saying how they truly feel is rare. They’re likely to mask their true feelings, wait until you’re gone, and tell everyone else they know how bad your service is. By encouraging your client or customer to always be open with their feelings and thoughts, good or bad, you’re promoting a healthy environment of trust which will lead to heightened productivity. Establish this practice up front and put effort into maintaining the openness. Try to minimize the periods of “unsatisfied” as best you can by requiring open communication. Remember communication is a two-way street. Listening, learning and taking action to solve the problem saves your customer and your business.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you solved one problem for one customer that your job of being an excellent business owner and problem-solving extraordinaire is finished. Learn from these mistakes. Use each complaint or unsatisfied customer as reference for how to conduct future business with that specific customer, and every other customer you come in contact with. It’s the nature of the beast, plain and simple. Some customers or clients are going to have problems. Accept it as a truth and never quit learning how to make your business better by making each customer as happy with your product or service as can be. When dealing with a dissatisfied customer write down some quick notes. What they were upset about and how did you handled it? Use these notes as reference for the future to see these problems don’t happen again and build your business even stronger.


FREE Marketing!! 5 Strategies to Promote Your Business

FREE Marketing!!

5 Strategies to Promote Your Business

It’s always a good idea to devote part of your business’ budget to marketing and advertising. Maybe you pay monthly for a billboard ad. Or you have a long-running ad in your local newspaper. But that can get costly. Wouldn’t you rather save your money and still gain customers? Yes. Even if you have the budget to do high-ticket advertising you need to constantly consider other methods of cost-effective marketing. Here are 5 inexpensive approaches to promote your business and strengthen your reputation as a good community member.

adapted from Susan Ward via Small Business: Canada

1. Use All Outbound Materials as Promotion.

How many times have you walked past someone carrying a delicious smelling pizza? You always look at the box, don’t you? If that pizzeria is smart, they paid a little extra to put their name and phone number on the box. They need the boxes anyway, and now their name is in your brain. And now you’re hungry. Who do you call….?

Same goes for business.

As a business owner, you understand exactly the magnitude of paper that comes in and goes out of your office. While keeping up with bill payments, chamber of commerce relations, or community functions, you might be forgetting that every piece of paper that goes out can serve as an advertisement, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Business stationery is a cheap way to get your business out to the public, or, at the very least, the receiver of your letter. It doesn’t have to be overt to stick in that letter opener’s mind. Also, if you don’t have a logo or slogan, consider getting one and putting it on customized envelopes. There is an initial cost, but every time someone sees your business’ name or logo, they are now more likely to remember it.

Same goes for electronic messages like email. Be sure to put a full signature at the end of each email you send including your name, your business’ name, address, web site and phone number. Just by glancing at your name and business, next time that person is in need of the product you provide, chances are your business is first to come to mind.

2. Write and Issue Press Releases.

Another great (and almost free) way to get your business into the public spotlight is to write press releases about your business. The key to writing a good press release is to have some newsworthy information to share with your community. By doing so, you’re promoting your business and delivering news about, say, expanding your store space, extending your hours of operation, or even if you’re going to start selling a new product. These are all ways of informing and advertising.

If your local newspaper doesn’t accept your press release, always remember that the internet has many other avenues to reach your market, i.e., online business forums, your own website. Think of these press releases as a way to showcase your business, but also a way to show the public that you are committed to the public’s needs. (If you’re worried about how well you write, there are always plenty of freelance writers/editors who will do great work for a modest fee.)

3. You Must Take Advantage of the Internet.

It is scary; but only at first.

Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are all free social media platforms that you can use to promote your business. For example, if you know Wednesday is your slowest day of the week, by hopping on the internet for 15 minutes, you can advertise a special “Wednesday” sale or promotion. Your followers and loyal customers will be more likely to take part in your sale or promotion because they feel like they are part of a club, which, in some ways, they are. If you are going to stay open on Columbus Day, say, this is an effective way to get that information out to the public in a quick, non-intrusive way. It may take some time to build up a following on these social media websites, but perhaps you can add your Twitter handle on your outgoing correspondence. Maybe one of your very first press releases is about your new presence on such social media sites.

4. Cross-Promote with Other Businesses in Town.

Working with other businesses as a way to promote your own business is a perfect way to expand your following, but to also show a sense of community collaboration. If you own a bookstore, try collaborating with a nearby coffee shop. You can use sale promotions this way that will benefit your bookstore and the coffee shop. For example, the coffee shop could run a promotion saying, “Show us your Book Emporium receipt and your first coffee refill is FREE!” Now loyal customers from that coffee shop know about your bookstore and are more likely to stop by on their way to get some coffee.

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Freebies.

As long as you don’t get carried away, the word FREE can be a very useful promotional tool. Everyone likes the sound of getting something for nothing. To build a following that will potentially lead to more loyal customers, offer the first 50 customers a free item of your choosing. Again, as long as you’re not handing over the keys to front door, you will spend a small amount of money to get people interested in finding out more about what you have to offer. You can even use the free item you choose as promotional tool that, while is free up front, turns into an ad once it leaves your business. Now everyone sees your name on the free t-shirt or hat you just gave away to a now loyal follower.


You’re Fired!

How Do You Know It’s Time to Fire?

I tell my clients “hire slow….fire fast”. Firing someone is almost always gut-wrenching. Not just for the person getting the ax, but for you, too. Especially if you’ve just been through a painstaking hiring process (perhaps you need to work on the hiring system, but that’s another story). There are times when a team member is fired for legal reasons like theft.  Sometimes there are other, subtler signs that a certain team member is not the right match for your business and its culture. So many times we miss the signs or even worse ignore them because of the pending pain they bring. Here are 5 warning signs to watch out for with your team.

If the team member is…

1. Not Performing Up to Par

Firing a team member doesn’t always have to stem from an team member’s attitude problem or an immoral transgression. Lack of productivity is one major sign that a team member is not the right fit for the position. I put this at the top of the list because as a business owner, you must regularly monitor the productivity of each team member. This has nothing to do with the team member’s attitude or personality; rather it’s all about being sure you’re not wasting time and money having a team member who isn’t doing his job efficiently and economically. One thing to watch for: is the team member constantly seeking your help or the help of other team members? Especially after the allotted training period has elapsed.  Unfortunately, sometimes people are not cut out for certain jobs. Part ways quickly if this is the case.

2. Not Willing or Able to Adapt.

I tell clients “if your business isn’t growing… it’s dying”. As the business owner you must always be looking to the future and working toward making your business more profitable and sustainable. With growth comes a need to change and adapt. If you have team members who are not capable of growing with the business, then you must either let them go and find new team members who are up to the task, or spend more of your own time helping them adapt. This is one problem that requires judgment. Don’t misunderstand. As you grow, you will have to set up systems in which your team members are trained and allowed to grow. But after this “growth period” of training and adjustment, be wary of any team member who is still set in or revert to the old ways. These team members serve only as an anchor, many times resisting expansion. What to look for: is a certain team member showing signs of resentment when you introduce a new procedure or new addition to the business? Does she constantly remark how much better the old system was? Again, use your judgment with team members who are not willing or able to adapt. But beware of the damage an anchor can do to a ship if that ship is trying to leave the harbor. The same is true in your business.


3. Not Fitting into the Business Culture.

You don’t want a “staff”. You want a “team”.

Imagine you are the coach of a hockey team. Your center is a lightning fast skater. Your wings are geared up, ready to score goals, and your defenders are warmed up, prepared to keep any opponent away from the goal. Now imagine your goalie standing on the ice with no skates, dribbling a basketball. Extreme? Yes. But the point remains. You need a team that is always playing the same game with the same goals. That goalie might be the next starting point guard for the Cavaliers, but not the goaltender for the Blue Jackets. This is all to say that if you start seeing behavior that doesn’t put the business’ goals first, then that team member isn’t the right fit. You should first talk to the team member in question and be sure he isn’t misguided about the position’s expectations. Use your judgment to decide whether the team member has a different outlook than the rest of the team. What to look for: ask your other team members, or if you have a manager, consult with her to see if the team member is fitting in and functioning as a working member of the team.

4. Having Problems with Customers and/or Vendors.

Your team members often are the face of your business. Customer service is always the #1 priority and your team must uphold excellence in this matter. If you begin receiving complaints about a certain team member who is being rude or unhelpful, then it is time to considering replacing that team member with someone who is focused on the customers. Same goes with the vendors who bring the products to your business. Monitor all of your team members’ interactions with customers and vendors the best you can, and do not let any problem-causing team members hurt your business and your business’ reputation. There is absolutely no room for any team members to be causing problems. What to look for: customer complaints, complaints from other team members.

5. Lacking Integrity and Pride.

You must establish a level of integrity that each of your team members maintains. It’s part of your company culture. If you begin noticing an team member who is operating on the fringe, then the integrity of the whole team and your whole company for that matter is at risk. This is different than Sign #4 because the team member might be quite nice to the other team members and customers, but just as with Sign #3, if the team member doesn’t show pride in his work, then she might not be the right fit for the team. As your company’s leader you can prevent this from happening by being attentive and helping your team stay motivated by instituting certain incentives or rewards for excellence. Don’t hesitate to fire a team member who clearly doesn’t want to be working for you. There will always be plenty of candidates who would love a chance to grow with you and your business.

Remember: time is our most valuable asset. Don’t waste anyone’s time by keeping someone who isn’t fulfilling the duties which you hired him or her for.


Little Things You Can Improve In Your Business

Clientele is the one common denominator that all businesses depend on in order to become and remain successful. Through advertising, word of mouth and pounding the pavement, many businesses rise from the bottom to the top of the industry. But there are many small and cost efficient things that businesses can do in order to save money and time in all of the above fields.

Customer Relationship Management business chart on a digital tabThe first thing that a business can to is invest in some stationary that is personalized specifically for that company. Sending out invoices, reminders, invitations, discounts and many other notices on stationary that has all of the information on hand is a sure fire way to have a customer calling your company as opposed to the first company that appears in the phone book.

The next thing a business can do for its customers is create a website that is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and easy to navigate. There is nothing worse than looking for a business online and finding nothing. Today’s world is based on technology, and for a business to not have a webpage is like setting itself up for failure. The next worse thing would be getting to a business website and not being able to find anything because the site is too confusing and jumbled. Make sure the words flow, the colors are good and the navigation is simple.

Next, think of every place a customer comes into contact with you.  Are your invoices branded or bland?  Does your voice mail sound professional or like a personal cell phone voice mail?  Does your business card scream homemade or high end?

There are many cost efficient and easy ways that a company can improve on a day to day basis. Ensuring that the customers and the business have a stable and sturdy means of communication is fundamental when trying to rise above the competitor.

Why do people say “Hire Slow, Fire Fast”?

The latest buzz words about employment practices are “Hire Slow, Fire Fast.” This is the modern day equivalent of the proverb, “Measure twice, cut once.” Essentially, this is a pretty good rule of thumb for any business. Even Internet start-ups would do well to think about this axiom. Although competition is fierce, it pays to do your homework and vet prospective employees. Just as a carpenter saves time, money, and lumber by taking a little bit of extra time before cutting the wood, an employer will save time, money, and headaches down the road by taking a little extra time in the hiring process.

business (11)Why? If you take just a little bit more time to hire someone, you are far more likely to hire the right person for the job; someone who not only has the qualifications needed for the position, but someone who is compatible with you and the rest of your employees. Thorough vetting is an employer’s way of measuring twice.  You also do not want to add to your payroll until you absolutely have to.

While it is true that using the hiring slow principle may not net you the ideal employee, the odds are still in your favor of hiring a solid, long-term employee who will fit well into your organization. Another advantage of taking some extra time in the hiring process is that in the long run, you will save time. Hiring someone who is the wrong fit, or whose qualifications aren’t quite up to snuff, will cost you time and money. You’ll have to go through the added paperwork (and angst) of firing the new hire and repeat the entire hiring process in order to find a replacement.

The other part of the equation, firing fast, is equally important. As brutal as it may sound, it is to everyone’s advantage to dismiss an employee quickly if his or her performance is subpar. An employee’s poor work performance affects your bottom line and the morale of your other workers. Unfortunately, even though it is strongly advisable to fire fast, you do have to consider any and all complications that may arise in firing someone. That’s why the hiring slow rule is so important; it greatly reduces the odds that you will have to fire the person for any reason.


Hire Right the First Time

3 Guidelines for Hiring the Right Team Member

The process of hiring new team members cannot be handled lightly. Doing it poorly will cost you time and money. It’s expensive to find, train and test new team members. Not to mention, when you hire a new team member, you’re putting your own integrity and success in the balance. You’re bringing a new person into the business you have worked tirelessly to build, maintain, and make a living. You want to find team members you trust. What’s more is that you want to find someone who fits into your business’ culture and who will grow with the business. This clearly takes a hiring system to do it right. These 3 things to consider including in your system to be sure you’re getting what your business needs.

1. Don’t Oversell.

As a business owner, sometimes it’s easy to overstate the job descriptions for open positions. You have spent so much time and energy developing your business that likely, you, too, have done many of the same tasks you’re looking to hire for. You love your business and you want everyone to love it, too. But don’t feel the need to hyperbolize the day-to-day duties when you’re looking to fill an open position. Be honest about the responsibilities and have a clear position description of exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t get bogged down trying to show how many perks there are. Rather, clearly state the job’s responsibilities and tell the candidate exactly what he or she can expect. Of course there is nothing wrong with being up front about the perks, but that conversation can wait until after the prospective hire is interested in the job itself, and all the responsibilities that go with along with it.

2. Take Your Time.

When you’re looking for a new team member, you’re not doing yourself, your business, or your other team members any favors by rushing to fill an open position. Making an unsuccessful hire will result in a squandering of two things you can’t afford to waste—time and money. Do thorough background checks and prescreen each candidate before they even come in to interview. Try to have an understanding of the candidate’s skills and experience so when you do have a face-to-face interview, you can focus on the candidate’s attitude and personality.

3. Ask Meaningful Questions.

You’ve done your homework and now you’ve invited three candidates for an interview. You’ve already narrowed the candidate pool by eliminating candidates who don’t meet the required skills and experience, so now it’s time to discover what person (not candidate) will be a useful addition to your business. Of course there are standard interview questions, and they can prove to be effective. But take some time to develop tailored questions based on his or her resume. Since you’re the most familiar with what job they will be doing, use the interview to question them about how their skills and past experiences will help him or her handle certain situations that might arise in your business. You’ve taken measures to clearly define the job’s responsibilities and you’ve slowed down the hiring process to ensure only the most viable of candidates are considered. There’s nothing wrong with getting specific about what your business is all about and certain obstacles they might come across. Listen and learn, too. If you’re doing all the talking, though, you’re missing out on an amazing opportunity to lay groundwork for open and honest communication. Ask meaningful questions, but listen carefully to the answers.