For a small business, hiring employees can be a challenge. Though it may sound easy on paper, the quest to find staffers who are reliable, capable, and hard working is often difficult in practice.
It’s even more so when it comes to a franchise. In this instance, you’re not only looking for exemplary employees, but people who can act as ambassadors of an established national brand. As was demonstrated by the infamous incident from a major pizza chain three years ago—in which two rogue employees caused a national furor by making a video prank and then posting it on YouTube—the impact of poor hiring decisions can be catastrophic to the image of a franchise.
Just as finding the right fit for a position is a key ingredient to the success of a standalone small business, the same applies for a franchise. However, there are some slight differences that you, as a franchisee, might want to keep in mind when hiring employees. The following are several important tips:
Look for people who want to be part of a bigger picture
Being dependable is a virtue for job candidates; so is having experience. But sometimes hiring staffers who are willing and eager to collaborate with others while working for a larger corporate system can be problematic, particularly if the job candidate is used to working as a self-employed contractor or freelancer.
This was a major lesson learned for Erin Mellinger, a 29-year-old certified personal trainer and owner of two Fitness Together franchises in Ohio.
“I did hire someone once who came to us with 16 years of personal training experience,” recalls Mellinger, who entered the franchise world five years ago after learning about Fitness Together through a client. “I learned very quickly that it wasn’t a fit because he was so used to looking out for himself. I could tell during his sessions that he was all about promoting himself and trying to be the favorite trainer because he had that mentality: he had to do it to survive. As much as I tried to get him to buy into the bigger picture, it didn’t seem to work out. But that’s the thing—he was a great trainer. He was the kind of guy that did better on his own instead of in a business like this.”
Follow the franchisor system
There’s a reason why the franchise has lasted. Whether it’s in the fast food, beauty, or home supplies sector, the franchisor has built and honed from the ground up a series of rules and best practices to make franchisees successful. Trust this model.
“Don’t get into the business and think you have to reinvent it,” advises Rick Bisio, a franchise consultant and former director of international development at AFC Enterprises, which owns and operates several fast-food chains, among them Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits. “When you buy into a franchise, you buy the rights to use their system. If it’s a business that requires a bunch of employees, they better have an employee hiring system.”
Bisio, author of “The Educated Franchisee,” further adds, “Lean on the franchisor and use their system, knowledge, and experience.” This means closely following a job description for a position, even if it was originally written in corporate headquarters. This also applies to having prospective employees take personality assessment tests. Not only can they be excellent tools for screening and vetting candidates, but they can also help determine if someone’s temperament is well suited for a position.
Nicole Siokis, president and owner of the Atlanta branch of the Mom Corps franchise, a nationwide flexible staffing firm, has used personality assessment tests such as DISC and Birkman, when interviewing potential employees. They came in handy when Siokis, who currently has two part-time employees, was seeking to add a second recruiter to her staff. But unlike the other recruiter, this employee would also perform marketing and social media duties.
After getting a referral from a trusted source, Siokis, a onetime Army captain, met several times with the prospective employee. Although the job candidate’s credentials and references were glowing, Siokis was unsure about how the woman, who formerly worked at ABC, the television network, would be able to adapt to an unstructured environment. To make sure this was a good fit, Siokis had her potential employee take a battery of tests, including the DISC assessment, which analyzes and reviews several work-related personality traits, among them communication style, preferred work environment and ideal supervisor.
According to SIokis, her applicant’s test results showed that she could interact with many people, work independently and adapt to a work environment that changed regularly. Feeling reassured that the prospective employee would thrive in an unpredictable small-team environment, Siokis hired her.
“It's been 8 months and things are working out well,” says Siokis. “I feel I better understand how to work with her based on the assessment.”
Be specific about what you’re looking for
Conducting job interviews with candidates when there’s no corporate guidance or you’re unclear as to what you’re looking for is counterproductive and a waste of time. Know what kind of employee you want and the kind of skills set you need to fulfill the job responsibilities.
Bisio strongly advises all franchisees to subscribe to this precept when hiring. “Don’t put an ad out there and say I’m looking for anybody,” he says. “Target. Have a purpose and a strategy to your interview process. It’s not a conversation. It’s not a get-to-know-you meeting over coffee. It’s a specific process you’re going through in order to identify the right individual otherwise you’ll just end up with an accident.”
When hiring staff, a franchisee should never unduly complicate matters by trying to figure everything out on his or her own. “That’s one of the biggest mistakes franchisees make,” notes Bisio. “The franchisor has people who have expertise and are trying to help you. Rely on your franchisor.”