Finding good employees and retaining them are major challenges facing many companies in various industries.
For franchisees, attracting, hiring and keeping people who help the business grow can be a continual challenge. And it’s a big priority on any leader’s list, because building continuity through employee stability and career growth results in a reliable team, which is not only essential to a franchise owner’s success, but also important to the public image for the entire brand.
Conversely, if frequent employee turnover hurts the efficiency and quality of numerous units within a franchise, a domino effect leads to both the brand’s reputation and the bottom line taking a hit. And remember: the cost of continuing to hire new people goes far beyond their recruitment, and there’s more to retaining top employees than simply giving them a raise.
How do franchisees recruit the right people and retain them in these changing times, when many workers are demanding more from employers and are willing to walk out and wait for the right opportunity that fits their needs? Here are some tips that can help franchisees looking for good employees they can rely on, along with ways to keep them once they’re hired:
- Enlist local customers and employees in the process. Dangling the carrot of referral money can lead to franchisees finding the right person to fill a job, and it might save the franchisee the time and expense of listing the job for a lengthy period and interviewing lots of candidates. The franchisee can email regular customers – who appreciate the type of employees and services the company provides – asking if they know anyone who is looking for work and explaining the job. A match could mean a referral check for the customer or a discount of some kind.
Current employees with friends who may be qualified and interested can be incentivized in the way of a referral bonus or paid time off for helping find new talent. They like their job, the culture, and ideally like working for you, and they have a stake in the company attracting more good, capable people like themselves. At the same time, those current employees know what their friends are seeking in a job.
- Use modern recruiting tools. Engage in social recruiting by promoting open positions on your social media channels. Facebook is one of the top social media outlets for recruiting, and a great platform in particular for blue-collar, mid-level and entry-level positions. It’s also a cost-effective alternative to old-school job boards. Customers and followers in your local community are likely to be a good source of potential hires and can amplify your message by sharing your posts on social media.
Invest to establish a carefully crafted brand that sends consistent messaging to customers and will impress job candidates. Additionally, companies should tailor marketing and messaging to specific recruiting targets. For example, companies can create different ads related to job openings for college students and older adults. Make the most of the careers page on your franchise website. If you can, update it with lively images and descriptions of what your franchise does to help its employees.
- Make sure a candidate’s values are aligned with the company’s. Skill sets and job experience shouldn’t always be the main separators in recruitment; rather, candidates who possess intangibles like a good attitude, desire, being coachable and having a collaborative nature often turn out to be the employees you can depend on long-term. Those qualities need to be found in the interviewing and vetting processes.
Intelligent, talented new employees can be taught new tasks and skills, but people’s approaches to work and life usually don’t change. You want someone who has winning personality traits the day they walk in the door. Soft skills such as work ethic, attitude, enthusiasm, helpfulness and kindness can’t easily be taught.
- Offer benefits. Too often, benefits are an afterthought during recruitment. It is a missed opportunity not to make the most of them during the recruitment process in order to help attract the best talent. While salary is usually the biggest driver for job appeal to candidates, benefits, namely health insurance coverage paid at least partly by the company, have taken on more and more importance, especially in the wake of COVID-19.
Qualified retirement plans, paid time off, and life insurance are other important benefits many candidates need to see before deciding to accept an offer. A good benefits package tells a job seeker that the business cares about its people and looks at employees as long-term investments who are important to the company’s growth.
- Promote from within. It’s an old story that makes retention a constant battle for some companies: good employees feel they’ve hit a career ceiling at an organization and, with nowhere to go in terms of a promotion, they bolt for greener pastures, or where they feel more appreciated for their consistently good work. This is where your business model needs to be tweaked in order to make room for the high achievers and to spark more growth in your company. Promote from within.
Provide training and professional development opportunities to grow. Also, for your managers, provide further leadership training. From your staff to management, your strongest performers don’t just want a job; they want a career path.
- Learn what financial techniques successful franchisees are using. Franchisees who have been successful for several years often have enjoyed low turnover, and franchisees seeking employee stability would do well to learn from other leaders regarding what they’ve done to keep employees happy. Examples: Some offer incentive programs such as a structured bonus system (including a retention bonus after a certain amount of time on the job), profit sharing, peer recognition and dollar awards; generous benefits; partially paid college tuition; extra paid time off when meeting performance expectations, etc.
- Build an engaging culture. Ultimately, the culture of an organization comes from the top down, so it’s important that you, as the owner and leader, model the behavior and approach to work that you expect from your team. Those values need to be real and demonstrated consistently.
The bottom line: Treat employees the way they want, not how you think they want to be treated. Again, seek input from fellow franchisees, this time regarding how they developed and maintain their culture. Be flexible with scheduling for hourly employees as much as possible to support employees’ lifestyle needs. Have fun; create a team environment people enjoy being part of. Hold events for all employees, such as a company picnic, bowling party, or other family-oriented gathering. These events serve to bond the staff.
Franchisees can find success by finding and keeping the right employees. All kinds of companies struggle to hire or retain their best people simply because they don’t follow a plan that prioritizes their workers. Hire wisely, incentivize them and support them, give them room to grow, and watch your franchise bloom in the process.
Chris Buitron is CEO and president of Mosquito Authority®, a nationwide leader in mosquito control with franchises serving communities across the U.S. and Canada. Buitron has an extensive background in franchise industries. He was chief marketing officer for Senior Helpers, vice president of marketing for Direct Energy (home services division), and director of marketing for Sunoco Inc., where he supported the company’s 4,700 franchised and company-owned rental facilities across 23 states (over $15 billion in annual revenues).