By Jim Sobeck
I don’t care how great your facilities, furnishings and delivery vehicles are, or how spectacular your inventory assortment is, mediocre people will ensure that you fail. On the other hand, you can have mediocre facilities, secondhand furnishings and used delivery vehicles, but if you have a great team of self-motivated people you will win — and win big.
So how do you find great people? Here are some ways that have worked for me:
- Word-of-mouth referrals. When several people you respect tell you about a superstar, you need to hire him or her. It’s never the wrong time to hire the right person. I don’t care how bad the economy is, superstars always find a way to pay for themselves, and then some.
- Job postings. Our HR software allows us to post a job there and it sends it out to ALL major jobs boards. Then, using a series of algorithms, it searches for keyword matches and sends us the resumes that best fit the job description of the open position.
- Ask your customers. Ask them who they deal with from other companies that impress them. Don’t send them an email; pick up the phone and call them. Most people are so busy they will either delete your email or respond that they don’t know anyone, but when you get them on the phone and engage them in conversation you invariably will get a few names. Better yet, take them to lunch.
- Networking. Be active in business groups and trade associations, and you invariably will meet people who impress you. Plus, if you’ve known them for a while, you’re not hiring a total stranger, which is a crapshoot. Increase your odds of success by hiring known entities.
- Always be looking. When you meet someone with “the right stuff,” you know it. The late Herb Kelleher, one of the founders of Southwest Airlines, which has a market cap more than all of the other airlines in the world combined, says that Southwest hires a type of person rather than a person with certain experience. He says that when you meet someone with a great attitude and a magnetic personality, you can teach them everything else they need to know, but no amount of training can fix a bad attitude. I have hired waitresses with great personalities and made them inside salespeople. I have promoted truck drivers into outside sales because of their attitude and their drive, and I have made people with just a high school education officers in my company because of their absolute unwillingness to cut corners, their integrity and their commitment to excellence.
Jim Sobeck is CEO of New South Construction Supply, a building products distributor based in Greenville with nine locations in the Carolinas and Georgia. He is the author of “The New Business 101: Lessons from the Trenches.”