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Tips to do hiring more like the pros


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Harri’s platform, shown above, is a big step up from the oft-used Craigslist, its founder says.

If you were bad at hiring new employees, would you admit it? Conceding this point wouldn’t be easy for anyone repeatedly taking chunks out of their busy weeks to post applications, sift through an unpredictable sea of candidates, pore over generic resumes and line up a series of interviews that, without the proper vetting skills, can be no better than a coin flip at finding long-term, high-quality employees who are worth the effort.

It’s no secret to owners and managers in franchising: hiring people is hard work, time-consuming and, in more ways than just financially, a very expensive process.

Making matters worse, because few people are ever trained in the intricacies and science of smart hiring, most business operators are just bad at it.

“The reality is that nobody ever teaches you how to do this stuff—that’s the simple answer,” said Adam Robinson, CEO of Chicago-based Hireology, about the typical hiring process. “It is an acquired skill, acquired through the very expensive process of trial and error where people figure it out until they land on a process they like and they stick with it—most companies are no better than a coin flip.”

A widespread need

As a reporter in the franchise biz, it’s shocking how often the difficulties of hiring—or the shortage of labor in general—are raised in interviews with franchisors and franchisees. It’s the same for single-unit franchisees as it is with sophisticated multi-unit operations. Hiring isn’t easy for anyone, and franchising is particularly impacted due to the growing shortage of entry-level workers thanks to demographic and social changes that are only accelerating in the United States.

Robinson and Luke Fryer, CEO of New York-based Harri, are both co-founders of franchise-focused companies seeking to give HR professionals, owners and managers the tools they need to spend less time hiring employees while simultaneously ending up with higher-quality employees who stand the test of time.  

“I realized quite quickly that the world was very beholden to Craigslist,” Fryer said about many companies’ default talent pool. “If we think about how Craigslist operates, I wouldn’t use it for my dating life, so why would I use it to find the most valuable resource for my business?”

He described the common hiring process, where managers cobble together candidates and information from a long list of timeworn sources that ultimately lead to too many people with the wrong qualifications and experience, and too few candidates with the right hard and soft skills to really boost a business with that additional hire.

Think Craigslist, Monster, Indeed and even localized job boards or classified listings.

“Everybody is really focused on volume over, let’s call it, quantity over quality,” Fryer added. “There are too many platforms that are trying to be all things to all industries.”

Robinson sounded many of the same alarm bells, learned through his seven years working with business owners and developing the tools, technology and processes needed to find better people with less time taken away from their core duties—like running a restaurant. He stressed his company is not a recruiter, but rather, a solution to help companies do a better job on their own.

In a regulatory environment where joint-employer matters under the purview of the National Labor Relations Board remain unsettled, Robinson added that Hireology shields franchisors from being directly involved in the HR functions of its franchisees.

“Franchisors can’t touch this stuff,” he said. “It provides the franchisors with a tool they can recommend that works out in the network and gives the franchisees a tool they can manage so the franchisor doesn’t have to sweat NLRB-related issues.”

Burn the resume

When asked about common mistakes he sees in the field, Fryer singled out the resume, which is especially unhelpful in industries that are focused on personality and people skills.

“The data that’s generally contained in a resume isn’t necessarily a predictor of how you’re going to be as a hospitality employee,” he said, stressing that technology has enabled much better, livelier solutions. “We’re giving employers the ability to make more informed decisions on things that go beyond the resume on the softer skills that aren’t necessarily conveyed on a resume, and we’re also giving candidates the ability to … even upload a video from their mobile phone.”

With the average hiring process consuming “well north of 20 hours,” according to Fryer, any time wasted filling an open position takes valuable time away from running the business and focusing on the day’s customers.

“The first mistake people make is they waste time at multiple stages of the hiring process,” he said. “Every business has great employees. What are the things that make those employees great, and how do we look for those qualities in our hiring process?”

Resumes were also singled out by Robinson, who referred to them as “marketing documents” that provide answers to questions that aren’t predictive of the actual outcome of a given new hire. He claims relying too heavily on resumes, asking the wrong questions and tapping overly general talent pools may lead to results that can be worse than 50/50 when it comes to finding quality employees.

“The candidate has written that to get the foot in the door—they’re not going to tell you anything that’s going to lessen the chances of them getting hired,” he added. “I don’t even look at the resume when I’m doing an interview.”

Rather than slog through a list of boring bullet points, he suggested employers focus on four key elements: positive workplace attitude, sense of accountability, prior related job success and culture fit. If those things are present, he said, the likelihood of a new employee being successful goes way up.

With those criteria in mind, hiring managers—or services like Hireology—can write better questions that sort through candidates to find ones who are truly a good fit for the company, its culture and its customers.

Hiring in most franchised businesses is only going to get more complicated as the entry-level labor pool is set to shrink due to demographic changes, and millennials hitting significant life milestones at their own, more leisurely timeframe.

“Because millennials are having kids 10 years later than generation X and baby boomers did,” between 2012 and 2022 the size of the entry-level labor force “is going to drop by nearly 15 percent,” Robinson said. “We’re all going to be fishing from a much smaller pond. For the next five years it’s really going to tighten up.”

Robinson said most franchise locations pay $99 a month for its hiring services, but larger brands can pay as much as $199 a month. Harri’s costs are similar, ramping up for workforce management and the like.

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