New franchisees are often unfamiliar with the process of sourcing talent but it’s essential to ensure you get the cream of the crop when recruiting employees to scale your business
A far reaching vision, a well-planned strategy and a groundbreaking idea are all key essentials of any scaling business. But as Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, a truly great leader is required to “have the right people on the bus.” The bus, aka the company, can be driven to success only when it’s fuelled with the right people in the roles – a company’s staff is vital for success. Even with the right ideas, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t be as successful without the teams supporting them. “Staff recruitment is the lifeblood of the business,” says Shaun Thomson, CEO of Sandler Training UK, the personnel training franchise. “It doesn’t matter how big your company is, when a customer comes in, the employee represents the brand. Your employee is the company.”
Given recruitment is such a fundamental process, many new franchisees are often shockingly unaware of how vital it is. “In franchising, recruiting the best is even more important as one bad employee can do damage to the brand and more importantly to [other franchisees’ businesses],” says Ian Sharland, director and co-founder of Wow World Group, the multi-brand franchisor that owns Baby Foundations, Baby Sensory, Toddler Sense, Mini Professors, KeepaBeat and Reading Fairy. “Whilst we will never have the perfect team, it is possible to create a team with all of the right attitudes. After all, employee quality [directly] affects the company growth.”
It’s no secret that hiring the wrong candidate costs UK businesses billions yearly hence franchisees need to be wary of who they take on. Relying just on a visually appealing CV and numerous references can be misleading. “Don’t be bamboozled by the statistics they say,” Thomson advises, adding that his franchise has multiple assessment tests that determine the personality and transferable skills of a job applicant. For instance, qualities such as honesty and sincerity are non-negotiable. “I could not employ anyone I wouldn’t trust,” Thomson reflects. “Whether it’s a franchisee or franchisor, many get blinded by where a candidate was educated but you need to look beyond that and see the bigger picture. Will they be able to grow and learn with the company?”
Talking about university credentials, they can also hide your unconscious bias – a sin for any recruiter. For instance, 80% of Oxford and Cambridge students are from a white middle class background, according to their own figures. Sourcing the best talent is so important and franchisees must look past the prejudices of class, racial and gender bias while recruiting. A nationally diverse team encourages potential employees and brings newer ideas. “This is only achieved by seeking personal qualities rather that a particular background, qualification and experience,” Sharland adds. “This makes everyone feel that they can join and thrive in your company.”
Indeed, the belief that education is of prime importance is passé — soft skills are more sought after than qualifications. Research done by Indeed, the job site, shows that of 1,000 small-business employers surveyed, 81% would place experience higher than education. “The right person with the right attitude is the most important thing and we don’t all conform to the qualifications society has decided are right,” says Helen Venables, managing director of House of Colour, the personal style franchise. While she’s adamant that most people can learn both hard and soft skills like how to treat people well, Venables argues it won’t matter if they lack a certain joie de vivre which can’t be taught. “Attitude and the willingness to make a difference in the company have more importance.” she says.
Moreover, the importance of interpersonal skills go both ways – the recruiter has to actually meet the candidate to get the right impression. This is particularly good to remember in an era where artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over many jobs, including that of the professional recruiter. So while companies like Tesla, Unilever and Accenture are using AI for to source talent, Sharland believes the old ways are still the best. “The danger of using too much technology in the selection process is it will often exclude excellent candidates who don’t conform to the norm,” he says. “I would like to be proved wrong but I still think good recruitment comes down to personal contact.”
Another challenge while recruiting is the lack of clarity from the employers who can fail to define the role and attract the wrong people. “Not being crystal clear what they’re looking for can be a problem,” says Thomson. “You’ve gotta write the exact job description.” While many choose to go through a talent recruitment company, Thomson says it’s more economical to use social media when hunting for employees. Not only can clever company chieftains capitalise on traditional social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter in their recruitment efforts but new apps such as Shapr and Opportunity are rapidly becoming the Tinders of networking and finding the perfect match to work in your franchise.
Taking inspiration from Gareth Southgate, coach for the England football team, one can see how building and nurturing a strong team can make the unexpected happen. Entrepreneurs cannot control the economy at large or the advent of robots in the workplace but they can definitely ensure top quality execs. “Recruitment doesn’t end when you find the person and they turn up for work on a Monday morning. It’s on-boarding your people,” Thomson concludes. “[And] a two-way process that should benefit both the candidate and the company hiring.”