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Is it the right time to hire?

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jonathan.sweet
July 31, 2014
Filed under Features, Top Stories

A recent email from Neal Harrell over at Brooks Marine Group, a recruiting firm for the boating industry, got us thinking again about the ways the job market has changed.

Here’s some of what Neal had to say:

We’re happy to report that hiring is way, way up across the recreational marine industry. Boatbuilding OEM’s, dealerships, yacht brokerage firms, suppliers, marinas and boatyards throughout the country continue to show signs of rebounding. That said, good people are hard to come by these days. The majority of top talent is gainfully employed and not willing to risk the security of their present position to pursue new career opportunities. … But all-in-all, the mood is positive. Boats are selling. Smart companies are investing in new product development, their facilities, processes and their workforce.

So how do you know when it’s the right time to hire for your company?

We took a dive back into the archives to early last year, when we asked just that question in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.

5 signs you need to hire

While there’s no magic formula – by the time you realize you need help for sure, you’re already well behind in the process – here are five items to look at in your dealership to see if it’s time to hire.

1. Revenue is on the upswing
Increasing revenue is at once the best and worst reason to hire more employees. If business isn’t increasing, it’s tough to justify the added expense, but if additional employees will allow you to create more sales or service work, it can still make sense. Once you include the costs of salary, benefits, training, etc., do the numbers work? How much revenue can this person realistically generate?

At the same time, just because revenue is increasing again doesn’t mean it’s time to hire if the new hire doesn’t help you sell more boats or increase other ancillary revenue streams.

2. Your employees are working too hard
Most companies have gotten an incredible amount of work out of their employees over the last few years as they’ve cut back on staff. But that can only go on so long. If your employees are starting to complain about hours and workload, or you find yourself turning down requests for vacation, you may have a problem on your hands.

And disgruntled employees won’t be afraid to look for a new opportunity. A recent Right Management study found that 86 percent of employees are at least looking for a new opportunity – up from 60 percent in 2009. In another survey from Glassdoor, 23 percent of respondents said their top resolution for 2013 was looking for a new job.

If it’s not possible to relieve the pressure right now, make sure you keep employees aware of what is going on, Harrell says.

“Business owners and managers have got to come to the table with employees and have open, frank conversations about the state of the business, the employees’ role, their value, their goals and how the company can help them get there,” he says.

3. You’re not thinking “big picture”
As an owner, the focus should be working on your business, not in your business. That is, thinking about its long-term success, not tying up every minute with sales, service, paperwork, etc. Unfortunately, many owners have had to take on more day-to-day duties, leaving items like business plans and long-term goals in the waste bin. If someone else was, for example, managing advertising, could you identify new opportunities in your business?

4. Your company can’t take advantage of business opportunities
Got a surefire way to make more money? Whether it’s expanding service hours or providing new on-water training, sometimes employee workload or skills are the only thing standing in the way. If it’s workload, the only option may be to hire, but if skills are the issue, figure out if your current team members can be trained to accomplish the new mission. The benefit is that it may also allow you to hang on to someone that you may have feared having to let go. For example, can your under-worked delivery captain take over managing a rental fleet?

“If you’ve identified someone who’s an integral part of your organization and due to market conditions you’re having a difficult time keeping that person busy, maybe there’s an opportunity to cross train them in other areas,” Harrell says.

5. Then again … there may not be a “right time”
Harrell says there is no right time to hire – that companies should always be in a hiring mode.

“I preach that you always have your eyes open for talent and you task your people with doing that as well, from your department managers all the way down the line,” Harrell says. “That’s what the best companies are doing.”

The best companies have taken advantage of the downturn to “up talent” – replacing marginal performers with the best from other dealerships.

Finding the right fit

If you’ve decided to hire, you want to avoid making an expensive mistake.

Between 50 to 80 percent of all hires are not successful, according to Spader Business Management. Depending on the position, Spader estimates that the cost of hiring a bad employee – in lost productivity, strain on the rest of the team, training, etc. – can be equal to two to 12 times the employee’s annual salary.

A successful hire starts with a formalized process that should be applied to every new opening. Someone in the company, whether it’s a human resources director or other manager, needs to be responsible for updating and refining the process. The process should start with the job description and continue through every step down to bringing the new employee on board.

“And that’s one thing companies do not do a very good job of, what I call onboarding,” Harrell says. “You’ve made the hire, he or she shows up on day one, how do you bring them at that point into the organization?”

One of the most common mistakes companies make is creating a poor job description, eliminating good candidates before they ever apply, Harrell says.

“I see companies consistently doing a poor job of selling themselves,” he says.  “In this day and age of online postings and social media, and recruitment through technology, companies can do a much better job branding themselves to the prospective employee.”

The best candidates are motivated by having the opportunity to make an impact in their new position. They want to go somewhere where they can make a difference, so “selling” the company from the job description through the interview process is key. Avoid job descriptions, says Harrell, that say a candidate “must have this or must have that.”

“I tell people to try to tell a story,” he says. “What it’s like to work here, what our company culture is like, why you would leave what you’re doing now to join our team.”

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