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Recruiting the Best Person

How to “Recruit” the Very Best Person
By Steve Toburen

Steve ToburenWhen kicking off each of my seminars, I ruefully confess, “My employees were my biggest challenge in business, and yet they were at times my greatest joy…and sometimes on the same day!” And so it is with almost all cleaning and restoration contractors who are focused on building a Critical Mass Business.

Finding, recruiting, training, motivating, keeping and yes, sadly, terminating employees will always be your biggest challenge. Now all this is way too much to cover in a short newsletter article, so let’s focus on how you can recruit the Very Best Person (VBP).

Why don’t I say how to recruit technicians? Because you must be obsessed with finding great people. (I seldom hired techs with previous experience.) Too many carpet cleaners tend to settle for “less than the best” and pay a huge price for their low standards. Nothing you do in business is more important than finding great individuals to share your vision. But now for a huge warning…

You must avoid “desperation hiring.” We’ve all been there: a tech quits with no notice (and always on a Monday morning when you are booked solid two weeks out!), so you scream out, “Get me a warm body in here to pull hoses!” So how did that hiring strategy work out for you?

“Employee erosion” is simply a bitter fact of life. Plus, if you are going to grow into a critical mass business then you will be regularly adding the Very Best people to your team. So two key principles: 1. Recruiting employees should be an ongoing process in your business, and 2. Recognize you are “competing” for the Very Best People!

Yep, just like the customers who buy your services, you are competing for great “internal customers” – prospective employees for your team. And your competition isn’t just other cleaners; you are competing against every other career opportunity out there for that Very Best Person. This means the position/career you are offering must be viewed as a “step-up.”

Now for principle number three: Most (not all) Very Best People already have a job and may not even be looking for a different job. Sadly, most (not all) of the applicants who respond to your “Help Wanted” ad may be unemployed for a very good reason. (Oh, the stories I used to hear explaining “why things didn’t work out at my last job!”)

So my best “recruiting return” was found among people who already had a job. For example, I would give my card to a sharp young waiter at a restaurant or a retail sales person and say, “I’ve been impressed with your attitude. I may have a career opportunity for you. Let me write my personal cell number on the back of my card. Give me a call if you wish.”

When you’re recruiting candidates call, email them a career profile that explains what they will be doing, a little about your company (with a hyperlink to your website) and their advancement opportunities. If they respond, invite them down to fill out an application. Your office, trucks, employees and image should be such that a VBP would want to work for you!

Now here is your “secret sauce.” Don’t be “desperate” and hire them immediately. Remember, this is a process. After all, did you ask your spouse to marry you on your first date? And yet that is exactly what you do when you rush through a 30 minute interview (with you doing most of the talking) and then blurt out, “Hey, I like you! You’re hired!”

Instead, start a “pre-hiring courtship”. Pre-interview, pre-verify and then (most importantly) pre-test by telling your Very Best Candidates: “I don’t have an immediate full-time opening right now, plus we want you to get to know us before you decide to quit your current job. So what days or nights would you be available for either part-time or on-call work?” Now you get to test them with a trail hire before committing to a full time job.

Folks, the gold-standard with employees is to always have “workers in waiting”. That’s right, you want the Very Best People helping you out part-time (and yes, you can, and should pay them very well since you’ll be using them only when you are making money) while they wait for the “come-on-down-call” from you!

These ideas could mean no more “desperation hiring” (and a joyful and profitable business) for you too!

Steve Toburen spent over 20 years’ experience in the cleaning industry as the owner of janitorial, carpet cleaning and restoration firms. Since 1996 Steve has served as the Director of Training for Jon-Don’s Strategies for Success (SFS) program. Steve has also owned a computer systems house, an auction service and has been a certified white-water raft guide. His wife, Sioux and he have two children, Matthew (who is the On-line Producer for this web-site) and Megan. They are STILL waiting for grand-children…

*For helpful tips and resources to market your business, visit the Certified Firm only section of the IICRC website at If you don’t have your login information, enter your Certified Firm number as your username and the last four digits of your primary business phone number on record with the IICRC as your password. Please email if you need more information.

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