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Part Four: Success and Your Business – Finding the Ideal Employee for Your Franchise

By Maggie Coffey

Hiring is not a simple process. Just look at the teams of people employed by mid-size and large companies whose primary duties include recruiting and hiring. Even with access to virtually unlimited resources, their human resources (HR) departments still struggle to find the right candidate for the position.

Most franchises, meanwhile, don’t have the luxury of an HR department. Between tight budgets, slim timeframes and limited in-house staff, the challenges of ‘on-boarding’—i.e. hiring more employees—can seem endless.

The success of a given location within a franchise system may well rest upon its team of employees. Once the franchisee has a strong, cohesive staff in place, then customers will be satisfied, revenue will increase, the business will expand and the franchisee will feel more confident.

Getting to this point, however, will require time, patience and innovation. Just like with any business venture, funding will first need to be dedicated to the hiring process before more money can be earned.

Developing the job description
Once a hiring need has been recognized, the first step is to begin developing a job description. The information included in the description will either encourage the desired job-seekers to apply or deter them, so it is important to set aside sufficient time at the beginning to fully develop the wording.

Many franchisees find it helpful to start the job description by thinking about their current employees:

  • What characteristics do you notice in your most successful employees?
  • Are they strong leaders or do they prefer to be led?
  • Do they work well in a collaborative environment or are they more successful working alone?

Through thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of the existing team’s personalities and behaviours, an image of the ideal candidate for the open position will begin to form.

The next step is to write the job description. While it is important to be detailed and precise, an excessive amount of information will lead many job-seekers to disregard the position. The most effective job descriptions encompass brevity and clarity. Of course, once the interviewing portion of the hiring process begins, further details about the position can be disclosed.

It is also imperative to avoid inflating the title of the position. If you are hiring a sales associate, for example, the title should not be listed as ‘director of sales development.’

In addition to basic details, such as the location of the position and whether it is full-time or part-time, the job description should highlight (a) why the role is important, (b) the primary responsibilities involved and (c) the traits that will be crucial for success.

Importance of the role
When a franchise is hiring, job-seekers will understand there is a need for the advertised position, but they will want to know just what that need is. It may be to help the location expand and serve more customers, for example, or it may be more specifically to help boost revenue.

If the job description briefly covers the purpose of the role, job seekers will be more likely to apply, understanding how their abilities could fulfill the role and help the business.

Primary responsibilities
The job description should include a section listing the primary responsibilities of the role. This is not the place to provide a thorough breakdown of every potential project the future employee may work on, but rather a concise overview of principal duties.

While the specifics will depend on the industry and the level of the position, this will typically be a bullet point list of four to six different responsibilities. Job-seekers want to be able to skim through position descriptions quickly while absorbing the most important information.

Traits for success
The final section of the job description should offer a brief summary of what the franchisee is looking for in terms of experience, skill sets and personality. This is where considering the attributes of existing employees is particularly beneficial, as it will help compile a list of the ideal candidate’s traits.

This section is also the one that often determines whether or not a given candidate will apply for the position at all, since they will either (a) recognize themselves in the list of traits or (b) not embrace those particular characteristics.

Once again, the more concise the list, the better.

Posting the job description
Although writing an effective job description can be time-consuming, it can achieve an almost immediate return on investment (ROI), thanks to the ability to post it instantly on job aggregator websites and/or niche online job boards. Job-seekers can reply with their application right away, if they are interested in the position and confident in their qualifications.

Compared to relying on the franchisor’s or the franchisee’s website’s careers page alone, posting an open position to outside job boards will significantly increase the likelihood of candidates applying, but it needs to be posted in the right way or it may not help the hiring process at all.

Job aggregator sites
One of the most common hiring mistakes is posting a job description only through large aggregator websites as free basic listings. Since there are so many of these basic postings made every day, a job posted two days ago is likely on the 15th page of the site today. Many job-seekers do not navigate past the third or fourth page when checking for open positions.

To avoid letting the job description become lost among all the others, many hiring managers recommend purchasing a ‘featured’ job posting instead, which ensures it will remain at the top of the page for a certain period. Costs will vary based on the aggregator, but 30-day featured job listings are typical.

Niche job boards
Industry-specific niche online job boards can increase the number of qualified applicants, since the people browsing positions on those sites tend to have already worked in those industries. The overall candidate flow is likely going to be smaller than with a job aggregator site, but better-focused.

The more specifically targeted the position, the more vital niche job boards can be to ensuring candidate flow and, for that matter, brand awareness. Examples include franchises seeking in-home health-care professionals or truck drivers.

Another option is to post the job description to Craigslist. Depending on the franchise location’s city, the cost to post the open position will vary, but it is typically less than $100.

Some hiring managers claim Craigslist is only helpful for hourly job positions, but this is no longer the case; the site has evolved from merely hosting online classified ads to featuring a breadth of full-time, part-time and freelance positions, with all the more job seekers regularly using it as a resource.

Employee referrals
In the midst of posting job descriptions online, employee referral programs tend to be overlooked, even though they provide the opportunity for franchisees to meet and potentially hire well-qualified candidates with no initial investment of time or money.

Referral programs tend to work well for two reasons:

  1. Current employees are only going to recommend people who they feel are well-qualified. They are not going to put their own reputation on the line to refer a mediocre candidate.
  2. An employee who is comfortable referring a friend or acquaintance likely has a firm understanding of that person’s personality. The candidate is much more likely to be a ‘culture fit’ than someone who just happens to come across an online job listing.

While there is no need for an initial financial investment, as mentioned, if a referred candidate is hired, it is common practice to reward the existing employee who referred him/her. The reward could be a bonus on the next paycheque, a month of free lunches or any other incentive that would encourage future employee referrals.

It is no secret franchisees rely on their employees to drive success, but with limited time and budgets, hiring has too often become a matter of filling a position with any candidate, not necessarily the best one. A well-developed job description, communicated through the right channels, can attract the best-qualified job-seekers instead.

Review Questions

  1. Why is it helpful to start the job description by thinking about their current employees?
  2. What are the advantages of posting an open position to outside job boards?
  3. Why do referral programs tend to work well?

Maggie Coffey is a marketing professional. She can be reached via e-mail at maggie.r.coffey@gmail.com.

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