By MATTHEW SMITH, Director of Recruiting at Linen Recruiter and Infinite Laundry
The evolution of the laundry, linen and uniform industries has been dramatic. Processes and equipment are highly automated, customer expectations have drastically increased, the workforce is very diverse, and team members expect more from their employer – and they also have more job options than ever before.
Most owner-operators have realized that promoting an employee to a managerial role requires more than tenure and job specific knowledge. Careers in laundry management now require technical skills and leadership abilities, that if not present will cause a spike in turnover. Maintenance technicians now need experience with PLCs and programming, and a preventive maintenance mindset. Team members in customer facing roles must have an in depth understanding of your entire product line and all your complex processes – customers expect it, along with soft skills that are no longer innate in new generations of employment candidates. With all this ongoing evolution, and a job market that’s truly an “employee’s market,” laundries must adapt their hiring practices, and should consider recruiting top talent to fill key roles.
Why should you recruit? When hiring for any role from route driver to executive, you have a choice. Either hire someone that needs in-depth training or hire a person with experience that will require less training. Most would prefer the latter because training takes lots of time, is very expensive, and is usually not consistent. Training is also a risk. The costliest scenario is training a new hire and having it not work. Instead, use resources to find the talent you need. Qualified and experienced candidates are out there. They’re just working for someone else. A recruiter can help you find them.
If your current recruiting process consists only of job ads on sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, you need to consider that the information is only reaching one pool of candidates – those that are actively seeking a job. Active candidates are often underqualified and less reliable. Job advertising is also very expensive. A recruiter will focus on finding the hidden talent – the passive candidates that would never otherwise see your job postings.
Whether you use a recruiter or not, there are several other things you can do to improve your recruitment and hiring processes. Here are a few suggestions:
Hiring is now a sales process. Your job descriptions must communicate the details and expectations, but they should also be a “sales pitch” to attract candidates. Include a ‘Why Work Here’ section, that lists the advantages of working for you. Avoid listing duties such as “adhere to policies” and “discipline team members” – those go without saying and when listed may make candidates cautious about your culture. A recruiter can help you modify your job postings to be positive and attractive. They’ll also help pitch the benefits of working for you to qualified candidates.
Candidates expect a speedy hiring process. Start with your application form. Many are too lengthy. According to CareerBuilder, 60% of people quit in the middle of filling out an online job application due to its length or complexity. Give yours a try and remove the fields that aren’t needed. Once you’ve identified a qualified candidate, get them interviewed quickly. Remember that in this “employee’s market,” qualified people aren’t going to wait. Two interviews should be enough, with three being the max. Assessments are a great tool, but they should be scored quickly, and multiple assessments may offend your candidate. If you’re no longer considering a candidate, let them know right away. Your entire hiring process, from initial interview to offer, should be completed in about 2 weeks in most cases.
Compensation needs to be clear and uncomplicated. When you’ve recruited a candidate that is working elsewhere, they’re taking a risk by making a career change. Nothing discourages them more than not being able to understand your compensation plan or having an incentive-heavy pay structure. Salary ranges should not be hidden from candidates, and the range should not be wider than 20%. New generations will favor a higher base salary and less commissions and bonuses. If you’re paying route drivers on a commission plan, there should be a reasonable guaranteed weekly gross pay. With any commission position, you’ll need to be able to communicate “on target earnings” (OTE) to candidates, using an easy to understand formula, showing them what they can expect to make in years one and two.
There are many things you can do to attract top talent and a certified recruiter can provide numerous other suggestions. A good recruiter will take the time to understand your business and listen to your needs to determine a profile of candidates to search for. A search will then consist of contacting prospective candidates by social media, cold calls, referrals, and using technology to perform advanced searches. Candidates are then screened and interviewed by recruiters before submitting them to client employers.
Recruiters will also have a pipeline of candidates that have reached out to them and are open to opportunities. Using a recruiter that specializes in your industry means they are a go-to person for industry experienced candidates that are actively employed but would consider a change, or people that are open to relocation. This results in quicker fill times. Recruiters can also help employers fill a role that is currently occupied by an underperformer and needs to remain confidential until filled.
Acquiring great talent has never been more critical and recruiting talent never more competitive. Perform a simple Google or LinkedIn search with the name of your nearest national competitor and the word “recruiter” to see how many talent acquirers are on their team. Your competition is recruiting top talent. So should you.
About Infinite Laundry and the Author: Headquartered in South Florida, Infinite Laundry provides marketing and recruiting services exclusively to the commercial laundry, linen and uniform industry. Matt Smith is the Director of Recruiting at Linen Recruiter and Infinite Laundry and has a background in the industry. Matt has been a route rep, a service manager, and eventually a GM, who led and grew his family’s 4th-generation linen and uniform service business before pursuing a career in talent acquisition. Matt is also trained and certified by ADP’s Advanced Internet Recruitment Strategies (AIRS), the global leader in recruitment training. Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org