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10 Actions to Attract, Retain and Grow Top Talent for your Organization

culture leadership multi-unit franchising people Apr 27, 2022
Multi-Unit Franchising Conference Part 3

(Part 3 of the 2022 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference)

Within the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing what I experienced during the 2022 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference. This event happens every year, and it is focused on the development of multi-unit franchisees.

The session I’ll be commenting on in this blog post is Strategies Attract, Recruit, Retain and Grow Top Talent, which was a panel of four franchisees. Here are 10 actions and strategies that these business owners shared on how they are solving the big challenge of the staffing crisis that is happening in the country. 

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Before we review the takeaways, I have to clear out that while these franchisees are doing a lot of things to improve their staffing levels, they don't have the silver bullet that solves all of the problems. 

One of them even confessed that for a long time, he has found his organization with a 30-35% short-staffing level. And, although things are getting better and he’s around a 20% level, he's not out of the hole yet.

Like many of you reading this, they are looking for ways to attract the top talent and these tactics have made a difference in their business, but they are still struggling. Still, I’m sure that these actions will be of great value if you implement them in your business and are consistent with them.

1. Mind your speed of hire

Michael Kulp, a MUMBO (Multi-Unit Multi-brand franchisee) from Arby’s KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, talked about how if you want to hire a quality applicant, you have to act fast because that’s what top applicants are demanding. If for some reason they apply for a job and you took three days or a week to complete the process, they are going to have somebody else call them back.

That means that you need to use whatever process, procedure, or technology that's available to make a quick hire.

Aziz Hashim, from NRD Capital, another MUMBO as well as a franchisor of 12 brands that operates over 900 locations, shared his own experience using HR tech.

The way he solves the great number of staffing levels in his company is by text hiring. That means that, through artificial intelligence and texting (which young employees are used to), they go through the initial steps of hiring, from applications to interviews. 

This helps them make their hiring process as quick as possible. They also apply this principle to do a fast onboarding of the new employees, using online training on their product, service, image, and marketing. 

As a franchisee, you can also implement technology to do your management systems training. This will help you duplicate your procedures the right way and improve the employer experience. 

2. Look after your employees 

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Aziz when I was running the operations for Popeyes. The brand decided to divest the company units, and he was the one that acquired them, so I participated in the divestiture. From there, we became friends. In fact, he wrote the foreword of my first book The Franchise Fix.

Haven’t read my book yet? View this to learn how it can give you the 12 steps to achieve your business and personal goals with the franchise you invested in.

With his vast experience and knowledge, he reminded the audience that employees are the most important asset of the organizations and he also made us question ourselves:

  • Do we treat them as such?
  • How much time and effort do we spend to make sure that we can lead them and provide a culture and a work environment that they will enjoy so much they want to stay? 
  • How much do we invest in attracting, retaining, developing, and growing them vs. finding the right location or saving money on your fixed cost? 

Where you spend your time, effort, and money will dictate what's truly important. Aziz also pointed out a key business principle: if you take care of them first, they will take care of you and your customers.

On this note, Gary Robins, multi-unit franchisee for Supercuts, mentioned how your company's purpose has to be no longer customer-focused, but internal-facing. Your mission, he said, should be about taking care of your people and treating them well. Because, if you truly do this and train them well so that they can perform their job with greatness, everything else will come in addition.

3. Share the growth opportunities with your staff 

When you're hiring, you should talk to your applicants about the scalability they can have in your organization. As Michael Kulp advised, you have to let them know what you offer them as potential workers. For example, constant leadership openings to cover your growing plans.

Aziz also mentioned how franchising is the largest vocational training tool in the industry, in the business, and in the United States. The amount of development of future leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs that are developed by the franchising experience is tremendous! And all of these without the need for a college degree.

If the candidate joins your franchise, even if they start at the bottom, the amount of training and skill development that exists for them to have a solid career, eventually become a leader, and possibly even have their own business, is very big. It will become an apprenticeship where they'll get paid to learn how to be a leader and a future owner!

We have to communicate this great truth as we are hiring. We have to highlight how many of today's franchisees at some point in time started as servers, assistant managers, or even a pizza delivery person, as I did! Discover my story in this video.

4. Focus on retention

Michael Kulp recommended focusing on long-term retention. Entrepreneurs and business owners often put more time and energy into the recruiting phase, exploring many platforms to find people and doing the hiring and the onboarding processes.

But the reality is that it is crucial to spend a proactive amount of time and develop proper processes and procedures to retain the people that you already have working in your units.

Learn here some of the things that you can do to improve your employee retention.

5. Invest in your leadership team

Gary Robins, from Supercuts, also mentioned that investing in your leadership team and your managers with ongoing development is critical. Even if growth takes a little while to materialize, if they feel they are learning and advancing in their lives and their careers, they're going to stay with you.

Develop a plan for them and give them specific guidance to motivate them. They need to know what is expected of them for them to get there. That is true, especially for the new generation. And this takes specific, proactive ways for us as leaders to create that clarity for our people so that they stay with us.

6. Try emerging technologies

Aziz Hashim also urged business owners to keep up with the latest trends and know what their employees are looking for and expecting, especially if they are hiring people between 15 and 25 years old.

Leaders have to understand that these new generations are surrounded and involved by technology every day, all day long. So to attract them, they must leverage technology for engagement, incentives, communication, and gamification. That’ll make the employees engaged and excited about being in their organizations.

The best thing is that you don’t need to make a large investment. Employees have already invested in tech by buying their smartphones, so all of your HR strategies and efforts can be provided in the devices they already have.

What you need to find, he explained, is the software or the apps that will support you in providing that engagement, communication, and incentives through the technology.

Another benefit that tech can bring to your organization is simplifying how the managers oversee their operations. Michael Kulp recommended investing in emerging technologies to facilitate all the administrative tasks for the employees, especially the managers. That’ll reduce the complexity of their jobs. 

Ashley Hollway, CEO of Hollway Assessment Partners, advised doing evaluations for future employees using technology. If you're hiring someone, especially at a multi-unit leader position, having this assessment will give you an insight as to who they are beyond the regular interview process. It will also help you better understand this candidate to make a better decision.

You can also leverage technology with a people dashboard. The Taco Bell franchisee pointed out how the one he uses gives him the staffing and turnover levels that he's at as well as a measure of how many people are internal promotes. 

I liked this idea of measuring internal promotions because if you have a development program so your team members can scale positions and grow, whenever you have leadership openings your chances for success will be much higher

Implement these 5 strategies to develop leaders in your organization.

7. Assess emotional resilience and leadership

Resilience is now a key personality characteristic that businesses must look for. That’s why, now more than ever, it is important to score the emotional resilience of the candidates on their assessments, as Ashley Hollway highlighted.

This measurement is becoming very relevant because we need to make sure we have leaders that can handle the next crisis, not only for themselves but for their team since they look up to them for direction and guidance.

On this matter, Gary Robins, from Supercuts, pointed out how in the present day it is no longer about position power, but rather about relationship power. This means that how you relate to others and how you inspire them is more critical today. 

Analyze if your leaders have the soft skills required to truly lead the team. Also, look at yourself to make sure you have what it takes to lead the organization. If you don't, you must acquire those skills to attract, retain, and grow top talent. 

8. Develop a great culture for your organization

You have to remember that people come to you for the opportunity and the benefits, but they will stay for the culture. That’s why Gary recommended the audience to proactively create and nurture a healthy and positive culture in their organizations as a requirement to have good staffing levels and lower turnover in your organization.

Employees are also looking for work-life balance and flexibility. One of the great things about the franchise industry is that some brands and industries do provide part-time jobs. Still, franchisees have to be very creative to give them that desired flexibility but also a solid business structure.

How can you provide work-life balance and flexibility and, at the same time, a professional place where they can have reliable and consistent financial stability? That's where who you are as a business owner and a leader is more important now than ever for you as an entrepreneur. 

On this note, Aziz highlighted how nowadays you cannot just offer a job; you have to offer tangible benefits so that potential employees confirm that your organization is the place where they want to be. Those benefits revolve around growth opportunities and learning experiences. This, in consequence, will benefit you by having the top talent in your organization.

9. You must keep growing

For Gary Robins, from Supercuts, even though times are challenging, as the leader of your organization you must always have a growth mentality. That’s not only the best way in which you can retain people but also keep positive momentum in your organization.

Top talent wants to grow. So, if they see that your company is scaling and that you are committed to giving opportunities to your employees, then they're going to want to come work for you. 

10. Reassess who you are as a leader

Just having a business and throwing money at things is not enough. You truly have to dig into who you are as a leader, how much you truly care about your people, and how much time, money, and resources you will spend to create the things you need to create. 

This is not an easy task, it takes a lot of proactive work. As Aziz mentioned, franchisees have to leave behind the idea of being silent operators; they must be hands-on even if they grow into a multi-unit corporation and can delegate operations.

Leaders have to be involved in all of the decisions regarding leadership and the business culture. That is how they are going to get the top talent in their organizations.

A piece of advice on implementing these strategies

The actions described above don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Some of them work for certain industries, others won’t. You can’t expect to have the same result as another business owner since operations, complexity, teams, locations, and franchise brands are different from one another.

You don't have to do all of them. But whatever actions you decide to try, implement them well and do a follow-up so that the strategies don't backfire on you. Make sure that you do a really good job so that, in the end, they become part of your value proposition and your success. 

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  • What’s your speed of hire? Are you too slow, and thus, losing momentum? Or are you so fast that you are not careful enough?
  • Do you treat our employees as if they are the most important asset?
  • In what ways technology could help your employees' attraction and retention?
  • How are you helping your top talent to grow within your company?