This is the best time of year for writing Steal This Idea because of all the great ideas we’ve seen in the 2009 Revolutionary 100 surveys. While we’re still three or four weeks away from sharing the new list, here’s a sneak peak at a great tip from one of this year’s regional winners. Their suggestion: if you work hard to make sure you have the right people on staff, you won’t have to work as hard running the business on a daily basis.
Here’s just a part of this retailer’s answer to the question, What makes your garden center Revolutionary?
“Although we’d been working towards it for a long time, we bit the bullet this year and implemented a lengthy application and even lengthier interview process. Then we proceeded to ‘hire hard and manage easy.’ For example, we are somewhat reluctant to hire horticulturally based staff members because we’ve found that they often don’t relate well to others. I can hire a ‘people person’ and train them about plants. I can’t take a ‘plant person’ and make them like and want to help people.
“What has resulted from that and a stepped up training program was the best crew I’ve ever had, whom I genuinely look forward to working with each day. It’s filled with people who honestly like and care about other people and who want to help. Nothing is a bother for them. And each of them, because they were largely hired for their personality as much as for their skills, have all contributed to everyone – customers and staff – having a great time at work.
“A nursery salesman will answer a loading request with ‘I’ve been waiting all day just to do that for you!’ Phones are answered with ‘It’s a great day at [editor’s note: Sorry, you’ll have to wait until January to see], this is _____ How can I help?’ The banter is light, funny and often customers will ask ‘What are they on?’ or ‘What did that person have for lunch because I want some of it!’ People like to be at a happy place where they get good service and personal attention, especially in these tough times and we try hard to provide that. I think there is a comfort for folks in someplace that is familiar, fun and that hasn’t changed at the speed of light like so many other parts of our lives have.”