Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good workers are easy to find

Last night my mom said something about how hard it is to find good workers, echoing what one might expect to hear from a hiring manager or a failing small business owner. As always, when I hear such completely ridiculous statements, I speak my mind.

I said, defensively, "No, it's NOT hard to find good workers." I then repeated her statement, adding some of the conditions that her ilk so often forget to consider when making such ignorant claims: "It's hard to find good workers who allow you to rip them off. It's hard to find good workers when you only pay $6 or $7 an hour." I continued, "If it is so hard to find good workers, then I should be getting at least a hundred calls a day from people looking for good workers."

As someone who would like to be (and should be) the owner of a small, independent pizzeria, I am 100 percent confident that I would have no problem finding, hiring, and keeping good workers. How do I know? Because I understand economics.

Now, I'm not necessarily talking about money when I say economics. When I say economics, I'm talking about the relationship between what one gives and what one receives in return. It can be money, but it can also be labor, information, services, love, or a million other things.

From now on, let's just pretend I already own a small pizzeria, which I expect to open in the coming month.

As the owner of a new pizzeria, I must invest in a lot of different things, with no guarantee of a return, before I can even think about opening the doors for business. I must develop a pizza that people will want to eat. I must offer edible side items, salads, subs, drinks, desserts, and other menu items. I must purchase adequate equipment. I must think of effective marketing strategies and spend quite a bit of money to impliment these strategies.

I must ask myself countless questions (with the first two from the target customers' perspective):

1) Why should I try your pizzeria instead of my usual pizzeria?
2) What do you offer that I can't get from my usual place?
3) How do I get people in the door for the first time?
4) How do I get people to come back?

There are hundreds more questions I must ask myself, but I'll stop here.

And the answers?

1) You should try "Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria" because I'll make it easy for you. I am so confident that you will love our pizza, I offer a money-back guarantee. If our pizza is not the best pizza you've ever had, or if we are unable to replace your pizza with the best pizza you've ever had, I'll give you your money back. Every cent. Furthermore, if we fail to provide the best service you've ever experienced, I'll give you your money back. Every cent. Our goal is to provide every customer the most incredible dining experience possible, and I want to prove it to you by putting my money where my mouth is. You should not expect anything less from anyone. (**See explanation below.)

2) As I already said, we offer the best pizza on the planet. Now, anyone can make that claim, but do you know of any other pizzeria that offers a money-back guarantee if their pizza is not the best on the planet? Didn't think so. But here's what else we offer: A clean dining room; friendly people and great service; genuine smiles; fantastic subs, sides, salads, and desserts; community support; reasonable prices; passion for making the best food; safe delivery drivers; a wide open kitchen that shows you how much care we put into preparing your meal (as opposed to hiding behind a wall and using less-than-sanitary practices like you've grown accustomed to with other pizza places). Is that enough, because I can go on if you need more reasons to try us?

3) I get people to try us, first of all, by implimenting Risk Reversal marketing strategies such as the money-back guarantee. Of course, we must distribute thousands of pieces of our marketing materials before we can expect anyone to know we even exist. Another way to get people in the door is by sending out some free pizza postcards. If it costs me $3 in food cost to attract a family of four and convert them into lifetime customers, I'd say I'm making out pretty good. Additionally, these strategies create extensive word-of-mouth marketing.

4) Here's how I get people to come back: I serve them the best pizza they've ever tasted and I treat them like they rule because they do rule! They don't need "Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria;" "Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria" needs them. Same thing with employees.

These are not complete answers, but they are rational answers and they are the right answers. If you want to critique what I've said, don't look at it from a prospective pizzeria owner's point of view. Instead, look at it from a prospective customer's point of view. If you do, you should start to get it. But if you just keep thinking what people have always told you, then you will never understand. Similarly, you'll also never understand why more than 90 percent of new restaurants fail within a couple years of opening.

**If you doubt that a money-back guarantee would be effective, you're simply wrong. You think everyone will just come in and eat their meal, then ask for their money back, right? Wrong. It doesn't happen. Here's what does happen, though: People try your pizzeria instead of their usual pizzeria because you have made it easy for them. How do I know? Case studies. If you want to find out more about it, look up Kamron Karington.

Pretty long digression, eh? What was I talking about? Oh yeah, how to find good workers and keep them. So how is it done?

Just like you invested in your store space, your equipment, your marketing materials, your furnishings, your utility bills, etc., you must also INVEST in employees. You get what you pay for, and you only get what you give. If you pay superstars like chumps, they either work like chumps or they quit. It's not them; it's you!

If someone's labor earns me, the pizzeria owner, $50 an hour because they bust their ass, treat customers right (creating customer loyalty), attract new customers, and all that good stuff, why the hell would I pay that person $7 an hour? Why would I pay him or her less than $15 an hour or $20 an hour? Hey don't ask me, because I wouldn't do it.

But just about everyone else does. And when they do, they lose their moneymaker, either to another employer who will pay reasonable wages or to complacency and apathy.

Good workers absolutely are not hard to find. Good bosses are!