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Stack Your Deck

Last year I received a letter from a general manager I had met at the Production Management Institute. During our initial conversation at PMI he struck me as a forward thinking pro-active manager who recognized the importance of recruiting in today's business world. You may remember him from my last column - he was the general manager who successfully used radio advertising as a means of attracting talent. In this month's column I would like to share parts of his letter with you in hopes you will find this concept about "stacking your deck" useful in your facilities.

The letter in part follows ....

"Hiring good people is a philosophy. It means you look for the very best candidate in all positions--not just management.

This allows you to, "stack your deck."

At our plant we use three assessment tests. There is nothing new to these tests. We do, though, use them with all candidates and have minimum passing scores for all positions. I have had college graduates fail our tests.

The tests are a great equalizer. This means my average ironer feeder has a high school diploma and can learn from material by reading. Compare that to other plants who do not use tests. These plants have people who may or may not have a high school diploma and need oral instruction to accomplish tasks. (And several repetitions of the oral instruction on top of it.) We now have possible supervisors / managers identified for the next five years. Some of them will need formal education--and we are paying for them to finish their degree. Some of them only need more experience and the opportunity to take on more and more challenging assignments. We are growing our own future around here.

Is it more difficult to hire people like this? Maybe, but I do not think so. We did have to raise our average wage rate significantly. However, we are in a large company and able to make comparisons to other plants readily. Our comparisons show, even though we pay a higher wage than everyone else, we are still more productive and our actual labor costs are lower than those low paying plants. How is this possible? It's very possible when you do not have turnover every other day and you can spend your time training your people--people who will be there tomorrow-instead of constantly looking for the next warm body.

Make no mistake about it, we have to hire in a market with 2% unemployment. But, that just means there are 98% working somewhere else. Our attitude is we will have to hire the best people away from someone else. This is not a problem when we pay our people well, treat them well, and provide a good environment for them to work in. We do have to go through more resumes this way, but it is well worth it.

This is something I feel very strongly about. When looking for quality people--first look to yourself, your operation, to see if you are doing the right things to attract the right people."

If you have read my articles last year then you know he was "preaching to the choir". The reference to assessments test is worth thinking about - I will be addressing that subject in my next column.

Until then - Craig

Craig Lloyd represents LaundryCareers.com, a management search firm specializing in the industrial / institutional laundry industry.  He holds a degree in Industrial Relations from Rider University and has been a Certified Personnel Consultant since 1979.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Sodexo Laundry Services Technology Recognized By CIO Magazine

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — An innovative use of computer technology that increases operational efficiency by providing key metrics for its commercial laundry operations and has saved more than $100,000 since its implementation has earned Sodexo, Inc. IDG’s CIO magazine’s 2010 CIO 100 Award. The award recognizes organizations around the world that exemplify the highest level of operational and strategic excellence in information technology (IT). Sodexo’s Laundries Dashboard is a central decision-support tool that combines information from multiple systems to monitor core processes in Laundry and Linen Services businesses.

The dashboard presents Sodexo leadership and field management with key metrics in a customized, easy to use presentation. The dashboard uses Pureshare® Active-Metrics® software to gather and display appropriate information in the form of metrics for each level of management; the metrics are used to make business decisions. Because the dashboard is web-based, it can be accessed from any computer or mobile device. It also sends realtime email alerts that enable management to resolve operational issues immediately. Sodexo’s Laundries Dashboard allows for the effective management of critical areas as well as providing detailed analysis and comparisons.