4 Savvy Tips for Hiring a Winning Team
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

As an employer, hiring team members is one of your most important responsibilities. In our current economy, it’s a buyer’s market, so to speak, because there are many qualified people looking for employment. At Soul Day Spa, I employed nearly 30 team members at the height of my business. Strong hiring decisions led to our team members being named “Best Stylists” and “Best Spa” for many years. Here are the top four things I learned about hiring:

1. Don’t Be a “Needy” Employer. Employment based decisions are very similar to relationships. Don’t be desperate or reactionary when you hire. Listen, I understand. Operating a business is very demanding, and if you have people that are working well, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? The answer is that businesses are highly dynamic environments. Things change from moment to moment. People move, aren’t a good fit, get another opportunity, etc. If you wait to interview until you need to interview, it’s typically too late. Further, you are likely not getting the most qualified person-you are only getting the one that’s available. Settling can destroy your brand.

2. Have a Consistent Interview Program. I love the interview program that my teenage son experienced at a local golf driving range and sports bar. One day, we were having lunch and asked the waitress if they were hiring. She brought the manager over who personally invited him back for a “Survivor” like interview night. Each month, the business scheduled an interactive games and interview program for prospective hires. While my son made it to the “final round”, they neither accepted nor denied him–they put him on the waiting list. The important takeaways were:

  • The business had a regular interview process.
  • They were proactive and not reactive.
  • They took their time and made the youth do simulated activities to see if they could handle the job.
  • When a position came available, they had tons of qualified people from which to select.

3. Know The “3 Month Rule.” After hiring great folks for nearly 10 years, I know that it takes about three months for “good behavior” to wear off. She’s got friends on the staff now. She’s interacted with customers a bit. Maybe coming late to work a few times–or not. Once an employee is comfortable in her environment, you will see her true work ethic. That’s when you will know if she’s a good fit for your company. Wait and observe before extending long term benefits or permanent offers. Trust me. Most of the problems for which I terminated staff where for issues that surfaced–within 3 months.

4. Partner with a School. The best places I found wonderful team members were at schools. I partnered with cosmetology schools and taught classes on professionalism to the students. I hand-picked the star graduates. Then, I implemented an internship program. Graduates would work with senior stylists and therapists and once they completed their licensing requirements, they were ready to work on their own. That system created low turnover and strengthen my brand.

Hiring well secures both your brand and your relationship with guests. Further, a consistent interviewing process takes the anxiety out of staffing and produces a winning formula for your small business. Remember: A proactive employer wins every time!

Nicole Cober, Esq. is a partner at Cober Johnson, a law firm focusing on trademarks, brand licensing and small biz consulting. She is a former small biz owner of the award winning chain, Soul…Day Spa and Salon. She is also a Legal Consultant for Washington DC’s NewsChannel 8 and author of the soon-to-be released book: “CEO of My Soul: The Dos and Don’ts of Small Biz.” Follow her on Twitter @CoberJohnson and like her on Facebook. Visit her Website at www.coberjohnson.com.

As a trailblazer in the small business community for nearly a decade, Nicole Cober is an advocate for the small business community. For eight years, Ms. Cober owned and operated a day spa and hair salon chain that served as a revitalization catalyst in a developing area of the nation's capital. During that time, she received national media coverage regarding small business management and entrepreneurism in various publications such as People, Essence, Allure, Entrepreneur, The Washingtonian, The Washington Post, Upscale and Black Enterprise. Ms. Cober was also featured on the CBS Morning News, BET and the reality show, "Ambush Makeover." The salon and spa received recognition by the Washington City Paper as "The Best Stylist" and "Best Spa" and Ms. Cober's commitment to the community was on display annually when she used her business for philanthropy by provided complementary services to Rachael's Women's Shelter. Ms. Cober blends both her legal and business skills together to offer a uniquely powerful list of services for clients. Affectionately known as "The Lawyer-preneur," she now seeks to empower start-ups and local small businesses with by creating effective business, branding and growth strategies. Ms. Cober is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley as well as Howard University School of Law. She was a judicial law clerk for the Chief Judge of the DC Court of Appeals and worked for a number of years at Dickstein Shapiro as a litigation attorney, specializing in employment and insurance coverage law. Currently, she is a regular contributor to Black Enterprise and Citibank's Women and Co. as well as a legal consultant for NewsChannel 8 WJLA. Ms. Cober is also a public speaker, coach, a contributor to Pulse Magazine, a publication devoted to international spa management, and soon to be author who will publish a book later this year titled “CEO of My Soul”, which chronicles the do's and dont's of her early days as an entrepreneur. Follow her on twitter @CoberJohnson

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