Category Archives: Hiring

Choosing a service provider for you home or business

As a homeowner, it is very common to find yourself in need of a service provider to perform tasks that you don’t have the time or skill to do yourself.  Whether you are in search of a painter, plumber or even someone to hang your Christmas lights, finding someone to perform the needed service at the time and cost that you need can be a daunting task.

Recently, I was looking for a painter, as well as someone to clean out our fireplace.  For the painting job, I had two different companies come out to give me a quote.  The men who arrived were vastly different from one another.  The first could best be described asbusiness, composition, creativity “old school.”  He was an older gentleman who used paper, pen and a calculator to jot down the measurements in the kitchen.  He was obviously not trying to sell me anything, simply took down the information he needed and gave me just the facts regarding the job at hand.  He told me he would email the quote as he got everything calculated.  The second man was a born salesman.  He played with my son, made jokes and told me all about the charitable work his company does.  He used an iPad to take down the information and was able to give me a quote right after he plugged in the calculations.  Verdict?  I actually preferred the first guy.  His quote ended up being significantly less than the second guy and I appreciated that he a no-nonsense sort of person.  While I enjoyed speaking with the second guy, I was not looking for a friend; I just needed someone who could come in and get the job done quickly, and do it well.  It was a bonus that he would cost less, although as you’ll find from my fireplace search, this is not the most important factor.

When we turned on our gas fireplace this year, we were disappointed to find that there were no flames.  While my husband is capable of doing many things around the house, bioethanol burner, burner, ecofriendlydealing with a gas line is not one we were willing to risk messing up.  I called around to several different service locations and was able to speak with three people from whom I got quotes.  Each place quoted a different amount, and while my initial tendency was to go with the cheapest option, after speaking to the man at the most expensive place, I decided that was going to be our best bet, and here’s why:  the two cheaper places simply gave me numbers; I asked for how much it would cost, they found out where I lived and gave me a quote.  However, the third guy took a little more time to assess the situation.  He asked what kind of fireplace we had and some more questions about how it operated.  He listened to the problem we were having and gave some suggestions as to how we could fix it on our own.  When I explained that my husband had been working on it and I was just making the phone calls, he gave me his name and offered to walk my husband through some troubleshooting tips over the phone when we had time.  So when it came time to choose which company we wanted to use, we obviously felt that the third company, while more expensive, would take the time to make sure we were completely satisfied and we were confident that the work they did would be solid.  It was worth it to shell out a few extra bucks, because in return we were receiving peace of mind that the job would be done right.

Companies like this fireplace company, as well as Royal Services, never claim to be the cheapest.  But they stand behind their extra cost, offering you the added service of contact with a human being who will go above and beyond to ensure you are satisfied with the service you receive.

Have you experienced a company who has gone above and beyond, and have you been willing to pay more it?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

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What to look for in potential hires and how to find it

Each business and HR professional has their own unique way of evaluating candidates. Resumes, references, experience, qualifications, probation periods, training periods, and on the job interviews are all ways that someone’s hire-ability can be evaluated.

In my previous position I was responsible for hiring individuals who would be responsible for teaching physical fitness programs to preschoolers. The perfect fitnesscandidates required a certain skill set including an outgoing personality, patience, energy, confidence, a professional appearance, and an ability to engage a room full of 3 and 4 year-olds! My assessment process included them coaching other candidates using our curriculum, as well as going out into the field to experience a class and watching how they interact with the students.

The weighting of criteria will vary drastically depending on factors such as the industry, clientele, location, company culture and philosophy. However, the following list is a selection of 11 factors that are frequently assessed during interviews or other parts of the job application process.

(1) Punctual – did the candidate arrive on time?

(2) Appearance – professional, takes pride in their appearance, dressed to impress, appropriate for the job that they are applying for.

(3) Communication – well spoken, clear, confident, able to articulate their ideas through interviewa variety of mediums

(4) Genuine – are their answers a true representation of their beliefs or are they feeding you what they think you want to hear?

(5) Works well under pressure – try to incorporate aspects into the interview so that you can assess their capabilities when the heat is on.

(6) Flexible – Is open to new opportunities and experiences

(7) Diligent – Prepared to do whatever is needed to get the job done

(8) Passionate about the job at hand/ industry/ company’s mission – as the old saying goes, “do what you love and love what you do”. If your employee believes in what you do and is passionate about your mission, you are going to get a lot more buy in from them.

(9) Self-motivated – Look for areas in which the candidate has demonstrated independence, an ability to lead, and a desire to make a difference.

(10) Team-oriented – Will they fit in with your current culture, or are they going to upset the applecart?

(11) Socially responsible – This is a factor that varies greatly by industry, culture, Image result for teachers and social medialocation, and position, but for many people, a quick glance through someone’s social media profiles can eliminate candidates from the application process if inappropriate content is discovered.

There are many factors that are desired in new hires and here are some tips for things to include in your interview to assess competency in these areas:

(1) Ask the candidate about their thoughts on your website. This will show how interested they truly are in your company, whether they took the time to research things before the interview, as well as their understanding of your offerings

(2) Perform group interviews. How well do your candidates stack up against each other. This gives you a good idea of their interpersonal skills, as well as how they might fit in with your company culture.

(3) Give them a job related task to complete to see how they perform under pressure, on the spot, with no preparation time. I remember one of my brother’s sales position interviews where the interviewer passed his car keys to my brother and asked him to sell them back to him!

(4) Have your existing employees be involved in the interview process to see how theinterview candidates interact within your existing structure, and how smoothly they would slot into your culture. This also empowers your existing employees as they play a part in the recruitment process, and feel valued as you are interested in their thoughts.

(5) Throw some curveballs in there to see how quickly your candidate responds under pressure, as well as the decisions that they make. You could have them answer a staged telephone call, or could ask them a question that has nothing to do with their job, but allows you to assess their ability to think on the spot.

(6) Don’t pay too much attention to qualifications unless it is something a where specialized skill is required, as in jobs such as doctors or lawyers, where some expertise is typically required! Just because someone was a great soccer player doesn’t mean that they will be an incredible coach. Just because someone has a PhD in Education doesn’t mean that they will be an incredible fitness coach in a room full of preschoolers. Believe me, I am talking from experience here…

What attributes do you look for in your candidates? Which factors immediately eliminate potential hires from your recruitment process? What are some interview tricks that you have up your sleeve to truly test your applicant’s’ capabilities? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below, and until next time, Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do.

The right thing or the easy thing?

Do your employees always look to do the right thing, or do they look to do the easy thing? This past weekend we visited Nashville, TN to watch the Tottenham Hotspur game at the spurs logoNissan Stadium, as well as squeezing in a couple of site visits and meetings with clients for my husband’s business. It turned out that this was tax free weekend in TN so the resort that we stayed at had very limited availability when we booked it a couple of months ago. Due to the high number of visitors, we actually had to make three different reservations, one for the first night, one for the second night, and then a third for the remaining three nights. This would have meant 3 room changes during the course of our stay, which normally wouldn’t be a problem and would provide us with a clean condo each time, but when there are two young boys in the mix, as well as the fact that I am 6 months pregnant and it’s almost 100 degrees outside, remaining in the same room was much more appealing. When we arrived I asked the gentleman at check in if it was possible to stay in the same room for the duration of the stay, even if it meant having a slightly smaller unit. He took a very quick glance and informed me that there was no way that anything could be done as there were three different kinds of rooms involved with the reservation.

The following morning my husband went down to the front desk and asked again if anything could be done. The employee responded without even looking at the computer system and informed my husband that there was nothing that could be changed as they were very busy, and we should expect our new room to be available at 4pm. This makes life extremely difficult when you have to be out of your current unit by 10am and have 2 young children who are going to need naps, as well as refrigerated and frozen food which is going to be homeless for 6 hours.

This employee then left as her shift had come to an end. My husband went up to the desk and asked the newly arrived employee about the situation, and the response was completely different. Stacey checked the reservation system and noticed that the room that we were due to move into was a 2 bedroom lock-off which actually included the room that we were currently in, so there was actually no need to move anything! We would just open up the door between the two rooms and have double the space for that day! She also saw that the last reservation was actually the second half of the lock off by itself, so again no need to move a thing. My husband returned to the room with a cup of tea for me and the news that we had the comfort of remaining in the same unit for the duration of our trip.  Music to my ears!

If he had not asked the newly arrived employee, we would have gone through all of the hassle of packing up our belongings, our food spoiling, and our boys going without a nap, bored employeeonly to find that there was no need to move in the first place. This was a very simple thing but the first two employees just didn’t take the time to look into the situation, instead deciding to share canned responses with us. The second employee was about to end her shift, and sat with her jacket on and her bag on her back for 30 minutes before the clock struck 7am. She had no interest whatsoever in helping guests, she was just passing the buck with minimal effort until she could get out of the door.

The third employee thankfully had a focus on customer service, and wanted to do whatever she could to make our experience enjoyable. In the end, she actually didn’t have to change anything, as we had already been assigned connected rooms which meant there was no need to move. However, she took the time and effort to investigate the situation, and made our whole experience much more enjoyable.

In your position at your work, do you do what it takes to get the job done the right way, or do you just do enough to squeeze by and get to clocking off time? Do you have employees who are engaged enough that they will do whatever is needed to make the customer experience a special one? Or do you have employees who do the absolute minimum, and spend the last 30 minutes of their shift looking at the clock with their bag packed and ready to go, as many of us did back in school during the last hour of the day? How do you train this quality? Can it be trained? How do you develop a culture of providing impeccable service? What drives you to do the right thing, regardless of how long it takes, or the obstacles that might be in your way? We are eager to hear your thoughts on this, as well as examples where you have had similar experiences. Until next week stay safe, and expect the exceptional in everything that you do.

When you’re searching for a new job…

Pay attention to these warning signwarnings!

Finding a new job is a daunting task, and sometimes desperation kicks in causing people to accept positions that may not be a great fit.  When you are interviewing for a new job, pay attention to your surroundings and ask questions to make sure it is the right place for you.  The following are some ideas for things to look for and ask about:

  1. Employee handbook: Make sure there is an employee handbook available for after you are hired to help answer questions you may not think to ask.  This is a great indicator of the company’s organizational tendencies as well.
  2. Employee benefits: Always a plus, and in many cases, the law.  At least for the time being, companies with a certain number of employees must offer insurance so do your research and make sure the company is doing the right thing.
  3. No organizational chart in place: It’s important to know who you are reporting to.org chart  If a company tells you that “everyone is the captain of their own ship,” that may sound great in theory.  No boss!  Hooray!  But ultimately, if you don’t have one person guiding the ship, you will be pulled in many different directions and not much will get accomplished.
  4. No infrastructure in place: If a company feels it’s OK to purchase a used, $50 computer for their employees and expects great things to come from it, it’s probably not the company for you.  Because chances are, they will end up having to replace that computer with many, many more computers every time it breaks down.  Make sure that the company you are looking to work for has everything you need to successfully get your job done.
  5. Are focused purely on making money: You don’t want to work for a company without a social conscience.  Money is great, it’s why you work, but at the end of the day it’s also important to feel good about yourself and how you are spending your days.
  6. Accountability: This is related to the org chart mentioned above.  It is so important for companies to hold their employees accountable for their actions.  If you have a coworker that constantly rolls in at 10:30, while you’ve been there since 8:00, chances are you won’t be able to accomplish much together.  It is not your job as an employee to call your coworkers and wake them up; that is up to management, and if they are not doing their job that is a big red flag.
  7. Cleanliness of the building: Most office settings these days hire someone to clean for them, so this is usually something that you would not even notice.  But if you do see that the bathrooms look a little gnarly and the carpet is loaded with bits of paper and dust, chances are this company does not have someone cleaning on the weekends.  Which means A) you will be working in an unsanitary environment or B) you will be asked to assist with the cleaning.  Either way, ask about this at the interview before you find yourself cleaning toilets instead of getting your work done.
  8. Attitude of the owners/ executive team: What time does the boss get into the office?  What time do they leave?  If the owner of the company is putting in as many if not more hours than their employees, that’s a great sign.  It shows they are invested in the company and their employees.  If the owner has decided that they want to hand the reigns over to an under-qualified employee in order to spend more time at the lake, you probably want to look elsewhere.
  9. Longevity of staff:  What is the turnaround?  Look for a company with employees who have been around for many years and only leave to retire.
  10. Longevity of clients: If the company does indeed have clients, how long have they worked together?  If the clients hang around for many years, then it’s probably a great company to work with and therefore a great company to work for.
  11. Look for reviews: Facebook, Yelp, Google +, Glassdoor, and any industry specific forums all have a section for reviews. You may encounter upset former employees who want to go down with all guns blazing, but you should be able to get a good idea of the company given the comments that you read.

Hopefully this helps as you are searching for the perfect job.  Remember, just because they offer does not mean you have to accept!  Find something you will enjoy getting out of bed for in the morning, as this will have a direct effect on your happiness and well-being.  out of bed

Customer Service Checklist

And here we go again…

Any veteran Expect The Exceptional reader out there will know that customer service is one of the most common topics discussed. This could be because in so many businesses,  customer service is dying as a focus on short term profits overpowers building customers for life. Today we take a look at things from the business owner’s side of things and provide you with an editable template that can be used to evaluate your team and their treatment of your clients.

One of the best pieces of advice that I can provide to business owners is to set the expectations for superior customer service from the very first moment that you interact with your candidates. Throughout your entire business there needs to be a consistent message of how crucial your patrons are to your business. This information needs to be present in job ads, needs to be addressed in the interview process, and should be a key component of your training process, weekly meetings, and work reviews.

The following checklist should be a good start to getting your customer service up to the levels you desire if you aren’t currently there. Please modify as required to make this more applicable to your individual business. This checklist can be used for quarterly reviews with your team, and you can also get a little more complex if you wish to create some quantitative metrics. This will allow you to compare employees across your network, and will also give you valuable data that can be used for training and evaluations.

Check out some of

  • Customer Interaction 
    • Greets customers in a friendly and professional manner at all times
    • Services all customers the same regardless of their age or appearance.
    • Makes suggestions based on customer comments.
    • Makes eye contact with customers.
    • Appears engaged and interested in what the customer is telling them.
    • Minimizes any wait time.
  • Brand Awareness
    • Confidently explains the company’s products and services.
    • Has a good working knowledge of the company’s goals and objective
    • Is able to explain the features and benefits of each product.
    • Understands how to match specific products and services with particular customer needs.
    • Shows a passion and enjoyment of the company’s products and purpose
    • Goes above and beyond to demonstrate your competitive advantage over your competitors
  • Diffusing difficult situations
    • Acts within the chain of command in conflict situations
    • Understands who can authorize actions or changes
    • Remains calm during conflict situations
    • Acts to diffuse or alleviate the situation
    • Applies best practices effectively and offers different problem-solving options to customers to ensure they are pleased with the outcome of their interaction with your business
    • Resolves customer service issues in a fair and equitable manner
  • Attitude and behavior
    • Displays professionalism in their appearance, timeliness and interaction with customers
    • Is a team player who is prepared to listen to and help their colleagues
    • Shows an interest in wanting to continue their education and excel further in their position

You could also collect comment cards from your customers, or have them submit a simple online survey after an interaction with your business. This is usually very helpful as typically it is the customers at both ends of the satisfaction spectrum that will take the time to provide feedback, whether it be good or bad. All of this data is extremely valuable and can be used to steer your ship in the direction you desire.

This might sound daunting if your business is not currently known for it’s excellent customer service, but this is something that can be changed. This will also allow you to differentiate your business and take your immediate revenue and long term success to new levels. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and start making changes today!

Have any customer service tips that set your business apart from the competition? Have a favorite business who take exceptional care of their customers? Please share them in the comment box below.

Our personal favorite here at #ExpectTheExceptional is Southwest Airlines. These guys are pioneers in their field, aren’t prepared to go against the grain, and put their customers at the top of every priority list they create. The company culture is incredible as any of you who have flown with Southwest will attest.

Company culture at Southwest Airlines

Until next week, be safe, make the most of every opportunity that comes your way, and Expect the Exceptional in everything that you do.

 

 

 

Preparing your business for spring

Spring is finally here so it’s time to take a deep breath, say goodbye to the dreary winter months and start getting your business ready for some busy months.  In case you are wondering what you can do to prepare yourself, here are a few ideas to get you started!

  1. Check your exterior: If you experienced a particularly rough winter, chances are the outside of your building is a little worse for the wear.  Make sure it’s looking shiny and new for the spring season!  Add some bright flowers for a nice touch.
  2. Clean up a bit:  After spending the winter cooped up breathing in stale air, there is nothing better than throwing the windows open to let in fresh air and let the spring scents into your business.  If you choose to clean counters and vaccuum floors as well, that’s an added bonus!
  3. Hire new staff:  If your business tends to pick up big time in the spring and summer, it might be a good idea to find some extra help.  Advertise for a temporary position if you don’t think you’ll be able to use new employees year-round.
  4. Introduce a new product: Spring is when new flowers are budding, grass is growingbird-nest-eggs-blue-158734 and animals are born.  Considering the “new” theme of the season, why not introduce something new with your business?  Whether it’s a new idea for marketing or a new product, bring something fresh into the business for the spring.
  5. Storm preparation: Along with gorgeous weather, the spring can also bring about heavy storms.  Are you prepared for those situations?  What will you do if your power goes out?  Do you have everything backed up that needs to be?  What is your emergency plan in the case of a tornado?  Be sure you go over these items with your staff and make sure everyone is confident in handling scary situations.
  6. Rearrange: If you don’t feel the need for a major clean or something as drastic as a new product, why not just rearrange a little?  This can make things feel new, even if they aren’t.

Keeping calm during the MADNESS

The past seven days have been insane.  MADNESS I tell you.  And I think we can all agree with Kevin O’Leary:

Image result for kevin o'leary stop the madness

Unfortunately, Kevin cannot actually do anything for us.  So we must rely on ourselves to get through our feelings of stress and frustration, no matter which team you are on.  Here are some things I have been doing, as well as some other ideas I would like to try.  I hope they will help you as well!

  1. Aromatherapy – this might sound hokey to you, but smells really do have such an effect on our moods and feelings.  I’m sure everyone can think of a smell that reminds them of a very happy, or maybe very sad time in their life.  Smells trigger emotions, and therefore really can have an impact on how we feel.  Depending on what I need, I have been combining different ingredients and simmering them on the stove.  I especially love the calming effects of lavender (I also used this to make a spray for my son’s pillow to help him fall asleep at night), as well as the energizing effect of orange and mint.  Here are some tips on using aromatherapy in your everyday life!
  2. Yoga – again, maybe not for you, but something that has been working for me like a dream!  I joined a yoga studio near my house, but many gyms and even some employers offer yoga classes for members and employees.  The combination of stretching, strength  building and deep breathing is a great way to calm down and build confidence at the same time.  When I walk out of that studio, I always feel better than when I walked in, and that’s enough reason for me to keep doing it!
  3. Breathing – this is a part of yoga, but also something to concentrate on in your everyday life.  When we feel stressed, our breathing becomes more shallow, so it makes sense that deepening our breaths will relieve some of that stress.  Try to focus on breathing in for 5 counts, holding it for a few seconds, then taking 5 counts to breath out.  Here are some more tips that could be of some help!
  4. Laughing – seems easy enough, right?  But during difficult times, this could be asking a lot.  Everyone has a different sense of humor, so find what makes you laugh and let loose!  Or maybe call that one friend that always makes you laugh until you cry and share a bottle of wine.  This made me laugh out loud the other day, maybe it will do the same for you!
  5. Delegate – sometimes it all just gets to be too much, and when you are doing everything on your own, it can get downright overwhelming.  So ask for help; assign jobs to others; hire new people.  If you are a store manager and need facility or maintenance services, call Royal!  Whatever it takes, just remember you can’t do it all alone!

These are just a few ideas, but hopefully you will find something that helps you stop the madness in your life and get back on track.  And if all else fails,

Image result for keep calm and drink wine