Q2 2023

Hiring & Retaining Good Employees

Finding and keeping reliable, trustworthy employees can be a complicated and difficult task. Short-term gig work opportunities and remote working options are disrupting industries across America, meaning business owners and managers alike are all struggling to recruit from a dwindling pool of competent applicants, and keep them. The true costs of turnover can be hard to determine, but everyone seems to agree it is very costly to constantly hire and train new employees all the time.

So, what benefits can drycleaning business owners offer their employees to make them stay? Jason Loeb Sudsies Dry Cleaners in North Miami, Florida, said, “The most important thing is to offer careers and not jobs. Education is very important, along with growth opportunities,” he said.

Peter Blake, executive director of the South Eastern Fabricare Association, North Eastern Fabricare Association, and Mid-Atlantic Association of Cleaners said, “All the drycleaners I know have had to increase what they’re offering staff. They’re offering flexible time, paid time off, retirement programs, all of which I think are very important, because today they’re competing against many different industries. Historically, people didn’t work at a drycleaners for the benefits. But things are different now.”

Finding Employees

Some resources are available for small business owners to find and retain good people. Knowing how to access them can be a game changer for drycleaning business owners. “The number one strategy we use at Sudsies is looking for future team members who are looking for careers and not jobs,” Loeb said. “We need to create opportunities for growth through education and stability.”

“One of the biggest tools drycleaners use is Indeed, which has been very popular,” Blake said. “A lot of them have used Craigslist, too, in the help sought section. Some do job fairs, some work with vocational schools, veterans assistance programs, homelessness recovery services. Always try to look out for good service, though, and try to recruit people from other stores or businesses you visit who seem to have a strong work ethic or are attentive and caring. Hand them a business card and invite them in for an interview.”

Incentives to Stay

Incentivizing employees to stay is a challenge many business owners face across all industries. Today’s labor market has moved power away from job creators to workers. With more options available than ever before, workers are more likely to change jobs if they are not engaged and satisfied with the working agreement and conditions. Our sources identified training and expectation management as key items for keeping great employees.

“We use Sudsies University to train new team members and engage them from the start,” Loeb said. “We educate our teams so they are valuable to other companies, and we treat them better than anyone else, so it causes them to stay. We do this by giving the opportunity for new experiences and responsibilities.”

“You need to market your company to your prospective workers, show them your company is a place where people want to work, where you celebrate employee milestones online and in the store, that you’re somewhere people looking to ride home with a team can find for themselves a new career, a community,” said Blake. “There are places to go at a drycleaners, to learn new tasks, new skills, there are ways to move up to management, to team or floor manager overseeing various departments, and the skills you learn on the floor then inform your decisions higher up. Market yourself like that, and you’ll attract that type of person.”

Finding Resources

Some states offer incentives for employers to give certain benefits like PTO, Insurance, 401(k) programs, and more. How can DLI members find this information and apply for benefits so they can incentivize their employees to stay on the job?

“Our hiring strategy has always been to hire,” said Loeb. “If we find a good fit, we hire and find the opportunity. We are always hiring and never stop the process. It is constant, clear, and consistent.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA.gov) offers a host of resources for small business in the U.S. The SBA website includes a section on Local Assistance. Contact your local SBA office for information on what resources are available for your business to help hire, train, and retain employees.

In summary: Hire who you can; reward top performers; transform jobs into careers; and provide incentives to stay.

By John Paul Roggenkamp, Special to Fabricare

Sidebar: Finding, keeping and appreciating employees was the main topic of a recent DLI Peer-to-Peer Zoom discussion.

Here is what participants shared about how they find, keep, and appreciate their employees:

  • Leadership and your plant culture matter
  • Loyal employees stick around for a reason
  • Invest in your employees with education and praise
  • Involve them in decisions about new equipment that they will use, showing that you value their opinion and work
  • Current and potential employees appreciate it when you take an active part in your community
  • When looking for new employees, trainable is most important
  • People coming from other cleaners may come with bad habits
  • Don’t disparage them, just tell this is our way of doing it
  • It is not easy, but there are good prospects out there
  • Be ready to provide education, training and opportunity
  • Avoid people who change jobs often
  • Look outside the drycleaning business for candidates
  • Be proactive and approach workers like good restaurant servers for CSR work
  • Some owners carry business cards and tell good servers that if they are not happy at work to give them a call
  • Housekeeping workers at hotels are good prospects for production work
  • Some of those potential employees check the company’s Facebook page to get a feeling for the place
  • New CSR employees spend first day in the plant, learning what happens there

Learn more about DLI’s Membership Peer-to-Peer meetings here. Members receive multiple email invitations to each DLI Membership Peer-to-Peer meeting. If you’re not receiving the invitations, please call 800-638-2627 and we’ll be happy to help.

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