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A Game of Winners and Losers.

by Art Little

Transmission Digest Magazine
This article appeared in the March 2014 issue of Transmission Digest.

As a recruiter I am looking for three things. Talent , attitude and a consistent work ethic. There are other attributes to consider but, that is what I am mainly interested in. That is what I think it takes to be a winner. As a recruiter for the shop, I know that If I can recruit people with those three qualities, I will have done my job.

Talent is first on the list for a reason. If I hire someone that doesn't have the talent to do the job, I am just setting myself up to lose. Talent is hard to describe but, I know it when I see it . Let's look at the definition of talent . ( Talent is an innate ability, aptitude, an above average ability, a natural endowment or ability of a superior quality. )I don't know about you but, I want people with innate , above average natural endowments and abilities, working for me.

In sales, a lot of managers have good people skills and yet, some managers outsell others . The reason for that, usually but not always, is because they have more sales talent than others. There are order takers and closers in sales. The closers are the ones with the talent to close the sale. That is the talent I am looking for when I recruit a manager The closers are the winners in that group and give me and my team the best chance at being a winner .

The closers sales talent gives the shop a higher lead to sale conversion rate and usually a higher ticket price . That means more work for the shop and more money for me. If the manager can't close the sale, he loses and the shop loses. Nobody works until the manager sells something. So, it is pretty important that the manager is a closer and not just an order taker.

The talent I am looking for when I recruit technicians is speed and accuracy. If you watch techs work for 30 years like I have you get to see a pretty good sampling of talent. There are those techs that have the touch. They do not struggle with disassembly or assembly. In their heads, they stay a step ahead of what they are doing and focus on quickly moving through the work assignment . Their hands move faster than others with less effort. Their warranty rates are low because they have not left anything off or assembled something wrong. Their work is accurate and without error. They make it look easy. These guys uniforms seem to always be cleaner than everyone else's too for some reason .

Speed is a very important factor when I am recruiting because I have to know how many units a builder can build a week and how many removes and installs an installer can do in order to work out the productivity numbers for my shop .For example, If I have a manager selling ten major repairs a week and I hire a builder can only build six, I have hired a looser because this builder is not qualified to work in this shop. He may do fine in another shop and be a winner there but, he would be a sure loser in this shop.

Attitude is next because it is an intricate part of being a winner. Talent is not enough when a team is involved. Winners have to maintain a positive attitude. I think we have all worked around people with a bad attitude. The builder that is mad all the time and treats everyone on the team , including the owner, like they are stupid. The manager that is always demanding the impossible. The installer that is always bitching about something. These guys are losers.They make it harder than it has to be for everyone. They don't respect themselves or anyone else.

Respect goes a long way toward developing great attitudes. Winners respect themselves, their teammates and the owner and the shop. That respect dictates how employees interact with each other as teammates. Respect breeds a good attitude. It is critical when people work together as a group. A bad attitude makes for a long day for everybody . You can choose to be happy or choose to be unhappy like Mama always said. Winners seem to find a way to always have a great attitude.

Last but not least is consistent work ethic. An employee can have all the talent in the world and a winners attitude but, if he has a poor work ethic, he will fail and you will fail with him . A past employee, Freeway Frank , comes to mind . Let's use Frank as an example to prove my point. Frank was a builder that had more talent in his little finger than most builders have in their entire body. He had a great personality . He got along with the other employees and the customers loved Frank. He was a natural. Frank had fast hands and could knock out a steady 12 units a week with a warranty rate under three percent. He was as slick as it gets on the bench.

Freeway Frank got his name from drinking with the bums under the I 35 freeway bridge. Some days he would come to work , work all morning and when lunch rolled around, get in his car and drive to the freeway bridge and not come back until the next day. Thus the name Freeway Frank. He was so good, he could do that one or two days a week and still get built out by Friday on most weeks.

Even though he was probably the most talented builder I ever met and had a great attitude, Frank's work ethic made him a loser at the shop. His work ethic eventually spilled over to the other employees and they started to go to the I 35 freeway bridge too. The only problem was that they did not have the talent, speed and accuracy that Frank had and they couldn't keep up . Frank dragged the team down. His work ethic eventually led to breaking up a great team that I had spent a lot of my time and money putting and keeping together. It was sad for me to see such a waste of real talent but, I learned a valuable lesson. Frank was living proof that It takes all three......talent, attitude and a consistent work ethic to be a winner in our business.

As shop owners, sometimes we get used to losing and tend to settle for what we have. It is easier that way. Recruiting takes time and effort. It costs money. Besides that, we might hire a flake or someone less productive than the existing employee we already have.

That is true. There are no guarantees when it comes to recruiting. It is hard to know who to hire. The hard truth is that we never really know if the employee we hired is competent until he gets there and the show begins. I have bought my ticket, got my popcorn and sat down on the front row to see the show many times only to find out, there ain't no show. But, when you need to increase productivity at your shop and you are not getting it done with the team you have, what are your choices? Well, you have two choices. Win or lose. You can decide to put a winning team together to work in your shop or go to the I 35 freeway overpass and see if you can't find Freeway Frank and his boys.

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