Hiring Champions for your Laundromat or Dry Cleaner


These days, employers everywhere are looking for employees, yet so many individuals are unemployed. When a job search drags on and frustration sets in, employers often fall into the trap of hiring a body to fill that hole in the roster. But this can be a costly mistake.

The Society for Human Resource Management found that hiring an employee carries an average cost of $4,129 and 42 days. Replacing an employee can cost up to 50-60% of their annual salary, and turnover cost can reach up to 200% of total salary costs.

Each bad hire adds these costs to your P&L. The advice for employee management in a tight labor market is as important as ever: Hire slow, fire fast.

Laundry & Dry Cleaning skills are specialized, yet the pool of candidates with direct experience is small. Whether it’s how to use a Dry Cleaning machine, press a shirt correctly, operate your Dry Cleaning Point of Sale (POS) system, navigate a laundry home delivery route or properly fold and package a Wash and Fold order, these skills take time to develop. Hiring the right candidate from the start - and keeping them - is crucial. Any employee hired out of desperation is usually regretted: whether through quick turnover, poor performance, a drag on your culture, or worse a stain on your business’s reputation.

Before the Search

Consider the followng tips before you begin the job candidate search:

  1. Birds of a feather flock together. Like hires like, so if your recruiting manager or lead interviewer is lazy or complacent and does not push themselves to achieve excellence on a daily basis, that recruiter will not seek high quality in his or her new hire. Candidates will also see this and self-select.
  2. Pick a lane and stay in it. Select a search avenue - be it a headhunter (for salaried roles), Indeed.com, Craigslist.org, linkedin or good old fashion Black and White print - and stick with it. Each option comes with its pros and cons, so determine the one best suited for your needs and style. Using many all at once will not prove rewarding: most candidates are using multiple sources anyway and may apply multiple times.
  3. Prepare for low quality, seek high potential. Most people are unemployed for a reason, so keep this in mind when reading over the high number of resumes. Do not get disheartened and do not stop sorting and filtering: the good ones are in there, you just have to look.
  4. Put yourself in the candidates’ shoes. High-quality candidates will research your company before they apply. What will they find? Your reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp may be customer driven, but they can tell a prospective employee a lot about the company and the types of issues they may have to deal with on the job. Review your Glassdoor.com profile as an employer. If you don’t have one, consider setting one up. You can also post jobs that are aggregated to other sites from there. Understand that high-potential employees pay attention to these things, even if you do not.
  5. Be prepared to move fast. Good candidates don’t stay on the market long. Consider scheduling dedicated time each day on your calendar for recruiting so you can stay on top of it. If you put it off, it will not receive the attention it requires. When you meet a great candidate, schedule next steps quickly. Remember that you are competing with other employers who will see the same qualities that you do!
  6. Be ready to discuss salary / compensation. Sometimes getting the best candidates means paying more. We are often fixated on a dollar figure and have trouble moving past it. Reframe the cost and see if it helps you think differently. For example: Pretend that you are looking for a driver, you generally pay $20 an hour for candidates, and you won’t consider paying more than that. But then, a great candidate interviews with you and wants $21 an hour. That $1 more an hour (of wage) costs an extra $2080 a year or $40 week / $80 a pay period. Will the quality of this employee save you that much in productivity? What do you estimate the cost of having the role open for another month to be? What is the cost of settling for a lower-quality hire at $20 per hour in 2 months? Reframing costs in your mind may help you make a better decision.

These points will help get you ready for the hiring process. Next, explore the following steps for setting up a good candidate search process.

Step One: Clearly define the position you are hiring for and the criteria required to hire.

Start the article with something that gets the employee excited about the company. Searching for a job is boring and cumbersome so it is nice to read a positive ad. You shed a positive light on your company and will get more positive people to apply. After describing your company, describe the job position and be honest . If the position is hard, the post should reflect that in a positive way. If the position requires lifting 50lbs every day up and down stairs, say so. If the applicant reads this and is already discouraged, it is much better that they self-select now.

Next, give them at least two calls to action and no more than three. Ask them to check the website out and to submit their resume via email with a specific subject line. This serves as a screening process: if the candidate has not devoted time and attention to this post or cannot follow directions, move on.

Step Two: Analyze the Applicants Based on Your Needs and Culture.

Once the applications arrive, filter out the definite rejections and review the rest for the necessary skills. For example, when hiring a driver you will likely need someone who is knowledgeable with computers. In our industry, flexible employees who are skilled in multiple areas are at a premium, because they are often doing many different jobs and it indicates ability to advance. For example, a driver who was once a mechanic can supervise fleet maintenance and connect with a network of other mechanics in town to get a better deal when you need serious work on a van! Paying a few extra dollars saves on other costs and frees up time for other employees to work on other tasks.

Step Three: Use a Pre-Screening Questionnaire.

Send all the applicants you want to call for interviews a pre-screening questionnaire. This gives us three types of information about the applicant.

  1. Did he take the time to read and return the screener promptly and completely?
  2. Did he answer the questions in the format given or did they elaborate and give more detail?
  3. How did their answers stack up to the ideal candidate?

With more information we can now take the big stack of hopefuls and narrow them down to a short list of potential champions!

Step Four: Schedule The Interview.

Call them for an interview and have a specific time and date in mind. If they can not make that time and date give a back-up time and date. If they can not make the second time and date tell them “we will have to check our schedule and get back to you with another time that works.”The candidate obviously does not want this position bad enough to make time in your schedule. Aim for candidates that are hungry.

Step Five: The Interview.

When they arrive, observe their grooming and punctuality. Punctual people who care about their appearance will give the same respect to the company they represent.

Take them around and show them the business. Make them feel welcome and show that you are human - not just a company. In addition to asking what they bring to the table, tell them what you can do for them. A positive reaction is ideal positive energy is one of the first things to look for.

After you show them what and who you are, determine if they acted on the first action point of checking out the website. Ask one specific thing, such as “did you watch the how to use the service video? What did you think? Did it seem easy to use?” If they give you feedback then you know in the future they will communicate with you. If they are silent or did not go to the website, understand how that reflects their ability to do the job.

Step Six: The Field Test.

Ask the candidate to complete a task that they will be doing on a regular basis. For a delivery driver, for instance, ask them to lift a package properly, drive from point A to point B and parallel park, locate a Google map and print it out. During this time,ask tester questions like: “What song do they have on repeat these days on their stereo? When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew? (But be very careful to not ask any illegal interview questions.)

These simple, straightforward questions can show how the candidate handles mild amounts of stress. Can they handle the questions and still complete the task accurately and quickly? The on-the-job stress will certainly be more intense.

Is the Candidate a Fit for Your Team of Champions?

After you send the candidate on their way, consult the other managers for feedback. Often the most important question is: will this candidate be a good fit for the team? Fitting in with the team and the culture is crucial to their success. An employee may be a great individual worker, but in any great company everyone is on the same team. A team supports and works for each other’s success. And a true champion fights for the team-member standing beside him so they both succeed. A group of strong individuals may win the battle, but a team of true champions wins the war!