Archive for April, 2012
We have recently begun a search for our 3rd permanent employee. First I tried to send a job description out to friends and colleagues locally. We did not have much luck so, three days ago (on Friday) I posted it on Craigslist.
Needless to say, hiring a complete stranger is incredibly nerve-racking. Bringing someone new into the company is like bringing someone into my family. They will quickly learn everything there is to know about our company.
Over the weekend we have already received at least 30 applications. We are going to do some phone screening and have any applicant we decide to interview in person fill out a few forms so we can collect more information and really do our diligence on this hire. Unfortunately, we do not have an HR department nor do we have these boiler plate forms.
I started Googling in the hopes of finding something usable (and free) and I came across an unexpected site with some great resources. It turns out that Office Depot provides a slew of corporate forms that are all free.
What a great resource for a start-up.
Oh, I am sure I will let you know how the hiring goes!
I was recently asked if I would recommend that college or MBA students try and launch a venture while they are in school or just graduating.
First let me say that the school itself will tend to provide a ton of FREE resources. It could be anything from professors to office space. Aside from these, here are four more reasons the earlier you do it the easier it is:
- While you probably don’t have a lot of money you also typically have no real financial obligations, no mortgages, you can probably go back home and live if you need to. You may have student loans but if you are “self employed” or make under a certain amount most banks will allow you to claim hardship and postpone payments for a long time (I actually did this for the first year after Darden).
- When you start a company there is a good chance you will fail. As you age you tend to take on more responsibility, wife, kids, etc. When you are young if you/your company fails you can bounce back and the only person you really effect is yourself.
- The longer you are at a corporate job the less likely you are to start your own thing. You get comfortable with a paycheck and typically as you age you become more risk averse.
- Entrepreneurship is a great story & learning experience. If you do fail, having an entrepreneurial endeavor on your resume is amazing. You will have learned more than most of your peers would at the entry level position. I truly believe it will make you a much more attractive candidate for any position.
I have recently had some people ask what they can do to provide better customer service on the cheap. Aside from “people cost” providing unmatched customer service can be surprisingly easy. It is actually kind of sad, but it doesn’t take much to stand out from the pack. If you do what is basically “expected” of you you are already ahead of the game.
Here are a few of my tips:
#1. It needs to start at the top and flow through the entire organization. When people ask me what kind of a company we run the first thing I say is a “customer service company.” We could really be selling anything. In my emails out to clients my title is always “Scrubadoo Customer Service.”
#2. Use common sense. If there is an issue with a client, put yourself in their shoes and then make your decision based on what you would want to happen if you were the customer.
#3. Communicate. This is probably the easiest and most impressive thing you can do for a client. Anticipate questions they may have and answer them before the ask. In our situation we preemptively send out emails to all our clients with a REAL customer service person’s contact email and phone number, tell them when their order will ship, follow up with a second email telling them their order has shipped, and finally we ask them to reach out to us if they have any questions at all.
#4. Follow up. If someone calls or emails, respond to them ASAP. We try to respond within an hour. At the very least you should always be able to respond within 24 hours. Follow up is really so important.
You would be shocked at how just executing on #3 and #4 will bring you to the top of your industry in the customer service department. Great customer service does not have to be incredibly difficult.
#5. Wow factor. It never hurts to have a “wow factor” to put really rank your customer service amongst the elite in your industry. This can be your shipping and return policies, a unexpected gift, etc. At Scrubadoo we hand write thank you notes to all of our clients (and we service thousands of clients a year). We also have a free return policy that is head and shoulders above what our competitors offer.
These are just a few simple steps that I believe can be executed on by any small company. In fact, we are proof that anyone can do it!