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How In-N-Out Burger hires the best talent…

10 Jul 2015, by Kamron Karington in Kamron, Sales

I’ve got some marketing out. Phones are ringing. Dinner rush. Friday night. Tickets piling up. And there he stands, as motionless as an iguana… slooooowly applying toppings. Never speeding up… never slowing down. So I ask: “At your day job at Burger King… don’t they have pretty intense lunch rushes?” “Oh yeah, it gets real busy.” “Don’t you have to really hustle to keep up?” “Oh yeah… we hustle a lot.” “Mmmnnn… okay, why aren’t you hustling now?” Oh, they give us movie passes and stuff when we hustle.”

“Listen Jethro – I’m gonna let you keep your job if you hustle.” Needless to say, this bozo didn’t last till the end of the pay period. And, had I not been there to keep an eye on this new recruit… the night would have been a debacle.

Then there was the girl who would go into three major cheerleading poses every time the phone rang. Great customer service. Only problem was… she’d take the phones off the hook every time her boyfriend called her.

It’s so frustrating… and scary. Your future hinges on the performance of teenagers. And to keep your investment from blowing up on the launch pad… you must provide a great customer experience. And yet I hear it all the time… “any ideas on how to get good employees?”

Seems like the most obvious thing to do when you need to hire a new employee… is to run an ad. Right? Which, with any luck will bring you an influx of people who don’t currently have a job. Therein – lies the problem. Great people are not out looking for jobs. Jobs find them.

Here’s the strategy In-N-Out Burger uses on the west coast. When they open a new store… they scout the surrounding burger joints, find out what the average pay is… then beat it by at least a dollar an hour. They then hire happy, smiling faces away from the competition. They start off strong, while their competitors are scrambling to replace their lost superstars.

And here’s a (audacious but wickedly effective) tactic my manager used from time to time … she would walk into a competing pizzeria during dinner rush and yell out “Hey. We’re hiring drivers and cooks right now – and we paying blankety-blank. If anyone’s looking for a job… stop by and see me.” (Leave the engine running for a quick get-away).

I also discovered that young workers are not interested in benefits and vacations. They are interested in cash. They want and need – money. If you pay more per hour than the guy down the street – you can (if you’re not an absolute monster to work for) pretty much have your pick of the litter. On the flip side… I also learned that employees NEVER do a “better” job just because you give them a raise. Reward good work, don’t bid on it.

The lesson I learned? A great product promoted with highly effective marketing will not survive a lousy customer experience. You’ll likely not get the best employees at  “minimum” wage.