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How to Discover Your Next 5-Star Employee

An industrywide concern for independent home improvement retailers is the ability to find employees who are excited about their job, have a strong work ethic and want to have a long-term career in retailing.

Hardware Retailing recently highlighted employees at three independent businesses who exhibit a desire to learn, a willingness to help and a passion for the industry. The retailers who hired, trained and encouraged these five-star employees shared their tips for what other retailers can look for in their potential hires to find their own shining stars.

The needs of every business vary for a number of reasons, including the season, customer type and type of business. Use the following recommendations to navigate your hiring process as they apply to your operation and your needs.

A 5-Star Employee Checklist

Hire for personality. Carol Perman, owner of Manchester Hardware in Manchester, Massachusetts, says passion about the company is something she looks for in every new hire. “They have to care about the success of the business, the customer and the way the store looks,” she says. “Being enthusiastic, pleasant and respectful are high on my list, too.”

Michael Connolly, owner of Connolly’s Do it Best Hardware & Rental in Fort Wayne, Indiana, says he looks for someone who is comfortable around people. “This is a very social business, so they are the right fit if they are people-oriented,” he says. “If they don’t like talking to people or helping them, I don’t think they’d be very happy here.”

At Hassett Hardware, which has six locations in California, owner Eric Hassett says hiring for experience isn’t as critical as it was about 10 years ago. “We no longer consider experience, any experience, as an asset. It can be, but it’s not necessarily so,” he says. “Hire friendly people and teach them what they need to know, and be patient.”

Take your time. Patience is key, Hassett says, because it can help you weed out those who may not be the right fit. “I’ve found it better to be patient and hire good, friendly people than to hire someone who’s marginal or not friendly,” he says. “That person is harder to get rid of later when you’re trying to find a good person.”

Connolly also considers patience a virtue in hiring. “Don’t jump the gun and hire someone because you’re desperate,” he says. “I think you have much more success when you know you’ll have time to work with the person you’re considering hiring in order to make it a strong fit.”

Invest in your team. Once you have a potential five-star on your staff, ensure they have the resources they need to succeed. Perman, Connolly and Hassett all say training and trusting your team members is crucial to their development.

“Play to their strengths and listen to what they have to say,” Perman says. “They can’t contribute if you’re just giving them tasks and not paying attention to their perspective. People reflect the attitude they see at the top.”

“Continual training of our team is critical,” Connolly says. “We provide online and in-house training and we make sure our employees have a chance to work in all areas of the store.”

For Hassett, training means trusting employees from the start and not being afraid of failure. “I think a lot of retailers are overly cautious with how much they enable their employees because they’re trying to keep them from failing,” he says. “I see failing as a good thing because they are able to learn from it. Don’t micromanage. I’ve seen a lot of organizations not trust the staff enough.”

About Melanie Moul

Melanie is the communications and content manager for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She joined the NHPA team in 2016 as an editor for Hardware Retailing and now helps lead the communications team to deliver relevant, timely content to the industry.

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