Hiring, Attracting and Retaining Employees
If it were only as simple as typing it out, unfortunately, it’s not. Hiring, attracting and retaining employees requires a lot of effort. Whether you have a dedicated HR team or you’re a 10 employee outfit, the challenges remain the same.
Lisa (Shroyer) Pyle was recently featured on the Self-Storage podcast to share her 20+ years of experience with host Jim Ross. There are some great takeaways on hiring, attracting and retaining employees. Give it a listen below.
Jim: So the big question is this, how are those in the self storage industry like us going to be successful in today’s market? That’s the question, and this show will give you the answers. My name is Jim Ross and welcome to The Self Storage Show.
Jim: Hi everyone, this is Jim Ross and the Self Storage Show. In this episode I got Lisa Shroyer from … a partner at Real8 Group. How’s it going?
Lisa: It’s great. How are you today?
Jim: Good. I saw you over at the SSA event here a few weeks back in Vegas doing a presentation.
Lisa: Yes. I appreciate that. Thanks for having me on your podcast. It’s a privilege and pleasure to be able to share some of what I covered in that presentation with your audience here. So, I appreciate it.
Jim: That’s what’s kind of funny. You go with the SSA shows and ISS shows, and see the presentations and it’s great for the people that are there but I figured there’s a lot more people that can’t be in attendance so I try to kind of take what was there and bring it to the podcast. So I appreciate you being you being on this. But anyway, let’s kind of jump right into it here, kind of tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the storage industry.
Lisa: Definitely. Definitely. Well, as you said, my name is Lisa Shroyer and I’m a partner at Real8 Group. Some people may know me as Lisa Knupp and I was previously a senior managing director with Huntington Partners. Huntington Partners recently dissolved and three former Huntington executives formed Real8 Group. So Real8 Group is a recruiting firm that works exclusively within the real estate and construction industry. We place mid and senior level executives nationally. I have been an executive recruiting for a little over 24 years and I’ve worked with self storage clients since 1998. I have recruited and placed self storage professionals in development, construction, accounting, property management in an executive level position.
Lisa: My first start was years ago. We had been engaged by Shurgard self-storage at the time to find a development executive for them. And I was a recruiter at the time, went out, found candidates and made a placement. And I liked the industry, so when it became time for me to develop some of my own clients, storage was an area that I wanted to focus on.
Jim: Found the storage niche I take it, huh?
Lisa: I did. As you can imagine too, during my career, I’ve gained an awful lot of knowledge about recruiting and interviewing and hiring and why employees leave, why they stay. So basically what works and what doesn’t.
Jim: No, and that’s exactly what I wanted to talk about. That’s your specialty on hiring, attracting and retaining employees ’cause I get that kind of question a lot in this … Not in this industry, I’m sure it’s in any industry that that’s of most importance but specifically for the storage industry. That comes up quite a bit so that’s what I’m glad you’re able to own it so you can share your expertise here with us.
Lisa: Sure. I’m happy to. Well, obviously the first step is going to be attracting. And I think it’s really critical for employers to realize that they have to be proactive in their recruiting efforts. That the best candidates are probably not out there actively looking for a job, especially not in today’s marketplace. A talented real estate or a self storage professional is probably working, they might not be happy, they may not have any upward mobility in their company or maybe they like a greater challenge. But they probably don’t have the time to post a resume online or search for other opportunities.
Lisa: So the challenge really is for employers, how do you find these great candidates? There are obviously multiple ways that companies attract or recruit employees. Some will run ads, some will use online job words or social media like LinkedIn or Facebook, companies have employee referral programs, they may engage search firms like ours or have an in-house recruiter or department. But it’s really important that regardless of how you do it, you have a plan. And I think employers really need to consider that because you are determining the direction that you go in, in order to find an employee. And that employee is going to represent your company, interact with your customers and ideally add value to your organization.
Lisa: See, you want to take some time to evaluate your current methods of finding employees. One, are those methods working for you? But not only that, but more importantly, are you finding quality employees? And I think one of the struggles is that we all know that you can run an add and just be bombarded with hundreds of resumes of unqualified candidates. But people are the foundation of your business and you need talent, not just a warm body but someone who’s really going to excel. So, determining how you find your employees, maybe it is running an ad, it may seem like a small task but it’s really not. Because all of these different avenues will send you down different paths to different kinds of candidates.
Lisa: And I think about it this way, you wouldn’t set out on a road trip without a map or a plan. So you need to think about planning your recruiting strategy the same way. You basically know your destination or your goal but you need to put thought into how you get there.
Jim: Oh, totally. And like you said, if you’re going to go out and do an ad, specifically in this kind of a case, I find it so often that I look at different ads and people are placing ads like that, it’s so generic and there’s so many times I’ve just seen that they’d cast such a wide net that, when you talked about it, you just get so many unqualified candidates. It’s kind of nuts. But as far as having a plan, when you’re making your ad and attracting the right person, well, the way you … It’s almost like copyrighting. If you have the right copyrighting in your ad, one day you’re going to attract the right kind of person that you’re hoping to get. Plus, it saves you a lot of time upfront. You kind of weed out every one that you know is not going to be a candidate. So definitely want to keep that in mind when it comes to attracting the right kind of person. Yeah, be specific when it comes to your kind of ad and what you’re putting out there so you’re attracting the right kind of person.
Lisa: Sure. And I think it’s really important that companies are proactive. And ways that you can do that is by networking, staying connected, especially with anyone that you may ultimately want to hire. Certainly staying up to date on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great tool so make sure you’re connected to as many people as you can be, join industry groups, pay attention to updates about contacts who have made job changes or updated their profile, even posted a resume or stated that they’re open to new opportunities. If you don’t have an employee referral program, think about establishing one. Recruit at job fairs or align your company with universities. I know a lot of companies struggle to fill maintenance positions so reach out to technical schools, see if they have online posting for students and alumni. Whatever your needs are, I think it’s important to have that plan. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in the industry too that you may be interested in considering for an open position. They may be interested themselves or they might have a referral for you.
Jim: Yeah. I’m-
Lisa: And I think …
Jim: [inaudible 00:08:46]. I kind of take this dawn to a little lower level ’cause I know you deal a lot with executives and more of the upper tier manager positions. And I kind of look at my standpoint when it comes to… I’m hiring storage managers or I’m hiring maintenance guys for doing the rounds. And I found more when you talk about having referrals within the actual kind of ecosystem of the storage industry. When I’m just calling other storage sites and I’m saying, “Hey, do you got a referral pool?” And I try to do as much as I can in getting referral pools of other storage sites that know people that are looking for a gig or looking for a job. Rather than just doing a blanket, casting a net and seeing what happens. Having people that are already in the industry and having people that have a pool to draw from, this has saved me quite a few times.
Jim: So I just wanted to throw it out there when it comes to kind of for a manager maintenance positions. There’s no better tool than your fellow…people say they’re competitors but hey I think we’re all in the storage business together so I reach out to them first and see if they have some contacts and referrals.
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. That’s a great idea. Just, again, a great example of being proactive. And I think too, companies need to remember that in today’s competitive marketplace, most candidates, the best candidates especially, are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them. If you do find for some reason just a great candidate who is seeking a new job and they’re not just a passive candidate, expect them to have multiple interviews and receive multiple offers. And really, you need to think about what sets your company apart from your competitors and how are you going to attract the best talent to your company.
Lisa: And really one way to think about that is looking at why people make job changes to begin with. And often times, I hear, “I’m open to making a job change because I’m looking for room for growth.” is one. So, does your company promote from within and will there be an opportunity for this person to be promoted? Certainly, an increase in earning is a motivating factor. However, I would say that it’s really important that money should not be the soul motivator. Employers have to be competitive because you cannot expect to get qualified candidates if you’re not paying competitively. But if compensation is the only motivator an employer’s going to run with that candidate expecting a counter offer from their current company or having a short tenure with their firm if a hire paying position comes along. So you need to be careful about that.
Lisa: Flexibility is also important to a lot of people. Does your company allow employees to go to doctor’s appointments and attend school functions for their children? Would you allow someone to adjust their hours to avoid rush hour traffic? It’s just an example. Difficult supervisors are certainly why people leave. It could be if you have a supervisor that has a high percentage of turnover, maybe it’s poor management or it could be bad hiring decisions too.
Lisa: Lack of support. If your understaffed, do your managers have enough support and talent reporting in to them in order to allow them to also do their job? And company culture too is just so important in terms of what kind of reputation does your company have in the marketplace, what is your culture like? Do you have team building events, in-house contest? What type of support do you have in terms of education or tuition reimbursement? And you make your employees feel appreciated. And you can do a lot of even small things that require little expense and a little bit of thought. But it really makes your staff feel appreciated and I think that goes along with shorter commute-
Jim: I just got to throw something in there though. That’s huge. Just the simple appreciation of just people feeling like they matter, honestly that’s such a huge one for me and I get excited ’cause I’ve been lots of times with just storage managers. I think kind of my point of view with storage managers themselves are kind of by themselves. They’re running a single man operation kind of a low, it’s with me, myself and I kind of position. And you kind of feel appreciated and that goes on up to regional managers and district managers and everything else. Everybody wants to be appreciated. Sometimes just a little bit goes such a long ways.
Jim: Like I just literally just had a conversation this morning with somebody that shall remain nameless but they were specifically just talking about how they just felt like they’re getting not at all appreciated. All the work that they do, there’s no simple thank you, there’s not a, “How are you doing today?” They’re not motivated to work anymore. And it all kinda comes full circle as far as being appreciated and then motivated and then looking to work and this comes to hiring and retaining those employees. Man, we can go all day about that. But I just want to throw it up real quick when you hit on being appreciated. That’s a huge one for me.
Lisa: Absolutely. And I think a lot of times employees are looking for a greater challenge or more responsibility. So if your company offers upward mobility or if you promote someone or you give them more responsibility, they also have to be rewarded financially. ‘Cause you can have a great employee who can take on an additional responsibility, that promotion, they’re excited about it. But they’re gonna become frustrated if they’re promoted and there’s not a financial reward to that. So I think that’s really important too. And it goes to that sense of appreciation for their hard work, that there has to be a financial reward as well.
Jim: No, exactly. And not to play the devil’s advocate, but I’ve also seen people that have made just a lot of remove in their career but it didn’t have any kind of finance reward but it’s what motivated them. They found a position that was a little more passionate about, that they felt they could contribute more to. So honestly, they didn’t make any more money but it was a better fit for them. So a lot of that times, it just come down to what motivates that person and what they think they can bring the most value to. And that just comes down to communication and talking and … yeah.
Lisa: For sure, definitely. And I think economy and decision making ability and it’s really important to allow your employees to have a voice, make them feel like they matter and you listen to their ideas and just all of these things. One of the questions that we always ask candidates is, “What’s motivating you to consider a change?” And these are just some of the common things that we hear. And I think companies can really listen to those things and pay attention to them and they can prevent turnover and prevent losing some of their good employees if they follow some of these guidelines.
Jim: Oh yeah. And that’s where it comes down to communication ahead of time before things to start settle in, before they start to get disgruntled, before they’ve already checked out basically, mentally and they’re already ready to move on. Well, if you just have the communication ahead of time, you can kind of counteract that and talk to ’em and make the adjustments before they already are ready to move on to something else.
Lisa: Definitely. And I think too that when you have an open position as well in a company that’s really important that they know what they’re looking for. And that sounds simple enough but it’s not always the case. I’ll have clients call me sometimes about an opening and they may or may not have a written job description and they may or may not know exactly what they’re looking for or where the ideal candidate is going to come from. But I always ask a series of questions in order to better define the role. And I think just going down through those questions can help employers. If you don’t have a job description, it’ll help you create one. And it also really gets you thinking about the position and figuring out exactly what that person’s background’s going to look like, which makes the hiring process a lot easier.
Jim: Well yeah. And just curious, like when you’re filling positions for these kind of levels, does experience, is that still in this day and age, still a big deciding factor on experience or are people a little more open to giving people a shot to prove themselves? I’m just curious.
Lisa: Sure. And by the time a company comes to us, they definitely want someone who has experience. And we’ll definitely go down through the job description of course, knowing what the duty is and responsibilities of the job are, and that’s crucial. Sometimes in the case of a new position, again, a company may not have that job description prepared but when thinking about lifting those duties and responsibilities, you can always ask yourself too, “What do I want this person to accomplish?” And think through how they’re going to get there. It’s important to think about the travel requirements. You don’t want to invest a lot of time into a candidate to find out in the end that they can’t travel if it’s a requirement.
Lisa: And also too, you want to look at what kind of commute they’re going to have on a daily basis and make sure it’s reasonable. Candidates also are interested in knowing obviously the description of the property or the portfolio, the location in size and the pace of development or construction position, what projects are underway, what projects are in the pipeline, where are they located, is the portfolio growing, what areas are they going to expand into? Of course the flowchart, who would they give their support to, who do they oversee?
Lisa: And I think one great question too an employer should ask themself is what are the greatest challenges of this position? Think through that because you may want to find someone who has the strength or experience in an area where you need the most help. And that challenge too, could also impact how interested potential candidates are. So it could end up being a time saver.
Lisa: And then when we get to the key requirements for the position, we divide those really into two categories, by the key requirements or the absolute must have and then the preferred skills or the wishlist item. So by the time that candidate’s out and we’re sending resumes over to clients, we’re not going to send resumes over candidates that don’t fit those keys. And that’s really your screening guide. So, as an employer, what’s your candidates have to have? And I would use that as a guideline as you sort through all those resumes that come in from your ad or whatever resource you’re using to recruit or find candidates.
Lisa: And then there’s preferred skills or all of those experiences, skills or education that is really going to set an average candidate apart from a superstar. And one example I often hear is clients who tell me, do I have to have someone that has a four year degree? And then we’ll recruit, well I may send resumes of those candidates that have a four year degree and a week later we find the perfect candidate who is a few credits shy and that can end up being our placement.
Lisa: So, really think about where you’re gonna be flexible in terms of requirement and I think [inaudible 00:21:40] the time saver as you can think through some of those areas as you’re filling a position.
Jim: Well, exactly. It kinda goes back to know exactly what you’re looking for, but again at the same time being flexible that if something comes across your desk and may not have checked every single box, but it seems like a better fit. Yeah, you gotta be a little bit flexible at the same time. I got some experiences when I thought I knew exactly what I wanted in a certain candidate and then just something out of that field just came and then kinda felt right but on paper, they wouldn’t have mattered, they wouldn’t have made the cut and they turned out to be some of my best employees.
Lisa: Absolutely, and I think now it obviously is a long process that you sell a position and I think that in terms of just some hiring tips, companies need to think about when placing that ad, how to promote the position, entice candidates to apply, think about what growths you can offer, stability, your culture, your benefits, and really think through why someone would want to come to work for your company, what sets you apart from your competitors. Is the position itself appealing?
Lisa: And I think too as you’re going through the interviewing process, make sure that moves forwards as quickly as possible. You don’t want too much time to go by between the first and final interview, because candidates who are actively looking will likely be considering multiple positions and you don’t wanna lose them based on timing. If your process is too long, you run the risk of losing the candidate to another opportunity and also I’ve always thought that candidates tend to have sort of a shelf life if you will, and even if they’ve not been looking before, even when a new opportunity presents itself, gets them thinking about making a job change and you don’t want their interest level to dissipate, and again for another company competitor to hire them when you have a position where they would have been a great fit for so I think that’s really important too.
Jim: Have you seen kind of a sweet spot as far as a time line goes from beginning the process to hiring?
Lisa: We always say that from the time a company calls us and we begin the recruiting process and so they actually start working for that employer, that can vary anywhere from thirty to ninety days. That has an awful lot to do with where the position is located, where the interviewing is taking place, the seniority of the position or seniority level, if it’s a site management position the interviews can happen quickly, you might have a two-step interviewing process and you can easily make a decision within a week or so, and then assuming that person has to turn in two weeks notice that gets you to basically 30 days from the time of the interview until the time they start.
Lisa: The more senior level roles that require multiple interviews, maybe a trip to the company’s corporate office, maybe a relocation, longer notice period, those are the ones that are gonna extend to 90 days, but on average you’re probably really in that thirty to sixty day period.
Jim: Gotcha. And I’m curious what your perspective is on this when it comes to interviewing, and you’re actually sitting down and talking to them, well I find it now it’s almost harder sometimes to actually be doing, really scheduling the face to face interviews, at least especially initially. Do you see people do a lot of phone interviews or Skype interviews where they can physically be in the face to face scenario?
Lisa: Absolutely. I think that’s a great idea because if you wait to meet someone in person you could be a couple weeks out and again especially if you have like a district manager position in Florida and the corporate offices in Chicago, you don’t want that process to be extended anymore than it has to be. We have actually made placements where candidates never physically met the client that they had film interviews, Skype, usually Skype in that case, and they end up accepting an offer without ever physically going to the location.
Lisa: That hasn’t happened often, but it has happened. So with technology, the ability to Skype, FaceTime, you really can do a lot of the interviewing process and front end work without having to travel.
Jim: Oh yeah. It is to your advantage, that’s all I do, quite honestly at least for the position I’d fill for my little [inaudible 00:26:37] company. It’s all through Skype. I do everything I can one by one by one, book in as many as I can within the two-hour time period and it works out so much better. And then of course I could do face to face once you kinda get to the first little, jump through the first few hoops that you have to go through, but no, utilize the technology to your great advantage. So save your times, save them time, everyone’s happy.
Lisa: You can really have a first and second interview via the phone and Skype and then have your final interview in person if it involves a relocation or house-hunting trip, just wrap it all up in one, you save time, you save money with interviewing and travel expenses. So it’s a win-win.
Jim: Yep. Good. We got a few more minute. Is there anything that you want to make sure we touched upon?
Lisa: Sure, I think you said the final thing that I had discussed was how to retain employees. So we know it’s expensive to replace an employee, not only the cost involved for ads or search forms but it’s time-consuming, filling a position takes the hiring manager away from their job. We basically lose the production of two employees, not just one. According to the Employee Benefit News, it costs an employer thirty three percent of a worker’s annual salary to replace a mid-level position.
Lisa: And it’s a lot and there are really four main areas where a company loses money to replace someone. It’s the cost of hiring, the cost of onboarding and training, the cost of learning and development and of course the cost of having a vacant position. So, obviously it’s a lot easier and less expensive to keep the staff that you have, assuming that they are performers.
Lisa: Certainly one of the questions that I was asked at my presentation in Vegas was, what do you do when you have a bad employee or one that creates problems? And retaining a bad employee can have such a negative impact on the entire team and profits, plus you can easily lose multiple good employees or even customers or clients, due to the actions or lack of knowledge of the poor performers. So, you wanna retain your good employees, I think that’s really important in the end. Just think about all of the reasons that we talked about, about why people leave and as an employer avoid those mistakes to keep your performers, and that goes to a good benefit package that includes medical and life insurance stability and 401(k), stock programs, again employees should be well compensated. You have to pay them what they’re worth, have a bonus program, some incentive, offer career growth, we talked about pats on the back and inexpensive perks like flexible hours or half days on Fridays during summer, sporting or event tickets. Some companies provide snacks or bagels or anything like that.
Lisa: Again, this is to connect with employees, show them that you care and you do those things and I think you can build a pretty loyal team.
Jim: Oh, exactly. Again it comes back to…I’m a full circle here but it comes down to showing appreciation. You’re nothing without your employees so show them that you appreciate them in any way you can with a financial or just even the small little things, it adds up and again I’m totally on-board with that whatever you can do to keep the good employee around versus trying to go through the whole process of trying to replace them. Yeah, keep them around for good and make sure they’re worth it.
Jim: Good, perfect. Well if people wanna get a hold of you, and if they listen to you and wanna maybe fill their needs for trying to find a ploy for their relocations, how do they reach out to you?
Lisa: They can reach me at the office which is area code (843) 310-8811 I’m on extension 103 or my E-mail which is lshroyer, S-H-R-O-Y-E-R@real8group.com. Of course our website is real8group.com and that’s the word real with the number eight group dot com and we also have a newsletter called The Real Deal and if anyone wanted to visit our website you could on there, sign up and get the weekly newsletter as well.
Jim: Perfect, Okay. I’ll head over there myself. Well good, well thanks for taking the time Lisa.
Lisa: Great. Absolutely, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Jim: Alight, We’ll talk to you soon. Take care.
Lisa: Sounds good, thank you, buh-bye.
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