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John Marvin

Avoid These 3 Hiring Mistakes In Order to Get the Right People for Your Business

Successful business owners are always looking for good people.




“Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.” – Good To Great by Jim Collins

EVERY SMALL BUSINESS in the U.S. is struggling to find people to work. According to the Department of Labor, there has never been more job openings in the country. This leaves some people desperate to hire anyone that shows up to interview. I have a word of caution, don’t. Having the right people on your bus and having them in the right seats is required to be successful.

Too often owners wait until they need someone. But successful operators are always looking for good people. Follow suit and avoid these classic hiring mistakes:

Waiting Until A Position Opens

If you wait to hire only to fill an opening, you’ll be tempted to hire the first applicant that comes along. Even the best employees sometimes have to resign. If you don’t have an extra person on staff then, the understaffing immediately causes issues. The remaining staff have to take on extra responsibilities. Then there are not enough employees to spend adequate time with customers, so service suffers. When this happens, dissatisfied customers head to Google, Yelp or social media. It can get ugly. But the worst thing is you end up hiring people whose only qualification is availability. This is not how you put the best people on the bus. It takes time to find good people and if you’re desperate, you won’t take the necessary time.


Only Hiring People with Experience

If you require specific experience when hiring, you immediately reduce the potential applicant pool. Instead, hire for quality of character and train on the technical aspects of a job. I ask myself four questions when considering a candidate: 1. Are they smart? Do they have common sense? If you have a practical problem to solve, is this someone that can solve it? 2. Can they communicate? Do they look you in the eye? Are they an attentive listener? Are they coherent in their responses? Can they spell? 3. Do they have a good work ethic? Do they convey it when they speak of themselves? You can tell by asking about their past jobs. You want people on your bus who are willing to put in the work, stay late and arrive early when needed. This is a quality that cannot be taught in a training program. 4. Do they genuinely enjoy people? Do they enjoy learning about you and your practice? Do they have a likable personality? Do people enjoy getting to know them? We can forget eyecare is a people business and we need a team that sincerely enjoys other people.

You cannot train someone to be smart who isn’t, to communicate who can’t, to work hard or enjoy people when they don’t.

Not Investing in Good People

It is not just about pay. While that’s important, you need to really invest in your people’s lives. Your staff, the people on your bus, are your only asset that can appreciate in value. The more you invest in them, the more valuable they become. Always be looking for ways to increase their value. It has been proven that employees who feel valued, value their jobs.

Here are two ways that you can invest in your team:

  1. Create a culture of continual learning. Always have a training program for employees to complete. These should be formal, not just on the job. There are countless books, audio programs and online training courses for technical expertise. Recognize and reward employees for completing this training.
  2. Play together as a team. Take staff and their families to a baseball game or another family-oriented outing. Celebrate birthdays in a big way. Host a picnic at your house. Create an atmosphere of family. I was told once that people will do for love what they will never do for money.

John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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