Make Old Staff New Again

Right now, with the Covid crisis still very much upon us, you may not be hiring new staff. But that doesn’t mean you can’t transform your current staff into “new” staff again.

Remember when…

When you hire someone new, they’re fresh. They are wide-eyed. They are eager to perform to show their worth. Fast forward a year (or 5 or 10) and you see a different person. Now they are jaded, maybe a little lax in their habits, and feel entitled to the job rather than having to prove themselves every day.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could roll back the clock and revitalize your staff members? Actually, you can.

Back to basics

A reminder of the company policies and expectations can work wonders in helping today’s staff step up to the plate again. Of course, you don’t hand them down like stone tablets from on-high, with threatening language and stern warnings. Instead, sit your staff down and give it a positive spin. You could say it like this:

“We’re a bit slow right now, so let’s take the opportunity to improve our operations. That way we’ll be ready when customers return. I’d like to be sure we’re all working toward being the best company we can be. Let’s go over some of our policies and see where we can make positive changes both for us and for our customers….”

  • Dress code — Encourage them to really look at what they wear, especially if they are in the part of the plant where customers can see them. Perhaps team shirts are in order, or just returning to the established dress code that everyone has let slide.

  • Cell phone ettiquette — Customers are put off by a CSR talking on the phone while taking in their garments. Employees in the plant area are working with dangerous equipment. Both situations demand total focus. Remind them of the policy on phones (only during breaks, etc.) and enforce it humorously, but firmly.
  • Cleanliness — You probably have something at home that you walk past every day and don’t pick up or organize. It’s easy to become numb to it until a visitor (like your mother) points it out. Your call office and plant can suffer from the same thing. Maybe make this a game. Ask people from the back to walk into the call office and make a list of things that could be tidier, then do the same with people from the front going into the plant area. Take these anonymous lists and present them to the staff in those areas, helping them to see the need for a spruce up.
  • Job description — Every new employee received a list of his or her duties. But over time, that list has grown fuzzy. Some things are going undone because nobody remembers who is supposed to do them, and they resent being asked to pick up the slack. Give each team member a copy of his/her job description. Print them up clearly and nicely, and give them to everybody at the same time. Be sure you give yourself one, too. Reward those who are doing well on their duties with some token like a $5 gift card for fast food or a sign hung in their area stating they are Staff Super Stars.

Challenge them

People who are unchallenged are bored. And bored people work less diligently. When someone has a challenge out in front of them, there is a specific goal with a specific reward. It doesn’t matter how small the reward is, people respond to competition. How can you challenge them?

  • Let CSRs compete to see who can get the most email addresses to add to your newsletter list or coupon-sending efforts. (Don’t have these? We’ll talk about that another time.) The winner gets some small prize. Be sure to emphasize they can’t pressure people, just ask with enthusiasm and friendliness.
  • Observe people as they work on the floor, and give a surprise $5 bill to the person you see being the most diligent over the course of a 10-minute period. Do it once a day or more, and watch how they want to demonstrate that they are busy and productive!
  • Ask for suggestions to improve operations, and reward the best suggestion in some way.
  • Set a goal for production or sales, and if the team makes it, bring in pizzas for lunch to celebrate.

The goal here is not to go broke rewarding people, but to stimulate their desire to be recognized for the job they are doing. Any reward that can be given to the team as a whole will also boost morale and make them more willing to help each other toward the next goal.

Education in the new normal

When someone is invited to take part in further education, he or she feels valued and special. When they undergo the training, they are suddenly more invested in the job and the outcome of their efforts.

As in-person training dwindles down, there are new ways to achieve the same thing and at lower cost and with less disruption. Many associations, suppliers and organizations are now offering quality training online, which saves the cost of transportation, housing and time away from the plant. These are excellent options that you can make available to your staff.

  • Equipment operators can always use a refresher course on the machinery they are working with. Go to the manufacturer’s website and see if traning is available. Then let the staff member know you’d like them to view it and let you know if it is helpful. Arrange a time during work hours for them to sit and watch the class. They may come back saying, “I already knew all that,” but just having it fresh in their minds can change their behavior for the better.
  • See if your association or other professional organization is offering online training. Look through the list of videos and select some for different people in the plant. Be very complimentary of each person who undergoes the class, so that it is viewed as a privilege and not a punishment. Ask them to share what they learn with others in the plant or call office.
  • Investigate online courses from the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute and other similar groups. These are quality classes that have been offered in person before, and no doubt will be again, but for now are online — saving you money and time. You can read more about DLI’s current online offerings here. If you are worried about the cost of training, encourage a promising staff member to apply for our DLI Scholarship so he or she can attend online and share the learning with your whole staff through on-demand services afterward.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fabricare Canada offers a Canadian Scholarship to DLI each year. Now that DLI’s classes are online, this might be the year you choose to apply for the scholarship, as DLI has said it will be applicable to the course costs.

To apply:
— You must be Canadian, working in Canada, at least 18 years of age.
— You must speak English.
— You must have been working in a dry cleaning company for at least 1 year.

Email your request to be considered to:

Tell us why you would like to win the scholarship, your goals, and any other information about yourself that you feel makes you a good candidate for the scholarship.

  • Reach outside the industry for courses. Maybe you have someone who needs some organizational skills. Or you want to prepare a staff member to move up to management. Go online and search for good online courses that can benefit them and have them attend virtually. Every industry has specific knowledge needs, but all industries have commonalities that can be addressed through these kinds of classes and lectures.

What would you like?

If you wonder what to do to perk up your current staff and get them performing enthusiastically again, reflect on what would make you feel the same way. Obviously, a raise would be nice, but the tingle of that extra money only carries you so far. Use some of the suggestions above to get you started, but dream up your own, as well. Share them in the comments section below, so we all benefit.

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