How to Hire and Retain The Best Employees Featuring Roy Barker
I was recent featured on the KickStart Dental Marketing Podcast. The dental profession has been plagued with very high turnover recently. In this episode, I talk about working the top of the employee retention funnel. While the entire funnel is important, the top portion is probably the most important. No matter how well you work the bottom of the employee retention funnel, the reality is that if you make the wrong hire it wont matter.
If you want to solve your employee turnover problems, make the best hire from the beginning is the most important. Start at recruiting. Recruiting is not posting an ad on Indeed. Get out and meet potential employees. Keep your eyes and ear open all the time.
Do a thorough assessment prior to interviewing. This will help you thin out the candidates but also develop specific follow-up questions for each candidate.
Once you have made your hire, its a great idea to provide a great new employee onboarding program to make sure you new employee is given all the information they will need to be successful.
It is also recommended to provide a mentor for each new employee. This should be a peer and someone that will be a good resource for the new employee.
Full Transcript Below
Chris Pistorius (00:03):
Hi everybody. This is Chris Pistorius again with The Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast. Thanks for coming back for another episode. We’ve got another great guest for you today, we’ve got, Roy Barker. Roy, is a Consultant and he’s here to talk about one of the biggest hot issues right now. I think in dentistry anyway, and that’s how to retain employees. I’ve heard from many of you out there that watch the show are current clients of us. How we’re having such a hard time getting, finding, keeping employees and. You feel like you’re in this churn of hiring and then training and then hiring and then training and you’re never really getting forward. Roy, thanks so much for being on the show today.
Roy Barker (00:51):
You bet, Chris, thanks a lot for having me, I appreciate it.
Chris Pistorius (00:54):
Absolutely. Well, first of all, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about what you do. Your background and we’ll go from there.
Roy Barker (00:59):
Well, I’ve been consulting for about the last 25 years. A lot of strategy financial and then I fell into the retention side. I worked in the senior living industry and. Actually I did some graduate studies in that and. I was reading a book and it said that some of these communities can have up to 300% turnover. Atually had to go back and read this again and be like. “Okay, so you got 100 people or so and you’re turning over 300 times every year.”
What is the cost to the organization? Because there’s not only a true physical money outlay for that. But there’s also humongous risk that we run by churning that many people through any kind of business every year. So it just really got me interested in this part of business and believe me. It reaches out to a lot of industries and hurts a lot of people. But it’s the five most dangerous words in business is that, well, it’s always been this way.
But my message is it really doesn’t always have to be that way. There are things that can be done in order to help reduce that turnover. It’s not going to be instantaneous. You’re not going to flip a switch. But if you can get yourself in the right mindset and in the right process and the right role. I think any business can bring that way down.
Chris Pistorius (02:28):
Awesome. You’re definitely hitting a hot topic here. I know it’s not just in dentistry but it’s what we hear all the time. So why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about, what does proper employee retention look like? Is it going out and buying ping pong tables or is it getting a soda machine maybe in there? I mean, how do you do it? What are the tricks here?
Roy Barker (02:54):
Those are the easy things that everybody wants to focus on because they’re really cool. But you know my message is that’s at the bottom. I actually created an employee retention funnel. Typically like a sales funnel just starting at the top. How we feed things through and what comes out at the bottom. And so while those are important things to have to retain good employees, the operative word there is good employee. We have to make sure that we’re actually hiring people that are compatible with our work situation, good attitudes. And especially in professional services. People that can handle the customers in a way that doesn’t run your business of because unfortunately. You make some bad hires, they chase off some clients and then you’ve got other problems as well.
But one of my big messages is I think that we need to think about marketing for talent. Like we think about marketing for clients or prospects is that we can’t be reactive. And recruiting today unfortunately, is placing an ad on Indeed or some other service and that’s not recruiting. That’s placing an ad and sending it out. We’ve got to take the time to recruit and get ahead of this so we can be proactive not reactive. And when somebody leaves, we need to have three or four candidates that we can think. “Okay, I know these three people I need to reach out to. Because I’ve seen their social media and what they say, they’re not doing anything outrageous.”
The last year has been difficult because we’ve been under quarantine. So we can’t go out to events. But when you can get to events, collect people’s names, cards, think about that always, who would fit into my office well? Who would I want the way that we interact at a conference. Or even at a restaurant. If you get somebody that gives you good service, we could teach them to use the tools, the computer put stuff in it’s that attitude and how they handle your customers. Those are the main things and that they’re compatible with you and your staff, your whole process.
Chris Pistorius (05:10):
There is a whole science behind this. And sometimes we do this. But have you ever heard of or have any experience or any opinion on using some of these employee personality tests? I think one’s like a Kolbe index where you take them through an exam. And it takes out some numbers that it’s supposed to show their personalities. Have you done that before?
Roy Barker (05:31):
Yeah. Actually in the senior living industry, there is a company that focuses on care and caregivers. Because unfortunately over in that section. They get so far behind in hiring that it’s just more of a cattle call. They just bring as many people in. And we used to joke that the litmus test for getting hired was first, do you have a pulse? And secondly, do you like the elderly? Everybody’s like, “Yeah, I do.” But the reality is taking care of my grandmother for me. Is a lot different than taking care of yours. And so there were not only skills but aptitude tests to find, are people tempered with it. A couple other things that they would actually screen for not really hidden. But out in the open would be substance abuse and predisposition to file workers comp claims.
At first. When I heard that I actually called the guy that designed it. A psychologist and called him and said like, “Are you sneaking the question in the back door, are you twisting something around?” He’s like, “Nope.” He’s like, “We come right out and ask, have you ever. Would you ever, have you ever considered.” Because he said those types of people live in a different world. He’s like, “They are very open.” That’s they talk to their friends about it. So the best way is just ask the question. On the drug side, it’s could you pass a screen today. And if they can or can’t, then there’s your answer.
But it’s also about getting out there for that recruiting part. To have people in mind but then also that assessment. That’s a huge second step before I even want to see anybody for an interview. Is we need to have industry-specific if we can or position specific assessment to run them through. Prior to even bringing them in for an interview. That’s going to give you a lot of clues about their aptitude. How they can interact and like I said, it’s not about. I know how to run the computer programs at the office. It’s as much, can I learn it, am I willing to learn it? Those are the types of things that you should be looking for.
Chris Pistorius (07:51):
That makes sense. We use these personality tests more as a guide. It comes back and okay, yeah, that aligns but we’re not going to eliminate somebody just because your personality test didn’t… Because some people can get squirrely taking tests. I mean, I just don’t think it can be an end all be all, when you’re talking about hiring.
Roy Barker (08:14):
Right, right. And I like those too. Because they’re more positional. Is if you’re applying for a sales role. Do you have that sales aptitude versus would you rather be behind a computer? Just leave me alone, let me punch in my numbers every day. So a lot can be gained from that but a couple more things is not only… The other nice thing about the assessment that I was talking about. Is they would actually generate questions for you to ask in an interview.
And so we need to really think about. What kind of questions and not the typical ones that we used to hear about. Do you want to be a big fish in a little pond. Or a little fish in a big pond and those kinds of things. Because people learn how to talk around those so we need to ask very important thing. If it’s a customer facing position, what would you do in this position, have you ever been in?
Run through some of these real life challenges. But then the next thing is the onboarding and I always suggest setting up some kind of a mentorship. Because I mean. Chris, if you just hired me tomorrow and. I know computers pretty well but I come to your work and I’m not that proficient with whatever you’ve got going on. Well, I don’t want to come to Chris and say. “Hey, I’m the guy you just hired yesterday and. I don’t really know what to do here.” If I had a peer, somebody I could say, “Hey, I’m having a little trouble.” They could provide that guidance. Because I’ll tell you what. A lot of times the new employee will get frustrated and say, “I’m out of here.”
And then you get the no call, no show and. Here you go again hiring and so the onboarding process it’s key. And when I say onboarding. It’s not laying a three ring binder on somebody’s desk and give them a couple hours to read through it. And say we’re done. It needs to be spread out over a period of time dependent upon how heavy it is. But I mean, it could take two to three weeks not eight hours a day.
But little bits and pieces to get the important stuff out of the way, follow up. And then also have follow-up guides for, maybe what these are the tasks that you need to complete every day. This is a task that maybe you need to look at once a week or keep your eye on, just a little reminder where they can walk through that, which gets back to the importance of documentation of workflow and documentation of positions.
Because somebody at your company knows what this guy does, not everybody and so if the right person isn’t there, then it’s like, “I don’t even know what this position does.” So have everything documented and these are living, breathing documents that change. I mean, just because we out in this position today, when I get in it we may need to tweak it for what I’m doing. Maybe we’ve added, maybe we’ve subtracted but it’s going to change over time. But you need to sit down every six months to a year, really look at all of your positions to make sure that you have them documented what they are really doing.
Chris Pistorius (11:18):
Yeah, I totally agree. And having a problem of writing down some points as you speak, this is great stuff. I read a book years ago and I’ve actually read it a couple of times, maybe you have to, it’s called E-Myth Revisited.
Roy Barker (11:31):
Chris Pistorius (11:31):
And it talks about, no matter if you’re a dentist or you’re a McDonald’s, the author uses the example of a McDonald’s in most of the book and how it’s set up, how a franchise is set up. Where they basically a franchise is the machine, the process and procedures really are the machine. And then you plug people in that have well-documented process and procedures to run that machine.
And then he says, you can apply it, you don’t have to be a franchise to apply that. He talks about how everything that you do in your business should have a manual to it, a process, a procedure, so that if somebody got hit by a bus for instance, a new person could almost just walk in and read that and be able to do that job. Again, that’s not the end all be all but I think it’s critically important to have that. And I think a dental practices is not immune to that. I think that’s something that they could use as well, would you agree to that?
Roy Barker (12:30):
Yeah. Certainly it needs to be documented and nowadays we have access to things like Teams and Zoom and there’s another called, Loom. I love it because it’s a screen capture and so all these, even if it’s a complex set of going here in a computer system, you can document it and have it there. Maybe you told me about it on Monday when I came in I forgot, the next week I can revisit this video to figure that out.
So we’ve got so many tools that there’s really no excuse, it’s just taking the time and people think it’s a waste but it’s not because the next part is, as we grow, we need to know when we need to trigger that next hire. Because typically what I see is people come in and they’re like, “My gosh, we needed to hire an extra person a month ago and now we’re already behind, so we’re scrambling.” But that way you can look at your processes, procedures and what’s going to be the trigger to add that next person. So it really helps in growth as well as what’s going on right now.
Chris Pistorius (13:33):
Yeah, that’s perfect. People talk about hiring and training and it’s laughable type subject but there is a pretty big risk, I think in doing this too. And I know that from my own business, we have client success managers and they’re really the ones with the day to day communication with our clients and they forge relationships and rely on each other.
And so that’s a very important hire for us and we find that if by whatever reason we lose one of those client success managers and we bring somebody new in and there are some clients that raised our hands and say, “Hey, I don’t know about a new person here.” I knew Sally or whoever it was. So I’m thinking with dentistry, it’s similar, that if you do a lot of that churn, do you think that there’s a potential of losing some patients from that type of activity?
Roy Barker (14:26):
Yeah. Definitely and from my own experience if it’s a company I deal with regularly, if I see that it’s somebody new every time I’m calling or going in it raises a red flag, because I’m like, “What is going on?” Because it generally it’s a amplification of other things that are going on in the business. It’s not just something that siloed over here all by itself typically. And one thing I was going to mention is the cost, there’s the risk factor. I mean, nowadays with data the HIPAA laws and how we got to protect data. But also, people getting into your bank accounts and doing all this other stuff, there’s also that worker’s comp issue but the true cash cost is depending, but usually between about five to $7,500 to replace a $10 an hour employee. And as we climb up-
Chris Pistorius (15:22):
There’s not many $10 an hour employees anymore, either.
Roy Barker (15:26):
Exactly. And there’s been some studies of your McDonald’s workers that some experts have put that at up to $10,000 to turn them over. And so another message is let’s take some of that money and invest in our people that we have to help them and make them want to stay. The reality is too that people and this isn’t my study, there’s a lot of empirical evidence that employees are not going to walk across the street for another dime or for 25 cents more an hour.
It just doesn’t happen. Now on an exit interview, I’m going to tell you, Chris, I found more money over here because I don’t want to tell you that I don’t like you or I don’t like your manager or that there’s some turmoil in your business. And there’s just an old saying that people leave managers, they don’t leave companies.
And so that’s what we have to get to the root of, is what is that management issue? If we have multiple departments, we can look at when we look at employee turnover numbers, we can see it’s skewed to this one department versus another. Maybe we need to do a little work with that manager over there. It can be a costly proposition and that’s just on the front end and like you were saying, the risk on the back end there’s really no dollar limit, because they can hurt your business, they can put you out of business.
Chris Pistorius (16:46):
That’s right. That’s for sure. Yeah, it’s a serious deal. You mentioned earlier about marketing for talent and I’ll tell you what’s happening now in the dental industry, as you probably already know is that we do marketing for dentists. Our job is supposed to be bring in new patients, help you keep the ones you have and then help you bring back in the ones that you’ve already had. And so what we’re seeing is we want to get the funnel full and get the new patients and make sure the back door is locked so that you’re not losing patients, essentially. But what we’re seeing now is that we are now starting to do some of our marketing campaigns on the hiring.
Trying to find people for these dental practices, like Facebook ads, for instance, LinkedIn ads, we sometimes even manage Indeed for people. Are you seeing more of that happening now? And do you have some experience in managing that process or what do you think of all that?
Roy Barker (17:50):
That’s pretty forward thinking and it’s a good thing to do that but the other thing I like to focus on is the practice itself, is talk about why you’re different. What sets you apart than being any other place like on LinkedIn or Facebook, if you have pictures of, we’ve got modern equipment. Have pictures of your happy workers that are still working there. You know, those are all the kind of things to make me when I’m scrolling through and be like, “Hey, you know what? That looks like a great place to work.” And maybe I’ll put in there or even if I’m a client, we can’t overlook that even some of the clients that come through maybe may make good employees.
It’s something that you always have to be looking for and one thing I have heard a lot is that people be out at restaurants and they get very good customer service and they just asked the waitress, “Hey, have you ever thought about being in the dental industry?” Depending upon the position but if they’re going to be a customer facing, if they’ve got a good attitude. Those are the things that we always have to be keeping our eye, you go to, if you’re at some kind of conference event, always be looking around for the intelligent top people that you feel that could work well in your organization. Write it down and say, look, maybe you say, “I don’t have a position right now, would you be open to, if something opens up in the next six months, would you be interested in coming?”
Have those conversations, you can watch them on Facebook or social media in general, because I’ll tell you, I’ve had some people that I thought made great candidates, they said all the right things. And then I found some, “My gosh, moments on Facebook.” And luckily I checked it before, hiring but those are things that, if you know this person and you think that they might make a good employee, it’s things that you can always be looking at over time not have to make a split second decision. Like I looked at this one page, this is what it says today or it gives you time to think about, things like that.
Chris Pistorius (19:54):
Yeah. Yeah. I agree. And notice I’m going to switch gears a little bit in terms of retention. You don’t necessarily hear about this in dentistry a lot but what’s your thoughts on maybe including bonus plans for retention? Is that something that you think could help or is money not the only object here?
Roy Barker (20:16):
Typically money is not the object, I think that you always want to bonus those good people that you have and keep them. But I think we get back to what we talked about in the beginning, is that if I’ve got somebody with the sour attitude, I don’t want them staying around for six months. We want to get that good hire that has the good attitude, but yeah, bonuses and things like that.
And also two we talk a lot about, not necessarily money maybe you give them a trip. People like events or like things that they can experience, so if there’s something in your geographical area that would be cool to send somebody for a day, it’s well worth it to give them a day off work, spend a couple $100 to let them go take the… If you close early on let’s say a Friday afternoon, send the women if they want to go down and do the manicure, pedicure, pay for that.
I’m huge about off site events, I need to know you outside of work, I need to know our family, your kids. I need to know what’s going on in your life so when you come in and have a bad day, we can have a conversation. And I know, maybe if your husband’s going through some illness or something, we can talk about that. But so many times everybody it’s just work but go out and have a meal, cook them lunch, bring in lunch, do something. But you can’t do that and lock yourself in your office, you have to be a part of the group, the comradery but really get to know the people.
Chris Pistorius (21:51):
Yeah. Yeah. That’s great advice. I wonder about, sometimes when you’re hiring, that’s certainly part of retention there’s a debate going on right now with dentistry and probably other industries. When you hire somebody for the long haul and you want to have that retention, should you bring somebody in with a ton of experience or should you bring somebody in with no experience? And the reason I say that you tipped on this, is that my thought is with my business is I can bring somebody in and I can teach them what we do. I can teach them marketing and how we do things in the process and procedures but what I can’t teach sometimes, is if I bringing somebody in and they just have a bad attitude. They’re not easy to coach. That’s something that I would struggle with in the longterm.
So the debate is, do you bring somebody in with no experience that maybe you could mold a little bit more or do you take that chance on somebody that’s got a ton of experience? What are your thoughts with that?
Roy Barker (22:53):
If I have to go with experience over attitude, I will take the attitude because I’m like you, I can train them to do what I need them to do. It may take me a little longer but I’ll tell you a bad attitude is like a virus and it will spread throughout your entire organization.
Chris Pistorius (23:09):
And they can hide it. They can hide it during the interview process.
Roy Barker (23:13):
Yeah. And they’ll come in and smile at you and tell you everything you want to hear and then when they get there, it’s just complain, complain, till it sours everybody. And what happens then unfortunately, they ended up staying but your other good people get to leave and because they’re tired of hearing it. So it can have an adverse effect. I have a Venn diagram almost it’s skill, education and grit.
And I think we have to have grit because people aren’t going to always know every answer but what I want somebody to do is know when to go find it. I don’t want somebody just to sit there and say, “I don’t know.” I want them to say, “You know what, don’t know it, but I can find out for you.” That’s the kind of people that we really need to have. And I think that comes from a grit factor is that, it’s okay to say we don’t know stuff but we have to follow that up with, I will find out and get back to you. Whether it’s for the customer or whether it’s for the professional themself.
Chris Pistorius (24:16):
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s so critical, it really is. I’m going to my last big question here is, I come from corporate America and some of this has been drilled into me, but I’ve always wondered if it is effective. It seems to work for us but it’s the quarterly review, stuff where you sit down in one-on-one with somebody and you talk to them about their performance, about where they see themselves and how they want to grow within your company. Is that something that’s still effective or are there any new twists to this? Is this something that you would recommend?
Roy Barker (24:52):
I would recommend sooner rather than later because it’s whatever your start date was, if it’s June 1st. So we’re sitting down in May the next year and I’m like, “You remember back on June, the third, you did this.” And the employee is like, “Well, gosh, that’s been a whole year now. I’m just getting in trouble for it.” I think we need evaluations, we need to write things down and document it just in case we have to get rid of somebody, we have it.
Because that’s a bad thing if you don’t do it, it’s really hard to get rid of undesirable employee. But I think we need to do it in real time, it’s just stop by the desk, have these casual conversations about this is my expectations. “Hey, I would like for you to pick up a little bit more on this.” But yeah, the more throughout the year we can have them, because the old days was, it was at once a year.
Chris Pistorius (25:44):
And in [inaudible 00:25:44].
Roy Barker (25:44):
Yeah. And it’s lost on everybody because it’s been like, how are you remembering back a year have you been taking notes? If you have, then why haven’t we talked? Why didn’t you try to correct my behavior back when you thought it was a problem, instead of waiting now, give me a bad review and not giving me a chance. Because I don’t think people ever want to come in and do the wrong thing, sometimes they just don’t know.
And so again, I can’t stress communication it’s an open communication that when they start the job, this is what I need you to do. Clear process and procedures that they can refer to but then having those conversations and quarterly is good, but I mean, even monthly, it doesn’t have to be formal, but it can just be, “Hey, here are some things I want to talk to you about.”
Chris Pistorius (26:34):
Right. Right. Yeah, that’s awesome, that’s awesome. Roy, I know you’ve been so busy and we’ve had to reschedule a couple of times for both of our schedules but I really appreciate you taking the time today. Any leaving words of advice or nuggets of wisdom, you can provide to dental industry on retaining employees?
Roy Barker (26:54):
Yeah. Just one more thing. I appreciate you having me, it’s been great being here, but you know what? I would challenge everybody to do it’s to be an employer of choice, not to be an employer of last resort. Which is sometimes what we do is where the like, “I didn’t get that other job I really wanted, so you’re hiring, I’ll just take that.” Really get out there and market and have people that really want to come to work for you not feel like, they don’t have another choice but to work for you.
Chris Pistorius (27:22):
Right. And Roy, if somebody wants to reach out that sees this or listens to this and they want some more help from somebody like you, what’s the best way to reach out and contact you?
Roy Barker (27:33):
Just shoot me an email, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Yeah, just email me, I’ll be glad to chat, even if somebody just wants to talk through something, I’ll be glad to have a conversation.
Chris Pistorius (27:49):
Awesome. Well, thanks again for your time and I want to thank you everybody that tuned in to this episode. I know this is going to be a popular and just because of the importance it has in the dental industry. And please join us next time we’ve got more great guests coming up in the next four to six episodes and really appreciate everybody taking the time to watch. So for, Roy and myself, thanks again. And we’ll talk to you very soon. Thank you.
Roy Barker (28:12):
Also check out Why Retention? What it is and why you should care.
You can hear more of Roy podcast, The Business of Business Podcast here