Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran in the wedding business, the word “assistant” can be scary. How can you possibly hire someone to do what you do?
I turned to Bob Graham, founder of Event Temple software for wedding pros and the multi-op entertainment business Airwaves Music, for advice. He’s hired and trained hundreds of team members, and if anyone knows the secrets of hiring and outsourcing, it’s him!
Here are the best tips he shared with me.
First, the #1 danger in hiring an “assistant” is not clearly defining the role. The assistant position is often used as a catch all for everything you don’t want to do. (And who wouldn’t want that, right?)
This is a mistake, based on Bob’s experience. Here’s why: if an assistant is required to do a bunch of jobs in a combo role, they’re more likely to quit very fast or do a bad job.
Follow these success tips instead.
#1 – Break down job roles and hire one person for one specialized role.
You might break down the roles like this:
• Event Planning
• Customer Service
• Social Media Management
Each job should be specialized, well-defined and trackable. Both you and your team member need an easy way to determine whether or not the job is being done well.
Clearly describe the traits, experience and personality of the person who is the best fit for this job. Simplify the job description as much as possible for maximum success.
#2 – Hire for your #1 priority first.
Prioritize the roles in your business. Which is most important?
Hire for the most important role first. Hint: that’s usually sales because it drives your business.
It’s also wise to start with hiring sales help because you can directly tie pay into performance. Bob pays his sales representatives a 10% commission on the full revenue of a gig.
If you aren’t able to pay your team member at least $500 per month in commissions, you’re better off hiring them for an hourly rate.
Think carefully before outsourcing customer service or event management. These people are the face of your company, and a misstep can cause a lot of problems.
#3 – Hire software before you hire a person.
Examine your list of priorities. Which of them can be automated?
Templates, systems and software for automating your communications are the #1 place to “hire” software. That’s why Event Temple is such a powerful tool for your business; it’s like a sales person who works for you 24/7!
Invoicing, contract signing, event process management — all of these processes are made easier by software.
It’s also much easier than hiring a person and cheaper, too. Plus, when you have efficient processes you can hire someone down the road and they’ll be happier in their jobs.
#4 – Imagine yourself as the person you want to hire. What’s in it for them?
Picture yourself in your team member’s situation. Would YOU take this job? What about when you were younger?
Create a job description and compensation offer that’s attractive for your team member. Otherwise, they’re not going to stick around long and you’ll need to rehire again and again.
You’ll be investing a lot of time and energy in this person, so take the time to do it right. How can you make them feel valued and special? This is critical, especially if the pay isn’t huge in the beginning.
#5 – Nail down your interview and hiring process.
Focus and be unwavering in your search for the right person. Be uncompromising with hiring.
There’s often a temptation to hire a less than ideal candidate to fill an opening fast. Don’t do it! You will always regret hiring someone who isn’t right for the job.
Whenever possible, hire the candidate for a test assignment before hiring on longer term basis. This sets up the expectation in advance so it’s easier to let them go right away if they’re not the right fit.
Remember, team members are on their best behavior during the interview and test project. If they mess up now, it’s not going to get better. Be ruthless in judging their performance!
#6 – Determine a clear way to track performance and commissions owed.
While it’s great to have help with the work load, managing your team creates a whole new job for you! You’ll need a simple way to keep tabs on your team members and paying them.
Each job should have ONE mission. For example, your sales rep’s goal is to “grow sales.” This keeps the team member focused and motivated.
# 7 – If all of this is crazy overwhelming…go to Upwork and hire a virtual assistant instead.
This is the easiest place to start with outsourcing. Hire someone hourly for the projects and tasks you need done.
You can often find a specialist to handle administrative tasks, blog posting, social media scheduling or email customer support at a very affordable rate. And you can skip the hassle of hiring and training a long-term team member.
Bob’s Final Words of Advice
Hiring is BUSINESS, which is really just people and management. It involves probably 100 steps, but once it’s set it can last for years.
A recap of what you need to understand for building a strong team:
• Write effective job descriptions and run ads for them
• How to interview
• How to train
• How to turn each of these tasks into processes
• How to create a hiring archetype
• When to pay with commission, salary or hourly
• How to create tracking systems
• Creating SOPs (standard operating procedures)
• Evaluating performance
• Creating incentives
• Setting shared values, vision and mission
It’s not easy or simple, but it’s absolutely essential if you want to grow your wedding business to the next level.
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