Rising To The Occasion

How To Hire The Best Designers

To follow my last column on hiring new sales staff, I want to give my best answer to the often-asked question, “How can I land a good designer?” They’re out there; trust me. You just have to know where to look and which questions to ask.

Let’s start with where you are advertising for your position. Though I am a big fan of the local newspaper, you have to think nationally and post your ad with online agencies. Let’s be real, we work in a close-knit industry and even in a big city like Vancouver, it’s inevitable that designers have worked their way through all the shops – and you don’t want to hire someone else’s “difficult employee.” Spreading your search across the country opens you up to many more opportunities.

Now, let’s think about how to word the ad to attract the right person for you. Here’s a good example.

Busy retail florist seeks designer with at least 3 years of experience. Must be able to work with all design styles and follow recipes. We are just as concerned with great design as we are with staying on budget! Hours are XXX and earnings potential to $YY per hour. If you are team player and QUALIFIED, please email your resume and references to [email protected]. (Set up an email address specifically for the job, using a personal detail like your birthday.)

Take a critical look at the resumes as they come in to ensure that the candidates are indeed qualified. Too many people are self-branded artists and figure they can learn floristry on the fly! Then reach out to set up an interview. BUT when you are setting that appointment, tell them what to anticipate:

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“Hi, this is Tim calling from Tim’s Flowers. I received your resume and would like to schedule an interview to meet you and talk about your experience. Please bring your tools and be prepared to create 4 arrangements and discuss your background. I have two openings on Tuesday. Would 9 or 1 be better?”

Notice that I set the tone by telling them what to expect and scheduling the interview at my convenience, not theirs. Equally important, I telegraphed the idea that I don’t want to sit and look at their designs on a Pinterest page; I want to see them in action to determine their skill set, speed and  ability to copy the shop’s signature look.

When the applicant shows up, pay attention to the little things. Did he arrive on time? If he can’t do it for an interview, he probably won’t as an employee! Did she bring her tools, as you asked? If not, she’s not good at following directions and who wants that type of staff member?

Finally, a picture (or in this case, an arrangement) is worth a thousand words. What does your applicant’s work look like? How quickly was she able to fill the four orders? Did he follow the directions (no fragrance, all yellow)?  Be critical of the design. Did the applicant take the time to look at your shop style and replicate it, or was he designing in ‘his own style’? What about waste – how much useable product was pitched on the floor? (This is a good indicator of how much the designer is thinking about the bottom line for the shop). There are other topics to discuss: How does she feel about filling wire-service orders (if your store fills them)? Does he have basic computer skills? (He can learn your system later). And how well does she take criticism? This last question is so important because I have seen too many managers and shop owners held captive for fear of an emotional breakdown by telling their designer with 400 years of experience (and 13 different accreditations after their name) that the arrangement just didn’t make the grade and needed to be reworked!

Finally, there is the intangible factor of personality – do you think, albeit based just on the interview and your conversation with her references – that she’ll fit in with the dynamics and personalities of your team?

There’s a lot to consider but remember that you’re making an investment in your company when you hire someone new, not just filling a position!

 

 

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Tim Huckabee
Tim Huckabee AIFSE was born, raised and educated in Connecticut and moved to New York City in 1993 to start working at a high-end flower shop called Surroundings, where he learned every aspect of the flower business such as handling telephone sales and customer service issues and dealing with walk-in customers. In his frequent conversations with florists, he realized there was a dire lack of sales and service education in the industry. That motivated him, in 1997, to launch FloralStrategies, a company that trains florists in sales, customer service, and how to get the most out of their POS system. He visits 250 shops annually, hosts a monthly webinar series, speaks at floral conventions, and writes a monthly column for the Society of American Florists.
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