In 2003 my wife Kathy and I had been operating Barney’s Motel in Brandon, Manitoba for two years and were badly in need of some good employees who were willing to work cheap. Utilizing long term classified ad campaigns in our local newspaper, I attracted some outstanding candidates just by employing humorous advertising and wanted to tell other moteliers how we did it.
What follows is a reprint of an article I wrote describing our process for hotelonline.com.
Most hospitality “Help Wanted” classified ads Suck.
They vacuum up every person who might be remotely interested in the position offered and they ignore the people that aren’t.
That’s not a good thing and here’s three reasons why:
Your best prospective employees already HAVE a job. They want to improve their working conditions, make more money, move across the country – anything! But they’re always looking… (this is different from the looking that causes divorce 😉 These fish don’t chase lines – THEY’RE SNAGGED! They watch a few ads to see your character. They begin to like you and then, guess what? They apply! (You fantabulous employer, you)
Oh, It’s You
Reputation. We’ve all got a reputation. It’s held by our employees, customers, suppliers, us, competitors and lord knows who all else. It’s impossible to control although it can be directed – kind of like a runaway train. Start painting a word picture in your ads about what your business is about and that reputation will surely follow. Hey, fans don’t actually have to meet you to love you.
Champions. A great hidden source of candidates for your employee requirements can be applicant referrers who THINK they know you and like how you operate. They’ve read your propaganda, uhh – they believe it (thanks Mom!) and now they want to send in the recruits. “Tell them Bob over at the CD store sent you – they know who I am.” You will, right…
OK. I’ve spouted off about how easy this is – now let me give you some examples of the type of ad I’m talking about.
I realize some of the ads below will cost a fortune to print (and they did!) but this is a campaign we’re talking about – the investment AND the return are greater. Okay, here are some of the actual help wanted ads we ran:
- Front desk. Good time. Weekend shifts. You learn. We like. You earn. You like. You happy. We friends. You improve. We assist. You excel. Us excited. You promoted. Become boss. We confused. Holy smoke! Could happen! Apply to The World Famous Barney’s Motel, junction of hwys #1 & # 10.
- Dear _______, Wow, do I miss you! I thought about you allot today when people were yelling and screaming at me and hinting at my missing marbles. I must have been crazy not to take you up on your offer to help us clean rooms! What was I thinking?! Please say you will … Applications to The World Famous Barney’s Motel, junction of hwys #1 & #10.
- You will wrestle to submission the wildest sheets ever captured from the land of Sears. You will slaughter billions of nasty bacteria with mighty cleaners and elbow grease. You will single-handedly unleash the awesome fury of Hoover’s 2003 WindTunnel Vacuum. DIRT IS YOUR ENEMY!! Applications to: The World Famous Barneys Motel, jct. of hwys #1 & #10.
- You’re being held against your will by a foreign extremist group from Saskatchewan. They have subjected you to water torture (forced you to drink Virden water). Home is an ice cold 6 x 8 cell and your only food is porridge for breakfast, fried porridge for lunch and – you guessed it – warmed up fried porridge for supper. How you wish you had accepted that front desk job with Barney’s! So what if you had to work some weekends and evenings! If only you could turn back time…. Applications to: The World Famous Barney’s Motel, jct. of hwy. #1 & 10.
- Haaalllppp! Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Wipe, wipe, wipe. Haaalllppp! Spit. (yuck…) Polish, polish, polish. Haaalllppp! Applications to World Famous Barney’s Motel, jct. of hwy. #1 & #10, Brandon.
- Dang University! Bleepin’ College! Stealing our people by making them think THEY can enlighten them more than the old Barnster! Hah! Now I’m gonna show them hired learning types by training you to be the best part time front desk clerk or housekeeper OF ALL TIME! Take THAT you post secondary smart alecky people! Applications to: The World Famous Barney’s Motel (Above & BeYawned), jct. of hwy. #1 & #10.
All right – those are some examples of what worked for us to attract great staff. Feel free to alter them for your own use or perhaps they will trigger an even better idea of how you will depict your company in your next classified ad campaign.
I firmly believe that visualizing your organization’s culture is the most important thing you can do when looking at expanding or replacing people in it. And being uncertain about your culture seldom negates the fact that you have one. You’re just unaware of it.
So get aware. Think about it and develop a crystal clear concept of what your business is and who should be allowed into it. Alter your thinking regarding hiring to where you understand that you’re not just employing someone, you’re inviting them into your family through adoption.
And your best adoptees enjoy trollin’ for humans.
You should too.