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The Written Warning, what and how to make one.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Besides firing someone the one thing managers and bosses hate is having to write up an employee for breaking a handbook rule or company policy.

Here are things that you can have as a part of your written warning form.

First of course would be the full name of the employee receiving the warning. Some even list the social security number or employee ID number if they have one.
The date, maybe time this happened or shift number if needed and their job position.
Next what type of warning this notice is, first, second, or final.
Then what offense was committed by the employee. Can be a check box list or written in.

You then have a large space for what happened describing the offense or the companies side of the issue. The action plan as to what is going to be done to rectify the offense by both the company and the employee and to list what will happen with any future infraction of the same offense.

The form can leave space for the employee to rebut and make his or her own comments but not all states require that the employee be allowed to make any statement. Then comes the receipt acknowledgement where both the employee and the person says that they understand the warning from the company and sign the form. A copy is given to the employee and the original is placed into that employees personnel file. This point too depends on your state, some do not even require that the employee gets a copy once they have signed the form.

Here are a few samples of the simplest to the more detailed type.


You can find these and others free online here:


As I mentioned last week in my series of hiring posts a Written Warning form sould be a part of your program. Coming soon, the exit interview.


Tags: Business, Hiring, Warning Notice

Why does my non hazardous cleaner now have Caution labels all over it?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Well you can thank the new OSHA GHS labeling system for that.


When we were using the HMIS labels and a MSDS, for an ingredient to be considered a hazard, a hazardous ingredient had to make up more than 5% of the product. With the GHS labels and new SDS's that amount has been lowered down to 1% to be deemed harmful. The temperature level for what is considered flammable was also lowered.

Therefore many products with certain dye colors, now have to be listed as having carcinogens, may cause cancer. Many other small amount ingredients have to show that they are Corrosive because they will cause burning to the eyes if exposed due to splashing.

The same item you bought at the first of the year with a HMIS label of 1,0,1 may now have to have a 2,1,1 rating.

Nothing has changed but the percentage that reporting must start and the ranking of the hazard. For instance that small amount of ethyl alcohol in a product that before was not even listed on the MSDS and carried no flammable rating, all of a sudden is on the SDS and may make the product flammable enough to rate it a 1.

And do not think customers are not going to notice all the red border warning labels showing up on the side of the products you are using. You need to be informed and prepared to be able to defend what you are using. It is not fair that the bleach you buy that is for industrial use is going to have the Exploding Chest symbol on it but that same bottle if sold in the grocery store will not.

OSHA is only able to demand things in the name of protecting the working sector, not the home consumer. What a double standard our government is creating.

But don't panic at all of it yet. At least for now just because the hazards for products are increasing the DOT hazardous classifications have not changed and even though a product may have health hazard labels all over it, it will still ship DOT non hazardous like it always has, at least for now. Unfortunately if a product was already DOT hazardous it will still be.

Be prepared and keep updating your SDS binders, it is going to be a long next six months.

Tags: OSHA, MSDS, SDS, DOT hazardous, GHS

Everyone needs to use ICE.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 @ 09:47 AM

What is ICE? And I am not talking about what goes into a drinking glass.

ICE stands for "In Case of Emergency" and everyone that has a cell phone should be using ICE.


Many states emergency personnel, including mine here in Georgia, are being trained in cases involving an incapacitated victim, where a cell phone is present, is to look for and use ICE.

It is easy to set up and use, just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Identify who each persons ICE contacts should be; spouse, parent, sibling, Aunt or Uncle, best friend.

Step 2: Talk to your contacts about using them and let them know and give them what information they may need to pass on; other contact names and phone numbers, medical information like allergies, doctors phone numbers, past history or conditions like diabetes.

Step 3: Go to your cell phone and open a new contact

Step 4: Enter the letters ICE, if you have more than one contact enter them in order ICE1, ICE2 etc.

Step 5: Then the contacts full name and phone number. No nick names or titles like wife, Dad or Boss. 

Step 6: Save the contact



Try to use only numbers that the contacts will be most likely to answer, don't use a home phone if that person works and will not be there except at night. 

List multiple numbers with the best first if needed. You can list relationship in many contact lists as well so here is where to do that.

Go ahead and do this right now on your phone for at least one ICE contact for yourself.

Congratulations! You may have just saved your life by installing ICE. Now go cover all your loved ones as well.


Tags: cell phone, emergency procedure, safety plan

Participate in local projects and find paying work begging for companies.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Every business owner should keep up to date with their local town, county or regions news to be able to capitalize on opportunities to get work. 


Here are afew examples:

Just last week I saw this for Watsonville near Santa Cruz in California.

"Volunteers will be teamed with Watsonville Police and other community groups for Graffiti Cleanup Day to help remove graffiti from Main Street and other areas of the city from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 28.

During the event, the Adopt-A-Spot program will debut.

Members of the community will be invited to monitor specific areas in their neighborhoods and keep them free from graffiti. Areas will be marked with a sponsor sign.

Cleaning materials will be provided to volunteers, but organizers are asking for donations of graffiti remover, stripper pads, breathing masks, terry cloths, latex gloves, roller pads, roller frames, 5-gallon buckets, roller pans, roller frame extensions and drop cloths.

Training is required for participation. The deadline to pre-register is June 19.

To get involved:

Santa Cruz"

What a great way to get your business name on a sign for free, on a local city Adopt-A-Spot sponsor sign. You can showcase your companies graffit removal products and skills which could allow for actual paying jobs to come out of doing community service. Feature the B&A photos of this service work on your website, put in for media attention from print or local news outlets when you perform the free work. And remember it is most likely tax deductable.

Earlier this year in Ashville NC the city put out a notice in the local paper for any pressure washers that wanted to participate in a graffiti removal program where they had reviced a Federal grant to pay for the cities clean up, all the business owners had to do was register their business, show that they could do the work and what their rate was and then would be given jobs to be paid from the grant funds. 

Wouldn't you like to make easy grant money without having to go through a long bidding process? And this could have gotten the foot in the for future city projects.

I have been finding articles from all over the country talking about city, state and federal monies banked for local cleaning programs begging for applicants to apply and take the jobs. Check your local area and be the business that takes it.

I see on the formus and Facebook pages guys commenting on how their local city or government is taking paying work away from them buy doing it for free. Well I say go find and talk to them and see how you can get that work. Sure sometimes a city is using free prison or community service workers as the labor or even their own salary employees, using poor methods or products that do not cost them much to do the work but can take them a lot of time. You won't know unless you try, if you can show them your business and a better way, if you can get the jobs or not. 

Here in my town the city recreation department was using community service and city workers just with their own pressure washers to try and clean the local park and rec properties. But a local contractor went to them and showed how much faster and better he could do the job and they opened up a bid for the work which he won. They actually spend less in time, paid labor and admisitrative salaries that use to have to go into the old program than paying him alone to do the work which he did faster and better.

I hope you will take the time to look or compete for the already bankrolled work that your business can cash in on.



Tags: graffiti removal, clean up programs

To hire should you do background, credit check and drug test?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Most small business employers do not see the need to spend money on a background, credit check or drug screening if they have already done the other three steps we have already been over. But this could be a costly mistake not to. Small claims lawsuits where on the rise the last 10 years and they do not look like they will decrease any time soon. There are commercials on every hour of the day on television and the radio telling people it is all right to sue, almost like a God given right to do so and you have to protect yourself, your family and your business.


I will mention the main reasons here but please read this very good article I found by Less Rosen from the from a 2010 on line addition of their magazine: This article says it all.

1. There is no single place private companies can go to confirm or verify criminal records of prospective hires. Background checks once only a seldom seen practice are now even routinely done when renting an apartment or to be able do volunteer work at schools. Bonding companies are a great place to start.

2. Screening is legal but only if done for every applicant at your business as we discussed earlier about hiring procedures, or at least for everyone doing a certain job. Make sure it is also listed in your handbook with the guidelines spelled out. It should also include the guidelines for any follow up or random testing such as for drugs later as well. Such as a mandatory test for anyone driving a company vehicle and a retest for any driver that was involved in a traffic accident.

3. Screening is well worth the cost. It can save you anything from time lost from a constantly hung over worker, cost of damage claims of customer property, from insurance claims of stolen equipment, to the extreme of lawsuits from customers for criminal actions the employee did while at their location. It can even lower your insurance premiums. This is also why paying for your employees to be bonded, which will include a background check, can be a good thing and a great marketing tool.

4. Screening should not deter qualified prospects or slow down hiring. (Unless you hire by driving to a street corner and pick up day labor) Good workers understand the need for screening and most appreciate knowing they will be working for an upstanding company if hired, as well as most likely working in a safe co-worker environment.

5. Screening is not hard to have done. There are many local, regional and national companies that do this work, like bonding companies, that pay to have access to the records you need and the employees to find the records that you do not have the time or money to find yourself. There is even a professional organization for this work, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. You can find them here: and use their member directory to find one near you.

6. If you feel the need for the extra step of drug screening above a background check, it too must be administered equally to be a legal hiring practice. You can find qualified medical companies to do this just by putting in your city, state and the words drug screening in a search engine. Most companies work with established chains of labs like Quest and LabCorp to do the work or the healthcare company your business uses may also offer these services at discounted rates for their clients, just call them and ask. Some even have lower healthcare premium rates for companies that require testing for all employees because they know this should lower the number of claims for your business.

I hope that this weeks series of entries on hiring proceedures have been helpful to you and even if you may not or will not include all these steps into your routine hiring practices, that you have found some parts you feel are worth exploring or using in the future. Feel free to comment to any entry in our blog, mention steps you have found or currently use yourself that could help others and always feel free to e-mail us directly with questions or comments. Have a good weekend.

Tags: Business, Hiring, background check

What should go into your employee handbook?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Well practically everything including the kitchen sink!


You need to include everything and anything you want your employees to know, understand, rules to follow, flow charts, lists, down to what will happen if the rules are not followed.

This goes well beyond just the hiring information or application we have discussed so far, as you will see. Some companies put their application as the first pages of their handbook, which is removable, giving the new applicant the opportunity to see and read the handbook before they even fill out or turn in their application. This allows the applicant to see if they could or would like to be a part of the company and follow the rules that are in place. I myself have gone through applications and interviews, to be offered a job that once I saw and read their handbook, I said turned down the job. Or ones that I was allowed to see their handbook with the application and did not even bother filling it out. This saves both you and the applicant valuable time and possibly money. Of course it is to say you should NEVER just pass out your application or handbook to just anyone that comes by looking for a job. I would never suggest at any time that you allow your handbook or even an application out of your office if the applicant has not already been hired. If you have a large business or one that hires crews seasonally you might also want to have a hiring seminar that you have advertised and booked applicants to attend that allows for you to discuss all aspects of the work you are offering even before a single application is filled out, all at one time just like I use to do once or twice a month for DirecTV technicians.

A handbook must cover every employee equally in your business, being specific to cover each job position but must also include all general information to cover everyone from the boss on down. Here are things you should think about including:

The exact list or order of the companies hiring practices including the location of the testing facilities if used.
The rules in regards to the application and that all information becomes part of their permanent record and must be truthful.
A list of the job descriptions of all employee positions, with their specific one highlighted or indicated so they know the exact tasks their job will entail.
Include here the start and end time for work for the different positions, days of the week, reasons where overtime may me needed and how it will be paid.
A list of all the reasons someone may be terminated from their position.
That job performance infractions will be given, verbal then written warnings before termination except for things like theft, drug use, sexual harassment, battery of any kind, (list what ever you feel is necessary) which are grounds for immediate dismissal.
You can state what ever you rules you want to make for their payment of last wages, deductions if any and why, if theft or damage was involved etc.
In other words you can list in your hand book any rule you wish, so long as it is not illegal, and it applies to all if it is a general rule or for everyone that holds that same position if the rule is task specific. For instance you can not list as a reason for termination of not wearing safety gear for the bookkeeper, or failure to deposit funds into the bank for the window washer. But you could list removing company property, not authorized, from the premises for anyone.

You can include rules such as; when and if outside food can be brought to work, where and how it is to be labeled and stored. If some things like water in coolers on trucks will be supplied by the company but the cups to drink from will not. When and where breaks from work are allowed and for what reasons. How many days notice must be given for doctors appointments and if they will count against sick time or will be unpaid time off, etc. In fact any situation you can think of should be addressed in your handbook and if not steps that should be followed if no rule is listed, such as the need to first speak to a supervisor, owner or manager.

The last thing that is most important is documenting that the new hire has been made aware of the rules and understands them. This is done by having the new hire put their initials in blue ink on every page of the handbook with a company witness watching and that a final page states that, fill in the name, has read and understands all the rules and that any questions where answered to their satisfaction which is signed by both the new hire and the witness and that final page is removable and placed in their file with the handbook itself then given to the employee for their records and future reference. The handbook should also state that this copy is not to be shared, copied or sold and the consequences for so doing, like termination.

It is always good advice to keep a master handbook where your employees can access it at any time incase they can not find their copy or it is not available before they need to know the answer to a question or situation that comes up. You can and should make changes to your handbook as the need arises and all you need to do to make a change is to print out the new page for every employee, have them read and initial it with a witness, a copy should be made for them to take with them to place into their own handbook copy the origianl will go into their file.

In this day and age it is a good idea to have in your handbook explicit rules about the use of cell phones, are they allowed or only provided work phones for business only, on taking personal calls, taking photos with personal phones or business phones, social media accounts, what can or can not be posted to the business social media accounts. Should you even have your employees listed as friends on your business accounts. I say no but some companies do and have very strick rules about what can be shared or seen from these employees accounts. You do not need some employees friend posting porn to their wall and have it reposting to your business page!

Handbooks can be a simple or detailed as you wish them to be. I have seen some that were only two pages to ones that where so thick they where bound! Just make yours what you feel is best for you and your business. Tomorrow will be the last installment about background, credit checks and drug tests.


Tags: Business, Employee Handbook,, Hiring

The hiring interview and how to do it right.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

The interview is the one place most employers fail at the most. No matter how many times you can be told what not to ask or talk about, chances are at some point you will slip up and say or ask something you should not have. Well everyone is human but let us go over what to ask in an interview and see if we can get you to near perfection.


First you should have a script or list of questions you would like to ask in front of you to follow. If you go into an interview without a program you more than likely will get yourself into trouble or miss a critical point. I have been called after an interview by the interviewer because they forgot to ask a specific question. They even said "I was having such a good time talking with you I forgot to ask ______"

Have a separate blank page to write notes on, do not use the edges of the application. You can number it or have a system in place to remind you what that answer or note is in reference too. Of course you want to have the application in front of you to guide your questions and to get the information you ask correct.

You are not allowed to ask any question to force them to reveal their age, race, national origin, gender, religion, marital status or sexual orientation. But as we mentioned yesterday there are questions you can ask to get around the ones you can not ask. Many of these were already handled on the application it's self.

Can not ask                            Ask instead
How old are you?                    Are you older than 21 and able to be put on our vehicle insurance? Only if                                                that will be part of the job.
                                             Are you older than 18 (or 21) to be covered by our accident/liability                                                            insurance or to operate certain equipment?
Are you a US citizen?             Are you authorized to work in the United States? 
Have you been arrested?        Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? Can explain                                                    you will require a background check for employment.
Are you married?                    No way around this one. But asking Are you able to travel? Could be asked                                              but only if job related.
Do you have children?            Do you have any responsibilities that could interfere with having to work late                                              or that could disrupt your schedule? Ex: Not to show up for work.
What country are you from?    No good one here and do not even ask about an accent.
Is English your 1st language? What languages are you proficient in? Especially if the job requires them to                                               be bi-lingual.
Are you in debt or have you
filed bankruptcy?                    You can ask them to submit to a credit check after they are offered the job,                                              as long as it is relevant to the job, ex: will be issued a company credit card.
Do you have a disability?        Can ask if able to physically perform certain tasks or job functions.
Do you drink or smoke?          But you can state that consuming alcohol just prior or during work hours is                                                prohibited and that you require a smoke free work place.
Do you do drugs?                   But can require all applicants to pass a drug screen and if listed in the                                                      handbook to except later random drug tests.
How long have you worked?    But listing the years when they attended school or to list the years they                                                    have been performing a certain job is fine.
What is your religion?             But you can ask if they can work on Saturday or Sunday and if they need                                                 any certain day off other than the listed company days off.

Now on to questions you could or should ask.

Why are you choosing this line of work? or Why do you want this job?
What have you liked doing most in your career, or past job?
What have you liked the least?
Why did you leave your last job? or What was the circumstances surrounding you leaving your last job?
Did you give notice? if yes Did you work out your notice?
What strengths would you bring to this position or job?
What do you feel you may need to learn to do this job well? Or do you think your already know everything there is about doing this job?
What would be your dream job?
Do you like to work in a team or be a leader of a team?
Do you feel comfortable working independently with only verbal instructions and no physical supervision?
What three good or bad points would your last supervisor tell me if asked about you?
What are you expecting out of this job?
Is this the only position in the company you are interested in?
What if anything do you think your last employer did wrong for or to their employees?
What if anything did a past employer do for their employees that impressed you?
Do you know what OSHA is?
Have you ever had OSHA training?
Do you have any type of certified training even if not in this field or industry?
Have you ever been asked to do something you did not believe you should be doing?
If so how did you handle it?
What are your career goals for the next 3-5 years?
How do you see us and or this job helping you reach that goal?
Why should we hire you over someone else?
Do you enjoy continuing education or training?
Are you looking to get continuing education or specialized training while working for us?
How have you handled past conflicting interpersonal work relationships? If they do not understand the wording of the question you could also ask
If you have not gotten along with a co-worker in the past how did you handle it?

Now I am not saying you should use all of these or if they would even be relevant to the job opening you have available but these are good ones and some I have even used. 

Other things to discuss when going over the application.

Ask about any major changes in their career path. Find out why.
Find out about gaps in employment not filled by education or other obvious reasons, such as military service.
Make notes to investigate any conflictions or contradictions you see or heard between the application and the talking with the applicant.
Feel free to discuss if brought up hobbies or how they like to spend their time when not on the job, being clear to not ask about family and personal relationships. They can offer statements but you do not ask. Try to keep and steer the interview conversation back to strictly business points.

Feel free to discuss the duties and responsibility of the job being applied for. 
Any question relevant to the job and the pay itself such as a stipend or per diem.
Questions about the company, the mission statement, programs offered, certifications, achievements, organization affiliations.
Opportunities for job growth, development and individual advancement.
What physical locations or area the company currently covers and if there is a chance or plan to expand or reduce this area.
To discuss the applicants qualification, abilities, experiences, education and interests.
Any problems the applicant has had with past employers or co-workers.

Be careful not to make blanket statements about your employment opportunities. No comments such as; "We would never fire someone who is working hard to get the job done." "People can work here until they are ready to quit as long as they are on time and work hard everyday." These can be taken as promises of continued employment if they get the job and are later let go.

This is still not the time for the applicant to ask questions about specific perks and the cost of things like health insurance, 401 plans. Not until the offer has been made and they have been giving a handbook than all questions from the perspective employee should be answered in regards to those areas. I have had applicants that get all caught up in wanting to know what they and their family can get out of working for the company even before we can decide if we want them to work for us. All you need to discuss is that if you offer a health plan, how much of the employee's part will be covered by the employer, if you offer a 401 plan, any continued education that may be available.

After the interview explain what the next step will be, favorable or not. Including when an offer of employment under the conditions that will be listed in the handbook will be made to the successful applicant.

Next post what goes into the handbook.

Tags: Business, Interview, Hiring

What goes on your application?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Well the first is obvious, the name of your company and that this is an application you can add address and phone number if you would like or if there are more than one location of your business.

PooleAndersonApplication Image taken from Poole Anderson Construction, online application

Instructions to the applicant such as to fill out the application in ink, I would add blue ink (blue is the accepted legal color, not black which can be later said to be a copy or forgery, blue shows it is an original)

A statement that your business is an equal opportunity employer and follows all the laws, I will not list the statement in full here.

Not to attach a resume unless it is to become part of the official application, but that all information still must be filled out in total on the application even if listed on their resume. This way it is in the hand writing of the applicant and they cannot say later you attached a false resume to their application, or they did not know a mistake was listed on it.

When asking them to fill out their name, make sure it is their legal name and it is fine to also ask for other names they have been known as, this can be helpful when running a back ground check, or the name that they would like to be addressed by if hired.

Ask for their current address and to list any address they have lived in the past 3-5 years, also good for a background check.

You probably already know the things you can not ask on an application or in an interview like, marital status, age, whether they have children, or if a women, plan on having children, their religion etc…

But there are things you can ask for as ways around asking these questions:

By having them list their birth date and to mark a box stating that they are of legal age (18 or 21) to operate certain equipment, for insurance reasons. Only once hired can you ask for a list of their dependents for reasons such as for insurance, not before on an application. But they might ask you in an interview about your insurance coverage and you should only state the individual policy price not covered or paid in part by you the employer, which might have them ask you ‘What would the family rate be?’ I would then remind them that question should wait until further along in the hiring process. This comes once you are formally offering them the position and they get to learn those answers before they deciede if they will accept.

As long as they ask the question that gives you this information you did not ask for you are safe. But you must be careful not to indicate that any of the unasked information might have been or was used in the hiring process for that job. Never make notes on the application itself during an interview, use a separate piece of paper. You can ask if they can legally work in the United States and require proof later before hiring, if they have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, have points on their driver license etc. these are part of public record. You can ask if there is any day they can not work or would rather not work. For instance have a list of Sunday thru Saturday on the application with instructions for them to circle or mark the days of the week they are available to work. Same with times of day they can work. Of course you can also include in the job description the days and times that are required for the job they are applying for and if they will not work on a certain day (due to their religion) they are the one making themselves unable to be hired, not you.

Ask for not only the standard list of past employers, business references as well as personal and their education but industry specific certifications as well and any training they have already received. You should also state that copies of these certifications are to be provided if hired to be placed in their file. These can be very useful to save you money for you as a business and for marketing. You can also state that they must be able to be bonded if you would like. This also can be good for you for insurance reasons as well as in marketing your business.

You can ask them to list the languages they speak and if they can read and understand English this is to be sure they will be able to read and understand signs, labels and vebal instructions during work.  

You may want to ask if they have applied before, many states do not require you to keep or consider for new hire people from past application times, check with your state as to how long this may be.

You can ask if they know or are related to anyone current or former person that has worked for your business.

You can ask if they are physically able to perform the work as discribed in the job discription or if they have not been given one, list peramitors here; able to lift up to 50lbs, twist and bend at the waist so many degrees (range of motion), able to hold object over head for at least two minutes, etc.

You can ask if they have reliable transportation but unless they are applying for a position where they will be required to drive one of your vehicles you can not ask for a MVR, that is for insurance purposes only.

You must include a statement at the bottom of the application just before the signature line that tells the applicant that all areas must be filled out completely, nothing left blank, must be accurate and may be followed up on and any lack there of can be used as reason not to except them as a candidate for employment, while an employee or for termination if they become an employee and any information later are found to be false.

Make sure your application is as detailed as you need it to be, do not worry about it not fitting on one page front and back like a store bought one. Some of the best jobs I ever had, had applications 4-5 pages long. And the information you need to be sure the applicant will work is much different than one wanting to work at a fast food joint or movie theater.

You might want to add a section next to each past job asking for a description of the work they did at that job, ask for the name of a supervisor or co-worker that is still there with phone number if different then the main number, and ask why they left. If there are gaps in education or employment ask what they were doing for that time even if it was not work in the current field they are applying for. Answers to these may give you a clue as to other aspects that could affect their job performance with your company or reasons why they would make the best fit. Any negative information you find that may cause you to not consider the candidate should be brought up to the candidate so they can challenge the information. If not and you do not hire them, and they later find out what you where told was miss information, they could come back legally against you in some instances.

You can ask why they are applying, what they have liked or not liked during previous employment. But these can  be questions you can also bring up during the interview process and not have listed on the application.

For some of you that have businesses in a state like GA, a right to work state, the employer has right to hire/fire laws and you may not have to give any reason as to why you did not choose someone so long it is not one of the illegal ones, but for many of you the employee holds more cards than the employer does in this process and you have to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. As with any of our blogs the information given here are general guidelines and you should check what the laws are currently in your state. Tomorrow we start on the Handbook.

Tags: Business, Application, Hiring

Hiring procedures for new employees

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Things you need to understand and think about when looking for a new employee.


Most of you never went to college to take classes on hiring, so unless you have earned a degree in Human Resources, everyone needs help in this area. Most of what I know I learned myself while running my own business, managing other's businesses and working with very good HR people over the years. Here is the short version of what you need to know.

1. Deatails of your businesses hiring procedures need to be written down somewhere, preferably in a handbook, which we will discuss in detail in the next blog.
2. Your procedures MUST be the same for EVERY applicant, so not to come under scrutiny by the Federal Fair Practices Act.
3. That this written procedure includes the end game as well as the beginning and that you have listed reasons and procedures for employee termination (firing) as well as hiring.
This way, no unhired prospect, current or former employee can win in a law suit against you. This is not to say they can not file one, anyone can do that, but you just want to be sure they will not win and walk off with a big payday for it.

Tags: Business, hiring procedures,, Hiring

The 4 steps to hiring employees.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

I have seen this issue coming up a lot lately and I even started working on this series last year but never finished it. So I think now is a good time to get it done and posted.

The number one expense per job in a service business is your labor costs. So you need to be sure that the money you spend is for someone that is qualified to do the work and will expand your businesses good name.

The four steps to hiring employees: 4stepsofHiring

You have a set hiring procedure in place before you every place that first want ad.
First you should have a detailed application just for your company not some office supply store form.
Second is the interview process to help select the right potential candidate.
Third you should have an employee handbook, that is given to every new hire and signed for.
Fourth by following the rest of the steps spelled out in the handbook that applies to the job such as the need for a background, credit check and drug screening.

Taking these steps will not only give your customers value that you can spot light in your marketing but will give you added value as well in the long run by knowing you have skilled, qualified, drug free employees representing you and your company. The old adage 'You get what you pay for' can be attested to by anyone that has just hired someone off the street or because a friend of a friend said he was a good worker and knew what he was doing, only to have anything from major trouble to just routine annoyance caused by this person. Hopefully you have not been damaged too severely so far but by following these steps you will greatly improve your odds of never having to worry about it.

These steps can save you money by reducing employee absenteeism, possible reduction in insurance premium rates, reduce or eliminate loss due to theft, increase the quality of employees that should work better and safer allowing you to do more jobs without increasing man power.

I will go over in the next four blog posts this weeks information on each of these points, that you can go to, and use on your own.

Tags: Employee Handbook,, Hiring

How to manage your time to be the most productive for your business.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 08:34 AM

If you are lucky enough to have reached the point where you can have a crew or two working for you handing the actual work of your business congratulations.

But now how do you use this new found freedom of not working daily out in the field on a job site to improve and grow your business the best way you can?

Well that can not be easily answered in just a short blog post, so sorry in advance for this ones length. It will take each person a lot of time, trying a number of different things over days, weeks, months and even years to get this accomplished. But there are ways to make this process move along faster.

First you have to know the type of person you are and what work style gives you the best results. It is not going to be the same for every business owner out there and you have to learn and nurture what yours is.

You can buy books, get into a program, go to seminars put on by other very successful people but there is no guarantee that even if you do exactly what they did you will be as successful even if they have a carbon copy of you and your business, which of course no one is or does, even as a twin or with a franchise.

You first have to not only know your business but know yourself. What makes you the most productive? Look back over the last month or so and make notes as to what tasks you have had to do, what steps did to take  to get them done and do you think you did them the most effective way? If you could have had perfect control what would you have done to get those tasks done sooner? better?

Ex: You had a company ask for a bid and it took you 3 days to get it ready and deliver it to them and they went with someone else that was not lower in cost but faster in their response. Examine what steps you took to do that task and what could have been done better. Where you delayed by scheduled work? Well that problem is now solved. Did it take you too long to get an accurate calculation of the scope of the work? Did not have time to get to the site, Google Maps didn't have a clear view of the area or building? So time will not be as big of a facture moving forward what else could have helped?

Next you need to know how and when you are the most productive.

Are you a morning person, like to start the day early and get as much done right away to leave the rest of the day open for new things as they come in? Are you a slow starter and like to build up to more difficult or more time consuming tasks as the day goes on? Are you a list maker that can work down a list item by item completing each one in order? Do you need complete separation from distractions to get a task done? Can you delegate tasks and not feel you have to micro manage and revisit tasks others are doing for you? Do you work better by breaking a big task down into smaller pieces that you can do in short burst of time and maybe not in a certain order and be able to do other things in between them?

You need to know what works best for you and then create and implement a routine. No one can tell you their perfect system and know it will work the same for you.

But here are some tips others have used to be more productive and you can see if they will work for you.

Organize your day or week into blocks depending on when you have found your are most productive. Some as I mentioned are early risers, some are night owls while many are at their mental peek mid-day from 11 am to 2 pm. Some people want to start the week off with the biggest task they will have to have done by Friday while others want to clear all the small tasks out of the way and work best undisturbed under a deadline on Friday. If possible set these blocks of time to be undisturbed, turn off the cell phone, don't look at e-mail, let everyone know that during these few hours every day or on certain days, like Tuesday and Thursday you are not to be interrupted.

Inside of these blocks, do the things you don't want to do first. It is easy to do the things we love to do and hard to even think about starting the ones we do not. But if you put that hard task first and not allow yourself to move on to something else until it is done, the feeling of accomplishment once it is finished is much more pronounced and will make it easier the next time.

Focus on one task at a time, the biggest first. A lot of smaller tasks can trip you up into not getting the bigger usually more important thing done within the time you have set. Plus it is easier to move the smaller less important tasks forward into the next block of time you already have set up.

Work in the moment. If you are overwhelmed with how much you have to do, that is all you will think about instead of the task at hand. Do not try to multi-task and do not allow interruptions to stop you.

Have a To-Do List broken down into different sections. You might even want to create your own.


The three things that have to get done today no mater what, then the rest of To do today, this week, this month, for a long term goal. Try to get everything off your to do today list by a certain time each day, one or two off the this week section, each week one or two off the this month section and try to work on a least one task a week off the long term goal section.

Deal with it only once. When an issue comes up that should not be ignored, deal with it now and have it over and done. Ex: A customer calls not happy with something on a job, take the call, find out what the problem is, and if possible resolve it right then. If you need to speak with a crew member before it can be resolved, call him right then get his side, tell him how you want it handled and call the customer right back with what you have instructed to be done and ask if that is satisfactory. Do not tell the customer you will have to first speak with your employees once they are back in the office and will get back with them later or tomorrow. Or if the solution is not satisfactory to the customer keep going until it is. Then you are free to move on back to your set tasks.

Set up a calendar for repeated tasks, this is one that I do. For instance, I have to submit a script for a monthly video by the 8th of each month, at the first of the year I look to see when the 8th falls each month during the year. If it is during the middle of the week I can plan on needing to know my subject and set time during those few days, at least 3 hours in total, to write the script, enter and download all the photos needed for that video. If it is on a Friday I want the time set up and done before I take lunch. If it falls on a Monday I can start on Friday afternoon and set my block of time Monday right after lunch. At the end of each month I need to have decided on what our product specials will be for the next month, find a photo, create the Facebook cover shot to be ready to post it on the first which can take at least 1/2 hour of time, what my daily Facebook and Twitter post should cover during each month so that I can write them and set them all up in Hootsuite as many at a time as I can in the time I have set for that day, that can take a few hours to research, enter and schedule. I also have tasks that fall only once a quarter like filling out and filing our quarterly sales tax return before the 20th of the following month. Things like that should be an item put on your weekly to do list when that time comes around.

The calendar is also a way to set up long term goals. I have to choose and know when the industry shows we will attend are during the year, will we just exhibit or am I also going to be a speaker and set up all the tasks that will be required to do the best job I can at these events. I have been doing some tasks for these events for this upcoming Fall since January. Things like choosing event swag, will it go on sale or be discontinued before we need to order it. How much and of what type of products will we take, what will be our booth drawing prize, will we be featuring a new product, if I am presenting am I revamping a previous talk or making a new one from scratch, will we need new collateral materials made for the events, signs, flyers, SDS's catalogs, etc.

And one I love, Don't be paralyzed by perfection. Some people are afraid to make a decision or say they have finished a task because it may not be perfect. It is better to let something be done or go out the door that may not be 100% perfection rather than hold on to it hoping to remove every flaw and miss opportunities. I am never 100% happy with a blog post or an article, or a presentation, but that allows me to go back and improve on it and send it out again in a new better version a little while down the road.

Well again congratulations on your new found freedom of not working daily out in the field but hello to the new challenge of making the best use of this time to move your business onward and upward.

Tags: Business, business plan, productivity,, time management,

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