Temps Deliver Summer Fun, Profit

Seasonal companies across the nation are gearing up for summer hiring, and market leaders are looking for summer employees who have the needed experience and attitude to draw …

Seasonal companies across the nation are gearing up for summer hiring, and market leaders are looking for summer employees who have the needed experience and attitude to draw in business. Business owners provide tips on how to find talent, from being able to guide seasonal workers to affordable accommodations, to keeping a file of previous high performers that helps direct the hiring effort. For more on this continue reading the following article from The Street.

Jeff Platt, CEO of Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, knows the value of hiring summer staff.  

After all, Sky Zone’s vice president of operations was once a seasonal staffer.  
Businesses including resorts, camps restaurants, and retailers look to young employees and abroad for seasonal help during their busy season, whether that’s summer or during the holidays, in exchange for experience and (possibly) an employee’s long-term commitment.  

During the school year, the six Sky Zones across the U.S. are open roughly 50 hours per week; during its peak season, those hours are extended to up to 80 hours a week. Each Sky Zone typically hires between five and 10 temporary employees and/or interns.  

Sky Zone hires primarily college-aged and high school students, looking mainly for fun candidates who will interact eagerly with customers and contribute the energy needed to run a place such as Sky Zone, especially during the busy summer season.

"Our brand is all about having fun, so someone can be qualified [with] credentials and experience in recreation management, but if they are not screaming fun, we’re not really interested," Platt says.

That still requires experience in a retail-type environment and people who understand how to offer good customer service, are able to multitask and can work a significant amount of hours during the summer season, he adds.  

"The main demographic for our business is kids. Our hours are catered to when kids are not in school," Platt says. "It does require us to hire more employees. We increase our base by about 20%."  

But the hiring of seasonal staff fulfills another purpose: to find qualified candidates who may be a permanent fit, working their way up the chain of command, Platt says.  

Sky Zone’s vice president started as an intern who moved up to full-time assistant manager, then manager and finally to the corporate level.  

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"We have another individual who is following the same path," Platt says.  

Platt prefers to promote from within, molding hires "into hopefully a full-time employee," he says. "So far it’s worked out pretty well."  
Sky Zone is expanding rapidly. Platt says the company will have locations in 14 states by the end of the year. "We’re in a major growth phase right now. We’re hiring even at the corporate level."  

In Las Vegas, the company has partnered with the University of Nevada to target students majoring in sports and recreation management through paid internships, but Platt says getting in contact with local college career centers anywhere is a good place to start for a seasonal employee search.  

Posting ads online, such as on Craigslist and via Twitter are other good ways to find seasonal help, experts say. 

Business owners should be ready for news to spread fast via social media and positive and negative comments from current and past employees, says Greg Dollarhyde, president and CEO of The Veggie Grill, a six-site chain of premium casual vegetarian restaurants. So it’s important to promote your business as a good environment.  

Dollarhyde is a 38-year veteran in the restaurant industry who has hired his share of seasonal staff. He’s adapted to the era of social media.

Nowadays with Twitter, Yelp and Facebook, "if you go to a resort and it’s a whole other place to work, people are going to find out pretty quickly," he says. "The trick is getting into the circuit as a good employer."

And, of course, hiring good employees.

"In the restaurant business in the mountains or beach area, you get an influx of people looking for jobs that know there is going to be hiring," Dollarhyde says. "The trick is to be able to figure out in the advance of whether they can do the work."

(In resort areas, the ability to provide access to affordable accommodations to those who do not live locally is key. "No one expects great living situations, but they need to know where to go and want to keep their expenses low," he says.)
Once potential candidates are identified, business owners should come up with a list of personality and experience-level questions to interview candidates. (Dollarhyde’s advice: Don’t be afraid to poach good workers from other establishments.)

Retailers and other business owners should also closely track demand trends to figure out when a busy season starts to pick up and look into automated processes to quickly hire seasonal staff, who can fill coverage gaps such as weekends.

Business owners should also know as far in advance as possible if good workers will come back for another season.

By using automated tools, the owner can hire extra staff quicker and start fulfilling that demand faster, says Liz Moughan, senior manager of retail practice group for Kronos, which offers work force management tools such as hiring and compliance assistance programs.

Business owners can view past seasonal data to hire more effectively for the existing season, Moughan says.

"If you don’t have an automated process in place, it could take weeks," she says.

Hiring solutions such as Kronos’ program can help reduce turnover. For many employees, seasonal jobs are not their primary employment, and the temporary nature may make allegiance difficult.

Dollarhyde also likes to keep a "gold file" on past employees to keep in contact with good workers, who would require minimal training if they came back again.

Platt says Sky Zone also looks to keep in touch with workers, particularly for new locations. "That way we’re not constantly having to retrain," he says.  

This article was republished with permission from The Street.


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