LINDA MOORE: Hiring Stars — Do They Still Exist?

LCT Magazine
Posted on July 15, 2009
CRAZY MAGNETS? A friend of mine ran an ad to hire some chauffeurs and a dispatcher. He scheduled interviews with the candidates who responded that he felt were the most qualified. One candidate pulls a no show. The next day, he is sitting at his desk and he gets buzzed that his candidate is here for the interview. So he walks out and says to the guy that your interview was for yesterday. The guy says no it’s for today.
“I wrote it down. Thursday, 2 p.m.” My friend says that is correct but today is Friday. 
With the economy the way it is, why is it that in some areas we still have problems finding qualified candidates? I hear the horror stories of the revolving door of chauffeurs, reservationists, and dispatchers. My question is always first about what the pay will be. These companies pay fair wages for their area. 
I think there are two problems. The first is that with the economy as bad as it is people take jobs that they really don’t want just to get a job and then trade up.  The second is that I think this industry is a magnet for crazy individuals. This is my opinion, but I have seen it all: the aspiring actors, students, out of work stock brokers, and real estate “professionals.” 
What happens to these people who interview great but a few weeks into the job are truly different beasts from the people you interviewed. I love the guy who tells you, “I am available to work 7/24.” Then you call his cell and you can’t get him. 
I tell everyone to be careful of people who have worked at other limo companies.  In every other industry I have ever worked in, you pick up the phone and call that company and ask how they liked them. For some reason people in this industry don’t like calling their competitors. What do you have to lose? The worst thing you will hear is that they tell you nothing. You are at the same point you were before.
What is the secret that companies have who have people working for them for 20 years? My friends are nice people and they bend over backwards for their employees. Maybe that is the problem. They are too nice to their staff. Could this be?
Another problem I see is that the job hunters out there don’t see this as a career. This is especially true for the chauffeur candidates. Professional chauffeuring is a calling and not just anyone can do it. My grandfather was a fireman and on his days off he drove a Greyhound bus. When you asked him what he did for a living, he told you he was a fireman and a bus driver. He was proud to hold both of those jobs and felt that he was good at both of them. I remember talking to a chauffeur in the airport once who seemed embarrassed that he was a chauffeur.
“I am only doing this until the market bounces back.” Don’t hire these guys as they will always feel that they are better than the job and will never do it well.
My friend Tom Pepler at Signature Limousine in West Palm Beach is the perfect example of a great chauffeur. He doesn’t have the word no in his vocabulary. He is there to serve the customer. He has driven back to the airplane to get dog food that was left onboard after he has dropped his clients. He treats elderly women like he would his own mother. He is proud of the level of service he provides when he drives. The problem is that the Toms of this world are fewer and fewer and training is only as good as the attitude. 
Hire on attitude — but beware of the chameleon that talks the talk in the interview but doesn’t walk the walk on the job.
— Linda Moore, LCT East Coast Editor
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