Has your small business recently lost a valued employee? While the departure of your star employee might have left you and your business in a difficult position, bouncing back from your current situation doesn’t have to be such a daunting process. In episode #74, Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks offer advice on how to navigate your way through this challenging transition.
4:58 – Today’s topic: What Should You Do When a Stellar Employee Quits? (Follow up to previous question from Geraldine)
5:40 – Geraldine explains how her company navigated through the transition.
6:42 – Employers can find potential replacements by hiring temps, contract workers, and part-timers.
8:22 – Gene shares his experience with Avis, the Car Rental Company and discusses how other businesses can benefit from demonstrating the same level of accommodation.
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Submit Your Question
Elizabeth: Gene, have you used Instagram stories to promote your business yet?
Gene: No. That’s a good question, because Instagram is, as everybody knows, an absolutely phenomenal and popular social media site. A billion plus active users a day. You’re on Instagram all the time.
Elizabeth: Love it. Yeah.
Gene: I’m on Instagram all the time. Personally, I have some great accounts that I follow.
Elizabeth: Yeah, like the Kardashians.
Gene: Yeah, the Kardashians and some really… Oh, animals doing funny things and whatever. Great, really funny. Barstool is one of my favorite Instagram accounts for sports. But for my business I do not use it.
Elizabeth: Okay. And why is that?
Gene: I had a feeling you were gonna ask that. My business doesn’t seem very Instagram-y. And I’ll tell you the reason why. Let me take a step back. My sister, and I think I’ve talked about her before on the show. She’s a doctor, right, in Philadelphia. And she was just featured on a local TV show in Philadelphia because she uses Instagram for her medical practice.
Elizabeth: Wow, that seems dicey.
Gene: And it’s been very, very popular. By the way, I’ll take it as my idea, because I told her, because she should be doing this. She started doing it, it’s been really popular.
Elizabeth: Has she given you credit?
Gene: No, no credit at all. Like I don’t even exist. The whole news crew came in and did a whole story on her. What she does is a few times a day, she will post something health-related on her Instagram.
Elizabeth: Content marketing.
Gene: Yeah, it’s like a meal that she’s eating or if the sun is out, some sunbather, or using the right sunscreen, you know what I mean. Or she’ll post somebody that’s a patient of hers, with permission, that they hurt their ankle and they had to avoid doing it. And it’s just advice for her patients and her followers on just sort of health tips and whatnot. And that’s very visual, it’s very cool and personal and consumer… and Instagram is a very B to C type of platform, I think, so I think it resonates really well with her.
Now, my other advice to her, was what she refuses to do, was to take… if she really wants to get followers, she should be having disgusting, gross stuff, because that’s what attracts.
Elizabeth: Oh yeah, right.
Gene: Because Instagram is awesome when you see crazy, stupid stuff. And I was like, if you put festering sores on there, or a guy with half an arm…
Elizabeth: People love to look at that, though.
Gene: They do. His eyeball hanging out. She refused to do that, I get that. She’s got more common sense than I do.
Elizabeth: So what’s your sister’s Instagram account? Can we link to it?
Gene: Yeah. I’ll give it to you for the show notes… I think it’s @drvicki. Uou know, I’ll have to give you, we’ll include…
Elizabeth: We’ll link it in the show notes.
Gene: In the show notes. She has some really, really good posts on, again, a healthy lifestyle, but again, no eyeballs. And when you see hanging eyeballs, she’ll be listening to me.
I think Instagram is really good if you’re running a business that’s very visual. But not just visual, it’s gotta be fun.
Elizabeth: Or gross.
Gene: Or gross. The more risks that you want to take, the more edginess that you want to be, the more controversial that you want to be. And by the way, that’s not for everyone. Okay, because you know, there’s good and there’s bad. But the more you want to take those risks, the more attention you’ll get on Instagram. If you want to be an Instagram star, to stand out you have to do that, and if that’s not your cup of tea, you might want to…
Elizabeth: And being a star doesn’t mean having Kardashian level followers. If you are a business owner and you have a thousand followers, there’s gonna be a little more loyal to you.
Gene: Right. Huge. And that’s exactly right. It’s funny because you talk about… It’s the same thing with Instagram, Facebook, email marketing. You don’t have to have tens of thousands. People get with the numbers, you know, you just want people that are interested in what you have to say. That’s what you want. And then that’s your audience. And like you just said, if it’s a thousand, if it’s five hundred, she might have five hundred, three hundred, I don’t know. But they like her. That’s how you maintain your relationship with your customers and clients.
Elizabeth: Alright, and if you have a business, I’ve offered this before and no one took me up on it, but if you have a business where you are like, maybe I should do content marketing, what should I put out there on social media? Leave a comment for us and Gene and I will weigh in on some ideas for you, because that’s what we do all day long.
Gene: No charge.
Elizabeth: Yeah, this is a free service. Go to the show notes, leave a comment, and we will write back to you. We’ll be right back with our question after a word from our sponsor.
This podcast is brought to you by The Hartford. When the unexpected strikes, The Hartford strikes back for over 1 million small business customers with property, liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Check out The Hartford’s small business insurance at TheHartford.com.
QUESTION: What to Do When a Stellar Employee Quits
Elizabeth: We’re back with our question, and this isn’t actually even a question, this is a follow-up for a previous question that we answered, and this is from Geraldine. And I’m gonna link her previous question. She writes:
“Gene and Elizabeth, I wrote into you two several months ago about how I had an employee who was about to leave my accounting business. You suggested that I just let her go. I did, and I just lost my business. I blame you, Gene Marks.”
Gene: Oh, that’s so mean.
“Just kidding. It actually worked out great. I just wanted to show Gene that we accountants can keep things interesting. He made snoring noises when I described my accounting business in the previous episode.”
You did do that.
Gene: I did. I’m an accountant. I’m allowed to do that.
“I let my other employees know that one was leaving. I was getting a replacement and there was going to be a few weeks where there was going to be extra work. I hired a temp who ended up turning into a permanent employee.”
“I just wanted to follow up and thank you for the advice.”
Gene: Cool, cool. You know, transitioning in any business is tough, and I feel like she’s got a few employees in her firm, and you lose one person and it’s brutal to recover from. Good for her. I’m glad she was able to do that.
Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s great. And I’m wondering, a couple weeks isn’t actually that long.
Gene: Not bad at all. I think she got very lucky. I’m telling you… in the end, you know we’ve had conversation, we should continue the conversation about best practices for hiring, but I’ve learned over 20-some years of doing this that I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. You know, you look at resumes, you look at backgrounds, whatever, and then in the end you’re just like, I think this person’s gonna work out. Take a shot.
Gene: So if she found somebody within two weeks, good for her.
Elizabeth: Now, have you ever hired a temp or worked with a temp agency?
Gene: No, we usually work with contract workers that way. Like part-timers and contractors. I’ve never actually used a temp agency. But I have a lot of clients that do. I have a lot of good friends that run temp agencies. Temp agencies right now, by the way… I have a good friend that runs a temp agency, it’s called Express Personnel, it’s like a franchise, he’s got one in Philly, and he’s going through the roof right now.
Gene: Yeah, because the economy right now, unemployment is low, they’re looking for good people, even though they’re at an all-time high in job openings, people are still looking for people. And this guy is like, he’s running around Philly. So good times to be in the temp agency. Having said that, he was, during the recession, not so good.
What goes around comes around. But good for her. I’m glad she found somebody, that’s good news.
Elizabeth: And I’m so glad she wrote in. I wish more people would do that, tell us how our advice would work out, if you followed it even.
Gene: Only if our advice is good.
Elizabeth: Yes. And I’m gonna link back to that, the original question. And we’ll be right back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.
WORD OF BRILLIANCE: Avis
Elizabeth: So we’re back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.
Gene: You like these stories, so I’m gonna… My Word of Brilliance today, Elizabeth, is Avis. The car rental company. I should right about this for The Hartford, but I was in with my wife, we were in Minnesota last week, because I had a presentation there. We left early. We arrived on a Wednesday, and we were staying at this resort on the lakes of Minnesota.
Elizabeth: Oh, that’s why she went.
Gene: Yeah, that’s the reason why she went and we were supposed to stay till Sunday, and we just decided to leave early, we’ll leave it at that. The resort wasn’t that… and we came home and went to the shore instead. We had fun.
We’re at the… We had Avis, the car was reserved from Wednesday to Sunday. I returned the car on Thursday instead, dropped it off, like I normally do. Anyway, Sunday came around, I was gonna do my expenses for the trip, I needed to see an invoice for this car rental, and I went online, and it was saying the car hadn’t been closed out yet. It was still saying it was out.
Elizabeth: Four days later.
Gene: Yeah, four days later. So I called up Avis and got the customer service person on the line, and the customer service person was like, yeah, it’s showing that it’s not, it hasn’t been closed out yet. So the customer service told me to call Minneapolis. The local… I call them and I ask to speak to customer service. Their automated system, and it referred me back to the main customer service I was originally talking with.
Elizabeth: Oh my gosh.
Gene: Anyways, so finally I get another customer service person on, and here’s the happy ending to the story. They looked and they said, “Well, when did you return the car?” I said, “I returned it on Thursday.” And he says, “I’ve taken care of it, closed it out, returned on Thursday, no questions asked, no whatever.” And I was only charged for the one day. Now, that’s exactly what you do in 2017. It’s almost like you hear stories of people that have Kindles, with Amazon, and their Kindle breaks and they call up Amazon, and Amazon just says, “We’ll send you a new Kindle.”
Gene: Avis, I mean, I’m a preferred customer with Avis, so maybe that helps, maybe that doesn’t. But they sit there and they say, what are we gonna sit there and fight with this guy over…
Elizabeth: Well, you had turned in the car. It’s not like you stole it.
Gene: Yeah, I had turned it in, but they didn’t have evidence of it. But the guy said, you know, we’ll find out, we’ll get to the bottom of it with Minneapolis, but in the meantime, we’re crediting you out. They just did it.
Gene: And I was thinking about in my own business as well, when clients call up with an issue, “Oh, Gene, so and so was out here and I got charged for three hours, but they were really only productive for an hour. I don’t understand why we got the extra…” I just immediately just credit out the two hours. I sit there and say, well, I could just sit here and fight with this guy, first of all, I’ve got better things to do with my time…
Elizabeth: It kills you inside, though, doesn’t it?
Gene: Kills me, but I’m like, enough, you know, whatever, and then I’m gonna move on and that way I can do other things.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, you are in a service business. That’s what you were just talking about.
Gene: As is Avis. As is Amazon. As aren’t we all, here to serve. If you’re running a business, don’t quibble over pennies. If a customer comes in, that customer can be dead wrong, it could eat you up inside like it eats me up every time, but I just learned, just let it go. Give them back their money with a smile, and then hopefully you’ll get it back in the future.
Gene: I mean, Avis, by doing that, I’m happy to continue to work with Avis and be their customer, so hopefully they’ll make ten times the amount of money off me in the future instead of turning into some stupid, dopey war.
Elizabeth: So what was wrong with the resort?
Gene: Oh boy. It’s a…
Elizabeth: And you don’t mention the name, obviously.
Gene: Yeah, it’s a long story.
Elizabeth: Were there bugs?
Gene: No, it was just…
Elizabeth: Was there mold?
Gene: It needed some work at this place. We were expecting more of a nicer place and it just wasn’t and anyway. But it’s beautiful. Minnesota’s a beautiful state.
Elizabeth: It really is, I’ve been there.
Gene: The lake is gorgeous. So the resort was disappointing, and because it was so late, we couldn’t find any other place, every other place was sold out, because everybody vacations there at the lakes, rightfully so.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I was wondering why your wife went, because she doesn’t usually travel with you.
Gene: No, she does now and again. During the summer she can because she’s a schoolteacher. So we were like, oh cool, it’ll be right on the lake in a nice resort.
Elizabeth: Yeah, and it was really different.
Gene: It was a really cool idea, and unfortunately it wasn’t so hot.
Elizabeth: Next time.
Gene: Next time.
Elizabeth: Alright, we’ll be back in a couple days with a new episode.