Rodney Hall, The Talon Group
In the movie, the crusty old cowboy Curly (Jack Palance) gives city slicker Mitch (Billy Crystal) a talk about the meaning of life. Essentially it comes down to "one thing," and Mitch wants to know what that one thing is. Curly can only explain it as being different for each person.
Companies are not much different. Although many builders might be similar, no two are identical. Each company has its own unique DNA that develops over time by the people who work there, the vendors they choose as partners and the product they deliver. Each company must identify what it is that sets it apart.
Most companies do a poor job delivering such information to their audience. Search online for interview books and you'll find tips on how candidates can better sell themselves in an interview. I've yet to see one that addresses it from the company side.
The marketing people refer to this as USPs: unique selling propositions. Simply put, USPs are the golden nuggets that set you apart from the competition. Good salespeople can recite them at the drop of the hat, but mosey outside that group and you don't hear much about them.
Here are a few examples of client USPs we've seen and promoted:
- Track record of promoting internally. Celebrate the fact that you look inside before going outside. Be specific: "Seventy-two percent of our management team was promoted internally."
- Low turnover rate. Again, provide a specific number.
- Long-tenured employees. Nothing says "happy employees" and "good place to work" more than a list of employees who have been with the company for more than five years.
- Customer satisfaction. Look behind the scenes of any company that scores highly in this area and you will see a team of people who enjoy where they work.
- Civic involvement. One of our Florida clients has invested time, talents and treasures in its local community for decades. The company is now revered for its civic contributions and recognized as a company that always does "the right thing."
- Going green. For one of our Colorado clients, this goes far beyond an Energy Star designation. The company's passion for being a good land steward is legendary and a timely story to share with candidates.
Survey your team members on what they feel sets you apart from the competition or puts you in the superior category. Then:
- Incorporate your discoveries into your collateral material and job postings.
- Talk about them in your discussions with candidates.
- Display them on your Web site.
- Print them on cards for your employees to carry.
- Include them in your e-mail signature.
In addition to promoting your company, you establish a benchmark for future performance standards. And a unified message tends to take on a life of its own. When the message is a positive one, look out — that's when you become an employer of choice. Giddy-up.
|Rodney Hall is a senior partner with The Talon Group, a leading executive search firm specializing in the real-estate development and home building industries.|