Attitude Trumps Experience: Franchise Veteran Says Character and Work Ethic Make Great Employees

In Dave Melton's Hire the American Dream, the Domino's Pizza multi-unit franchisee outlines much of his own personal journey and roadmap to discovering how to hire the best and most productive employees, and create a culture that leads to success for everyone in the company. It's a task that all franchisees encounter and Melton's tried and true methods have applications for many situations.

28 years and counting, Melton now operates six Domino's Pizza restaurants in Manhattan and Connecticut. The 50-year-old's accomplishments are impressive. He has led the New York DMA to become the most successful DMA market for Domino's Pizza. In 2009, Melton's stores took over the number one slot for sales in any Domino's market. His company's annual revenue is $6 million.

In one of the first chapters in his book, Melton discusses the importance of having good employees and hiring right. That sounds simple but it's not always so. He reveals anecdotally that when he first took over one of his New York locations he had some serious employee problems.

"I was faced with employees who mistreated customers, didn't take our standards seriously, and created such negative energy that I lost people I wish I could have kept on my team."

He says that by the time he eliminated the problems, so much damage had been done that he had to essentially begin the building process of assembling a great team all over again. But the lesson taught him how to recognize good emplyees.

Hiring Right

Melton believes you can tell a great deal about a candidate during the first interview. "If you pay less attention to what they're saying than to how they're behaving," he says. He offers these tips on observing candidates:

  • do they look you in the eye?
  • do they smile?
  • do they seem excited about the potential to work for you?
  • are they friendly?
  • do they say thank you?
  • does their personality come through?
  • do they seem eager to learn?
  • do they express interest in growth opportunities?
  • do they possess the entrepreneurial spirit?
  • do they like serving other people and making them happy?

Zeroing in on questions like these will help you determine the attitude of the employee candidate. Melton says that the foundation of a person's character is paramount to the hiring decision. "You cannot build anything of significance on a shaky foundation. This is why I hire attitude over experience every time."

Melton gives the example of an immigrant from Bangladesh that he hired. Shaik Shamin was young, inexperienced, and nervous when he came looking for a job at one of Melton's Domino's locations in the mid-90s. But Shamin smiled and said thank you during the interview process - his attitude was good. So it was no surprise to Melton that Shamin quickly became a passionate employee, eager to work hard and learn. He went out of his way to be friendly to customers - and all others he came in contact with - he took ownership of any customer concerns, and he even did little things like learn the names of customers' pets.

Employees like Shamin are the kind that can make your life as a franchise owner much more enjoyable. They create happier customers and they build healthier bottom lines on the P&L statements.

Published: July 1st, 2010

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