Like most of you, I started my carpet cleaning company by purchasing a van and equipment and doing all the work myself.

Many stay at this capacity, either by preference or simply not knowing how to take the steps required to grow their businesses beyond that of being a single-operator.

The idea of growing beyond oneself can seem daunting, but the reality is… it’s pretty basic.
One does not need a college degree to be successful in the business world. I’ve never even stepped foot into a college except for recently to instruct in the chemistry lab. How is that for irony?

Expanding is, for the most part, increasing your work load to the point where you need more vans, equipment and technicians to get the work done. This requires developing a great reputation, marketing expansion, having a referral program, etc. to bring in new jobs.

But for the sake of this article, I’d like to focus on the most valuable element in expansion: Obtaining not just good, but great employees. They are a living, breathing reflection of you and your company. Your company’s reputation and future depend on them.

I own a business in Bend, OR called Guarantee Cleaning Services, Inc. We have a carpet cleaning division, duct cleaning division and a rug cleaning plant. As I’m sure you can imagine, over the course of the 18 years I’ve had my company, I’ve had quite a few employees come and go. Some have been a fantastic experience. Others… absolute nightmares.

I’ve hired by posting “now hiring” ads on Craigslist and other sites, hired through temp agencies and through a local government employment division. I’ve hired friends and referrals from friends. These are all pretty common methods of obtaining employees, and each have yielded mixed results for me.

Justin, who runs our rug cleaning plant and has been with me for seven years, and Calen, who runs our duct cleaning division, are by far the best two employees with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working.

They were both hired via my preferred and thus far unmentioned method, to which I refer as “scouting and recruiting.”

There’s a gas station/mini mart close to my home where I would stop every morning for coffee, and again every evening on my way home for a snack, some gas, etc.

I met Justin seven years ago. I couldn’t help but notice a particular gas attendant (here in Oregon we aren’t allowed to pump our own gas) who always exhibited a great attitude. Justin opened the door for me, was professional and was an all-around personable young man. I also noticed that customers enjoyed interacting with him.

After a few months of observing this level of customer service, I mentioned to Justin “Hey, if you’re ever looking for a change in jobs, let me know.” I handed him my business card.

During the course of the next several weeks, he’d ask me a question or two about the job, but I really didn’t think he was very interested. He seemed to like the job he had. What I didn’t realize, though, is that Justin was sizing me up!

It took some coaxing on my part, but he finally put in his two weeks’ notice at the gas station and came to work with me. Justin is now the most talented rug cleaner with whom I’ve ever worked, and takes tremendous pride in his job here at Guarantee.

I found Calen the same way, working at a gas station close to the office where we fuel the vans. He was attentive, professional and, above all, well-liked and respected by customers and coworkers alike.

He was ready for a career change and came aboard with us here at Guarantee and has proven himself to be a fantastic addition to the company.

Like most things, when it comes to finding the right employees, there’s more than one way.
Our office manager, Anne, was hired after combing through dozens of applications and countless interviews. These came from an online ad. She is the best office person we’ve had.

It’s the people within your company that are the most important internal assets of your business. So don’t limit your options to only those looking for you, go look for them.

After all, the best employees aren’t always unemployed when it’s convenient for you!

David Hart, founder and CEO of RamAir International, is a 27-year veteran in the cleaning and restoration industry. He is the inventor of the OzoGen 10kV High-Output Ozone Generator and is on the council of forensics remediation for the Restoration Industry Association (RIA). To contact him, visit his websites ramair.co and ozogen.com. If you have a topic you’d like covered in “Straight From the Hart” simply visit ozogen.com and click on the comment button and submit your idea. If we choose your topic for an article, your name will go into a drawing to win a free OzoGen 10kV High Output Ozone Generator. Drawings will take place each quarter.