October 06, 2023 I Next-Gen Retailing I by Jonathan Hendrix

Hiring for Company Culture

As the saying goes, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” I’m not sure there’s a more applicable expression when faced with the daunting task of hiring good employees. There seem to be endless traits and qualification metrics to wrestle with when assessing candidates. Ideally we would have experienced, knowledgeable and talented musicians be the face of our business. There’s no denying these are highly desirable qualities to look for in a potential employee, but what if I said that some of my best hires came from outside of the music business and that these employees had little-to-no industry experience, knowledge or musical ability? Seems counterintuitive, right? I thought so too, but I could not have been more wrong.

I have been with Spicer’s Music for almost six years, and for or the last three years, I’ve been in a management position that has required me to be responsible for our hiring process from start to finish. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe how many employees I have hired in such a short time.

From part-time sales staff all the way up to full-time leadership roles, I have spearheaded countless interviews and hires. Somewhere along the way, I came to the realization that the employees that were excelling the most and making the largest impacts in the life of our business were not the ones that could play every John Mayer lick, or knew the ins and outs of all the overdrive pedals we carry, but were the ones who were completely bought in to our culture. I’m lucky enough to have some exemplary employees who came in possessing both, but there have been a few who had no gear knowledge or musical ability, yet still came into our business and made an instant impact simply because they bought into our culture.

Before I go any further, I want to make sure and acknowledge the importance of having talented and knowledgeable musicians on your team. As a brick-and-mortar store in this day and age, it’s so important to have those staff members in order to provide quality service and sustain credibility. However, this can be taught. It may take a fair amount of time and effort on our part, but if you have an employee who is fully bought in, their natural hunger and drive to learn will speed up the process tenfold.

The Value of Company Culture
What is much more difficult to teach is valuing culture. The definition of culture can vary from business to business but, for us at Spicer’s Music, it’s the foundation of who we are as a music store. We strive to put the customer and their needs first and want to ensure the most positive experience possible each time they walk through our doors. I could talk about culture for hours, but that’s our’s in a nutshell. If you’re interviewing someone who has not totally bought into your company culture, or is at odds with it, consider that a major red flag.

I have started pitching our culture more than anything else in my interviews with candidates. I make sure they’re fully aware of who we are as a business, how we operate and what we expect from an employee in their position in order to make sure our culture is exemplified. That candidate could be more knowledgeable and experienced than anyone on our current team, but if our culture is not something they’re going to value or want to be a part of, they’re not the right fit for our business and will only bring our team down in the long run. This scenario can be a tough pill to swallow. I’ve been there. It’s easy to want to look past this because that candidate may have many other desirable attributes. However, speaking from experience, it’s the wrong choice to hire a candidate who doesn’t value your company’s culture.

Since making hiring candidates who value our company culture my top priority, our lesson program has soared to new heights. Our sales numbers continue to grow. Our customer experience has never been better. With a good training and education plan paired with their inherent drive and passion, these employees can raise the ceiling and potential of your business overnight. MI

Jonathan Hendrix is the general manager of Spicer’s Music in Auburn, Alabama. When he’s not running the day-to-day operations of the store, he’s usually behind his grill or his P bass.

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