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The Exclusive Magazine for the Building Service Contracting Industry Since 1981

Hiring the Right Person


Hiring the right person to fill a position within your company is probably one of the toughest business decisions a building service contractor can make.

Hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake that can adversely affect your bottom line. This is especially true when hiring an operations manager or another management position.

“Know what your core values as a company are,” suggests Janelle Bruland, president and owner of Management Services Northwest Inc., a janitorial company in Ferndale, WA. “Seek to hire individuals that share those values. An operations manager is such an important position in an organization because they are directly responsible for the day-to-day operations of your company. They are in regular contact with your clients and the coach of your operation’s team members.”

Bruland says she looks for strong leadership ability and whether they have led successful teams in the past. “If so, I would ask them to describe their teams and what they have accomplished as a team leader. Also, good communication skills are vital, since they will be communicating constantly with your clients and team members.”

Taylor Bruce is president of IH Services, a large company that provides a broad range of cleaning and support services. Bruce, who is in the company’s Greenville, SC office, says when hiring for any job, the person hiring needs to fully understand the requirements of the job and the experience needed to be able to properly execute the job requirements and responsibilities. “When looking at operations managers, experience in our industry is key to success because you can’t have an operations manager learning on the job. Also, honesty and integrity are key due to the operations manager’s dealings with pay, payroll, supplies, equipment, etc. A dishonest operations manager will cost your company thousands.”

For example, he says the skills needed for a successful operation manager include a good education, good verbal and math skills, experience running an account, the ability to price an account, strong negotiating skills, and a professional look, dress and mannerisms.

Education vs. Experience

When is comes to education versus experience, both Bruce and Bruland cite experience as a little higher on their list.

“It depends on the type of position and what dollar responsibility is involved, as well as the number of people under management,” explains Bruce. “In a typical operations manager role of having 10 to 15 accounts and 100 to 200 employees, I would say that experience is the most important factor. In a large company where an operations manager will manage 50 to 100 accounts and have 500 to 1,000 employees, education is very important and could supersede experience.”

Adds Bruland, “Nothing can develop a person more than experiential learning. Set a criteria that will bring about success in the job by defining what education and skills an employee needs to have for each position, including knowledge, skills and abilities; attitudes and motivation; and cultural fit, both with organization and its customers.”

Red Flags

When it comes to red flags during the interview process, Bruce says the following could point to trouble: employment laps on the resume; the prospect talking too much or too little; they won’t look you in the eye; and they are too vague about past employment history or who they worked for.

“We seek team-oriented individuals, rather than those who are self-focused,” remarks Bruland. “When asking situational questions about past team leadership, I would listen for someone to give credit to their team for the accomplishments. If they only pat themselves on the back and do not mention the contributions of others, that would be a red flag for me.”

Taylor Bruce is the president of IH Services, Inc., a company that provides a broad range of cleaning and support services. IH Services has offices in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee as well as a presence in 19 states. Bruce is located in the Greenville, SC office. Prior to this position, he was President of several different manufacturing companies.

Janelle Bruland is President and CEO of Management Services Northwest, Inc., in Ferndale, Washington.She has been in the cleaning industry since 1995 when she purchased a small family-owned janitorial company.


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