Hiring rock stars: finding and inspiring talent to take you to the next level

by Scott Lollar

As a business owner, you should be constantly setting goals for your company’s growth. As you plan ahead, you’ll recognize that there will be times when your current staffing levels won’t support your growth goals. Because hiring is so time-consuming and potentially costly (especially when done in a hurry), it’s important to start thinking about the roles you want filled in the future and the type of people who will best fi t those needs. In other words, what YOUR rock star hires should look like.


The first step in getting rock star-ready is to develop a list of the potential positions to be filled. This is a time to think big. Look at the most critical need all the way to the luxury person. It’s not uncommon for owners to think their next key hire should be a salesperson. But if this is your own strength area, don’t duplicate the skill set. It may be that you really need a project manager to take the handoff from you after you close a sale. Or maybe you need admin or accounting support. Again, start with the most critical need then expand your list to include the ‘it would be nice to have’ positions.


The second step is determining what rock stars cost.

This is where many people I consult with miss the mark. Again, do you want a rock star or a roadie? If you want a rock star, be realistic. Determine what level of person you are looking for, and be willing to pay the amount required to get the best person—not an okay person. If you are willing to compensate at the top end of what is customary, you will attract a higher caliber of candidate and, in turn, get more for your money.

For sales positions, I always recommend a commission structure with a draw. A solid salesperson wants an upside and will typically do what it takes to perform to the level of their desired compensation. If you put limits on their earning potential, then you are most certainly putting limits on yours as well.

Managers should be paid a reasonable salary with potential for bonuses for excellent results. Their salary should give them a reasonable living but not well enough to ignore the bonus structure. You want this to be an incentive for a better income and a better quality of life. Make it attainable. If this person is not motivated or competent to hit benchmarks, then they are not what you are looking for.

Admins should be paid hourly, or a salary if you have sufficient work for them, and can be bonused, depending on the value they bring to your organization.

The other salary question to ask yourself is if you have the ability to pay these wages for one year even if your organization doesn’t grow at all. It will very likely take 3 to 6 months to start seeing much return on a new hire, and a full year before they really have their legs under them. Don’t be dependent on these folks moving the needle in a big way right off the bat. Coach them and set small, incremental goals to help them flourish.


I am constantly amazed at the number of owners who hire key individuals and never tell them what their job is. No one should be hired without a clear, concise job description. This includes how to act, how to dress, what their hours are—as well as what they are supposed to produce and when. And coach them on interacting with customers, employees and vendors.

From day one, you’ll want to set expectations and goals, and plan to meet regularly so they can report to you. Review their successes and failures; coach them around their weaknesses, and correct them as needed. The worst thing you can do is leave them to figure things out for themselves. Make regular interaction a priority. After all, if they fail, so do you.


Scott Lollar is a 30-year veteran of the painting industry. As a DYB Coach, he works with mid to large residential and commercial companies that desire calculated and accelerated growth.

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