Randy's Secret

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Yesterday, I briefly mentioned Randy McDougald and how his hiring practices have helped him turn a longshot into a huge success (on every conceivable level). Today, let me tell you what they are.

But first, this:

The first thing you need to know about Randy is that a couple of years ago, he left a very cushy corporate job to take over a failing bike shop and turn it into a triathlon store.

The second thing you need to know about Randy is that he's never looked back.

Randy is more passionate about triathlon and fitness and the commuity he is helping to build than anyone I've ever met... and his business, being firmly anchored in that passion is unlike any other triathlon shop I've set foot in.

I know it might sound a bit cliche, but Carolina Triathlon (the new website is under construction) isn't a business or a shop. It's a hub. It's the Main Street USA of the triathlon and cycling worlds in Greenville. People don't just go there to shop, they also go there to hang out. They go there to find people to ride or run with. They go there on their lunch break, just because... they feel at home there.

Trust me when I tell you that it has absolutely nothing to do with the bikes and the helmets and the running shoes. It isn't about the coffee or the powerbars. It isn't about the wetsuits and swim goggles either.

Despite the fact that Randy would probably love to personally take care of each and every one of his customers, he can't be everywhere all at once. That's where his employees come in. They are the heart and soul of his business, and he knows it. They're the living, breathing, walking, smiling articulation of his brand. So he pays particular attention to whom he hires and why.

Honestly, I'm not sure what his secret is. I just know this: When you walk into another bike shop in Greenville, you're pretty likely to get blown-off or snubbed. When you walk into his store, you're taken care of by cool friendly people who really want to help. There's no service vibe. It isn't fake in any way.

Sounds simple? Of course it does. And it is... but most retail outlets I visit don't even come close to the level of care and cool and confident professionalism that you'll encounter there.

Think boutique chic minus the attitude. It's uncanny.

Based on what I've seen, here's what I think Randy does:

(And if this echoes some of Guy Kawasaki's advice from yesterday, don't be too surprised.)

1. Randy hires infected people. No, not raging zombies from the U.K., but fitness-infected people. Everyone who works there is either an avid runner or cyclist or triathlete. These folks live, eat and breathe this stuff. They love it. It's their passion, and they're eager to share it with everyone who walks through his door.

2. Randy hires volunteers. Everyone who works there wants to work there.

3. Randy hires big talent. Everyone there is incredibly bright and/or talented. If your idea of the stereotypical bike shop/tri shop employee is of some nacho-munching underachiever with a racing fetish, think again. Some members of his team have Masters' degrees. Others have managed very profitable businesses. Some of them are immensely talented artists and coaches and promoters. It's uncanny, really.

4. Randy hires nurturers. Here's how Randy sees his customers: It doesn't matter if they're going to buy a $7,000 pro-kitted time trial bike or a $350 starter hardtail. They'll be treated with the same courtesy and enthusiasm and attention. If you're 300lbs and want to start exercising, you'll be treated with the same respect as if you were a nationally known pro cyclist. If your budget is very limited, you'll be treated just as well as a customer who drops $20,000 in the store each year.

Randy recently refused to hire a guy who told him he loved selling high-end bikes but not budget bikes. That pretty-much says it all.

5. Randy hires positive, enthusiastic people... because you know what, they're just fun to be around. Running a tri shop is supposed to be fun. His shop is fun. That's why people like to hang out there.

So there you have it. Whether you're running a triathlon shop, a chain of grocery stores or an accounting firm, you absolutely can't go wrong by following Randy's five hiring criteria. Next time you find yourself evaluating a potential hire, make sure that they match all five. Trust me when I say that anything short of the complete package will come back to bite you in the proverbial butt.

Okay, I'm done preaching for today. I'll just leave you with these two brilliant little points:

"The art of recruiting is the purest form of evangelism."
- Guy Kawaski.

"Your people are your product"
- Jack Spade

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