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You Messed Up! Now What? - July 2018

by Kathy Olevsky

I ‘ve been operating a martial arts school full time for 39 years. I think I may have made every mistake that can be made in this business. The reason I’m still in business, I believe, is because I asked for help. I learned quickly that others before me had already found solutions. In this reality-based column, I’ll point out key mistakes I made in my business career, which are common errors among school owners, both large and small, throughout our industry. Then I’ll share the solutions I applied to overcome them.


I was reminded recently that our business is ever-changing and I have to remember to respond to the changes. We have worked very hard on our marketing for the past six months and our influx of new students has been steady. In addition to that steady influx, we just added a project that brought in even more new business.

Some of that new business included parents who were Spanish-speaking. There was a time when we had a part-time front-desk person who was bilingual. That person left us to attend school and we never replaced her.

We also have had changes in our management that required some of our staff to take later evening hours off to be with family. All of this moved me toward a decision that we needed a part-time front-desk person who:
• could work nights
• was great with customer service
• also spoke fluent Spanish

In previous years, I would have just tried to think of everyone I personally knew to fill that position. In more recent years, I have come to understand that I needed to go through a normal hiring process to find the right person.

So, this time, I listed the job for a front-desk person on a job-site online. This job-site,, also had some new features that made hiring this person much easier than ever before.

I was able to place my “Front Desk Receptionist” job-listing for free. The job I listed required applicants to be bilingual in Spanish and also have an advanced degree. The job would pay between $10-12 per hour and it would be part-time for 15 hours per week.

The online job service I used had a feature that allowed me to ask all applicants to complete a phone screening. This automated process meant that, if they wanted the job, they had to record answers to four questions that I had preselected.

As each applicant completed the phone screening, I got an email from the service. It directed me to a link to listen to the answers online. I could now hear the voice of the person before I ever interviewed them.

This was a huge time-saver! I didn’t even look at the resumes of anyone who didn’t complete the phone screening. That’s because I was able to reject people who didn’t have the right voice or diction to answer my phones.

I had over 200 applicants for this part-time job. About 20 of them actually took the step to complete the phone screening. I then read the resumes of those 20 and selected the top three.

I set up three interviews and, a few days later, I had my new bilingual employee. She had a B.S. degree in Hospitality Management, and was currently working as the manager of food and beverage for a local hotel. She wanted a part-time job to supplement her income to pay off her college loans.

Many years ago, I could never have imagined that this process would go so quickly and smoothly. I would never have thought that I would find such a great candidate to work for this position.

That was the problem. I often held myself back because I wasn’t using new technology or new thinking to resolve new problems. We need to remember not to limit our own success!

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