Whenever someone provided him with great service, Blayne Blowers made an unusual offer: He handed the person a card that read, "I was impressed by your service. If you're ever looking for a job, please call me." Blowers, director of store operations for the Clean Duds laundry chain, in Des Moines, swore by the card as a screening tool.

Blowers first used cards for recruiting in 1986, when he managed 13 fast-food restaurants. The idea caught on at Clean Duds: Everyone in the home office, including the CEO, handed out the card to recruit new employees for the two company-owned stores. And the company ordered 30,000 cards for its 65 franchises.

Blowers looked for people who were sincere and responsive, with a friendly smile--not forced--and who seemed to enjoy serving. When cardholders called, Blowers interviewed them carefully, but he had already confirmed an important, and elusive, quality. He noted that the cards reduced the cost of bad hires and saved training time, because "customer service is the hardest thing to teach."

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing