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HUMAN RESOURCES

Direct Approach

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Everyone knows about direct-mail marketing, but using direct mail to recruit employees can work, too. Richard McCarty, aprincipal at McCarty Architects, a 25-employee company in Tupelo, Miss., faced the problem of attracting architects to ruralMississippi. He got good results with a lively direct-mail recruiting package sent nationwide to chapters of the AmericanInstitute of Architects. "It's hard to get people fired up about Tupelo," McCarty says. "We try to throw in something that willcatch someone's eye and give an indication of the spirit of our firm and our community."

Before entering a new retail market, Select Comfort, a Minneapolis manufacturer of high-quality air mattresses, sendsrecruitment postcards to "Comfort Club" members -- customers who have spent at least $1,200 on its innovative "sleepsystem." Select Comfort solicits customers to become employees because the company has found that satisfied customersmake effective salespeople. "We knew if we had converts to what we were doing, we could train them in the sellingprocess," says Mark de Naray, board member and former CEO.

Karen McFarland is a good example. As a potential customer, she was skeptical of Select Comfort's claims. (Her husband,who suffers from a degenerative spinal ailment, ordered his mattress in secret using a neighbor's phone.) Now she believesthe mattress saved her husband from surgery. McFarland's enthusiasm for the product persuaded area sales manager TimBrasfield to hire her to manage the Cary, N.C., store. He was glad he did: Her store exceeded its sales goals for 11 of 12months, earning it three top-performance ratings.




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