When someone gives him great service, Blayne Blowers makes an unusual offer: he hands that person a card that reads, "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, based in Des Moines, swears by the card as a screening tool.

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

Blowers looks for people who are "sincere, responsive, with a friendly smile -- not forced -- who enjoy serving." When card holders call, Blowers interviews them carefully, but he has already confirmed an important and elusive quality. He says the cards reduce the cost of bad hires and save training time. "Customer service is the hardest thing to teach." -- Phaedra Hise

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