The personnel

Any art experience?
I want to hire a person that will mainly have selling duties. Should I choose one that has experience in fine arts?
It would be better but not indispensable. The main requisites to look for are communication skills, enthusiasm, a positive attitude towards others and a certain sympathetic personality. Any lack of education or experience can be overcome later with training.


Too Casual
My salesman comes to work dressed in casual wear. What is to be done?
If the shop style requires a more decorous wear, it is necessary to clearly tell this to the salesman. The aspect of the staff, including dress and hygiene is very important in a shop. Certain anti-conformist behaviours, which could be accepted in certain places, cannot be tolerated in a frame shop. The owner should encourage elegance, giving compliments from time to time to the salespeople.


5 simple rules
Should a potential candidate for a position in my workshop be put under some sort of test or exam?
I think that a person that is going to be employed in a workshop needs to know a few basic essential items and these should be given more weight when choosing between candidates:
• Colour-blindness. It is essential that anyone employed in the framing industry should be able to distinguish and recognise colours. It would be advisable not to directly ask a candidate if they are colour blind: use more tact and show them a few mount corner samples and ask them to name the colours.
• Sweaty hands. This is definitely unacceptable. Sweaty hands leave marks on frames, mountboards and on practically everything else. Again use more tact. Don’t ask the candidate if they have sweaty hands: maybe just shake hands with them as they are leaving.
• Mathematics. A minimum knowledge of mathematics is required. We should get the candidate to do a test on the four fundamental mathematical operations (without the use of a calculator). We will surprisingly discover that half of the candidates cannot divide; the potential candidate should at least be able to do the other three operations. It is equally important that employees have a thorough understanding of decimal points. Recently I discovered that when an employee of mine had to write two metres and six centimetres he wrote 2.6 metres. (in other words two feet and half an inch was written as 7 1/2 feet).
• Reading and writing . We shouldn’t take for granted that an employee knows how to read and write without at least some difficulty. Many immigrants are now employed in frame shops. It would be worthwhile getting the candidate to write some simple sentences. In fact the future employee will need to follow written instructions and should be able to do this without any difficulty.
• Smoke. In each workshop smoking should be severely prohibited for many reasons. It would be better if the candidate did not have this habit at all so that there is no desire at all to light up a cigarette. Instead of asking them whether they smoke you should ask them how many cigarettes they smoke in a day.

No experience is better than some
I need to employ someone for the workshop. Is it necessary that they have gained some work experience at other framing shops?
I would personally prefer that they hadn’t. The many times that I have employed staff I have found that it takes longer to rid them of their bad working habits acquired at other framers than it is to teach them new ones. An employee that has acquired experience at other framing shops usually believes that he/she is better than their actual true ability. At this stage it is difficult to get them to change their attitude.


He is inefficient in the workshop
I have employed someone that is to be my public relations’ person; when he is in the back room though putting together frames he is very inefficient. Why?
Those of us that enjoy being in direct contact with the public feel that we are in jail when we are not in our natural habitat: we have a need to display, talk and role play. The same rule applies to the opposite case: the person that finds greater enjoyment working in the back room doesn’t feel comfortable dealing with people. It is difficult to find personnel that are suitable for both the workshop and the customer counter.


How am I able to judge whether my staff are working too little or too much? How many frames, for example, should be made each day?
It is usually difficult to establish how much time is needed to complete a frame: this depends on the complexity of the frame, the equipment that is available, etc. An approximate average figure of about 40 minutes is the time needed to complete a frame. During an 8 hour working day each employee should produce at least 12 frames.


Is music OK?
My staff insist that the radio be turned on, but I am scared that this will distract them from their work. What should I do?
Since framing is mainly a manual type of job the radio shouldn’t distract the personnel. It could actually make the whole working environment and atmosphere more pleasant and more hospitable. It must be said that only music should be heard and no talk back programs allowed. Staff tend to listen to what is being said in talk back programs and they could pay more attention to the radio than to their work. Some employees have the tendency to operate the noisy equipment such as saws, guillotines, air guns etc. at low speeds in order to be able to hear the radio.
The radio is a great tool where customers walk around as it creates a relaxing, pleasant atmosphere in which the customer feels comfortable. Since the customer usually comes in only to look and prefers not to be disturbed by staff, the music actually takes away the uneasy feeling of being the only person in the shop. The music should be suitable for the type of shop you have. It could even be rock and roll if the shop has a tendency to attract lots of younger people. It should however be “soft” music in almost all other cases.