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Jenny Craig gains by hiring customers

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Corrine Perritano regularly finds new managers from among her customers across the country. As her latest trainees sit around a conference table in Livonia, Mich., they introduce themselves and often add a relevant bit of personal information: “I lost 80 pounds!” That’s because more than half of them started as Jenny Craig customers, and now they’re set to spread the word about Jenny Craig at a new level: as managers.

“We don’t even have to do a whole lot of recruiting,” says Perritano, vice president of field operations.

It’s an instant edge: Perritano spends no money on classified ads, doesn’t spend hours rifling through résumés from a giant job board, and doesn’t have to prescreen candidates quite so strenuously. She figures she saves $1,500 per hire.

But the real advantage isn’t the savings; it’s her leadership edge in the marketplace.

Customers simply make better employees. Studies show that they’re less likely to be fired, they stay longer and they out sell employees who were never customers. Most of all, they serve as evangelists for the products they use and enjoy.

Potential pitfalls: 1. Losing a loyal customer if the process goes south; and 2. failing to let customers know what they’re getting into. (The employee experience isn’t as dazzling as the customer experience.)

Even so, it’s worth the risk to find those truly devoted employee customers. You still have to train them, says Perritano, “but you can’t train passion.”

— Adapted from “Shop Our Store! Or Better Yet, Why Not Work Here?" Alison Stein Wellner, Workforce Management Online, www.workforce.com.

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