His $90-million company, UBreakiFix, specializes in repair of small electronics, ranging from mobile phones to game consoles, at a time when planned obsolescence and the throwaway economy threatened to eliminate fix-it shops forever. But over the last few years, American consumers have re-embraced electronics repair, especially of increasingly expensive-to-replace smartphones. So UBreakiFix’s chain of nearly 180 retail fix-it locations in the U.S. and Canada is thriving.
And as far as the workforce is concerned, what company—large, small or mid-market—isn’t after digitally savvy, engineering-like millennials these days? Yet Orlando-based YouBreakiFix has managed to attract and retain them even though they’re increasingly coveted by larger organizations.
“What we’ve done hasn’t been done before,” the 28-year-old founder and CEO of UBreakiFix told Chief Executive. “Diversified repair at the retail level has been dabbled in, but not at our scale. And also not only finding talent to run it, but also building it and keeping it. It’s ingrained in our culture and the way we do things, and at the end of the day, we get them to stick around.”
Here are 3 ways that Wetherill and the company find and keep tech-savvy millennial talent.
1. Forswear the uni-dimensional. The company looks for a type of technically-minded millennial who is even rarer than it might seem: ones who “are personable as well as competent in the technology they’re in. They’re absolutely hard to find, but when we do find them, we invest in them heavily.” At UBreakiFix shops, Wetherill said, “Treating customers how they deserve to be treated and want to be treated is just as important as delivering the repair properly the first time.”
2. Rely on referrals. To find such people, he said, the company emphasizes referrals by friends or family members of employees and franchisees above all other methods—because, after all, they know best the candidates whereof they speak. Yet the company doesn’t pay referral bonuses per se.
3. Emphasize managerial support. The firm has fostered a management culture under which “if I’m your boss, it’s my job to constantly make opportunities clear to you and make it very clear what you need to do to take advantage of them,” Wetherill said. “We make sure our managers are fighting for the people under them to get promotions and raises that they deserve. That’s very important with a millennial workforce.”
4. Ensure accountability and transparency. Managers of the 20 company-owned stores, and owners and managers at its 156 franchised locations, are thoroughly tracked by key performance indicators, including inventory composition and levels, and on-time store closes and opens.
“It’s all tracked in real time, from zero to 100, so at any given time an employee knows exactly where they stand,” Wetherill explained. “In a conversation with management, then it’s not just how ‘I feel’ you are doing or not doing. It creates a culture of accountability, which is also important for millennials.”