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Analysts are split on the future of gas prices, with some forecasting spikes to $4 or $5 this spring and others suggesting that supply will be increased to keep prices at a reasonable level (even if that level is higher than last year).

In a year of rising hard costs, such as state minimum wage and commodity increases, employers are nervous about what an increase in gas prices could mean for their bottom lines. Higher gas prices impact the cost of doing business, but with transportation sitting as the second highest household expense (behind housing) economists say that for every 10-cent increase at the pump, consumers cut other spending by $9 billion to compensate.

So what are businesses to do?

Steven Covey’s time management quadrant tells us to focus on what is urgent and important. Following that same logic, employers should focus on what is in the “controllable and important” quadrant. Gas prices, labor costs and commodity prices are important to your bottom line but are largely out of your control. Your approach to building an hourly workforce that will deliver a better customer experience is yours to dictate, and it’s more important than you may know.

Consider these stats:

  • According to American Express, 70 percent of Americans are willing to spend 13 percent more with businesses that provide excellent customer service.
  • According to Harris Interactive, 86 percent of people say they’ve stopped doing business with a company after just one bad customer service experience.

Hourly employees make or break the service experience, and the service experience is a determinant to sales and repeat business. With improvements in your hourly hiring process, you can build a strong workforce that will provide better customer service, be more productive and drive bottom line results that will put your business in a better position to deal with any increase in hard costs.

  • Speak to your target audience directly by posting jobs on an hourly job site. By posting where hourly job seekers go to look for jobs, you’ll maximize your sourcing spend and skip the step of reconciling job seeker desires with your job opportunities.
  • Use employment marketing techniques to drive traffic to your job posting, but incorporate filter questions to screen for “must-have” qualifications and build behavioral assessments into your application process to determine which applicants match your business’s core characteristics. Only spend time evaluating applicants poised for success.
  • Integrate your online sourcing and hiring approaches to efficiently evaluate and screen applicants. And outline a consistent interview process to hire a dependable workforce for one location or for 50.
  • Screen qualified applicants for tax credit eligibility before you hire. If all other hiring qualifications are equal, why not let the deciding factor be which candidate will also bring you thousands in tax credits?
  • Once you’ve hired your top notch workforce, auto-populate onboarding paperwork to speed up the complex process and get your customer-service focused staff on the front line faster.

No one knows what gas prices will be next month, this spring or next year. But everyone agrees that hard costs are going up and focusing your energy on trying to control these outside factors won’t have a big impact on your bottom line. Improving your hourly hiring process is within your control and could be the single most important step you take to protect your business against rising costs.