Help wanted: Dependable, friendly, person to assist customers

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 1/19/99.

Employers are always on the lookout for good, dependable employees they can trust.

Paynesville businessmen and women are no different than their counterparts in the larger cities. When looking for a person to hire, they want someone who is personable, has good references, is honest, is courteous, and can communicate with customers.

Many people fit this description. But often it isn’t until after a person is hired, that an employer finds out what a person is really like.

Dr. Randy Jacklitch at Jacklitch Chiropractic knows firsthand the effects employee theft can have on a business. Last year he discovered a long time employee had stolen $45,000 from the company over a two-year period.

Dr. Jacklitch feels most employees are very honest. “I’ve felt that from the very beginning,” he said.

Dr. Jacklitch learned firsthand what can happen when a person trusts an employee too much. “I think employees owe some loyalty to the place where they are working, but not to the point of ‘what’s yours is mine,’” he said.

“I believe in the staff receiving bonuses, health benefits, holiday, and vacation time. It’s the little perks that keep employees happy.

“I was shocked when I learn an employee was cashing checks. She left a paper trail,” Dr. Jacklitch said. “What really hurt the most was that she was a long time employee. She knew the business and I felt we had a good working relationship,” Dr. Jacklitch added.

Dr. Jacklitch’s accountant found the paper trail where she had changed financial records. The employee would often leave work with anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 at a time, according to Dr. Jacklitch.

“I also lost trust in my banker when I found they allowed this employee to cash business checks instead of depositing the money into the company account. They never called to double check if I had authorized the check cashing,” Dr. Jacklitch said.

“I feel my trust was betrayed. From now on, my accountant will be doing internal audits more often. Small businesses can’t afford to lose money.

“We took this incident through the court system as far as we could,” Dr. Jacklitch added. His former employee was found guilty of theft in Stearns County District Court and was sentenced to six months in jail, 10 years probation, and ordered to pay full restitution. She was also ordered to attend Gamblers Anonymous.

He cautioned that employers need to be on top of everything in their business financially. It will help keep everybody honest.

“I’ve been pretty lucky,” Wally Thyen, owner of Wally’s G&T, said. He has 25 full and part-time employees. Thyen has been in business in Paynesville 37 years and says he fully trusts his employees.

“Several years ago, I hired a consulting company to make suggestions on how I could make the store more efficient. They complimented me on my employee performance,” Thyen said.

“When looking for an employee, I’m pretty fortunate to know a lot of young people and their parents. When I go through my applications, I usually sort them into a yes and no pile to narrow down the candidates.

“I like to know their background. When I see teens being rude at athletic events, it gives me an idea of who I should or shouldn’t hire. If they are rude and discourteous at games, they most likely will do the same during work hours,” Thyen added.

Thyen says he often asks his employees who he should or shouldn’t hire. “Harmony among employees is important,” Thyen said.

“I often remind my delivery personnel that they represent the store and need to be courteous and pleasant at all times,” he added.

“The reflection of my employee’s honesty shows through at work. Part of the beauty of being in business a long time is that I know a lot of people,” Thyen said.

“I can honestly say I haven’t asked any employee to do anything that I haven’t already done myself,” he stressed.

Larry Imdieke, Paynesville Fleet Supply manager, said Paynesville isn’t any different than other communities. “I’ve been in the retail business 20 years and have seen a lot go on between customers and employees,” Imdieke said. “It is unbelievable what some employees will try to get away with while on the job.”

When interviewing for new employees, Imdieke said he talks to the applicant. Sometimes he gets a “gut” feeling that he can’t trust a person. “Then sometimes I make mistakes and trust someone I shouldn’t,” he added.

“I often ask my high school employees who they think would be a good employee when I’m in need of an additional person,” Imdieke said.

Imdieke has noticed that it is the people who have been with a company a long time that usually take advantage of their position. “Newer employees are too scared to do anything, while older employees sometimes think they are smarter than the management,” he added.

“I can’t babysit my employees. I need to be able to trust them to do the jobs they were hired to do; and at the same time not rob the company blind,” Imdieke said.

Imdieke said he had a Willmar police officer call him once because the officer overheard a young person bragging about what he had stolen from his place of employment, the Paynesville Fleet Supply Store. Imdieke confronted the employee and found the story factual.

Dean Hanson, Coast to Coast owner, said the increased use of computers has been a tremendous curb to employee theft. He has been in business in Paynesville 21 years and doesn’t feel he has had any serious problems.

“I don’t have any security in place, and I don’t feel the need for it,” Hanson said. “I haven’t had any employee issues for years. In a small store this size, there isn’t much that goes on here I don’t know about.”

When he was first starting out, Hanson said he had a problem where an employee stole about $17,000 from the business. “That incident happened about 20 years ago. The person worked both the floor and did the books. I keep those two positions separate now. I was young, naive, and inexperienced at the time of the incident,” he added.

“In many small stores, employees become like family. A person gets to know the people with whom they work because you spend more time with them than with your family,” Hanson said.

Armon and Sandy Kaehler, Ben Franklin owners, have been in town 13 years and have had very few problems with their employees.

“Our employees are great and are good in keeping an eye out for shoplifters,” Kaehlers said.

Kaehlers have ten employees. “They are a good crew and work well together. A lot of our employees have been with us for years and are like family,” they said. “Our employees are very conscientious when we are gone to buying shows. They make good decisions on our behalf.

“We feel when we hire someone, we give them ownership to positions. When they make decisions on our behalf, we stand behind them and there haven’t been any problems. They have done excellent jobs for us,” Kaehlers said.

“At one time, we had a couple of employees who were difficult to work with, but they were not a big problem. We can’t say we haven’t encountered employee theft, it was many years ago when we were new to town,” they said.

“We realize statistics across the state show there is a major problem with employee theft. However, we haven’t had any major problems,” Sandy Kaehler said.

Sandy Kaehler said people need to enjoy their jobs. “They need to feel comfortable and happy at what they do and that can go a long way in how they treat the customers. Our jobs are a major part of our lives. If a person isn’t happy with their job it shows in how we treat customers,” she added.

“When I look over my total career, 90 percent of our employees have been great. Like any place, there are always a few bad apples. But on the whole, we have good employees. We are a small store, not a chain, and we can treat people as people,” Sandy added.

Jean Soine, Paynesville Video, has been in the retail business seven years. “On the whole, my employees have been very trustworthy. I can’t honestly say I have had any problems,” she added.

Soine has 11 employees working between Paynesville Video and Paul’s Place.

“Of course, we take precautions and empty the cash register every day. We also have a daily sheet where employees write everything down. Thus far, everything has balanced out for us,” Soine said.

“I have had a lot of family members working for me over the years who I feel I can trust. I think that has made a difference,” Soine said.

Soine added she hires a lot of adults who have their own business, and in the off season, need extra income.

Bert and Judy Stanley, Corner Drug, have been in business here 23 years and said they have never had any problems with employees. They presently have nine full and part time employees

“Our help is very dependable. We have many long time employees. I feel we are very lucky that we have never had a big employee turnover,” Judy Stanley said.

“When we need to hire someone, we ask our other employees if they know somebody looking for work or who would be interested in a part-time position,” Stanley said.

“I’d rather have an employee recommend a person to hire than advertise for someone; however, we have done both,” she added.

When hiring, Stanley said a person needs to be sociable, wants to work, likes meeting the public, and that they know the person.

Joel’s Jack and Jill has 30 full and part- time employees. Joel Burr said his dad had the store in Paynesville more than 30 years. Joel has worked in the store more than 10 years and recently took over the business from his dad.

The store has had a camera system for more than 10 years to keep an eye on the front counters and other areas of the store. “The system has paid for itself,” Burr said.

“It is frustrating when someone sees another person stealing, but doesn’t want to get involved,” Burr added. “They don’t steal for the money, because when a person is caught, they can pull out the cash to pay for an item.”

In the 70s, Burr said his father lost about seven employees at one time because of theft. A ring of high school students were caught stealing from Jerry’s Jack and Jill and other area businesses.

“When we hire employees, we hope they are honest or we often take for granted they are honest,” Burr said. “I’ll look at a teenager’s parents to see what type of standards they set and how they deal with their own children. If they attend church as a family, I feel the family has better moral standards.”

Burr said there is a breakdown of family values because most kids don’t feel the need to work as their parents give them what they want.

Burr hires a lot of students who are involved in athletics and most are honor students. “These students have proved they are more dedicated when they can balance their studies, school work, and employment,” he added.

“Small retailers can’t take the loss that big chain stores can absorb. We need to make our payments the same as everybody else. Employee stealing and shoplifting affect our bottom line,” he said.

“We have a different society today. To some people, a job is a job. They don’t feel pride or ownership in their place of business. The job just means a paycheck to them,” Burr added.

Burr explained that to eliminate one form of theft, he removed the lottery tickets from the store in August. “We found people returning groceries that were bought with food stamps to get cash to purchase lottery tickets,” he said. “Employees would often give out more scratch off tickets than purchased.”

“On the whole, I trust our present staff. It is too bad that often one bad apple ruins it for the rest.”

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