SONIC Style Uniqueness – Are YOU Memorable?

Kathy Rapp Candidate Pool, Engagement and Satisfaction, Kathy Rapp

Recently, I was up in Dallas on business over my wedding anniversary and stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel & Resort.  Now before you think hrQ is rolling in cash, remember my very first job in HR was with the Four Seasons, so I get a “friends and family” rate.  Divide that by two and hrQ is getting off cheaper than if I’d crashed at Motel 6.  Our stay was as expected. Everything was first-class, clean, great food and consistent service.  Four Seasons knows how to run a hotel.

On our way back to Houston, we stopped in a tiny town at a Sonic Drive-in.  This town was so small the Sonic wasn’t even a stand-alone, but attached to a gas station.  Before we ordered, a female “carhop” came by the car and asked us if Sonic_couple we had any questions about the menu.  She was bubbly, all smiles and had the thickest Texas accent I’ve heard in a while.  When we hit the button to order, the same girl’s voice came over the speaker – and she was so loud the guy 3 cars down heard I wanted a grape slush! Later, she came out to deliver the food and again, you couldn’t help but smile at her personality.  One last time she came out to check on us, took away our tray and invited us to stop back by again.

She was the only carhop working and there were probably 5-7 cars while we were there.

I tell this story to illustrate a point about uniqueness.  While Four Seasons was fabulous, there wasn’t an employee interaction that I really remember – everyone was consistently good.  On the other hand, while the girl at Sonic had a memorable voice, it was her eagerness to help and how she busted-ass to serve all her customers with a smile that made her stand out.  I WILL stop back by that Sonic, and not just because of the grape slush.

I talk to and meet a lot of HR professionals each week – all over the country.  I’m not the best with names either, so for me to really remember someone without going back to my notes, they have to stand out. How do you do that?  Especially now when there are still a slew of talented HR folks on the market and many more lifting their heads to see what else is going on.  You have to be unique – do something people remember.

For me, sometimes it is as simple as a hand-written thank-you note.  I have a candidate who sent me a wonderful card after our conversation.  She wasn’t “perfect” for the role, but I liked her even before I received the card.  The client was going to pass and I talked them into seeing her because she was different, has incredible bandwidth and would fit well with the culture.  Did I push a bit more because I got a card? Absolutely not; however, what she wrote in the card told me she was special and worth extra effort on my part.

Another memorable candidate – the one I met this week who asked me to reschedule as his father had unexpectedly passed away.  This guy came in just days later, visibly still in pain but focused, articulate and truly thankful for my flexibility to reschedule.

The bottom line – don’t rely on the pedigree and experience of a Four Seasons to set you apart. Sometimes, it is the authenticity and down-home personality of a Sonic that makes you memorable.  And if you come bearing a grape slush – that would probably work too!