011 – Doubling in Size: The Pre-Recruiting Plan

Welcome to season 2 of the Autism Advantage podcast! I’m your host, Tom D’Eri, and my co-host for this season is Tom Sena. In case you aren’t familiar with what we do, let me take a moment to catch you up! We run Rising Tide Car Wash, which employs several dozen fantastic people with autism. This isn’t a charity, though; we encourage independence and growth by expecting everyone who applies to be able to pull their weight, and we’ve seen great success already.

In fact, things are going so well that we’re working on opening a second location! In this season, we’re going to be doing things a little bit differently than last season. As we work on opening this new location, we’re going to chronicle the process for you in a StartUp-esque way. In other words, we want to bring you along on the journey all the way from the beginning of the recruiting process all the way through our much-anticipated launch.

We’ve been working on this second location for a couple of years now, and we’re finally ready to start the interview process. This will take place next week, when we plan on hosting around a hundred candidates at the current location. Once we select the people who will move forward in the process, we’ll work on training them. When we open the second location, we’ll staff it with a combination of these new employees and our existing, more experienced staff members.

Because we have so little turnover (less than 20% annually), we rarely have the opportunity to bring many new people on board. This makes us especially excited about the second location, which will allow us to deeply grow our community and get lots of new folks involved.

Listen to this episode to hear the details on all this and much more! And once you’ve heard this episode, be sure to tune in next week. We’re excited to share with you how the big interview process goes, and we’ll also take some time to talk about what the next steps are.


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In This Episode:

[00:54] – Tom Sena takes a moment to explain what Rising Tide Car Wash is going to do next week, which is one of the largest-ever mass recruiting initiatives for people with autism ever.

[01:28] – Tom D’Eri talks about the overarching strategy in terms of getting the teams ready for the new location. Tom S. then points out that they’ve had the opportunity to push their current staff forward into stronger roles.

[03:36] – An important point is that the first location started about 4 years ago as a brand new thing. Tom D. talks about that experience, as well as the company’s expectations for employees.

[05:54] – We hear more about the company’s standards-based training and how Rising Tide Car Wash evaluates potential employees.

[08:23] – The company is looking to bring around a hundred candidates in for interviews next weekend. We learn more about how the hosts anticipate this process will go, and where they came up with the numbers of interviewees and employees they expect at each step.

[10:43] – We learn that Tom S. has been deeply involved throughout the whole recruiting process. He discusses how things have progressed so far, and how he encouraged more people to get involved.

[13:58] – It’s both a blessing and a curse, Tom D. points out, that they have very little turnover.

[16:02] – Tom D. talks about the community partners he has previously mentioned. He points out that the local school district is a great resource in terms of recruiting.

[18:23] – We hear about the great community that Rising Tide Car Wash is part of (and has helped to create). We also learn that two universities are involved in doing a study about the company.

[20:39] – Tom and Tom talk a bit more about the growth of the team and the anticipated impact of getting so many new people in the door, as well as what they’re excited to see during this process.

[22:53] – The best thing about the job is seeing the growth of people over time, Tom D. says.

[24:56] – We learn why it’s so important to structure the interview process in a concrete way that involves doing specific tasks within the work environment rather than using standard conversational interview methods.

[26:32] – Tom D. offers the example of a specific employee, Matt, who had hundreds of interviews but was never hired simply because the interview process didn’t play to his strengths. At Rising Tide Car Wash, he’s one of the best employees.

[28:10] – What are some of the potential pitfalls that might come up, such as distraction issues?


Links and Resources:

Tom D’Eri

Tom Sena

Rising Tide Car Wash

Rising Tide U

University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism & Related Disabilities


Acuity Scheduling


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