Most contractors sell an installed product. A stonemason might sell a beautiful brick fireplace. A tile contractor’s ware might be an elegant tile shower. For us, as remodeling contractors, it might be a new gourmet kitchen. What we all have in common is that we furnish AND install. That means that we peddle material and labor.
As with material, labor has several levels of quality. For example, an unskilled laborer might be responsible for jobsite cleanup and general “grunt work.” The wage for this person is typically at or near the bottom of the pay scale. At the other end of the spectrum is a highly skilled tradesperson who has a thorough working knowledge of one of more trades and who is typically an accomplished craftsperson. As you might suspect, this person can command top dollar. Most successful companies find that a solid crew consists of a mix of skilled and unskilled team members.
Your installed product is only as good as the quality of materials that you use and the craftsmanship of those charged with installation. Attracting and maintaining quality crew members – skilled or unskilled – can be quite a challenge. It can be a less daunting task when you consider some of the following basics.
- Job stability is a big concern for tradespeople. Often, with new construction in particular, once a project is built out, layoffs are soon to follow. The prospect of steady work is very appealing to most tradespeople and the result can be enduring loyalty.
- Steady work is great, but steady work with good wages is better. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to wages. Paying better-than-average wages will keep your crew from having one foot out the door looking for a better job. With that said, a more palatable wage for you may be acceptable for a tradesperson who can look forward to steady employment and benefits.
- Benefits come in all shapes and sizes. Personal time off for illness or family time, vacation, holiday pay, use of a company vehicle, a fuel allowance, health benefits, and a pension or profit sharing are just a few.
- Performance bonuses based on the quality of the installed product, meeting or beating a job schedule, and job profitability are other ways to reward your crew, demonstrate your appreciation and keep them on your team.
- Good working conditions are still another plus for attracting and maintaining a quality crew. Regular breaks, an eight-hour workday and 40-hour workweek, allow for balance and recharging human resources.
These ideas are equally useful in “bad times” when work slows down and new projects are few and far between. Content crewmembers are likely to help you “weather the storm” by accepting temporary pay cuts, trimmed benefits, a scaled-back work week or other cost cutting measures that will keep the ship afloat in anticipation of better times ahead.
Finding quality personnel – and keeping them on board and content — can be tough. Thinking outside the box with help you find and keep a top quality crew in the best of times and when the, well “you know what” hits the fan.