Quick, What is the Single Hardest Thing for an Owner/Manager to Do?

1. Accurately estimating jobs so the firm makes money.
2. Managing cash flow.
3. Hiring employees.
4. Having an accident-free year.
5. Picking the winner of the 2015 World Series.

Here’s a hint. On number 5, I’m pulling for the NY Mets.

Now for the rest. May I have the envelope please? What? There is no envelope? I’ll have to go on my own history. The hardest thing in running our glass fabrication business was:

3. Hiring employees.

Actually, let’s call that “hiring the right employees.” Here are two examples at each end of the spectrum. Google has an employee turnover of 4 percent and gets thousands of resumes for every job posted. They take their time; a candidate goes through five or six interviews spaced over a month, some in-person and some via Skype. They spend about a year’s salary of the job in all the supervisory time and effort that go into hiring. 

On the other hand, there is the glass shop that places a help wanted saying ‘apply in person’ and hires the first guy who can read a tape measure and knows which end of a glass cutter to use. They spend peanuts on the job search but have a 50-percent turnover rate and higher unemployment… and sometimes worker comp costs.

Does the average glass shop or fabricator need to do the full Google? No. I do recommend that there be at least two interviews; the first with your Human Resources person or the owner, or whomever you specify. The second should be with the department supervisor where the employee will work. This second interview is the key one. Does the supervisor feel the employee will fit your culture and company work ethic? This is also the time to ask the applicant to spend a half-hour in the shop and see what his skills are. Can he cut a piece of glass accurately? Does he appear comfortable with your procedures on safety? Does he look physically fit to do the job? Does he walk with a steady gait, and can he lift the piece of glass he just cut?

Can he operate a chop saw and cut a piece of aluminum to an exact 45 degree miter? Can he drill two holes correctly?

I would also ask the department supervisor to have lunch with him, whether in the company break room or at a local restaurant. See if he has proper manners with the wait staff. This is how he would react with your customers! 

If he passes these two steps, go ahead and check his references. If these check out, the next step is a “conditional offer of employment.” Then he goes for a drug test and a physical. If you don’t do these two things for a man in the shop, you are doomed to failure in controlling comp and future hiring costs. A drug test is about $50-60, and a work physical is around $200. This is small change compared to the cost of hiring a guy with a bad back. 

To me, the single most important hiring point is: Does the applicant fit your culture? Every company is unique. You want folks who will blend in and be a part of your team. No loose cannons. Yes, you need individuals who can think and grow, but they need to do that within the concept you have established for your company.

Now, hiring an office person or sales person or an executive is very different. We’ll do into that in another blog.

The weather forecast in my area is a high of minus-9 and a low of minus-20, so I’m off to my den with a fireplace.

How To Solve Two Problems With One Plan

Two-for-one. Kind of like, if you give me your two small dimes, I’ll give you a bigger nickel. Or maybe, going to a double-header on a Sunday afternoon and having a hot dog during each game. Or the most special two-for-one: a chocolate ice cream sundae with chocolate hot fudge. But now, let us turn to our glass businesses.

We are hearing a lot about business picking up and a shortage of qualified labor. We in the glass business are not alone. Construction workers in general are in short supply. So, here is a way to hire qualified workers for every part of your company. Hire a returning veteran. You will get a worker who wants a job, who knows how to take and give direction, is eager to learn and will be grateful to have a job. 

My experience in hiring vets was always positive. If fact, many of my best hires were vets, of all ages. And here is the two-for-one. You will be helping our country by teaching and training a vet. This can be for a position in the office, or in your shop. Maybe a file clerk, or a driver. Vets are taught to think on their feet, work safely and listen to good advice. 

Here’s all you have to do. Go to one or all of the following websites and post your job.

Call the local Veteran Affairs (VA) hospital or VA office in your area, and ask them how you can hire a local vet. Call the local National Guard or Reserve unit and ask for the desk Sargent. You’ll be give a warm welcome and steered to possible candidates. Don’t be afraid of someone who has a disability. The VA will have taught them how to be productive, and he or she will be doubly appreciative of a job. 

You probably won’t find an experienced glazier, but I promise you will find men and women who know how and want to work hard.