The Problem That Most Glass Companies Face
Just one problem? Election? COVID? Winter weather? How can a guy sitting on his butt in New Hampshire know what the country-wide problem is? It’s surprisingly easy. I listen. I hear glass shop owners who call or write me about this problem. In fact, I didn’t have one conversation with a glazier in this past month about the election. The common problem is: hiring glass workers. Number one on the agenda.
Advertising hasn’t worked, nor has working with employment agencies. The folks who get hired seem to last only weeks as they realize that working in our industry truly is working. We don’t sit around playing games on our phones. We go out in all types of weather, lifting heavy glass and working with zero tolerance for problems.
You keep raising the wages you pay for talent and when you get a good person, it seems your competitor outbids you almost instantly. Pulling your hair out won’t help the problem, even when it feels good.
Here are some tips that have worked: Offer a signing bonus to your current employees who bring in a new worker that is paid after the new person works for 90 days. Make it a serious number like $1,000. This will encourage your current employee to shepherd the new employee and become a teacher.
You spend a small fortune on benefits for your workers. Make sure your employees know of all your benefits and use them to the full capacity that you have paid for as this will help retain some folks.
But here is the big one: Start your own in-house training program for new folks to join your company. There are hundreds of thousands of people looking for work in our country. But they don’t have a trained skill. You can hire these folks with a year-long program to learn our industry. Set up a formal training program led by qualified people who can teach the basics of shop work for a month or two. Another leader can then train on simple jobs at the residential level for six months and then another leader can train for six months of commercial work. In some companies, all of these trainers will be the same person! That’s ok.
Hire these trainees at a fair wage, with full benefits. Review them at the end of each month. Not all of these people will “graduate” to their next month, but the ones who make it to the end of the year will be grateful to you.
The key here is that the training has to work. Assign one person in your company to be the lead trainer and give the authority to do this job correctly. Maybe you have to ask your new recruits to take an English-as-a-second-language course, or teach certain computer skills. If you hire three new recruits, be fully prepared to acknowledge that you will have one great person on your team in a year. You may want to start a new class of recruits every six months.
This will work if you are a 50-person fabricator or a five-man shop. You spend money on advertising or a new truck or a piece of equipment. It is time to invest this same money on building your team.
Go for it. It is the best option out there at the moment.
Spot on Paul. Our fabricating part of the industry is even more desperate. Hope you and Elaine are well.
Thanks for your thoughts. Elaine and I are well, and now we have three grandchildren who are well. What a wonderful part of life. Please give our best to Connie and the whole family. I find it amazing that with the high unemployment rate that we need workers. We have to train our own workforces rather than hope super man walks in the door asking for a job.
What are you dog up so late and writing emails? I hope you and Connie and the kids are well. Please send all my best wishes for health and safety.
Paul, EVERY suggestion has a positive outcome. We have done exactly what you wrote about and have been getting good, loyal candidates coming up through our system. We built a training center with multiple shower samples using different style tiles and stone types. We created videos of simple and complex installations and our trainer has 12 years experience and is a perfect trainer, following a well thought out curriculum. Trainees are evaluated and further training in areas of deficiency. If they don’t give up on us, we won’t give up on them. We are currently at a headcount of 120 and use our training center for sales staff, order entry personnel and warehouse operations and fabricators.
What a program you have! I speak with so many folks who are waiting for a magic bullet to help themselves rather than take the initiative to create their own future. Good for you and your company. Thanks so much for sharing this success with our readers. I wish you, your family and your team at work a safe day and long-term health.
Reading this gives me an idea for a possible next article “Where do we go from here?” Please contact me at email@example.com
PS. Wondering why Alan is commenting at 11:46 pm Apparently he will never retire!
Thanks for your comment. I’ll send you a separate email.