It sounds like a broken record, but CE Pro 100 companies are in crisis mode about finding, hiring and retaining quality technicians and salespeople. Luckily, there are potential solutions.
Here is what some of CE Pro 100 integrators had to say about the workforce-shortage dilemma, and what they are doing to address it.
Thomas Callahan, President
Sawyers Control Systems
“It is a constant process to find good people and train them in all the facets of our business and then retain them. We have instituted good hiring practices, and emphasize good referrals from other employees, while spending more time on industry trainings as well as vendor-specific trainings.”
David Welles, President/CEO
“Our biggest challenge and opportunity is helping co-workers grow, both professionally and personally. We offer financial services advice to our staff and we sit down with them to make a plan. We believe that if you are stressed about life outside of work, it will affect your work. Some co-workers find it difficult to face the reality of their financial situation. We really try to show them that by doing something different, it can have a positive effect on all aspects of their lives.”
John Prince, Owner/CEO
Atlantic Home Technologies dba: Five Smooth Stones Audio Video & More
“We actively recruit outbound using social media resources and websites and reach out to likely candidates. We are developing fair and equitable compensation programs that reward employee performance, growth, and especially customer satisfaction. Continually creating an atmosphere and culture where talent can learn, grow, expand their skill sets, and thrive.”
Chris Porter, General Manager
Peak Companies (Peak Audio & Video and Peak Alarm)
Salt Lake City, Utah
“We try to provide a positive work environment that is positive and rewarding, both financially and personally.”
Brian Richards, CEO/President
Precision Media Solutions
“As it is with most businesses, keeping our talented people and attracting/finding more is always my core focus every day as CEO. I’ve heard so much in our industry that the ‘ideal’ and most profitable space for the company to be in is ‘one guy and one truck short.’ We believe this thinking just leads to greater stress on everybody, which doesn’t breed loyalty or career longevity. Precision Media is run with a ‘one-extra-guy-and-one-more-truck-than-we-need’ mentality. While it is an extra mouth to feed, it gives us the added headroom to handle spikes in business, and we utilize that extra time to allow for training opportunities so our people can grow. If everyone is pushed to 110 percent all the time, they will never have time to spend a day with one of our engineers to increase their knowledge, or go to a class if we’re running at breakneck speed all the time.
“As CEO, the quote that I use to run our company by came from Richard Branson: ‘Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.’”
Tom George, Principal
“We look for a good chassis (attitude, character, interpersonal skills and as much relevant experience as possible) and then train them starting in rough and trim, progressing to networking and security, simple systems and then automation. It is a process.”
Dee Straub, VP/COO
Structured Cable of VA
“The biggest challenge I foresee is the struggle to find technicians possessing a good work ethic. We offer on the job training and still struggle to find persons that want to work. The labor pool has dried up completely.”
Stacy Worley, CFO
Desert Valley Audio Video
“The longer we have been in business, the longer the list of clients that require service calls. A little over a year ago we hired a full-time service manager just to take incoming calls for service, and moved one of our technicians into a full-time service tech role without doing any more large project installations. Even though we have delegated these two people strictly to this department, we find that clients have little patience for waiting longer than a day or two for service … and simply can’t always fulfill that even with the personnel changes we made.
“Unfortunately, society has shifted into an instant-gratification world and setting client expectations seems to have become more and more challenging. And when we do complete that service call — many times it’s the Internet provider, or other outside sources that caused the issue and we have no control over — [we’ll] have an upset client who doesn’t feel they should have to pay for this service.”
Dale Wilhelm, Project Manager
Grand Haven, Mich.
“Our biggest challenge continues to be finding and training quality employees that fit our company standards and are passionate about excellence. We are constantly recruiting and finding new ways to measure talent before we hire them.”
Ali Babazadeh, Owner
Ormond Beach, Fla.
“Challenges include hiring professional and knowledgeable staff, as well as ongoing training for all staff from technicians to sales. We will address this by locating training courses to fit each staff member’s needs and ensure that they complete the training.”
Gary Jefferies, Owner & CEO
SYNC Technology Integration
“When to hire and when not to hire. We keep getting to that teetering point where we could use another set of hands, but are scared to make that jump and have it possibly slow down. Keeping an eye on trends has been difficult, because it seems like we have spiked and flattened in different times each year.”