DEFEATING RETENTION DEFICIT
Of course, establishing a new addition in an organization is only the first step, especially in the custom install industry, where quality employees are commonly spotted, tracked and fought over by most of the surrounding market. Keeping people in your employ means offering a better deal than the other guy can offer. But "the best deal" is made up of more than mere salary figures, especially in months to come.
Though C-tailing's recent birth and boom have sheltered it in large part from many of the economic woes suffered by other business segments, the (we hope) imminent recovery from recession might not bode so well for employers. Abramson predicts that the U.S. financial picture should alter fairly drastically by April or May of next year, and when that happens, a boom in spending, and, in turn, jobs, may spur many on-the-fence employees to head for greener pastures. Making the job more palatable now, he says, is therefore critical.
Luckily for custom installers, pay structuring across the board seems to be very much performance-based; every installer has the ability to learn more skills/acquire more accreditation, which translates directly into a bigger paycheck. And even the smaller, independent shops seem to clearly outline employees' current, and potential, compensation.
La Scala is a good example of a highly objective, organized pay scale. Sanford explains that the company uses a pay "grid," in which technicians judge themselves in various disciplines, then meet with supervisors, who also evaluate performance across the range of company tasks. Each area is assigned a point score, and a pay scale translates those points to a salary range. Sanford adds, "The supervisor chooses the pay scale from that range depending upon softer issues, like attitude, age, customer savvy, housekeeping, etc."
Samson notes that while performance reviews and pay raises aren't as formally structured at Savi, the company re-evaluates an employee's worth as he/she completes training. For instance, one of Savi's employees is just about to finish his AMX ACE certification course, and Samson says that the company has given him raises throughout the process, at the completion of various training levels. Such improvement-driven evaluations aren't as rewarding for the slow-and-steady among the work force. Samson explains, "We have some guys who just love to run wire in houses. They don't want to know about systems or programming or termination. They will do their $16-per-hour jobs forever, or until they decide to do other $16-per-hour jobs." Samson balks at the idea of rewarding tenure, though: "If [those employees] say they want $25 per hour just because they've been here for three years, we say, 'Well, why didn't you learn how to terminate jacks or panels?'"