Tales from the Trenches - Bringing on Help
For many installers, it's the best of times and the worst of times. The good news is that custom work is finally getting mainstream recognition from builders, manufacturers, and most importantly, consumers. As a result, there's more work now than ever.
Unfortunately, for many companies, that's the bad news, too. In a business based on service, the difference between a prospering company that can deliver jobs on time, and another that struggles to keep up with demand (never mind growth) can come down to one factor — employees. For C-tailers in today's market, finding qualified, professional installation personnel that can not only turn around good work but reinforce a positive relationship with the customer, can be like panning for gold. How do you start looking? How much should you pay? What levels of qualifications should the prospective worker bring to the table?
Dean Cogswell, of Deco Systems in New Hampshire, recruited his employees the old fashioned way — he sired them. "My first two hires were my two sons," says Cogswell. "But I've found that people can be trained. My most recent hire is a woman that painted my house this summer. After four or five installs, she can keep up with most guys pulling wire." Training new personnel like this, while on the job, is a luxury for some larger companies, but a fact of life for many smaller ones. Of course, there are numerous venues through which workers can be trained going forward, but employers generally prefer recruits that can show some level of prior expertise, even if it comes from another related industry.
The Consortium for Electronic Home & Building Systems Installation Training (www.hightechjobs.org), is a not-for-profit corporation, that pools member information and offers a job bank from trades like the security, locksmith and building industries, as well as the automation and system design industries. CEDIA, of course, offers a career center, which lets workers that are new to the industry post their resume for consideration, and also offers tools that let CEDIA members search for prospective employees.