Facing the challenge of hiring your first tech? (Part 12)

meg-and-john-burdick-uniformsSo as I mentioned in my last dispatch John and I went through the agony of interviewing and hiring yet another tech to replace the one that “didn’t work out”.  (Yes, I know.  You’ve been there- done that!)  And of course we’ve really struggled on how to fairly compensate our first employee in an inevitably up-and-down business.

We really liked the idea of paying a commission for work that was done.  We felt that it also had a built-in incentive for our employees to up-sell because then they would get paid more.  At this point, we had revised our pay structure to include a base weekly salary and a commission starting out at 4%.  We provided the salary so the person could know for sure that they had a guaranteed amount of money coming in each week.

The commission structure would top out at 10% with the new hire getting a 1% increase when they reached certain milestones.  We developed a Career Ladder with “rungs” that included 90 days employment, IICRC certifications for carpet, upholstery, water damage etc, being capable of working on the truck solo, being on the truck as lead tech with an assistant and finally becoming a true Operations Manager.

Knowing we had down times and aren’t booked full days, especially in the winter months, we felt that this mixed compensation schedule of hourly and commission would work out best for everyone.  The theory being that the new hire could “work” for the salary when no jobs were scheduled by a- updating policy and procedures, b- taking ownership of and launching our prepaid residential Stay Beautiful maintenance program (which would also result in a commission for each one sold) and c- identify carpet retailers so we could try getting a retailer referral program up and running.

One candidate was friendly, outgoing and had previously owned his own business. (Which happened to be of all things a carpet installation business!)  With the housing crash, many of his builders and contractors dried up and so did his business.  He had relocated to our area only because his wife landed a great job with a local company.

John and I felt he understood what it took to run a business and the challenges that owner/operators go through.  He had run multiple crews so we thought he could grow into being our projected Operations Manager.  He was eager to get started, help us grow our business and even wanted to use his installation skills so we could offer additional services to our clients. (Carpet stretching and repairs, even some small installation jobs.)

Since we really wanted to develop relationships with our local carpet retailers to launch a retailer referral program we thought this guy would be awesome.  After all, he knew the ins and outs of the carpet business, could speak the lingo and should have been able to easily develop some strategic partnerships for us.  It was like the heavens opened and the light shown down on him!  We offered him the position and he accepted.

7 months later…. and we still have NO Stay Beautiful program, NO carpet retailer program and NO formal documented policies or  procedures.  🙂 What went wrong?  I guess I’ll will cover that in my next story in a series of dispatches from “down in the trenches”!



See the full listing of “Meg’s Story” bulletins from the field.

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