ICS Magazine

10 Steps to Fabulous Employees

July 8, 2010

In this labor market, if your employees are not the best, guess who you can blame? No, not the economy or the school system or the government; instead, why don’t you look in the mirror?



In this labor market, if your employees are not the best, guess who you can blame? No, not the economy or the school system or the government; instead, why don’t you look in the mirror?

Actually, I don’t care what the labor market is doing, you ought to have people knocking at your door to work for you because of your reputation. Let’s look at ten ways to obtain and maintain a work force that will make your life wonderful and your business more profitable.

1. Pay rate with incentives

In my business we used to pay the technicians a straight hourly wage in the hope that they would do every job correctly without the pressure of time constraints. That was the wrong thing to do, as it led to milking the clock and rewarding slow or lazy workers.

Pay your technicians a base and then a percentage of their production and watch the excellent workers make more money and the company, too. We pay our technicians anywhere from $7.50 to $8.50 per hour, plus 8 % of their production. If they make an up-grade, we pay them an additional 12 %. This rate works well and has been very successful for us.

2. Vacation pay

It is my belief that in America, we work too hard and too much. On a recent trip to Europe, I met Europeans who have six weeks of paid vacation and Australians who have even more weeks. Some waiters in Italy work six months and then receive six months paid vacation. Before you go off to apply for a wait job in Italy, think about the amount of paid vacation you give to your employees.

In my company, after six months an employee gets one week paid vacation. After one year, two weeks, after three years, three weeks and after five years, full-time employees receive four weeks paid vacation. I don’t stop there: I give our employees who work for us seven years five weeks of vacation and, when they have worked twelve years, they get six weeks.

You may say, “How can you afford that?” and my reply is that employees stay with me and they are happier, better workers and this system saves me plenty of money in that I don’t have to train new employees very often. Additionally, it is important to have higher prices as this vacation pay is figured into the cost of labor.

Oh yes, take some vacations yourself. You will be much better off for it.

3. Employee evaluations

This is a mandatory component of larger companies and should be a part of you doing business. This lets your employees know where they stand in your eyes and you can tell them their shortcomings and their good traits in a closed, formal setting.

Depending on the level of performance, these evaluations ought to be done every year or even every six months for lower performers.

4. Write-ups/ firings

In the state of Florida, where I live, an employee needs to have two written complaints lodged against him in order for him not to receive unemployment benefits automatically. This formal procedure also lets the employee know that you are very serious about their misbehavior and that their actions are on your radar screen.

Moreover, have some guts and fire the employees that you know are low performers. I have never heard of someone firing an employee too soon. Don’t be held hostage to employees that are driving you nuts and making your life miserable.

5. Policy and procedure manuals

Every company needs to have its policies and procedures written in a binder that all the employees have in their possession. Initially, yours does not have to be a huge book but get something written and then add to it as necessary.

Have the employees write down the cleaning procedures and then you can review it and tweak it. You may be surprised how they think items should be cleaned. Also, pay them for the time they spend writing.

6. Training procedures

Have written training procedures that chart the progress of their learning. At our company, every important cleaning task is documented. For example, on a sheet of paper the new technician checks off every step he takes in learning how to clean carpet. Step one is to watch it done, step two is to actually do the cleaning. Step three is to feel comfortable cleaning carpet and step four is to be tested by the Operations Manager and pass the test.

The same goes for upholstery cleaning, dry cleaning upholstery, tile and grout cleaning, urine removal, encapsulation cleaning, etc. A written checklist is a must in making sure that your technicians are properly trained.

7. Consistent meetings

Morning meetings, prior to going out for the day are an important part of the daily schedule. In those meetings, new techniques are discussed, any problems that have arisen lately can be looked at and that is a great time to praise great performance.

We also review the comment cards that come back from our clients to let the technicians know how the clients perceive their work.

8. Benefits

Besides a nice vacation package, it is a great thing to offer health insurance and retirement benefits to your employees. Once again, these items are hard to afford if your prices are not high enough or your profit margin is thin. Additionally, these benefits will keep employees from looking for other job opportunities.

9. Production rates for all to see

I am a big believer in 8x4 dry erase boards all over the office. You can get these dry erase boards cheaply by going to Home Depot and purchasing 8x4 shower walls. For only around $12, you now have a fabulous dry erase board for posting important information. Every month, we post for all to see, the up-grades of all the technicians including the sales of carpet protector, sanitizer, upholstery, tile and grout, Oriental rugs and maintenance agreements. It is easy for me to see and everybody else. If someone is slacking off, it will be evident and a pep talk will be in order.

10. IICRC training

I hope that your technicians are IICRC certified. Many of you may not have that done because you are skeptical that your technicians will stick around. If that is the case, please refer to some of the previous items mentioned in this article and see where you are going wrong. Pay for their training and don’t slack off on this very important issue.

Good employees are not a result of the luck of the draw. There is a reason why some companies have great employees and some don’t. Decide that you will hire and retain only the very finest and then implement measures that will keep them working hard for you.