by Gary Weidner, Editor / Published October 2014
In the June issue of CT|IWA, I wrote that judging from what’s appearing in business and trade publications implies that it’s probably harder than ever for pressure washer distributors to find service technicians. That “Editor’s Note” said, “A lot of people are looking for work in the trades, but few of them have qualifications; and a lot of others either don’t want to work or don’t want to start at the bottom and learn how to do work that is often strenuous.”
An article in the July 10 edition of The Wall Street Journal further confirms this situation. A survey of 848 small business operators reported that about 33 percent of them had unfilled job openings because they couldn’t identify qualified applicants. It’s interesting that the 33 percent number is almost triple that for manufacturers.
The only excuse for job seekers reported in the WSJ article is that “some job seekers see small businesses…‘as riskier places to commit to’ because such employers tend to suffer from the perception [of them as] less reliable employers.”
An example of the situation: an outdoor power equipment dealer reported that three service technician positions have been unfilled for more than a year. This in spite of the firm’s senior technician wage of $20 an hour and a standing offer to pay the $5,000 cost of a three-year vendor training program that entry level recruits can participate in while on the clock.
The article also mentions a landscape business owner who is in the process of developing an internship program. That seems to me to be the way to go. Years back, I was a contractor for about a decade. Eventually I decided that when hiring, if I had to choose between skill and attitude, I’d usually go for the person with the best attitude. Skills can’t be taught overnight, but changing a poor attitude is difficult at best. Our firm was highly regarded, and no employee ever left us to go to work for another contractor.
If you do training for your mechanics that goes beyond following a veteran around on repairs and service calls, I’d be happy to hear about it.