By Mr Retail
One of the biggest challenges in the mobile electronics industry is finding employees. As our industry has shrunk over the years, many people left the industry at a faster rate than new employees came up through the ranks. The end result has been a shortage that only seems to worsen by the year. So, what do we do? My suggestion is to start an in-house apprenticeship program.
By now I should really have your attention. You may have one of the following thoughts racing through your mind right now:
I don’t have time to train someone.
Where do I find people to become apprentices?
How do I go about doing it?
Can I afford it?
Let me be brutally honest with you; I had and still have these thoughts from time to time. But the reality is that unless you are comfortable that the talent pool out there is good enough, this is the new reality. As a side note, there are some good schools out there training installers, but we need LOTS more than they can give us. And we also need quality salespeople.
Here is where the rubber meets the road. You have to develop a plan and then act on it. I don’t have an exact blue print for all of this, but I can tell you how we handle it in our store.
We start by looking for raw talent, and that includes personality, motivation level, intelligence, and a team player attitude. You can’t train the aforementioned items, they are “built in” traits you have to find. Here is an example; you are out and about and see a younger person working at a phone store when you are in to buy something. Start analyzing them based on the natural talents I mentioned above. Do they fit that criteria? If so, they are already working in an environment where the strong move up and make more money. They have to explain technology to the average person. See my drift? If they like cars and technology, you can train them on your products. So, let’s say I meet “Bob” at a phone store. I strike up a conversation with him, and if he is interested, I set a time to have him come by our facility and give him a tour. If that goes well, I will probably set a second meeting to talk through his aspirations and see if having a career with us sounds appealing to him. If all of that goes well, I would try and have him shadow the employee that will be charged with training him for 2 days in a row. Bob can simply ask for 2 days off so he can come spend it with your guy.
As the first and second day progresses, check in with your employee and Bob to see how it is going. You may know after one day that he isn’t a good fit and politely send him on his way. If he stays for the 2nd day, do an evaluation with your employee and then meet with Bob. In the end, decide if you want to try him out.
In our store, we want the employee to be able to “pay their way” after 90 days, meaning we at least break even on them at this point. That would also be the point where they get their 1st raise. After six months I would want to be consistently making money on them, and in my store, they would then go onto our commission plan.
You will want to set goals for the employee and benchmarks for you to ensure he is a good fit. And if you can tell he isn’t going to work out at any time in the first 90 days, let Bob go. Period. And then go find another “Bob” and do it again.
We have now done this in our tinting department, our installation department, and our sales department. It is a lot of work, but the end result is worth it. So what are you waiting for?