Then take another lesson from the military. Did you know that, in some cases, the federal government offers financial assistance to companies who hire and train newly returning vets? Have you ever looked into this? Many of these heroes make hard-working, long-term loyal employees. I have worked with several over the years who became some of the best technicians we ever had.
Look at the layoffs. Large corporations who are forced to lay off numbers of people also provide financial assistance to help retrain and employee these separated workers. All of them can be found at job fairs.
Today, kids flipping hamburgers can make $12 per hour (yes, it's shocking, considering where most of us started), but they garner no skills and they certainly don't receive any tangible benefits. The security industry provides young people with an opportunity to earn both.
I have had the privilege to present some motivational seminars at a number of job fairs; my goal was to inspire and encourage young people to create hope for their future. Many of them could not find meaningful work up until then for lack of experience. But to this day, with the exception of only one alarm company, I have yet to see our industry participate in any noticeable manner at these types of job fairs. By the way, the one dealer there had a nice stack of applications and a line of a half dozen or so interested people waiting to speak with them.
When I got into this business, I was only a kid. It was a summer job between 10th and 11th grades which I took because I wanted to buy my first car. It was hard to find a job having no experience, until one old man was willing to hire me for $1.50 per hour to help him crawl and pull wires installing alarm systems and intercoms. I had no intention of doing it for a career, yet these 30 "some odd" years later, here I am.
He taught me a skill I was able to use for gainful employment my entire life. I was never once out of work, nor did I have to look very far to get a new job when I wanted to make a move. In all those years, I have worked for a total of only four employers. The reason was that someone took the time and effort to teach me a skill that was in demand.
Let's face it, some recruits will work out and others won't. Some will stay and some will go, but just like alarm sales, it's a numbers game. If you make the time and the investment to try this and other creative methods, and if you make employment in the security sales industry attractive and inviting, there is no doubt we will secure the future of our industry and provide ourselves individually with a new generation of fresh, smart, and energetic lead installers and service techs.
There are many passionate young people eager to work hard and to get paid to learn a tangible skill. Up until now we have sadly missed the boat and are paying brutal consequences for our apathy. For the short term we have no choice other than to put a bandage on the problem, but the problem will only intensify (history is proof) if we do not get proactive and creative to look today for tomorrow's solutions.
The goal is to provide each of your installers and service techs with a trainee/helper. If you can, the benefits will far outweigh the cost. Frankly, many of them will not make it, but we must intentionally, creatively and strategically plan ways to guarantee that new recruits will be waiting in the background and ready to step in. In the end the numbers will work out in your favor and we will provide ourselves with a new generation of experienced technicians.
Please don't use the excuse of thinking that you will invest in training for someone who will just jump ship to work for a competitor who might pay more. How much are you spending now in terms of upset customers who can't get service? How much money are you losing by not being able to sell systems because you can't get to an installation quickly enough? Bad will with a customer is a hard thing to overcome.
If you take care of the trainees and teach them a skill with positive reinforcement, then you'll be surprised how many of them will stay with you. It's up to you to solve this problem for the long term. Unless you get proactive and focus significant energy to intentionally do so, this problem will escalate indefinitely. What other creative ways can you think of to solve this crisis? What successful things have you already done to bring in the new recruits and look toward the future? Let me know and I'll be happy to share your ideas in a future article.