"Why do we still pay Al Levi for ongoing consulting three years after we first started working together? Because I know how easy it would be to fall back into our old bad habits."
Steve Lowry, Owner
Lowry Electric, Inc.
Hatfield, PA
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Staffing Power!

How is Staffing a Company like Filling a Bathtub?

When I teach Staffing Power! in seminars or in one-to-one work with clients, I share that it’s all about a never-ending approach to the following five things:

  1. Always be recruiting
  2. Always be hiring
  3. Always be orienting
  4. Always be training
  5. Always be retaining

This is all about the last one….Always be retaining.

So, how is staffing your company like filling a bathtub?

The answer is if you aren’t focused on retaining the right staff it’s like trying to fill a bathtub with the drain wide open.

It’s going to be a lot harder to do and a big waste of time and resources.

Retaining the right way actually gets jump started with the first four steps of Staffing Power!. I say that because if you’re recruiting the right way you’re running ads that feature, “We provide careers not just a job.” That gets the attention of the right type of person you’ll want to respond. It’s all attracting the candidate who want to build a career. This is what ensures you’re being able to be “The Employer of Choice.” It makes you stand out from your competitors who are also running ads looking to attract the right job candidates.

During the hiring phase, you must reinforce your promise of a career and not just a job. To do that you need resources to share with the candidate. And the powerful resources are:

  1. An Organizational Chart. This will show the candidate where they are starting at your company today. Who they will be reporting to and who they can go to for help. It also is the perfect time to show them the boxes on the Org. Chart that they can ascend to with proper training that you’ll provide as they demonstrate their worthiness through objective measurements.
  2. A Salary Level template. This will show the candidate what level of salary they’ll start at and when they’re next merited salary boost comes. Again, tied to objective demonstrated ability to train for the next level up the Org. Chart and the Salary Level [aka Salary Ladder]. The Employer of Choice knows that it’s no fun for an employee to have to come hat in hand to ask for a raise. It’s also no fun for them to not know when and how they can get themselves a raise. No one wants to work somewhere they feel like they have to go to their “parents” to ask for an increase in their allowance.

Once they are hired, you need a documented Orientation Process. This is a scripted layout of what their first 5 to 10 days with the company will encompass so they get acclimated as quickly and as effectively as possible. No one wants to fail at anything. And new hires are constantly being setup for failure by not having been oriented the right way. Plus, you need to remember what it was like when you jumped from being the big fish in Junior High School to being the little fish in High School. It’s scary. Well, it’s the same when someone new joins your company. Getting them a mentor and friend to show them around and make them feel comfortable from a competency level and a social level is invaluable in their long-term success with your company.

This transitions to what they do with your company for their first 60 to 90 days and what they’ll be judged on both during the Orientation Process and after it ends.

With Orientation Process in place, you’ll need Ongoing Training Programs that make true what you promised about helping them have a career with your company and not just a job. It is also how they move up the Salary Ladder. Plus, with ongoing training, they feel invested in and they come to appreciate that investment you’re making in them. The old adage that haunts contractors is, “What happens if I train them and they leave?”. The real question is, “What happens if you don’t train them and they stay?”. FYI, I know for a fact from my own years of training staff at my company and now other companies for 12 years that training is what makes them stay if you also tie it to the other resources like the Org. Chart and Salary Levels.

And there’s one more thing I want to share about retaining. For a long time, I used to wait for an employee’s knock on my door….sometimes at 5 o’clock. I could feel the tension rise as they began the conversation with, “We need to talk. I’ve got a job offer and they’re paying me….”.

They’d be talking and my mind would be racing. I knew this was coming down to one of the two likely scenarios:

  1. They had already committed to go and nothing I could say could stop them at this point.
  2. I could offer to meet or beat the other contractor’s offer for probably what wasn’t a justified bump in pay and then I’d end up feeling like a hostage. And I knew the word would get around the company that I was easy game. Also, I just felt it was unethical to do this to other employees who didn’t come and hold me hostage.

What I do know is when I paid the ransom raise in salary and they did stay, it rarely worked out. That’s because I felt betrayed and even though I didn’t say it I acted that way and the employee sensed it. Or, they always second-guessed themselves for staying on after they said they were going.

Well, I had enough of this. I finally got proactive. I learned to not wait for the 5 o’clock knock. That’s when I created the Org. Chart and Salary Levels. I came to see it from their point of view and not just mine in that I was putting them at my door because they had to come and ask me for a raise.

Here’s what I also learned to do….test the waters early and often. I made it a goal to talk to each of my employees at least once a week and ask the following questions:

“What’s going right? What’s going wrong? And what should I know right now?”

I did this sometimes as we were passing in the hallway, out on the jobsite, in the parking lot or in their office.

Based on their answers I came to know a lot. Actually, I came to know as much if not more based on how they answered my questions. Their enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm, their eye contact and smile or lack of eye contact and bad body posture all tied to cluing me in on who was happy here, just okay, or not happy at all.

It was a whole lot easier than I could have ever imagined to read the “tea leaves” on where these people were headed when it came to being all in with the company or already halfway out the door.

This allowed me to jump in proactively if something was amiss with someone I deemed a good team member I wanted to keep on. It also let me know to get ready for those who were edging their way out of the company. Time to prepare is critical.

Kathy Betlem of John Betlem Heating & Cooling

Kathy talks about the challenges before Al arrived of the whole management team, mostly comprised of the Betlem family members, being on the same page. Today with Al's help, the management team is both improving their individual departments and improving the company as a whole.

» Read the full testimonial

Operations Power!

7 Deadly Sins Your Techs Commit

I have work done at my own home these days because I retired my tool box years ago. The thrill of fixing stuff at my own home left a long time ago. Working for my wife seemed to always be a lose-lose deal. She had to nag me and was not often pleased with my […]

» View the full post

Susan Miller of Allied Plumbing & Heating

Susan Miller shares what was going on at Allied before Al Levi worked with them and how things are going at Allied today thanks to the work they've done with Al.

» Read the full testimonial

Operations Power!

What Extras Should You Have on a Service Vehicle?

I remember a Service Tech trying to explain to me why he couldn’t enter a basement that was flooded with water from a ruptured hot water heater. His explanation is he didn’t have anything to cover his shoes. I also remember another Service Tech trying to share with me why his uniform was so wrinkled […]

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Tim Flynn, Winters Company

Tim Flynn Having customized manuals allows me never to go over the same thing twice, I simply refer to the manual our employee has signed for and ask if there has been a misunderstanding of the procedure, once agreed there is no misunderstanding and we move on with our lives. Hopefully the discrepancy never occurs again, but [...]

» Read the full testimonial

Marketing Power!

7 Ways to Market at Low Cost or No Cost – Part 2

Here are the rest of the 7 ways I recommend these days to go about low cost or now cost marketing these days: Referral Marketing is one of the most powerful marketing strategies there is. It’s also a great example of low cost or no cost. Recommendations from one satisfied customer who is willing to […]

» View the full post

If you find that you keep saying to yourself...
  • I can't seem to find and keep good people.
  • There just aren't enough hours in the day.
  • We are delivering an inconsistent level of service.
  • I feel like I'm answering the same questions over and over.
  • I spend more time as an employee than as a manager.
  • Call-backs keep me from moving on to new calls/sales.
  • We have no real system in place for training.
  • This business just isn't fun for me anymore.
then you are ready to move to the next level click here

Contact Al

Phone: (480) 205-5164
Fax: 212-202-6275
(using a coversheet)

Traditional Mail:
Appleseed Business, Inc.
c/o Al Levi
10632 N Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85254