Creating a technician pay structure

smwilliamson Posted By smwilliamson, Jan 5, 2013 at 10:44 PM

  1. Harman Lover 007

    Harman Lover 007
    Minister of Fire

    Dec 31, 2010
    Eastern Mass & Lakes Region of Maine
    Sounds like you've reached critical mass, Scott. I have nothing constructive to add because I've never been self employed before other than to say "I feel for you"
  2. Stevekng

    Feeling the Heat

    Oct 21, 2007
    Central Maine
    Well said!
    smoke show likes this.
  3. smwilliamson

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 28, 2009
    Southcoast, MA
    What are you talking about? I'm not breaking rules? Just putting it out there. I really do trust in the good in people. I'd like to find another company where an employee can miss so much work. I don't slave drive people. You can only screen people so much then you have to go with it and wait and see. I cannot downsize either....dude, my website gets 100,000 hits a year and the volume of people who need help grows by an enormous amount every year. I cannot do it all.

    Yeah, union workers unite against the pellet stove tyrant! You got me all wrong. I just need to vent somewhere, bad enough I'm held in such high esteem that I cannot ask questions about how to fix stuff anymore.;)
  4. smwilliamson

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 28, 2009
    Southcoast, MA
    Enjoy your Sunday folks.....I'm going to work. Rebuild of an Invincible Insert for woman with no heat and an igniter install for a really old guy...also with no heat.
  5. TLHinCanada

    Feeling the Heat

    Feb 7, 2011
    Perhaps its not the place to talk about business problems. Part of the mandate of this site is to educate as well talk about stove problems. A lot of the post on this site are about dealers or techs that have taken on a job or contract and screwed it up. This is a look at the other side. An owners frustration with techs not doing there job. By the way I don't know about your country, but, here the problems with auto servicing are huge. As long as your not advertising your service I don't mind hearing about the fun and games.
  6. smoke show

    smoke show

    Sell the business then work for the man. just sayn...
  7. Wachusett

    Feeling the Heat

    Apr 12, 2010
    Wachusett Reservoir, MA.
    Isn't that someone elses business model around here. :p
    UMainah likes this.
  8. simple.serf

    Feeling the Heat

    Dec 7, 2011
    Sherman, NY
    As a tech, I have found two things that motivate me. First- Everybody wants salary. Not me. I have found through my years that hourly pay motivates me. Second- Overtime. I love overtime. Everybody else wants to be out the door at 4:30. I'll stay until the job is done. Work Saturday? Sure. Hell, I'm going in today (sunday am) to measure how much floor tile we will need to repair under some 15 year old rotator ovens that are being replaced on Wednesday.

    We have to have our own tools, our own trucks, and if you are travelling to your "home location" (I have two, depending on the day of the week), you don't get paid mileage (standard commute). In return, we get health, dental, 2 weeks vacation, a reasonable hourly pay, and all the hours we want.

    I take pride in my work, and as such, I don't want a callback (we have enough to do, and everybody knows those techs), though you will get them from time to time.

    Recently, I have been training two kids who have come from a facilities maintenance program. One has a kid of his own, and as such is very responsible, and is willing to put in some serious hours. They both take pride in their work and see this as a career. Next time you are looking for someone, check with a local vo-tech program to see if they have anyone who might work. Another advantage is that they have the basics, and you can train them your way.

    Good luck!
    MommyOf4, PoolGuyinCT and 3jfk like this.
  9. btuser

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 15, 2009
    Principality of Pontinha
    It's really hard to keep good help in a seasonal business. As far as "incentivizing" technicians, it works to a certain point, and again is hard to maintain in a seasonal business. Techs who are willing to bust ass to make 2k/week during the busy cycle are not going to stick around for the slow weeks of $200. Piece work is a dubious way to pay in a residential environment, too many variables to standardize. If you're using a sales force to sell your product it can put them at odds over the cost of the install ("Lady, I get paid extra to do that, and the salesman didn't say nothing about this"). Service not so much, but when a tech has to pay their bills with the cost of the job you start getting calls about $400 controllers that didn't need replacing and per hour charges. Just my experience.

    We pay by experience, and certify (in-house) that level of competence. Everyone starts at $15/hr base pay, and as a tech adds feathers to their cap they are rewarded. This makes it worth it for techs to learn on their own time. Some techs make $25+/hr, and the best paid techs are the most knowledgeable. They also have to keep up with it to keep their levels of certification (and the accompanying boost in pay). This is assuming they make it as a tech.

    It's great that you have the work. Have you looked into sub-contracting some of your service/install work?
    raybonz likes this.
  10. smwilliamson

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 28, 2009
    Southcoast, MA
    My business is not seasonal anymore...I found a way through service contracts to keep the work and cash flow positive most of the year. I'm paying 12.50 an hr to start with no experience, 15 per hr after the first 180 days or can demonstrate basic knowledge up front, from there the pay goes up as you learn more. You get a 2K bonus for NFI annually and we pay for the test, you get health after a year...and it's the same plan I do for myself...75% paid and two weeks paid vacation, each year after the first. Oh, and you get a phone and a truck and the tools.....I would offer all this and 20 something an hour if someone would show up and put the customers first. If some one came to me with NFI and a Mass Solid fuel and a great attitude....this would be the best job you have ever had. Just sayin...

    ....yes, I'm a tyrant.
    schoondog and PoolGuyinCT like this.
  11. Cozy Old Coot

    Cozy Old Coot

    Jan 1, 2010
    Maryland's Eastern Shore
    Simply very well put ;ex ;ex ;ex
  12. PoolGuyinCT

    Feeling the Heat

    Jan 17, 2012
    Plymouth CT

    Hah! Been there done that.. Try this with most efficient tech. Set him up with a set of hands and feet. (I know lots of one man jobs, put them in truck together.) the tech will run the crew (crew running brings the best out of my best techs.)

    The goal is to increase production & create a helper that is already unloading or sourcing what the tech needs before he asks.
    The helper will become a protege. (Very important to pick the right helper.)

    Set them up with devices tablets whatever to process service calls and collects payment, I know it's hard to delegate this aspect, it turns a truck into a store.

    The crew concept is going to raise the cost sending your ace guy out, no doubt about it. It's imperative to pick right helper, to pull this off!

    What do you think they will talk about all day? Fixing equipment!

    Things I don't tolerate, messy trucks, not replenshing inventory, lateness, looking like a bum.

    Create guys that do more than spin a wrench, you will quickly see who is worth training and more importantly who gives a dam.

    A common mistake carefully choosing a techs helper. Before you know it you will have to buy the ace mans helper a truck!

    I always ask they tech what he and his helper talk about between jobs, get the right two guys together its always fixing pools!
  13. TheMightyMoe

    Minister of Fire

    Aug 2, 2012
    Fairbanks, Alaska.
    No need to bash on this thread, no one made you read it or post in it. He has helped tons of people here. A lot of us find these threads interesting, if you don't, don't read it. Thanks.

    God Bless America.

    Good luck in your business endeavors, you keep America running. I know the problems you face with work ethic and finding reliable employees.
    Dtunes, schoondog, Brokenwing and 4 others like this.
  14. SwineFlue

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 3, 2012
    NE Pa
    Yes, this thread is about his business problems: getting better work results at a lower cost... in other words providing his customers better service for a fair price. There are a lot of 'stove problem' threads here where the owner has not been able to find good service at a fair price in their area.
  15. pauly2110


    Dec 28, 2010
    Taunton, MA
    The guy from lakeville that works for you isn't bad but he sure isnt you, I'd rather pay the money to have u there then anyone else period......
  16. Bkins

    Minister of Fire

    Mar 16, 2009
    Jersey Shore
  17. Bkins

    Minister of Fire

    Mar 16, 2009
    Jersey Shore

    I do not know you other then what you have posted here. I enjoy reading your posts and have learned some to boot. If others don't think you ought to post about your business and how to make it better I feel sorry for them. I for one think what you have posted in this thread does belong on this forum as it is all pellet stove related and informative.

    Don't have much input into your problem or questions other then to say keep asking and brainstorming. Seems like you are paying a fair wage and have provided a means for a employee to move on up. Who ever made the comment about todays workforce not wanting to work I couldn't agree more with what was said. When you have to add a section in the rules broschure about not answering texts/phone calls on company time it kinds of shows you how things stand. This seems to occur more with the 30 and below crowd. Attitude adjustment is something that is being mentioned more and more in the workforce. I better stop here.

    Sorry if you have to work on Sunday but that is one of the downfalls of owning a business. Some chose not to go into business just for that reason alone.

    Hope you are able to come up with something that will work for you and your company.
  18. DexterDay


    That sounds like pretty good incentive. By today's standards, and at 6 months service. How old are these people?

    If I ever fail at doing what I do now, I would gladly head up your way...... :)
  19. Ejectr

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 1, 2009
    Brimfield, MA
    The title of this thread gives an indication that it is business related. If you don't want to read business related posts, you have a choice. Don't open it.

    Every forum seems to have its post police that suddenly decide what is supposed to and not supposed to be written. Let the administrators decide what they want on their forum. Scott didn't come here for a lecture. He came here for what he felt would be a friendly port in the storm for maybe some intelligent advice. I'd hate like hell to have to tell him he came to the wrong place because of some attitudes.
  20. hoverfly

    Minister of Fire

    Jun 26, 2008
    Southern NH
    In all my experience working in manufacturing and as an oil burner technician, they were the most dynamic situations that I have ever experienced in dealing with people. I just finished a management class in an effort to obtain a business management degree. My management class opened up my mind much more in understanding that managing people is a very dynamic environment. Management is a science and art; of psychology, sociology, life experience, mathematics level of algebra, and accounting. So what is my point? Everybody is different, everybody is motivated differently. Most people who are working for you are one of three behavors. First is to have a career, second for some it is just a job, or third just to survive. But all their needs to be satisfied are different, therefor, no one solution fits all. So most businesses focus on those who fit a criteria that most or everyone at that business fits in. Unfortunately for me I don't fit into a common category. I am a very dynamic person that has discovered that if I want any peace in my life, how i make money, is no longer working for somebody else or at the bottom of the pig pile.

    So what might be part of the solution for your problem? Good pay, overtime, and recognition of their good hard work. Do not single anyone out as your favorite, or buddy up with certain people. You are outside the circle of people; you are there to manage them to make money not to be their best friend.
    So for those who think managers do nothing, while they make $200,000 a year think again. They make more money than you because they have to run everything that involves in the business that you do not see and manage you at the same time.
    Dinger and PoolGuyinCT like this.
  21. webbie

    Seasoned Moderator
    Staff Member

    Nov 17, 2005
    Western Mass.
    Yeah, tough place to talk about business problems because it includes the general public as well as the trade - etc......

    Only a couple small comments I can make.......

    Paying them for posts on the forum will not work out. If they don't have the smarts to help themselves, you can't pay for it......

    Let me start with where I am coming from - I hired an installer in 1979 and he is still with the folks that own my own store. That's a pretty good record, IMHO. Then again, I never tried to get him to do more for less, but rather to do more for more.

    Lots more.

    My main installer raised a family, owned a house, had money to buy and fix up houses on his own (in his off times), etc.

    At first, he worked on the books as an employee, but with the off-season, that got hard after awhile, so I made him a sub. But, he was only MY sub, other than stuff like remodeling houses in the off-season, etc.

    Back in the early 90's I remember him getting over 110K a year from us in payments. Of course, he had his own truck and tools and even a helper for a lot of the time. Still, that's the equiv. of 200K+ today.

    It's a fine line. On one hand you want someone who is quite capable of starting a business which is like yours or similar (going out on his own). On the other hand, you want them to make money for you and make life easier! So you have to walk that line.

    In terms of turning a poor employee into a good one...that's impossible in my book. IMHO, you know after a few weeks. People rarely change in that fashion.
  22. stoaf88


    Oct 19, 2009
    Scott has given more free info out on this forum than pretty much any other member here.

    If it was not for him this forum would suffer.

    Good luck with your business Scott, and I may just be that guy who shows up with solid fuel and NFI soon haha!
  23. boosted3g

    Feeling the Heat

    Aug 3, 2012
    Central PA
    I always appreciate and enjoy reading your posts but this one seems to be an internal issue. Perhaps there is a union hall you can hire from that may have experienced men?
  24. Scott,

    1) Thanks for your input here on this message board. You're an asset to it. Pay no attention to the trolls/flamers/naysayers.
    2) You might be a perfectionist like myself. Most often, our expectations are set high. When they're not met, we become disappointed.
    3) Sounds like you're experiencing one of the negative aspects of owning a business that is relative to all business owners.
    4) You're blessed beyond measure to actually HAVE your own business. You could always be (as smoke show put it) workin' for the man. Don't ever lose sight of that.
    5) If ever you expand your business to Northern Maine and/or Eastern Canada, hit me up. I'll make it my goal to cast a good light on the mindset toward your "hired help". :)

    Hang in there and keep your posts, comments, and pics comin' in!
    Harman Lover 007 likes this.
  25. MountainSean

    Credo Quia Absurdum

    Sep 29, 2011
    Tonopah, NV
    Sounds to me like you are already paying a fair amount. Wages of course have to factor in the area you live in so I have no idea if $15 an hour is a good amount for a skilled trade technician in your area. The benefits were always where I found most people to really tip the scales and you have medical dental, paid vacation (I would love me some paid vacation) and such seems like you are doing it right. In my experience though you will find one good worker for every 20 that turn out to not be and every 100 you turn away from the start. Just keep plugging away and when you find someone good keep hold of them.

    For a pay scale I think that an hourly +bonus per job over a set # completed is a good way to go. With any call backs for something missed being taken out of the bonus. That way they have an incentive to work hard and an incentive to do the job right. What the pay scale, bonus and penalty is I don't know enough about your job market to say.
    The Village Idiot likes this.

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