Finding and Keeping Great Employees - An Innovative Approach

One of the things I love about my work is that I get to work with so many different and interesting people and businesses. One company I’ve worked with for the last year is V. Dolan Trucking. These folks haul construction materials to jobsites in several types of equipment, such as super-dumps, transfers, 10-wheelers and bottom dumps. All of which I can now proudly identify and happily point out to my poor husband every chance I get.

Like the remodeling industry, in the trucking industry, it is primarily the field employees that differentiate one company from another. The efforts and decisions they make every day help determine if a company has success. But, like everyone in the construction industry, Dolan Trucking faces a shortage of qualified employees. Last summer, while working on job descriptions, they came up with a very interesting way to attack this problem.

They generated a list of everything they wanted the perfect driver to do and know. This included knowing how to drive each type of truck and the willingness to drive each one. This was important, because when some drivers couldn’t or wouldn’t operate certain types of trucks, it limited the company’s ability to meet their clients’ needs without subcontracting the work. (It’s like one of your carpenters knowing how to drywall but is unwilling to do it, so you have to sub it out.)

The list also included:

  • Daily upkeep of trucks. As a remodeler, think of keeping tools and equipment clean, maintained and well organized.
  • Ability to deliver different types of material. Think of someone able to do some electrical, plumbing, painting, drywall and finish carpentry.
  • Willingness to work evenings and weekends when needed.
  • Customer service, attitude, courtesy and respect issues.
  • Paperwork compliance.

In the final document, 56 items defined the perfect driver. To this list, the company added three more items that reward long-term employment. They also added two “discretionary” points, which allowed them to acknowledge extra efforts.
After several labor lawyers reviewed the program, the company evaluated the driver’s, and then used a wage scale tied to the system to set an employee’s wages for the year.

If you used this type of system in your remodeling company it could:

  • Provide clarity to employees on what the company needs for success.
  • Provide clarity on what is expected of employees on the job.
  • Compensate employees, not for how long they have been with the company, but for the skills and attitude they bring to the job.

Dolan’s goal is to have every driver at the TOP of the pay scale. This may sound nuts, but if the drivers perform at that level, the company will be more efficient and competitive.

This type of program is also attractive to prospective employees. In Dolan’s system, new employees have their skills reviewed within the first 90 days and then are paid according to their points. New hires, who historically would have to wait years to get top pay, can now get there quickly.

As expected, some drivers had trepidation about the program. To ease their worries, all drivers were evaluated and told what their wage would be under the new program. The company then worked with them for six months to help assure no loss in wages and/or to raise their pay rate. When the program was finally implemented, 95 percent of the drivers received a pay raise.

The company lost some employees during this process. But those who stayed, and the newly hired employees, are all keepers and are working on increasing their skills and wages.

It took much courage to try something this innovative. It works internally and has also earned the attention of Dolan’s clients because they value qualified drivers on their jobsites. Now, the company and its drivers are working on a training manual to better teach employees the 61 skills in the point system. Drivers are happy to help because one of the points they can earn is for assisting with training other drivers.

I hope you will consider applying this innovative idea to your business. Start your list with points for cleaning jobsites, add points for all the various building skills you’d love to see in your employees, and then add points for reading plans, doing paperwork, customer care, etc. I think it has the same great potential for your success as it has for V. Dolan Trucking.