Installers Wanted!July 19th, 2023 by Matthew Darienzo
If you read last month’s blog, you know I am passionate about people and culture. In the window film industry, one of the most critical positions—and the most difficult to fill—is that of the installer. Over the years, this has been an ongoing need for almost every company. Ultimately, whether your company is focused on auto or flat glass, your revenue will be limited by the number of installers you have. You can have all the business in the world, but it doesn’t mean much if you can’t complete the projects.
Sharing Hiring Insights
Over the years, we have tried to figure out the best way to recruit, train and develop good installers. Unfortunately, I wish I could share that I have solved the problem, and if you just read this blog from start to finish, you will never be short on installers again.
That won’t happen, but I can share insights into what we have learned by employing and managing about 69 full-time installers (almost half of our workforce).
To hire, train and develop new installers, we decided to look at our existing ones and audit their backgrounds, behaviors and work habits they exhibit to be successful within the organization. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any similar background experiences. But we did see common characteristics throughout the team. Some are obvious, but it’s still good data.
We like to view the position in two parts. Half of the job has nothing to do with installing film—i.e., soft skills. Here are some characteristics to look for in the initial weeks of hiring an installer apprentice.
● They communicate effectively;
● They are punctual;
● They work well with others;
● They can problem-solve;
● They have patience;
● They are good with time management; and
● They have a positive attitude when things go wrong.
The First Month
All the above have nothing to do with installing film and can usually be measured within the first month of employment. If they can’t get these right, whether they can learn to install or not, it is probably not a good fit. Although, we have had great installers with poor attitudes. Yes, there are a few of those out there believe it or not.
Those are hard ones to part with, but in the end, they will bring down the others and everybody they come in contact with so my advice is to move on.
The other half of the position we view is the installation skill part of the job. This is the hardest part because it takes time. You can judge the first half quickly, but learning to install film effectively takes time, whether auto or flat.
I would say a good barometer is about three to six months. Our training program is four months, with milestones each month. As they pass each milestone, they move into the next training phase. It’s not perfect, and we are always working on it.
The True Challenge
The crazy part is we all know how much installers can make, so we know it’s a great profession. I think the challenge is that we still have a lot of work to do on the awareness side. We have come a long way in the years I’ve been in film, but I still tell people what I do. They give me that blank stare. But when I tell them I own a few pizzerias, their eyes light up, and the conversation flows.
So I guess the real question is how do you find and hire for soft skills? What on a resume (if they have one) identifies any? We offer a bonus payment to our existing installers for referring someone who completes our training program successfully. Generally, when you have a good installer with a great attitude, they usually hang around with the same type of person.
Overall, I would say there is no magic solution. Hiring installers is hard but not impossible. It takes time, dedication and a willingness to keep at it, as you may only keep one out of every four installers you train.
It’s a frustrating part of the business but essential to a company’s long-term success and growth. Whether you run a business for auto or flat, we are in the service business. The people are always and will always be the backbone of our industry.
The more we focus on them, the better we will all be.
PS: Always have information about hiring on your website!