Partner with off-season businesses to open a pipeline for winter employees
By William Moore, CSP, ASM
It can be quite challenging to staff your winter operation, especially when your client is growing. You need sidewalk teams, loader operators, and plow and salt truck drivers. The days of relying on job search sites like Craigslist, Monster and Indeed are over. You must start thinking outside of the box and become more creative.
Finding the right employee
What works for us is hiring from the outside. We seek three types of employees:
We explore retaining and attracting men and women from other industries that lay off their staff for the winter, such as tree services, cement companies, sweeping companies, asphalt and roofers. We work with the owners of these companies to offer their teams an opportunity to continue working while business is slow so they can still bring in an income for themselves and for their families. Plus, they use the same type of equipment as we do for snow so it’s an easy fit.
We also look to attract people in seasonal businesses or other business owners who experience down time or a shortage of work in the winter. My nephew started his career with us and went on his own for a new career in an unrelated industry. He is still able to schedule his work when it’s slow and work around our needs as the snow comes. He and I work closely together as a key member in my organization. He can be flexible and communicate with his clients that he is on standby for snow season.
We attract small business owners or self-employed individuals who don’t quite have enough work to be 100% on their own and want to offset that income or stay busy at night. We have a team member who is a boilermaker. His schedule varies — he could get a call for a job that day or it could be three weeks out. When he is not pipefitting, he is available to plow for us. It becomes a win/win situation.
There is a mutual benefit to working with business owners. Working with us through the winter gives security to those business owners because employees will stay with them full time, even when the work slows down. Also, we have an agreement that we will not hire those employees no matter what when the season is over. With these synergies between us as owners, we can offer opportunities and incentives for employee retention.
We find in our organization that attracting from these sources can create diversity and take on a role that needs to be filled. Sometimes, we might not be able to hire a full-time team member; but we can have many people in the pipeline that can creatively and effectively cover that particular machine or site. If a day storm comes in, you can rely on an individual who can do that shift until his night job starts while a person who is laid off and needs to work at night can fulfill the other side of the equation.
Instead of looking for one person to fulfill that role, be creative because it may take two or even three to cover the same job. It is a different way of achieving and obtaining a desired goal, but the result is what ultimately matters.
If you are finding it tough to find people to fulfill roles in your operation and satisfy your contractual needs, I encourage you to explore these options. Broaden the spectrum of where you are looking for the right employee. Embrace the mindset that it might take more than one person to achieve the fulfillment process.
William Moore, CSP, ASM, is president of Executive Property Maintenance in Plymouth, MI, and a member of the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.