February 18/25, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 19
By Paul Stuart
One of the most important questions we can ask in our industry is what drives quality installers? What really makes them tick? Not what makes them quality or great installers—that’s easy. Great installation, on schedule, dependable, on time, highly trained to work with and has all the products and tools necessary for a beautiful project.
These are the symptoms of being a quality installer, but if we can find what motivates them to be this way then there might be some nuggets of information that will help the industry as a whole in recruiting and retaining new blood and how to properly treat the current guys.
When I first started installing, I was 19 and blown away that I could make so much money. That’s what got me started but not what kept me in this industry. I found love in the finished product, which transformed into passion and a high level of respect for the mechanics and installers that I had the pleasure to learn from. Eventually, I built a crew and started subcontracting for several commercial contractors around the city, and then I started my full-service flooring company in 2003.
I have spoken to my installers and reached out to many others across the nation with the hopes of starting a conversation around this topic. Based on 100 installers’ replies and input, these are the things, in order of importance, that motivate installers.
- Taking pride in what they do and in their ability.Pride is only achieved through the experience of doing a good job, which is a result of training. Make sure your installers have access to good training. This produces quality work, which results in proud floor layers.
- The appreciation and admiration of the finished product.As flooring installers, we love the feeling of completing the project and providing the finishing touch. This is something that is inherent in each individual. I am not sure it can be taught, per se, but training certainly helps.
- Appreciation, notoriety and praise.This is where I think many managers, salesmen and employers get it wrong. I certainly have not been perfect at this, either. Craftsmen in any field want others to appreciate their work. When a job or project done well is noticed and rewarded, it really makes the person performing the work feel great. All people want to be appreciated; it is a basic human need. There is a tendency to think that since they are being paid that appreciation is not needed. However, this could not be farther from the truth. Money often ranks behind appreciation as a primary driver. Fair compensation is a given—a good installer knows he is going to get paid, he knows he can make money. However, the appreciation, notoriety and praise are not a given and much less common than the money. Think of a time when someone showed you sincere appreciation. That feeling is one of the biggest drivers that quality installers work for.
- Fair pay.Of course, we all have to eat, and installers love steak. Obviously, everyone works to provide for themselves and their loved ones, but isn’t it interesting that this is not factor No. 1? Being paid well is important and nearly a guarantee for the high-quality installer, but the good installers know it is just a by-product of doing great work, being dependable and having a good attitude and work ethic.