Volume 45, Issue 9 - September 2010

Buyer’sBlock

Secret to Successz
The Best Investment to Make in a Glass Business
by Paul Bieber

Yes, there is one investment that is the best you can make for your glass business. Top of the heap, king of the hill.

I guarantee that this investment will pay you back more than any other investment you can make. And let me be the first to tell you, my guarantee is iron-clad.

So now that I have hooked you into reading this article, here it is: People are more important than bricks or steel. You can invest in a building or you can buy a truck. The truck won’t run without a driver, and the build-ing will hold glass and metal, but
a person needs to cut it to size,
correctly.

Invest in your people. Work hard to hire the best people, train them and retain them. Below are some tips to do all three.

An Employer’s Market
It is still an employer’s market. Hire the best people now and they will grow your business. There are great people looking for a career rather than just a job. So, decide on ten qualities that you want in your “perfect employee.” Then decide at what level you will hire. You will never get all ten, but you can certainly shoot for seven or eight. It takes more interviews and time to find better people. Do it. It will probably cost you more than if you hired someone with only five qualities, but it is worth it. Don’t settle below your goal because you will only go through this exercise continuously, which will cost more in the long run. You can always teach skills; work ethic and responsibility are by far more important.

"A key employee who helps you maintain your customers is as important as the computer that stores their names and addresses."

Continuous Training
Train your people to the standards and goals that you want for your business. Don’t lower your standards to accommodate someone’s skill level. Teach and preach what you want, give your glaziers and office staff a clear understanding of what you expect. Give them daily feedback at the beginning of their work life with you. Review their progress at designated times, after 90 days, after 180 days and then annually. Be sure to give them the tools they need to learn, too—access to the Internet, meetings with vendors, attendance at seminars at local trade shows and exposure to new products and ideas. Encourage them to grow their talents.

You will lose an occasional person who you have put a lot of work into. That’s life. What is more important is that you will have good people with whom to continue working.

Retaining Your Investment
Retention of key employees is the most important job you have as a business manager or owner. If you have eight or nine point employees, tell them how valuable they are to you and pay them their fair worth to you. Good employees value both. Make your benefits at least as good as companies around you, and better if you can. A key employee who helps you maintain your customers is as important as the computer that stores their names and addresses. You plan to buy a new small edger every five years, but if you had people who cleaned it regularly, it would last ten years. Retain those people that help your business.

Treat good employees like family. Know their families’ needs and work to fulfill them. Send birthday cards, give time off to attend a child’s play or baseball game. Praise good employees and give special rewards, which don’t have to be expensive. Two tickets to a local cinema or a $20 gas card are remembered for a long time.

If you have a turnover problem, look in the mirror. Are you explaining the job duties correctly in the interviews? Are you losing good people and you don’t know why? Talk this over with a trusted friend or business advisor and look for honest answers.

All businesses, no matter what size, will benefit by retaining the best employees, and that is the best investment you will ever make.

Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. Mr. Bieber’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this magazine.



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