Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Central Washington State
Employees are a huge responsibility but the only way you can duplicate yourself. Without some helpers, when you are meeting with clients, doing a bid, picking up materials, etc., nothing gets done in the shop.
You must of course offer compensation that is competitive with what other shops like yours will pay. What I've learned is that beyond the wage and compensation package what an employee wants is a consistent work load and to feel they are an important part of the "team".
A man's (or woman's) experience in the trade is secondary to their attitude.
I have had some excellent employees over the years (and a few bad ones also). I've always been willing to teach my helpers anything and everything that I know. If you don't give anything, don't expect anything back. A full work load, the boss teaching knew stuff equals a happy productive employee. Some of my employees have gone on to start their own woodworking businesses and I was happy to help because I remember that I was helped along the way also. Knowing you have helped someone build a knowledge base and a way to provide for his family is a reward in itself!
But as I said, once you hire someone you are responsible for him or at least his livelihood. I have always taking that point very seriously. There have been many times when I would write out the paychecks and there was nothing left to pay me. The flip side of that scenario is that when you have some good help and the operation is clicking on all cylinders the payoff is much greater than what you could earn all by your lonesome.
That being said, after nearly forty years of being an employer and I decided to semi-retire. When I had thanked and said good by to my last employees it was as if a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and I was a free man again. But without those good people who helped me I would not have been in a position to do that.
Oh, one other note, I was a head hunter. When I heard about someone who was a good worker but was maybe looking for a new situation, I would seek them out. That method of hiring seemed to work best for me. I always kept my feelers out. To me, hiring the right worker meant money in my pocket. They are still out there if you look.
Good luck, Bret