SERVICE PLUMBING PROS
BY MATT MICHEL
In today’s labor market, there is a tendency to tolerate and hang onto plumbers with negative characteristics as long as they pass the 98.6 test and can turn a wrench. This is a common mistake. Here are nine plumbers you should fire immediately, plus a plan to enable you to grow your supply of labor.
No one produces more than Prima Donna Donny. But because he produces, he thinks the rules do not apply to him. He does what he wants — his way — assured in his belief that you will never fire him. And while the Prima Donna produces, he also poisons the company. He sets a bad example, treats the office personnel like they are his servants, and generates resentment from everyone else. Eventually, Donny will push things too far and you will fire him. When you do, the terror you feel about the damage that will result to your sales will turn to delight when everyone else’s production improves more than enough to make up for Donny.
While he is never outright insubordinate, Snarky Sam constantly tosses out the sarcastic comment or remark. His sarcasm does not burst the balloon, but he lets the air out of it. His performance is adequate, so you hesitate to let him go, but find it impossible to correct his behavior. Sam is the pebble in your shoe that is not enough of an irritant to stop and remove, but when he is gone, you wonder why you put up with him for so long.
If he could use a rotary mobile phone, Old-School Stewart would. He is good at what he does, but he stopped learning a decade or two ago and refuses to try anything new. He still thinks of flat rate pricing as flat rape pricing. Old school refuses to innovate or accept new practices.
The office gossip is Rumor Randy. As soon as Randy learns a secret, everyone else gets to hear about it, whether it is appropriate to share or not, whether it hurts people or not. Ultimately, Rumor Randy turns people against each other. He needs to go.
You need to grow your own plumbers. Every plumber should be paired with an apprentice who will ride with him until he is ready for his own truck and the opportunity appears.
The guy with the substance abuse problem is Strung-Out Steve. He shows up late, with bloodshot eyes. His drug of choice may or may not be legal. If he does not accept the need to get help and then, get that help, he will become a legal liability for the business. Steve is a ticking time bomb of an accident.
Always griping, Angry Andy is mad at everyone. He is prickly. If things do not go his way, Andy blows up. If he ever feels someone slights or disses him, Andy gets mad. Angry Andy is fundamentally a bully who uses anger to get his way. Everyone avoids him. No one wants to work with him.
Nothing goes well in Negative Nick’s world. The dispatchers never give him good calls, in his opinion. Management is clueless. Customers are cheapskates. Nick’s world generally sucks, and he is not afraid to share with anyone just how much things suck. Hang around him and you will start to think things suck, too.
On the surface, Drama David appears the model employee. Beneath the surface, he is an instigator. He stirs up drama. He takes people to the side and asks if they are going to put up with the current situation. After people start going for each other’s throats, Drama David sits back eating popcorn and enjoys the show.
Everyone likes Non-Producer Paul. In fact, he is the perfect employee, except that he does not produce. He is slow. He generates more callbacks than anyone else. He returns with revenue for the minimum charge far more often than the other plumbers. Paul would be gone in a second if he was not so darn likable, friendly and willing. You know he needs to go, but you just cannot bring yourself to pull the trigger.
If you want to grow, it is likely that you will always need to cull the herd. Thus, you need a reserve. You need to grow your own plumbers. Every plumber should be paired with an apprentice who will ride with him until he is ready for his own truck and the opportunity appears. It may seem expensive, but it is less costly than hanging on to the deadweight plumbers described above. Plus, the plumber with an apprentice can get more done, and is less likely to leave for a company without apprentices.
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