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Setting Up An Effective and Inexpensive Training Area

Written by  Richard D. Ollek, CBSE, RGC

Part Two of a Two-Part Series - In the first installment of this series, we discussed how BSCs can easily set up an employee training area. Before reading that article, some of you probably thought you didn’t have room for a training area, but we showed how one can be set up in a location as small as 100 square feet. Similarly, some of you may now be thinking, “But it’s expensive to have all of the equipment, supplies, and placards just sitting around to train a new employee. That will really blow my budget.” There’s no question that some dollars are needed to invest in the training room items, but let’s look at it another way.

"If you can reduce your turnover this year by just four or five employees, you'll pay for the supplies and equipment needed to outfit the training area."

Dollars and sense
It’s a well-known fact that in the BSC industry it costs in excess of $500 to replace an employee. Some experts say the cost is much higher, and it may well be, but for the purposes of this discussion let’s stay with $500. Studies have also shown that two of the major reasons employees leave the BSC industry is that they aren’t told what to do, and if they are told what to do, many times they are not shown how to do it.

Taking it a step further, statistics tell us that the average turnover in this industry is between 325 to 350-percent per year. So if you have 100 employees and your business has “average turnover,” you may have filed over 400 W-2 forms last year. Or maybe you only have 10 employees and filed 40 W-2s last year. Even if you only filed 30 extra W-2s, at $500 per employee that costs you $15,000.

Putting it in perspective, if you start to compute the cost of not setting up an orientation and initial training area, it appears the dollars needed would be a worthy investment—perhaps even a critically important investment. If you can reduce your turnover this year by just four or five employees, you’ll pay for the supplies and equipment needed to outfit the training area. That’s a pretty reasonable investment, don’t you think?

Best practices
Here are some additional key points to remember when setting up the training area:

1. Develop a written script for the training that is supposed to be done in each of the areas. Don’t rely on your memory or someone else’s memory to do the training. It’s very important that the training is done the exact same way every time, even if the person doing the training has to read from the script. After all, it’s better to have someone read from a script than it would be for something important to be left out of the process. Plus, having a written script allows more people to be able to run the training process. And more people doing the training means they’ll be more people learning your company’s way of doing the work.

2. Always make sure that new hires go through the training process before they go to their first job. I know, many times we are short of people and need to get them on the job ASAP, but if you send them out in a hurry with the idea of having them come back “some time later” to catch up, that “some time later” often never happens.

3. Never “steal” from the training area to supply a building with emergency supplies. Sometimes you run short of supplies in a building and need something in a hurry, and the tendency can be to take it from the training area and then replace it later from the regular stock. Unfortunately, people often fail to replace the supplies, and the next time training is done, a new employee doesn’t get the full benefit of their training because some key item is missing. Plus, the trainer may invent some choice words that you don’t want in the company vocabulary when they discover missing items.

Given the high cost of not training your employees, coupled with the high level of employee discontent referenced at the beginning of this series, I am hopeful you will make every effort to enhance your training processes today. Obviously, we can’t cover every possible scenario you will face in a couple short magazine articles, but if you begin by following the procedures we have outlined you will have a very good start in developing employees that will want to stay. And there is no better time to start than now.

Richard (Dick) Ollek, CBSE, RGC, is the President and CEO of Consultants In Cleaning, LLC, where he provides consulting services to Building Service Contractors. Prior to forming his company in 2005, he spent 43 years in the BSC business, 34 of those years as President and CEO of his own company. He has written 4 books for the industry on selling, human resources, operations and the do’s and don’ts of contract cleaning. In addition, he can be heard on a weekly pod cast at www.tripodcastcom. He also writes a weekly blog that can be accessed through his web site at www.consultantincleaning.com. Dick can be reached at 573.374.1111 or through his website.

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