Monthly Blog Post: Labor Issues

One of the most significant issues facing our industry today is finding sufficient qualified labor to install the products we sell. It’s safe to say that the amount of young people entering our trade has tailed off significantly, and many of our most qualified installers are getting close to retirement. When you add to that mix a fairly active economy, you have a prescription for trouble.

The greatest change that I have seen since I started many years ago as an installation manager is the trend that has virtually eliminated the “in house” W-2 employee installer. These days the rage is for most installers to be independent subcontractors paid via 1099’s. The recent Trump tax law revisions giving tax breaks to LLC’s will surely accelerate this trend even more. This change highly complicates your desire to control what actually happens out in the field with your customers.

Another industry trend that is changing the face of installation labor needs is the fact that carpeting has apparently succumbed to more difficult hard surface products to install, such as ceramic.

Finally, the last major trend in our industry is that the immigrant workforce has come to dominate the field of installation, creating a whole host of new issues that need managed. With the current political climate, it’s safe to say that segment of our society, supporting our industry in such an important way, is not likely to grow further anytime soon.

The lack of qualified labor is the most important issue facing our trade! How can you expect to grow your business if you can’t get the products you sell on the floor properly?

So -how do you skin this cat ? Clearly there are no easy answers.

One way is recruit and train at your own cost- and take matters into your own hands. Many trade organizations such as ABC are spending a lotta money on formal apprenticeship programs. There are many high school grads who are not suited to the college experience- nor willing to undertake that debt burden, but you will need to find a mechanism to find them.

It’s also extremely important to lose the mentality that you only want to pay the most competitive piecework rates out there, to maintain those high margins. In times like these, pay a little more than average, and show your installation team that you acknowledge the difficulties installers in our trade face.

Our Association is planning a webinar on “How to Recruit and Retaining Quality Installers” in September. Watch our website and your e-mail for more details.

Chuck Bode

Past President, MAFCA

CB Floors