When the economy is booming, and work is coming through the door, it is very easy to lose sight of the basics. Do not forget where you come from or the practices that got you to your current position.

By John Paglia, III

The economy is booming right now. The optimism and buzz around the U.S. economy for the foreseeable future is full speed ahead. I continue to hear the same story from everyone: they have more work than they can currently handle with more in the pipeline. According to U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment was at 3.9 percent in July 2018. It does not matter the industry either, everyone is full on work and short on labor and the consensus across the board is that they wish their staff were better. While this is all trending with past cyclical times of the U.S., in the present we must still run a business in these conditions.

Retaining Quality Labor
Another sign of the times: the average hourly earnings is $27.05 per hour. To get anyone to work, retain quality labor or produce results, we have seen an uprising in wages from low-level positions to higher level managerial positions. Personally, I have no problem paying a higher rate so long as the quality is there. With unemployment at all-time lows, the pool of new hires is growing slimmer by the minute. Let’s also face the reality that our industry does not coincide with what the media determines to be a successful career path. Young people have been told to be successful, they must go to college, become loaded with debt, get a piece of paper, then go get a high paying 9 to 5 job that does not exist and make a six-figure salary right out of school. With these factors alone, our industry, which historically is labor intensive, makes finding and retaining employees extremely challenging.

Become Efficient
To reduce this labor challenge and its strain on daily operations, you must look to become as efficient as possible in every sector of your business. Understand that every market is different, but similar principles apply; make every move count. From your CSR, to route driver, to managers and CEOs, the most successful operations have cross-trained employees, efficiently maintained equipment and have a dedication to customer service. If your employees are a constant revolving wheel of turnover, you will struggle to maintain the basics (servicing the customers) and will never be able to be fine-tuned. You will always feel like you are playing defense instead of offense. Do not be afraid of change, it is a good thing. Every day you get better or worse, you do not stay the same. Do not be afraid to pass a raise along to a customer or change training regimens, hiring practices or policies and procedures as a few examples.

Do Not Lose Sight of the Basics
When the economy is booming, and work is coming through the door, it is very easy to lose sight of the basics. Do not forget where you come from or the practices that got you to your current position—good or bad. For those that are successful, keep up your secret sauce while still modifying with the times. For those companies that are struggling, I encourage you to take a deep breath and evaluate every line of your business. Turn over every stone. Eventually you will find your weak spots and address for a positive change. The key to success when labor is at an all-time low and work demand is an all-time high is to have well compensated, trained and experienced staff operating with safety as a number one priority. If you do not have this, it is no secret; find a way to get there and watch all staff execute their job. Hold everyone accountable for their actions. Give them some responsibility and decision-making abilities with the proper tools to succeed. You will then be able to see everyone in your organization buy in to the success of the company.

John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@floridaexpress.us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.