At PlaneTechs, there are two types of customers: “customers that pay us and customers that we pay,” says David Pearson, the company’s president.
The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., recruits and places aviation technicians all over the country to work on both commercial and military aircraft.
“There are not enough technicians in the market for all the jobs that are available, so loyalty is a really big deal for us,” Pearson says. “These people have a lot of options. We have to be the employer of choice.”
PlaneTechs creates “a mindset that our workforce are our customers, and they need to be treated like customers,” Pearson says.
This starts with the way the company is set up. Recruiters are assigned to specific workers, much like sales people are assigned to accounts. “They maintain and manage a book of people that are on their payroll. We require them to be in touch with these people constantly while these people are on the job, understanding what’s working well for them and what’s not. They help them get other jobs.”
The message to workers, Pearson says, is: “We want you to think of us almost like a sports agent” who will find you the best jobs.
Another strategy is for top executives of the staffing firm to periodically call a branch manager and ask for the name of a temporary employee who has done an outstanding job – and then make a call to that worker.
PlaneTechs uses an online orientation video to give employees a visual image of the company and its office — it does its recruiting and placement from a central location — as well as to tout its benefits and let employees know how to handle safety and other concerns.
The message, says Pearson: “We’re not a small-time company, we’re a highly professional company that they can be proud to work for.”
Once employees are on the job, recruiters continue working to build trust with them.
This can start with simple issues, like never filling jobs where the order isn’t final yet. It also involves getting to know the employees, understanding what types of planes they like to work on and where in the country they prefer to work.
Building this type of trusting relationship with employees is critical, says Lynne Mesmer, CEO of Creative Management Consultants in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Soliciting suggestions from employees is another way to go about this.
For example, a company can bring a group of employees in once a quarter for a breakfast forum at which managers solicit ideas for improvement. Not all the ideas will be practical or even good, but some will be.
When the company implements one of them, the CEO should advertise the fact that the idea came from an employee.
“It’s really a win-win situation because it brings them into your company and makes them feel like they’re part of something,” Mesmer says. “Everybody likes to give their opinions, and then the staffing owner can get some ideas that maybe they haven’t thought of.”
Another strategy, Mesmer says, is for top executives of the staffing firm to periodically call a branch manager and ask for the name of a temporary employee who has done an outstanding job – and then make a call to that worker. “The more you can get upper-level executive management involved, it goes a long way as far as creating loyalty,” Mesmer says.
With lots of ideas for promoting loyalty among employees, it can be difficult to tell if they’re paying off. PlaneTechs measures the number of workers who come back for repeat engagements, as well as how many new workers come on board each year.
And Pearson is planning to start using the Net Promoter system, which asks how likely a person would be to refer a business to someone else, with its workers.
“We’re going to get a lot more sophisticated about how we measure our contractor loyalty,” Pearson says.
How does your staffing company make loyal temps?