Kitchen & Bath Design News

FEB 2019

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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expects and should be. So, employees are switching companies and employers are paying more to find and train new employ- ees who may not be as productive." Benefits are another key issue, and almost 28% have added bonuses to their employee packages. Additional training opportunities are also important, with 24.5% enhancing what they offer. Promotional opportunities have been added by 12% of respondents. Companies responding also provide their employees with a range of other benefits, including paid vacation (66.8%), paid sick time (46.9%), medical coverage (46.9%) and product and services discounts (40.7%). Bonus programs (36.5%), compa- ny-matched 401K plans (34.9%), flex time (32%), dental cover- age (29.1%), company-paid outings (27.8%) and vision coverage (25.7%) were also part of the mix. But, all of these extras add up, especially for smaller kitchen and bath dealerships, putting a strain on profits and the busi- nesses themselves. "Many people are looking to take advantage of this tight job market by requesting unrealistic compensation packages," stated a Michigan-based dealer. "Times are good right now, but when (not if ) the economy slows, these compensation levels will be very difficult to sustain." Of those answering the survey, only 17.1% plan to add any b enefits this year, with medical coverage, bonus programs, flex time, paid vacation and company-matched 401K leading the offerings. Training is also an important element with regard to hiring and retaining employees. While almost 64% of those respond- ing noted that they will provide about the same training in 2019 as last year, a little over 33% said they would increase training. This included training from manufacturer reps (69.7%), trade show attendance for employees (41.5%), installation train- ing (35.3%), paid education seminars (27.8%), CAD training (20.3%), NKBA chapter meeting attendance (20.3%), outside sales training (15.4%) and CKD/CBD prep seminars (10%). Sales and installation training were viewed as the most imp ortant training necessary for employees to help business right now, at 18.3% and 18%, respectively. Time management and design followed closely at 17.6% and 16.9%. CAD, client relations, financial/cost control and business management all fell under the 10% mark. SUBCONTRACTOR WOES In addition to difficulties hiring staff, those surveyed also lamented about the challenges they face trying to find and work with subcontractors. Over 79% said it was "extremely difficult" (28.7%) or "somewhat difficult" (50.9%) to find good subcon- tractors to meet their current needs. Clearly, they remarked, action needs to be taken to encourage more people to become trade professionals. "The trades are suffering as the older trades retire," lament- ed a Pennsylvania-based dealer. "Young p eople should be open to options other than college and desk jobs, as there are career opportunities in construction. We have noticed that the majori- ty of students are being directed to colleges thinking that there are not opp ortunities in construction where they can make a good living." "Carpentry is the most difficult, it seems, to find good, qual- ified help, and masonry isn't far behind," reported a Missouri- based dealer. "We're hoping to have more young p eople get into the trades so the future in this area is brighter." "Our family business is transitioning management from parents to children, and we are struggling to find qualified installation subcontractors," noted one kitchen dealer. "In resp onse, we are thinking of presenting an apprenticeship program to the public." ▪ One of the problems with too few pros in the industry is the price that those in the mix can charge. While many firms are willing to pay the necessary increases, they're still not always getting the quality of work desired. "There are a slew of under-qualified workers who are charging journeymen prices," noted one Georgia dealer. "The journeymen are really the elusive unicorns." "The unemployment rate being so low has greatly impact- ed the quantity and quality of applicants we've received and have been forced to take on," explained another dealer, located in Virginia. "Despite hiring employees with little to no prior exp erience, demands for pay/compensation are extremely high and often unreasonable. Having to pay unskilled workers more means raising costs, and having to spend more time on train- ing costs the company additional valuable time that only raises the overall costs of the new employees – who often don't stay long enough to return any real value to the time invested." The need for sales and design personnel is also signifi- cant, coming in at 30.7% and 29.1%, respectively. Over 21% of employers are also looking for people with CAD knowledge to assist in the design process. "We just hired a new p erson to train in kitchen design; it took us about six months just to get that accomplished," remarked an Iowa dealer. Rounding out the personnel needs for companies right now are administrative at 11.6%, social media skills at 10% and marketing at 9.5%. SOLIDIFYING THE BASE Many survey resp ondents also stressed the importance of retaining their current employees in such a strong job market. Over 71% noted that they have increased their efforts in the recent past to keep their staff happy. Over 35% rep orted that they have given raises to current employees, while another 32.8% have added bonuses. Earnings need to keep pace with the current climate, many contend, or employees will grow restless. "In today's business environment, workers are still being treated like there is a 10% unemployment rate," stressed one dealer. "Outside of a meager increase in starting salaries for new hires, companies aren't stepping up to what the job market 3. Difficulty of Finding New Hires with the Desired Skills 53.7% 31.7% 7.5% 5.1% 2.0% Somewhat difficult Extremely difficult Not very difficult Relatively easy Very easy Source: KBDN Personnel Survey, January 2019 62 Kitchen & Bath Design News • February 2019 PERSONNEL SURVEY

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