Your quest to make money every day can experience a slight setback in your busy season if you aren't prepared for the sharks. Some owners face a challenge every year when their busy season rolls around. The problem is that they don't have enough technicians to get the work done. Those desperate times can create some desperate people.

They become scavengers and often can be found raiding the technicians of other companies. I even heard of some cases where owners will wait outside convenience stores for technicians to come out and recruit them away by offering to pay $2 an hour more only to lay them off when the weather cools down and things get slow.

I know a contractor who resorted to a similar strategy after lamenting the challenges he faced finding technicians. His wife informed me that she would be spending the next morning down at Tim Horton's Donuts. I asked why, and she told me that Tim Horton's is where all of the technicians stop for coffee and donuts in the morning. When they pulled up, she would be there to start recruiting them.

This is going to happen in your area, too. The purpose of this article isn't to condone it but to get you ready for it. It's happened to me before, and I nearly lost my best technician. But that's another story for another day. Right now, let's take a look at what you can do to protect your best technicians from being recruited away in the heart of the busy season.

Step One

The first thing to realize is that prevention is the best method to protecting your team. I've made you aware of the problem that may be coming to your team, and now it's up to you to protect them. How do you do that? Simply make sure there is no better place for them to go. That means keeping your team happy.

However, happiness is a relative term. It may not just be money that keeps someone happy. It's pride, recognition, unity, teamwork, appreciation, and advancement opportunities that keep employees happy and motivated. People want to be part of a dynamic, growing, and healthy organization.

So, the first lesson is to identify their motivations and inspire them to reach them. Every human being is different, and it's up to you to determine what those motivations are for each member of your team. One person may want money, while another may want future management opportunity. To succeed, you have to know your team.

Step Two

The second thing to focus on is that people need to be working towards a vision. That means you must develop a specific vision of what you are striving to accomplish with your company and then communicate that vision effectively to your team. It's part of being a strong leader. When you are a strong leader with a vision that will take you to the top, you'll have no trouble finding motivated employees to go with you.

Decide what you are trying to accomplish this season. Is it a certain amount of revenue? Is it to be the largest company in the area? Is it to provide the highest level of service? Make sure your vision for the company is the same as your employees', so they know what they are working for. When they have a goal in sight, they'll be more determined to succeed.

It's like a team pulling together for the playoffs. Something that may have felt unattainable during the regular season becomes reality when the team pours all of their effort into that condensed amount of time. I know a team that did just that. They set their goal at achieving $1 million in revenue for a month.

They had a big campaign with cash awards and a huge family party. They focused solely on the goal and not the challenges associated with it. In the end, that $1 million mark that had eluded them was achieved by focusing on it intensely for that month.

Contests like that are a great way to get your team involved in your vision. Set a revenue goal and then get your team to focus on it. Then track your team's numbers and reward everyone when you exceed your goal. It's a simple way to keep everyone on your team focused on achieving your vision.

Step Three

The third facet of prevention is to educate your employees. Let them know that there are sharks in the water. If your team knows there are desperate business owners out there looking to lure them away with empty promises, they'll be just a little more hesitant to listen when they are approached at the convenience store or gas station. After you've told them what could happen, remind them of all that you offer them. Give them reasons to stay and they won't want to leave.

If you don't take some steps of prevention, this could happen to you. As Jacques Cousteau said, "A shark-filled ocean is a dangerous place, and you'd better know how to react to sharks."

Next time, I'll share with you how I reacted to these sharks and how you can use the same "shark gun" to eliminate 95 percent of your competitors' raids on your team. Until then, start taking some steps of prevention and protect the team you've built because during the busy season, you need every superstar you can get.

Terry Nicholson is president of AirTime 500. For more information on AirTime 500, call 800-505-8885. Nicholson can be reached by e-mail at

Publication date: 08/15/2005