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Thread: Don't Take My Locators

  1. #1
    Member justanotherlocator's Avatar
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    Default Don't Take My Locators

    The area I work in has seen a couple of contract changes over the past 6-7 months. What I take issue with is the incoming locate company “stealing” locators from my crew in mass quantities. Not covertly, but overtly, even calling them on their company cell phone during business hours. They come in and offer ridiculous wages for relatively very junior locators. The obvious up front cost of hiring and training someone off the street is there, but what about the long road? Is paying a 4-month locator $16 (up from $12) an hour really going to pay off in the end? I mean $4 an hour more? We can try to match the offer, but then you have to adjust everyone’s pay so there is not a total upheaval. I don’t really blame a locator who can make more money, but they have to realize the grass is not always greener on the other side. I have seen locators leave & then ask to come back after a few months. It also results in the remaining locators to have to scramble or help to re-train new hires. I have seen this numerous times over the years, but not in such a blatant obvious fashion. Sometimes I feel we are just a training company for other locate companies. Kind of a ramble……just ticked off at the moment.
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    Moderator Goldenboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    Where I work there is only one big contract locating company and a couple real small ones. Not many people go from one company to the other for some reason. I can see where this would be real frustrating though. After spending all the time training someone then the other company comes in a "steals" them from you.

    I guess for the locators in the area it could work for their advantage as far as money goes. Locators are such tight-knit people they will always talk and have each others numbers even if they work for separate companies. And the other company knows who to take and who not to because they've seen them all locate. So I'm guessing you wind up losing you're better guys.

    Hopefully things work out for you. You have to start taking guys from them and see how they feel.

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    Senior Member AULupstate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    I've found that a Locator will jump ship for a few of reasons. 1 is ALWAYS the pay, 2 if the Locator doesn't feel appreciated or feels neglected (for whatever reason), 3 Maybe the Locator feels in a rut and wants to learn how to locate more utilities (never being given that opportunity due to contactual obligations).

    Usually the grass is NEVER greener but faced with being able to make more an hour 9 times out of 10 they will jump, that's a hard enemy to fight for ANY company.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    if it makes you feel any better........we have the same thing happen here on a regular basis ....hope things get better for you dude ....hope you'll have a better day tomorrow!!!!
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Senior Member sprayandpray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    Usually the answer is pretty simple - match the pay or lose the people. It's amazing how a little competition can suddenly make Locators more valuable. It does make you ask the question - Why was the pay that low to begin with?
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    Senior Member underground quester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    Quote Originally Posted by sprayandpray View Post
    Usually the answer is pretty simple - match the pay or lose the people. It's amazing how a little competition can suddenly make Locators more valuable. It does make you ask the question - Why was the pay that low to begin with?

    You really have hit the 64,000 question Spray AND AUL.

    In my humble opinion too many managers/ceo/owners look directly at their profit and loss statements and micro manage their cost centers (each expense within a company has a specified "cost center" that a given cost is attributed to; payroll, deductions, benefits, supplies, trucks, truck repairs, truck gas, etc.).

    In my experience they often look at the "luxuries" like promotional items (hats, caps, pens,etc.) extensive indepth training, wages, numbers of employees and key in on those cost centers first. Sometimes because they are the easy thing to do, sometimes because they are the largest expense and believe it must be controlled, etc.

    I have worked for a few firms that instead looked for cost savings in the way things get done, TRUE root cause analysis and establishing working teams to bring meaningful solutions to ownership. In the end, one company I worked for used to AND STILL DOES ANNUALLY pay year end bonuses starting at $10,000.00 per person.

    Now there is an incentive to come together as a team and genuinely have your say in where costs can be improved and along the way usually make your life a little less stressful.
    Turnover as you might imagine was VERY, VERY low by industry standards.

    This firm had one guy on call.
    He would answer his phone any time of the day or night, go back to the shop, pick up a load and drive anywhere in Alberta usually arriving in early morning. The customers were really impressed. Now let me also state that our pricing for the same product as our competitiors was almost 2/3rds as high again. We would lose customers only to gain them back through dogged determination of the staff who felt a REAL and signifigant part of the company.

    The company also had "profit centers" that were the envy of the industry.
    Wages? about the same as everyone else, maybe a little higher than average.

    Anyway, I will not belabour the situation. It CAN be DIFFERENT if OWNERSHIP decides it wants things to be different. BUT, that means they have to do something different...which usually scares the shit out of them.... most see it as letting the monkeys run the zoo....which of course is soooo far from the truth its just STUPID.

    Cause If you always do what you have always done...
    You will always get what you have always gotten.


    I guess what I find soooooo hard to understand is why is it soooo hard for most managers to figure out something that simple?????

    BUT, that again is another $64,000.00 question isn't it!!
    Last edited by underground quester; February 13th, 2009 at 01:24 PM.
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  7. #7
    Member Utilitrack's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    Any NULCA member companies are not supposed to solicit employees when taking over a contract. They are supposed to work out a transition with the outgoing company. With that said, we have experienced the cherry-picking from NULCA members.

  8. #8
    Senior Member big boots mcghee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    Good points thusfar, but I don't fault the locate company for picking up a few players from the other team. It's been my experience in the industry that contract locate companies don't offer a whole lot of loyalty to their employees. They've shown that their locators are just as expendable from the noob up to the veteran technician and from the damage prone to the damage free. Regardless of job security, nobody is untouchable, and for that I don't fault the locator either for trying to make his way in this world. If the grass looks greener on the other side.....

    Plus, the last time a major competitor came through a couple years back, it wasn't just the locators trading teams. Sups, DM's, and higher at least checked things out to see if it was beneficial to trade teams. Just accept that it is what it is and do what you gotta do to retain a quality team that'll get it done for your company.
    My boots may be red but I'm no clown.

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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    Any where you go in the U.S. when a new company comes in and gets a contract they actually plan for "x" number of locators from the other companies in the area to come over. It's an easy and cheap way to hire and to get bodies in the field locating on their new contract. When I managed, I went above and beyond to get my guys paid what they were worth and to get them the new equipment to try to show them they were appreciated for the job they were doing and when a new company came in and they jumped ship, that was it. I would never hire them back. No loyalty, ment no second chance with me. I actually went 3 months short-handed covering locates in 3 areas myself until I hired new people. The point got across when most of them tried to come back and were told "NO". I can't fault a locator that gets offered $2 or $5 more an hour to jump ship because they are trying to look out for their themselves and their families, but I would never get into a bidding war over a new locator with less then a year on the job. It wasn't fair to my vets who had to work their way up the pay scale to just hand someone a pay raise that put them in a staus of 3-5 yrs on the job via pay. It's a cruel fact of contract locating and it will never go away.

  10. #10
    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Don't Take My Locators

    well i guess it's safe to say that if your going to steal locaters may as well take some that have at least 3-5 years locating experience......yeah????
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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