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Dan Martin

Shop helper

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Ok, so my shop has been going through shop helpers like underwear. They're not apprentices, we pay them. BUT they're either incompetent ( from absolutely no social skills, to poor hygiene, to possible thievery!) or bail unannounced. My question is how can I attract a reliable, hard working person to this slightly mundane position? Craigslist has been questionable, but I'm also a little leery of posting something on our website. Customers becoming employees just seems a little strange to me. And please don't reply "I do it myself... Or you should do it yourself." that's really doesn't help me.

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Lot of factors here. Are you paying them minimum wage? How many hours? Are you making it worth their while to stick around for several years?

What do you want out of them?

If you need someone to just answer phones, sign clients up, and use the register, then look outside of the tattooed-people crowd. Someone who has already had experience in basic customer service.

I've seen some very good floorwalkers that are not heavily tattooed. I've worked with a few myself. You could simply put out an ad with a somewhat vague description of type of business, and see who comes in. You never know, you might get a better employee than you might've thought..

If you need someone who knows how to price stuff or more in-depth info to give to clients, then you need the type of people that you have already described that you are unhappy with.

Maybe you're just having a bad luck lately with dependable people.

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do some research on how to interview for the personality type and skill set you are looking for, if this is a constant problem then it may not be the job so much as how you are screening the people that you end up choosing. don't hire someone quickly because you need the position filled quickly but sort out a way to get by without someone until you can find someone that will really be a good candidate for the position. then put them on a 2 week probation period and do a review at the end of 2 weeks to see if you are both still satisfied with the situation. you could make it 30 days and offer slightly less for them to start and then if all parties are satisfied at the end of 30 days, then give them a raise and do a review after a year, etc. if they are an employee, you have to manage them and treat them as such.

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I would say if you keep going though shop assistants this fast and many, I would possibly look to see if you are doing something to cause this. Maybe you are not paying enough, or hired people that just are not up to snuff on what you want them to do.

Just my $0.02

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Having worked this job myself I can tell you what my experience was.

a) How are you determining their pay? Do you pay in tips or are they guaranteed a certain salary per week? When I worked in shops it was for tips, the guy I worked for was nice enough to realize that he had to tip me pretty well to make it worth my while (he had a very small shop with only 2 tattooers) In a shop with few tattooer who can't afford to tip highly it can turn into working for way less than minimum wage, especially on a slow day. If your shop has more than three tattooers you should be able to split between you all tip a decent amount. If you are paying by the hour, you need to pay higher than minimum wage. When you pay someone minimum wage you are basically saying to the employee you must do the minimum amount of work to get by and your time is not very valuable to us which makes them not want to try hard. You really need to think about how much that person is worth to you. What is it worth to you not to have to scrub tubes and deal with customers? If you run a busy shop it shouldn't be a problem to pay someone well. If you are paying in tips you also need to make it clear to your tattooers that it is everyone's responsibility to pay the help, if one person decides they don't want to pay for that help it takes money out of everyone else's pocket and causes a very bad dynamic in the shop. I wouldn't want to scrub your tubes if I know at the end of the day you're not going to bother to thank me for the 5 customers I sent your way.

b) Who are you hiring? The people I worked for were close friends. This made it difficult for them to say something to me when I made a mistake or did a bad job. This also made it easy for me to slack off when the shop was slow. Hiring someone who is knowledgeable about tattooing can be a plus when answering customers questions. Not everyone who is knowledgeable about tattooing wants to do tattoos for a living, and if the person is, just make it very clear that you are not looking for an apprentice and that you will not teach them and that while at work they are not being paid to watch people tattoo. You can also do what the other have suggested and try to find someone who has experience in retail or secretarial duties. Someone who's worked say in a hair salon at the front desk may have what you are looking for.

c) Is there room for promotions? A few people I know who've held this job ended up quitting because most tattoo shops offer no room for promotion. Would you want to hold a job for more than 6 months or a year if you knew there was no chance of ever making more money or moving up in the company? I wouldn't. When someone is doing a good job you need to reward them for that, be it an annual raise, really good Christmas bonuses, or some other way of showing your appreciation in a manner that actually helps the person move forward. Maybe someone starts off as a shop helped and later turns into a shop manager? Or maybe they over time gain more duties like ordering your supplies or becoming a key holder who opened and closes the shop for you.

d) Are you treating them like a shop bitch? People who do this job are there to help make your day go easier. They are not there to bend over backwards at every tiny request you have. When you treat someone like dirt it doesn't make them want to work for you, even if you are paying them well. I had a tattooer once spill his india ink in his pencil case the night before at home, instead of cleaning it up right then, he saved it brought it to the shop and asked me to clean every single pencil and pen and all his erasers, etc. This was a tattooer who usually didn't even bother to tip me. I cleaned his pencil case and never did anything for him again. This person is your shop employee, they are doing the things you don't have time and don't want to do, you should be thanking them for doing this instead of laughing at them and giving them shitty jobs on purpose. Feel free to mess with your apprentices in that way, not a paid employee who you claim to respect.

So basically, hire someone who is smart and willing to work, pay them well and don't treat them like a slave. Do those things and you should be able to keep a good worker around for a while. In the end it's a pretty fun job with a lot of perks. I've heard of shops who had the same counter person for 10 years.

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(sorry ursula had to snip out some)

a) How are you determining their pay? .........

.......

d) Are you treating them like a shop bitch? People who do this job are there to help make your day go easier. They are not there to bend over backwards at every tiny request you have. ......

So basically, hire someone who is smart and willing to work, pay them well and don't treat them like a slave. ......

I agree with what Ursula said a lot. While I have not worked a non-office job in quite a while, I still have worked jobs in a similar role in the past.

While pay can be a big factor to some people (the only reason I switched to a stuffy desk job), most just need to feel they are being compensated justly. On that note people need to make at least enough money to stick around. I worked at an auto shop being the basic equivalent of a shop helper (estimates, phones, some basic jobs like oil changes) but they paid me jack shit and treated me like a shop bitch/slave. Let's just say I never stuck around and even while I was there I did just enough to skim by and collect my shit pay.

To Ursula, I would have left that job quickly, regardless of how much you liked the shop if I was being treated like that (cleaning up personal messes?). While, I do admit sometimes you have to do what you have to do in a job, I have quit jobs before when pushed past my threshold, even one that paid way more than I should have been getting.

Then again it could just be shit luck with a string of crappy people flowing through the shop. This happens in all industries. I once managed a group of people that had one position that seemed like a stream-o-shit just ran through the seat, until we eventually got someone that was a good fit. I like to think that everything happens for a reason.

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To Ursula, I would have left that job quickly, regardless of how much you liked the shop if I was being treated like that (cleaning up personal messes?). While, I do admit sometimes you have to do what you have to do in a job, I have quit jobs before when pushed past my threshold, even one that paid way more than I should have been getting.

.

The offending tattooer was an out of town guest who came about once a month or every couple months. If I had to deal with him on the daily I wouldn't have worked there more than a week or two I'm sure. The guy who owned the shop and hired me was really nice, didn't expect me to do unreasonable stuff and tipped me very well. The other people who worked as guest artists and the other guy that he eventually hired as a full time artist were always very good to me as well.

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The offending tattooer was an out of town guest who came about once a month or every couple months. If I had to deal with him on the daily I wouldn't have worked there more than a week or two I'm sure. The guy who owned the shop and hired me was really nice, didn't expect me to do unreasonable stuff and tipped me very well. The other people who worked as guest artists and the other guy that he eventually hired as a full time artist were always very good to me as well.

Oh then that's not that bad.

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