Sat, March 28

Letter: Shortage of workforce housing a business model error


Workforce housing is not the government’s problem. It is a business model error.

As a former business owner, I knew that customer service was my number one concern and it would be fatal mistake if I didn’t have the staff to take care of my customers.

Even before every expansion, I needed to make sure I had the staff in place first.

Some of the workforce issues that have to be faced when making or adjusting a business model are:

• Is a current workforce available?

• Is there enough money available to hire and retain employees?

• What is competition like for the current workforce?

• Is this plan to overreaching for the resources available?

• Can I adjust my Business Model and still make a living or should I just scrap the idea?

Two of the errors that are commonly made:

• Assuming that if I build it, they (workers) will come. Consider the cost of living vs what is available for payroll.

• Assuming that someone else will fix my workforce problem. Yes, someone might say they are going to put in “affordable housing.' Remember that this builder/developer will also be trying to make a profit.

Consider the full cost of living for the area including any transportation cost and public transportation availability. Government (city/county) may want to help but they are elected to serve their citizens, not your business.

Solutions to your workforce dilemma may seem costly. You just have to think of it as an investment in the businesses long term survivability.

You may have to sacrifice some profit to stay in business by increasing pay to a livable wage, profit sharing, free or low cost health care, tuition reimbursement or even provide your own low cost housing.

The last two greatly improve employee retention.

We had a solution to workforce housing in the past. Ranchers provided housing for their workers onsite. Looking at the Sedona Chamber of Commerce hotel numbers, they never showed full occupancy last year.

That means empty rooms that could be turned into housing for employees and their families, some of which could work at smaller businesses.

That would solve a lot of problems, less traffic, better employee retention and affordable housing.

Thomas Bonk


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