Here’s a bit of a secret: finding a good motorbike driver is pretty hard. The essentials: common sense, drives well, pleasant. I am looking for someone who can drive quickly but not get into accidents. In the event there’s a problem on the road, he should be able to do some easy motorbike repair. Hopefully he’s pleasant in appearance because he’s the face of your company.
He needs to be (street) smart so he can talk his way out of extortionist police officers and difficult customers. Good luck finding a college educated person to drive. No one with a degree is willing to take the risk of accident or death to drive motorbike.
Starting pay at many companies is around 250 cedis/month (!!!). I think this is incredibly short-sighted because if he crashes the bike, you’re looking at spending a multiple of that on repairs and/or medical costs. Furthermore, if you pay someone poorly, then it is likely he will get a second job to supplement his income. Don’t forget he’s a motorbike driver! A sleepy driver is a recipe for disaster.
For instance, our previous driver, Romeo, got into an accident on his third day of work because he was worried about how he was going to eat over the weekend rather than concentrating on the road. Romeo had been supplementing his income by working as a cleaner at night for 50 cedis/month.
Mutala is a pretty good driver. I don’t have many complaints about his performance. I pay substantially more because I think quality should be rewarded. I pay him 440 cedis per month. I have a friend who is an even better driver but he wants 800 cedis per month. He’s faster and more pleasant than Mutala; for the moment, I don’t need anyone that fast.
I’ve also learned that entry-level office staff is also a crap shoot. Most people display my usual complaints: can’t write, count, type, be friendly, take initiative. Granted, I’m not willing to pay “top cedi” but I don’t think the demands of the job are that difficult.
Since I’m not prepared to let the motorbike driver go, I am doing an experiment of sorts. Mutala previously remarked that he doesn’t come to work too early because most of the time he’s sitting in the sun. He told me that he got a certificate in hotel management but because of a lack of opportunities the only job he could get was driving motorbike.
During November and December, I occasionally gave him 5-10 cedis a day to practice typing at the Vodafone Internet Cafe. To my surprise, his starting point was faster than Teresa II. Even though Teresa II always used a laptop, she never practiced the online typing lessons I had her take. Mutala typed at 18-20 wpm while Teresa II was going at 12-14 wpm.
I’m having Mutala read Peter Lynch’s Learn to Earn: A Beginner’s Guide to Investing and Business, a primer on the stock market. I figure once he finishes that, I will have him read Lynch’s One Up On Wall Street. Mutala doesn’t read that fast but I think he enjoys learning new things that extend far beyond motorbike driving. In comparison, when I had Teresa II read Joel Greenblatt’s Little Book That Beats the Market, she read it incredibly slow. Three days! That book is maybe 75 pages.
My goal is to train him to help me gather data on stocks. Ok, my other goal is give him enough work to continue justify paying him 440 cedis per month. You’d think that employees would appreciate a boss trying to find a reason not to lay off his staff… (Just this weekend I got into a Whatsapp argument with my last salesday.) Let’s see how the experiment turns out.