Of all the jobs involved with running a paintball field, staffing and dealing with employees is probably the most difficult, in my opinion. The number of staff we need at our field varies greatly. For instance, if my business partner and myself are both present at the field when open for business and we only have a small group of players (which happens often on weekdays with small private bookings), we only need one extra staff member. On the other hand if we have several games going on simultaneously with 150 or more players present at the field, we might need 12 or even more staff.
Therefore we need a sizable list of part time, on call employees to draw from. We can’t promise these employees a lot of work, because there often is not a lot of work available for them. Yet on occasion we do need them, desperately. Luckily by offering discounts to employees, we have quite a few regular players that are willing to put in a shift now and then.
Like any business, we see a wide range of employees. Some are great, others, not so much. Those that don’t do so well, get called back very infrequently, or not at all. Those that do really well, get called often. It’s only natural.
One of our competitors advertises that they use only adult refs. It’s an obvious dig at us, as we have both adult and teenage staff members. And I’ve seen many a forum discussion over the years about how “kids” shouldn’t be allowed to ref. Kids can’t handle altercations that take place at paintball fields and can’t stand up for themselves, is the main argument. It’s a fair statement, IF those things are commonplace at those fields. But they aren’t at our field. The intensity level is low enough that altercations are rare. We also have adult or senior refs on duty every day that could step in if necessary.
Could we have only adult staff? Yeah probably, but the overall quality of the staff would slip seriously. Why? To get 12 or more refs for busy days, we need an extensive call list. We usually have about 40 or so names on the list to draw from, but sometimes, that’s not enough, especially in the summertime, which also happens to be our busiest time. Most competent, responsible adults have other full time employment as well as having other adult responsibilities. Imagine trying to have 40 or more responsible adults on call to put in a shift at a paintball field every once in a while. It would be nearly impossible. Sure, you could probably find 40 irresponsible adults that might be willing to show up now and then, but who wants them?
On the other hand, the younger teenage staff we have to draw from is quite extensive. They are also eager, at least many of them. For many it’s their first job and coupled with discounts on playing the game they love, they usually try quite hard. They are often in better physical shape, meaning they can run to paintchecks much quicker.
Some of our younger refs over the years have stayed with us to become adult refs, but most move on to bigger and better things, which is what I expect them to do. If they are good, eager teenage employees, then chances are they are going to become responsible energetic adults. They aren’t going to stick around working at a paintball field when there is so much more out there waiting for them.
Therefore, when a paintball field advertises that they have only adult employees, then my radar goes on alert and I wonder how good the overall staffing is. Unless the field has very little business and needs very few refs, my intuition tells me that some of those “adult” refs may not necessarily be stellar employees. By not discriminating by age, we have the ability to attract and keep more good staff. That’s the way I see it anyway.