Solving the hiring problem holding back thousands of construction and home improvement companies.
As a marketing professional working with home improvement company owners, I’m familiar with how frustrating finding good employees can be. When talking to potential clients, I often hear: “We don’t need marketing. We can’t find enough good employees to do the work we already have.”
Here’s the rub: Good marketing is the first step to attracting and keeping good employees.
Great people want to work for great companies. Since marketing is the the process of communicating and establishing a company’s value (whether it be to customers or potential employees), it should be the starting point of any hiring effort. When your company’s marketing is in order, finding the right people to join your team becomes substantially easier.
“You’re making some big jumps here buddy, can you back all this up?”
Absolutely! Let’s dig into this hiring problem a bit deeper and all this will start to make more sense.
Understanding the Hiring Problem:
The difficulties construction and home improvement companies are having with finding and hiring great employees is the result of two major factors:
1. Strong pressure on young people to attend a four-year college or university.
Children are told from a young age that going to a four-year college and pursuing a white-collar career is a mark of intelligence and success. This pressure continues despite the financial difficulties and poor job prospects today’s college graduates face.
Result: The majority of reliable hard-working young people avoid trade professions and go into debt to attend a college or university. This leaves a small pool of good hiring prospects for trade companies, surrounded by a desert of unreliable low work-ethic laborers.
2. Construction and home improvement companies don’t know how to reach or communicate with today’s workforce.
How the world communicates and shares information has changed drastically in the past 10-20 years. Many construction and home improvement companies have understandably fallen behind and are now struggling to understand how search engines, websites, and social media effect the hiring process.
Result: Construction and home improvement companies further restrict their hiring options by not knowing how to reach the already limited pool of good candidates.
Unfortunately, there is no easy one-stop solution for finding dependable employees for construction, home improvement, or any other trade profession. However, there is a combination of strategies that has been shown to be effective when they are used together properly.
In an attempt to keep all this information as easy to digest as possible, I’ve broken the strategies down into a three step plan of attack.
Step One: Develop a Positive Hiring Mindset.
Having the right mindset when it comes to hiring employees is essential to hiring success.
I’ve broken down how to positively shift one’s hiring mindset into the following four ideas:
Hire for Work Ethic Before Experience.
Consider this question: Which employee would you rather have working for you?
Employee A: Energetic, hard-working, loyal, and eager to learn. Has no experience in your line of work and requires training.
Employee B: Has been working in your specialty for years and demonstrates an immense skill. Is unreliable, shows up late, works slowly, takes long lunches, leaves early, won’t listen to direction or feedback.
Listen, we get it. You want to hire the person that is the combination of all the positive aspects of both employees. But if you had to choose one, which would you pick?
When forced to make the choice, most business owners would take option A. Betting the investment in training the employee will pay off.
If work ethic is the most important factor at the extremes, it should be the most important factor regardless. Hire based on perceived work ethic first, before you start disqualifying potential hires by their lack of experience in your trade.
Valuing work ethic above experience will increase the size of your pool of potential hires while also helping you avoid “drifters” with experience but no reliability.
Get to Know Your Competition.
Hiring great people is not just about finding people. It’s about enticing them away from other opportunities to work for you instead.
That makes hiring for your construction or home improvement company extremely competitive.
Just like any other competitive endeavor, success is going to require knowing your competition.
If you’re primary hiring criteria as a home improvement company is work ethic, then your competition is any other company that wants employees with a high work ethic.
Who is currently winning the “hiring high work ethic employees” game?
Colleges and Universities.
That’s right, you’re getting beat by companies (don’t let them fool you, educational institutions are a business first and foremost) that not only don’t pay people, but in fact, charge them hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of full-time busy work. All for a vague promise of a white-collar job opportunity 2-6 years down the road.
Understanding and accepting this is a critical step to overcoming your hiring problem.
Be Ready to Invest in People.
Want to get and keep great employees? Be ready to invest in the personal development of everyone you hire.
Illogical cultural pressure and poor financial decisions aside, there are good reasons why hard working and ambitious people are drawn towards “higher education”.
College offers a challenge, the promise of growth, and a personal identity based on achievement and knowledge. Hard working, reliable, and ambitious people need these things to feel satisfied with their career path.
If a good employee doesn’t feel like they are growing, they’ll get bored, often leading to them leaving your company.
If you want to attract and retain good employees, enable them, or even demand of them, to be constantly learning.
How you go about investing in the education and personal development of your employees is totally up to you. Just know that in order to attract and retain great employees, you’ll need to show them the training and personal development opportunities they’ll get as part of your company. Then execute on those promises.
Be Willing to Pay Well (Enough).
At the end of the day, you will need to offer potential employees consistent and competitive pay.
Since you’re competing with college as a career path, your starting pay for new employees needs to be comparable to what a highly motivated individual could make over the same period of time if they took the college career route. This includes factoring in the cost of college and the multiple years without a substantial income.
By 2018 averages and assuming a 5% average raise each year for all parties, a young person that starts working at a construction or home improvement company full time at $12.25 per hour will make roughly the same amount of money as their peers that went to college over the same 10-year period.
This example does not account for differences in benefits. But it still helps to compare the financial differences.
This means that to compete for high work ethic labor, you’ll need to provide a starting wage of ~$12 per hour. This gives your employees long-term financial opportunities comparable to what they’d get by attending most four-year colleges or universities.
Step 2: Market your company as a great place to work
We’ve established that your construction or home improvement company has stiff competition for high work ethic employees. We’ve also established that high work ethic employees want meaningful employment that offers opportunities to learn and grow.
So how do you beat the competition and convince potential great employees that joining you and your team is their best career option?
You work on your marketing!
Here’s the breakdown…
Outshine Your Competition Online
We’ve already established that construction and home improvement companies are competing against colleges and universities for potential employees.
This means potential employees are going to compare your company with colleges and the job opportunities that are supposed to follow.
They are going to make their initial comparison (to decide whether applying to work for you is even worthwhile) based on:
- The impression they get of your company from your website.
- Your online customer reviews.
So how does your company stack up against local colleges? How about the companies that hire recent college grads in your area?
Pull up their websites and take a look. Now look at your website. What is the difference telling potential employees?
If you really want to attract great employees, your company must look as good or better than their college and post-collegiate options.
“But wait, we’re proud to be a small business. We don’t want to look like a big company!”
Looking “better” does not mean you have to look bigger!
Maintaining an image as a small business that cares about their customers is a huge asset for hiring. Offering a potential hire the opportunity to make a difference in a small company/community instead of getting lost at a big school or corporation, can be a very enticing prospect.
However, being a small business does not mean you can get away with any of the following:
- An unprofessional, outdated, or non-existent website.
- Negative or lack of online reviews.
- Not having a great “Employment” page on your website.
- Not showing pride in your business by investing in its online presence.
Great employees want to work for great companies. So refining your company’s image and reputation (which in today’s world means perfecting your online presence) is simply non-negotiable.
Show Off Your Work
Good employees want to be able to take pride in their work. They want to be part of doing some good in the world. Consequently, they are going to comb your company’s website and social media pages for signs that you can provide this.
What are your website and social media accounts going to tell them about the work you can offer them?
Are they going to see:
An engaging presentation of high-quality professional photography and video of your past beautiful work?
An out-dated website with cell-phone camera images and stock photos?
Which version of your site would best communicate the potential for work that someone can take pride in?
If only for hiring purposes, it is vital to invest in professional photos and videos of the work you do. Show these images and videos off on your social media, website galleries, and service pages.
Step 3: Advertise Available Positions
In this next step, we’ll focus on actively reaching potential applicants with your company’s available positions. With your online presence in order (covered in step 2) you can start grabbing the attention of applicants with confidence. Your advertising efforts will pay off if your website and social channels are already selling applicants on a future with your company.
Use Social Media
Like it or not, social media is the new town square of our society.
If your company has been active on social media over the years, then you probably have a few hundred active followers.
These followers are made up of past happy customers, friends, and family. They represent and help you maintain the network of valuable relationships surrounding your business.
A single post to your company’s social media network (if Step 1 and Step 2 are taken care of) can bring potential hires out of the woodwork.
I’ve seen 20+ job applicants come from just one social media post before. And 10 good candidates is not an unreasonable expectation if you’ve invested properly in your social presence.
Even if you’ve let your social media slide, making a rare post doesn’t hurt and might still generate some candidates.
We’ll be putting out a blog post soon about the general use of social media for home improvement companies. It will be linked here when it’s done.
Use your Website’s Employment Page
Looking for new employees without having an “Employment” website page, is like trying to generate job leads without a phone. In today’s digital world, you’re simply shooting yourself in the foot.
Publish an Employment page on your website with the following:
- Listings for available positions with a thorough description of each position’s requirements and compensation.
- General description of what it’s like to work for your company.
- Benefits of working for your company.
- Pictures of your existing team, both formal and candid. Let your team’s personality shine through!
By deploying SEO strategies on your employment page, it can begin showing up for job searches on Google. For example: “Painting jobs near me.”
Use Recruiting Sites
There are a variety of online job sites that can help you find candidates. The best we have found however, are the following:
ZipRecruiter is an online job listing site and listing distributor. In addition to putting your jobs on their website, they repost your jobs to 100+ other relevant job listing websites. This gets your job listing maximum exposure. They boast that 80 percent of companies that list with them get a qualified candidate within 24 hours.
Which is quite the claim.
The trade off for this great service is that the listings aren’t cheap. They do have a free trial for new companies though, which we would suggest taking advantage of.
Craigslist is one of the few online listing websites ZipRecruiter doesn’t repost to. But it can be worth posting your job there separately in a pinch.
Craigslist job listings have a reputation for churning up lower quality of applicants than other recruitment methods. That being said, Craigslist does reliably attract candidates.
Local Online Job Boards & Mailing Lists:
Some local business chambers and organizations will list local jobs for free. The effectiveness of these avenues is hit or miss. Use at your own discretion.
Launch an Internship Program & Attend School Job Fairs.
Hiring employees when they are young and haven’t yet decided on what direction they’d like to take their career, can enable smart companies to create a funnel of highly motivated full-time employees into their businesses.
If you can get young adults working for you part time or during their summers as a “Paid Internship”, it gives you and your team the chance to show them what working for your company is like. And furthermore, what a permanent position could offer them both financially and personally.
You can even go so far as to assign mentors for interns within your business. Older employees they can reach out to for help or advice, creating a stronger family-like bond within your team.
This approach isn’t going get full time employees right away, but its a long-term investment in your company’s future workforce.
Use Cost-Effective Traditional Advertising.
The key word here is “cost-effective”. Pretty much all forms of advertising work to some extent, the question is: “is it worth the cost?” Here are a few old-school job advertising methods that are still worth the time and effort:
Yard Signs at Job Sites
In addition to your regular job signs, also put out a “now hiring” sign. This is a super low-cost way to advertise you’re hiring. It’s not necessarily going generate a ton of applicants, but it’s so easy and cheap it makes sense regardless.
Like the yard signs, vehicle magnets are super cheap and a good practice when looking for new hires.
Another cheap way to get the word out about your company. Print off several hundred and drop off stacks at local gyms, churches, and community centers.
These classic methods are still worth implementing because they are super inexpensive. If they generate one good applicant, they pay for themselves many times over. Be wary of all other traditional advertising, ie: newspapers, radio ads, television commercials. These channels are way too expensive for the advertising exposure they provide.
Effectively attracting and hiring new employees for your construction or home improvement company comes down to three things:
- Having the right mindset about hiring.
- Communicating the value of your company through strong online marketing and branding.
- Using the right channels to advertise available positions and reach applicants.
If you’re interested in getting help with these strategies, we’d love to work with you’re company!
Every recommendation in this blog post is something we can either do for you or advise and guide you on.
Just head over to our home page, review our marketing packages, and reach out to us if you have any questions!