It’s no secret to owners of HVAC/Mechanical Contracting businesses that it is difficult to find talented, self-motivated, and loyal employees. And, of course it’s no secret just how important team members are to the short AND long-term health and success of your business. While there may be a shortage of talented plumbers, electricians, service and install techs, smart operators will always recruit and retain the best talent. These same smart operators are the most likely to be profitable year after year. They’ll generally also have the most value when it is time for the owner to exit the business. 

My thoughts on getting the right people in the right seats are not ultra high tech nor are they novel. They are based on best practices that will always be relevant to recruiting and retaining the best talent.

Networking Off and Online

In today’s hyperconnected world, networking has taken on a very broad meaning. It runs the gamut from handing your card out at the local coffee shop to joining industry or alumni groups on the world’s largest professional directory, LinkedIn. I also categorize employee referral (the all time number one source of hire) and word of mouth under the category of networking. 

Think about how incredibly valuable the networking is that your existing team members do everyday, consciously or unconsciously, at supply houses, training events, and social occasions. Just how powerful is it when your existing employees tell all their friends how great it is to work at your company? I’m talking about doing such outstanding work with every customer that they will talk about you all the time. These employer advocates are extremely effective, much more so than any investment you could make in advertising to build your employer brand.

Recommendation: Follow Kelly Hoey, Author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World, she wrote the book on NETWORKING! 

I often hear that the employees you are looking for are not on social media. Don’t believe that for a minute. Whether or not they are personally active on social media, just about everyone’s family and friends are. They will be only too happy to share the great the work you are doing for your customers and how you are supporting your community. 

I’ll also include having a great website in the social media category because all this activity should connect. Afterall, your website is a glaring opportunity to be your own media platform. Take advantage of the opportunity to optimize it with interactive content, not only for customers but prospective employees. In addition to job boards, be sure to add job openings to your website too. The most effective websites provide the best user experience because they are mobile friendly. The application process must be simple and accessible on mobile devices.  

Over 90% of job seekers use their mobile devices to look for that dream job –

Recruitment and Retention

A solid recruitment plan is essential to ensure the right individuals are conducting your business and encompases:

  • Promoting your company culture
  • Crafting and posting job ads
  • Employee referral program
  • Reviewing applications and resumes
  • Conducting phone screens
  • Thorough and engaging in person interviews
  • Extending job offers
  • Conducting background checks
  • Onboarding

These steps are to be well planned and executed.

Once onboard, employee retention programs can help you protect your most valuable assets: your people. You may think you don’t have time to develop employee retention strategies. In reality, you don’t have time not to unless you are willing to risk high turnover rates that cost time and money and indicate that your organization is a stepping stone, rather than a destination. 

An area you can work on immediately is the interview process. The interview is the opportunity to obtain in-depth information about a job applicant’s skills, work history, employment background and references. Often, because of the urgency to have someone in the seat NOW, we don’t spend the time to really get to know the candidate and we sometimes do not make it clear what the position really is all about, or conduct due diligence to ensure our efforts result in the best possible new hire.  

Toolkit: Guidelines on Interview and Employment Application Questions by Society for Human Resource Management

Your reputation in the marketplace is vitally important. Build and guard that reputation by doing outstanding work every day, treating your employees with respect, providing career paths for your employees and being active in your community. NOTHING is more important than your reputation in recruiting and retaining the talent you need to succeed for the short and long term. 

Finally, don’t wait until the last minute to attempt to hire the right candidate. Work on a plan with your team that will involve these and other sound practices so you will be VISIBLE when you need someone, and that someone will be motivated to want to join your company.

Contractor Succession is a coaching and consulting company helping contractors with exit strategies, business coaching, and business process improvement. Learn more at Call us at 833.482.3948.

Photo by NICO BHLR on Unsplash