Completing The Hiring Continuum

Business owners know that one of the most important factors in the success or failure of a company is making good hires. The ability to grow a company over the long-term and successfully navigate growth is based largely on the ability of the owner to manage the critical resources of time, people and money. So good hiring is a big deal.

One key to getting very good at the hiring process is to understand what I call the “hiring continuum.” In other words, when it is done well, when does the process start and when does it end? The actual recruiting, interviewing, selection and offer are the most visible steps in the hiring process. And yet, there are essential steps before and after these that determine the success of the effort.

The Before

Prior to the recruiting and selection phase, there should be a “needs assessment and planning” phase. All too often, recruiting begins when there is an unexpected vacancy or because workload outpaces the existing team. While those scenarios are understandable, we know that successful companies are continuously assessing their hiring needs well in advance.

  • What positions will we need to fill in the next several years as we grow?
  • What should the next hire be in that sequence?
  • What positions create an issue if someone moves on or retires?
  • What positions are critical to the growth and success of the company?

These are some of the questions that can help a company assess their hiring needs in advance, develop a plan for hiring, create profiles for each position, and practice continuous recruiting.

With this type of planning in place, companies can move quickly and effectively when an opening occurs, workload demands more staff, or it becomes clear that a change is needed.

The After

Once the interviewing, selection, offer and acceptance phases have been completed, there should be a well-executed onboarding phase that immediately follows. A strong onboarding process is one that clearly communicates company values, job responsibilities and expectations.

The first 60 – 90 days is critical in making sure your new hire becomes part of the team, understands what they need to be successful and gains confidence in the new company that they have just joined.

You and your team must also use this time to fully assess if the new hire is a good fit, if they possess the skills needed and if the pace of work and learning meets the needs of the company. You should determine in advance what a new hire should know and what they should be able to do at certain milestones (30, 60, 90 days) into their onboarding process.

There are many tools and techniques focused on recruiting, interviewing and hiring. By adding a planning phase before you begin and an onboarding phase when you have finished, your chances of a successful outcome are greatly enhanced.

Do You Need More Help in Building Your Hiring Process?

Join us on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 for a FREE Webinar focused on insight and strategies on hiring more efficiently and effectively.

Building Your “A Team” will be led by Doug Howard and will provide ideas, steps and tools to help create processes for recruiting, hiring and onboarding to meet your remodeling company’s needs. Click here for more information & registration

[Video] How To Build An Org Chart For Today And Tomorrow

With so many businesses in transition, now is a great time to be looking at your company’s organizational structure. If you have had to hire, fire, or move team members from one department to another, an “org chart” can ensure you have every base covered.

Here is a video from our PowerTips TV channel that covers creating an organizational chart and using it effectively and a sample (PDF) to get you started.

Many of our Remodelers Advantage members have built their companies up over a period of time, often starting with 1-2 employees and adding team members as the company grows from year to year.

Production, Sales, Estimating, Support… The next thing you know you have 10, 15, 20 employees or maybe more. In this episode of PowerTips TV we talk about organizing your team and creating an org chart, not only for today but for the future as well.

What about your team? Do you have a way of organizing your team that works?

If you haven’t subscribed to PowerTipsTV yet, please do so by visiting our YouTube Channel.. and hey, check out a few more episodes while you’re at it.


Coronavirus Planning and Your Remodeling Business

As novel coronavirus Covid-19 cases continue to multiply throughout North America, it’s time to plan for how it may affect your business, your employees, and your clients. The situation is changing quickly, so stay informed through reputable news and public health sources.

Covid-19 causes a variety of symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, and fever. More severe cases can lead to viral pneumonia. There is no vaccine and no antiviral medications have been developed for it. Luckily, the majority of those infected will not have life-threatening complications. But the virus is highly contagious and spreads quickly and easily.

From the Top

The Centers for Disease Control has issued interim guidance for businesses and employers. The CDC recommends actively encouraging sick employees to stay home. This may mean implementing flexible sick-leave policies, and plans for potential absenteeism, including:

  • Creating flexible sick-leave policies that do not penalize employees for staying home when sick
  • Not requiring a healthcare provider’s note for sick employees — doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals may be too busy for that
  • Allow your employees to stay home to care for sick family members
  • Give your office staff the flexibility to work from home
  • If an employee becomes ill at work, they should be separated and sent home

According to the CDC, it is possible for a person to be infected by touching a surface with the virus on it, and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. Within your office and facilities, emphasize hand-washing and good hygiene, as well as increased attention to cleaning frequently touched surfaces including doorknobs, phones, keyboards, countertops, workstations, and the restrooms. Provide disposable wipes and hand sanitizer, if available.

At the Job Site

Equip your field crew with cleaning supplies, disposable wipes, and hand sanitizer for use in vehicles and on-site. Review good hygiene practices for your field team and have your lead carpenter or project manager enforce them for your team and all subs on site. And it’s an ugly job, but designate someone to be responsible for ensuring the surfaces on portable toilets are clean at the job site — contact with fecal matter from an infected person may transmit the virus. So provide disinfecting hand wipes.

Give your project manager or lead carpenter discretion to send sick workers and subs home. Because remodeling takes place in people’s homes, you should require your clients to let you know of any illnesses in the family. Work will have to stop if anyone in the household has to be quarantined in the home.

For the complete CDC instructions, access the document here:

Review Your Insurance Policies

Take some time to review your insurance policies — your own health insurance, that of your employees, and your business policy. In the case of Covid-19, talk to your agent about your business interruption insurance. Because you work in people’s homes, it’s not only your employees missing work that could cause delays. 

Check Your Cash Flow

Any disruption in your job schedules mean fewer payments coming in. We advise having enough liquid assets available equal to between four to six month’s worth of overhead — something to get you through in case of a dry spell or an emergency.  If you don’t have enough cash on hand to get the company through a lean period, it’s time to get your financial house in order. You may want to reinforce that safety net with a line of credit — read Victoria’s article on choosing between a line and a loan to use if necessary.

Have a Business Continuity Plan

Once the threat of illness has passed, you need to be able to operate your business and move forward quickly. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has great information for businesses you can use to create an extensive plan. Here is a PDF that will help you prepare and tailor a plan that works for you.

Don’t Panic, But Stay Aware

Panic is contagious — maybe more so than the virus. Open communication about changes in your sick leave policies, and understanding from everyone involved, will help inform and empower your team. 

Make Time for In-Office Training

Remodeling companies are missing a great opportunity for job training by limiting it to the work site. Yes, there does have to be on-site training to learn a skill, but it might take longer because everything is being taught on the job. 

Here are some ideas to make the most of training your field staff in your office.

Have a Set of Plans

Develop a set of plans that introduce the trainee to terminology and ideas you use in your business. These should be simple plans that introduce the basics. Label everything — headers, jacks, rafter cuts, rebar, footers, etc. Let your employees study and review them, and then have them fill in the blanks on another drawing with the labels left out. They’ll get familiar with terminology and locations, and they’ll need a lot less time from the trainer or a supervisor on the job site — giving everyone more time to get the work done.

Hit the Books

Build a list of books relevant to the remodeling business — and require your new employees to read them. Ask the employee to invest in buying these books — either in print or a Kindle edition for their own education. Let them have some skin in the game of growth. As with the plans, there must be some follow up in the form of testing, or at the least conversations to see that they’re learning while they read.

Don’t forget magazines, either in print or online. Buy the Journal of Light Construction. Get the free ones that are out there. Read them yourself and then make it a game to see if your team members can answer basic questions that you found that apply to your business. You could have them come to a company meeting and share what they’ve learned.

Make it a priority to do some part of your new employee training in the office — build it into the job schedule, and into their job reviews and as the basic competencies they have to master. That can include training on the devices and apps you want them to use in the field. New members of your field team will learn faster and better with a mix of in-office and job-site training.

Becoming an Employer of Choice

It’s 4:15 on Wednesday afternoon. Your production manager, who’s been with you for more than 18 years, walks into your office and gives you notice that he’s retiring at the end of the month. While it’s not a complete surprise, the timing was much sooner than you expected. However, he says concerns about his health made his decision more immediate.

So you’ve just added “hiring a production manager” to your list of tasks and responsibilities.

While you have to fit it in among your many other duties and project, it’s a critical task. Everyone agrees that hiring just the right person is critical for the company. So you plunge into the hiring process by putting together an updated job description, placing ads, spreading the word, and hoping the right person is available at the exact time you need them. It could be weeks or months before you fill that position. 

Get Better Odds

By contrast, you’d never wait until you were just about out of projects to begin marketing your company and looking for new customers. Even when your company has plenty of work, you continue your marketing efforts and strategy, getting your message out and keeping lists of potential customers for the future. 

Remodeling companies should approach recruiting the same way.

Marketing as an Employer

Business owners should brand and market their company as an “employer of choice,” always looking for talented people that could really add to the team. The company should be able to articulate why it’s an attractive place to work as a complement to its marketing outreach for new clients. 

The good news is that if you’re already marketing your company to clients through your website, social media channels, and other functions, you’re already in a strong recruiting position. People want to work for successful companies. If you’re featuring endorsements of your work for happy clients, use that model to feature happy employees through testimonials about working at your company. Shine a light on fun team outings or celebrations. Work on your company culture and your employees will be your best recruiting tool, in person and through your marketing.

Fill the Funnel

It’s a much better scenario to have a file of people that would love to come to work for the company, with the ability to reach out to one of them as soon as you know the production manager position is opening up. 

Companies should continually work to market themselves as an employer of choice. You should have your own unique selling proposition for recruiting, detailing why a person would want to work with you, and about your company’s culture. The importance of making key hires when needed can make all the difference in the life of an organization. This is a key strategy for growing a successful company.

“Goals to Actions, Actions to Results”Charting Your Course for 2020
with Doug Howard

Join us on Monday, January 27th as Doug walks you through 6 easy-to-implement strategies, focused on moving your company from a 5-year plan to annual goals, to projects and most importantly, to measurable results for the coming year. Click Here for More Information + Registration >>

3 Things That Will Make Employees Quit

When it comes to beating the labor shortage, retaining good people is more important than ever. There are plenty of job openings and other great companies to work for. We talk a lot about wages, benefits, and company culture as reasons people stay or go. Especially in a small business, sometimes it comes down to whether the company owner is doing the right things.

A big part of knowing what to do comes from understanding what not to do. Which is why a post from The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) grabbed attention. It calls out the 8 Things Managers Do That Make Employees Quit

Since SHRM’s members work at larger corporations with many layers of senior and junior management, not all the advice is helpful for a smaller business, but here are three that apply no matter the size of your company.

Setting Inconsistent Goals or Expectations

This is often a question of time. Remodelers work in a deadline-driven environment. But if everything is rushed and urgent, your team is stressed and under pressure — which leads to key components getting lost in the mix, costing even more time. To solve these problems, you have to work with your team  to prioritize the tasks at hand. You need to sit down and see what goals may overlap or be in conflict with each other and create systems that help take the pressure off.

Putting People in the Wrong Jobs

This happens when job descriptions are loose or you’re making do with a small team and tasks get added that are outside of a person’s skillset. It’s easy to do when things are busy. But if a previously top performer is suddenly not doing so well, it’s time to take a breath and see what’s changed. Look at what role originally asked for, and what it’s become. There may be a way to reorganize tasks and responsibilities to align more closely to your employee’s skills and interests. If not, it may be time to find someone else who can fill the new role.

Creating an Unsafe Space

You’ve heard so much about creating an inclusive and respectful company culture, where people feel safe enough in their jobs to ask questions or find a better way to work. If your team meetings are quiet and always agreeable, it may mean your people are too scared to speak up. A little friction is actually good, it means people are thinking about the way they do their jobs, and feel as if they have a stake in the company. You can foster this by owning your weaknesses and holding yourself accountable in the same way your team is. Ask questions, and listen to the answers. 

Taking a hard look at what you bring to the table is key to being the kind of leader people want to work for. As a business owner, you set the tone. Being transparent in your expectations will go a long way toward making your company successful, by keeping your employees happy and effective.

[Video] All Together Now: Getting Your Team to Buy In

Growing your remodeling company often means you have to change your processes and systems to keep operating efficiently. And as hard as that can be, sometimes it’s the easy part. The challenge comes with getting your team on board with you.

It’s common for some employees to ignore the new systems and keep doing what they’ve always done. They may fear or fight the new methods because they don’t understand the reasoning behind it.

In today’s PowerTips, we take a look back at a PowerTips TV episode that shows you how to get buy-in from your team.

Victoria details how to get your employees on board with the new processes that will help you grow, by making them understand what it means to them — and your clients, including:

  • Getting discussions flowing
  • Setting goals
  • Making commitments, and keeping them

Change can be hard. But if you ask the right questions, have good answers, and put a premium on open communication, you can get your team working with you, not against you.

Building Your Remodeling Team Is Like Fishing

I love to catch fish. I didn’t say I love to fish. There’s a difference. I love to put fish in the cooler so I can use them for food or bait. True fisherman love the activity of fishing. If they catch some fish, that’s good, but a day fishing with no catch is still a good day. That’s not me.

To get the results I want — more fish in the cooler — I have to better prepare. But I’m terrible at prep for fishing so I don’t get the results I want. My fishing buddy, Brian, actually looks up information on line and reads it. He subscribes to an email chain where people share where they are catching fish and how. He prepares. So guess what? When he’s on board, I catch more fish. 

How does this apply to your remodeling business? You have to be honest with yourself, and build your team to fill in where you’re weak.

What Do You Really Want?

Identify what you want to do. Be completely honest. Do you really want to make money over and above your salary? Or is providing a good income for yourself enough? Do you want to be a full-blown company, or is designing and building one project at a time enough? If you want the business, the net profit, and the multiple jobs that running a company requires, what weaknesses are getting in the way? 

A contractor told me one time that he could sell anything. When you looked at his net profit you could see why. His prices weren’t high enough to sustain his business. Other remodelers have hiring problems — they keep bringing peopleon, but they quickly quit. Instead of admitting that maybe they could us some help hiring, they just say, “no one wants to work.” Just admit your weaknesses! 

Build a Team to Get You There

When it comes to fishing, I don’t like to do the prep. So, I take Brian along to help. If deep down inside you can admit a weakness, build a team that fills in the spaces. If you’re not selling jobs at high enough prices, get someone that can estimate the job properly and mark it up. Then you sell it for that. Don’t say “we can’t sell it for that” and drop the price.

If you can’t keep employees, get someone who can manage people well and let them do that. Imagine me having Brian on the boat and he says “let’s go over to 100 feet of water because that’s where people are catching the fluke,” and I say, “you know, Brian, I’ve been fishing for fluke all my life and I think we’ll stay right here.” No, I start the motor and get to 100 feet of water, and I get happy because I catch fish! Not listening to Brian would be like a remodeler that has really good people on staff, but tells them it’s good enough the way it is. Build a great team and let them work their strengths.

Learn from those doing. If I want to catch fluke I have to learn from those actually catching fluke. If I want to catch black bass – the same thing. My team, Brian, helps me with my weakness through what he learns and it leads to my success. When we come in we can say “look what we caught!”

Many people working for remodelers are highly motivated to see the company succeed — it actually identified as the second-highest motivator in employees. They read books, go to training, and participate in conferences, all so they learn what really works. Let them have an impact on your business. But remember you’ll learn best from people that have met your goals, not just those known for running or working in a great company. Just because someone has a reputation for being a great company doesn’t mean they’re accomplishing anything you want to learn. It‘s like a boat named Fish Slayer that never leaves the dock!

Team Building Will Be a Major Topic…

At this year’s Production Conference in Orlando! Building an effective and productive team will be a theme running throughout many of the presentations provided by some of the industry’s finest production “gurus.”

As you can see in the post above, team building is such a critical piece in the process of improving your remodeling business. Don’t miss this opportunity to attend… or send your Production Managers, Project Managers and Lead Carpenters! Register Today!

Provide Education and Development to Attract and Keep Employees

The labor shortage in remodeling is a fact of life, and you’ve got to do more than just hand out a paycheck to keep your employees happy and engaged. One of the best ways to do that, according to a recent survey by the Harris Poll, is to create opportunities for your team members to learn and develop their skills.

A whopping 70 percent of employees surveyed say they’re at least somewhat likely to leave their present job to work for another company known for investing in workers’ education and development, according to the survey.

Three out of four respondents say they feel they’re on their own with their development. 

Put those two findings together, and it’s clear that keeping good employees depends on supporting their training and development, and providing a way to help them learn and add skills and knowledge.

Training on the Job

While some training can be done on-the-job and on the fly, having a more structured and repeatable process makes it easy for your team to understand and use it — and it can help you in finding the kind of workers you need.

At Harth Builders in Spring House, PA, a longtime Roundtables member, it’s called the ladder of opportunity, a step-by-step systematic approach to training and keeping good people. It’s a roadmap they’ve developed to show the potential growth to their field workers, and acts as a valuable recruiting tool. You can hear more about it on Episode 28 of The Tim Faller Show

You can also talk to your suppliers, manufacturer reps, and trade partners to set up short, specific, training opportunities for your production team.

Other Learning Opportunities

While taking someone off of a job site or out of the office during the kind of business surge remodelers are experiencing seems like it would put you behind, making that kind of investment in your people will pay dividends later. You’re more likely to keep that employee, and they’ll learn skills that will make jobs go faster, cut down on mistakes and wasted time, and ultimately make you more profitable.

Obviously, we here at Remodelers Advantage strongly believe in education and skills building in every facet of the remodeling industry. We’re not alone though — our friends at NARI have a variety of continuing education courses and certifications that will sharpen the skills of your field staff, as well as regional events.

Trade shows are filled with educational opportunities, and you don’t have to be out an arm and a leg on air fares and hotel costs — look for those regional events that may be a day trip. Even if there’s no conference program — or you’re not sure you want to pay extra — just being on the show floor and watching live demonstrations can teach new skills and techniques. It’s also a lower-cost way to dip your toe in and see what you and your team can learn.

Learn How to Grow Your Business & Build Your Team…

The theme at this Year’s Remodelers Summit is “The Art of Growth” and you will see by the featured speakers, detailed agenda and successful firms that have chosen to attend, that there is no better event to help you grow your business and build your team. This event is filling fast but there is still time to REGISTER and save $150.00 off the on-site registration. See you there!

Help for Beating the Labor Shortage

There’s a federal program that can help you get workers from outside the remodeling industry trained and paid while learning the skills you need them to have.

The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act took effect in 2014, and is designed to help unemployed people get jobs, training, education, and support to get a foothold in a new career path.Implementation of the grants is handled by individual state offices.

The On-the-Job Training Program

WIOA funds are allocated through your individual state and local resources. The On-the Job Training Program is part of WIOA, and is designed to help employers hire and train skilled workers while getting reimbursed. Through the OTJ program, you can get help::

  • Finding Workers 
  • Training them
  • Paying for training 

You can get reimbursed up to 50% of the costs to provide on-the-job training for individuals hired if you meet the program’s criteria. The new hire has to be unemployed at the time of the hire.

Find Your State

If this sounds like a resource you’d like to use to find, hire, and train workers for your office or in the field, the Career OneStop page explaining the OTJ program is the place to start — and then search for your state offices for more guidance.

If you’ve never heard of WIOA or the OTJ, you’re not alone. It was brought to our attention by one of our members on our Roundtables Facebook group. He recently used WIOAt to help offset payroll costs for a new hire from outside the industry. The new hire was the one who told him about it, and he wanted other members to know. It’s one of the many benefits of Roundtables — the ongoing collaboration and information-sharing that takes place in person and online.