Let's get right to it.
1. Raise your prices. There’s been a lot of inflation. Make sure your pricing reflects the changes in your costs. Otherwise, you are subsidizing your customers. Do they need your subsidy?
2. Pay more. Your plumbers are feeling the pinch, just like your customers. Pay them more. Just make sure you build it into your pricing. Remember, if you are not paying your plumbers the most in your market, it’s not their fault.
3. Hire to your values. One of the main reasons new hires fail is value conflict with management. Unless your values are aligned, the fit will be a struggle. Identify your values. Identify the behaviors that are consistent with those values. Talk with prospective hires about past behaviors or ask how they might handle a particular situation. Not only will this improve retention, but you will build a company culture that fits you.
4. Build a recruiting brochure. A recruiting brochure sells your company, benefits, holidays, training, and so on. Its purpose is to sell the spouse as much as the plumber. Without a recruiting brochure, you aren’t serious about recruiting.
5. Create an employee lounge. Put some comfortable chairs, a TV, video games, and free snacks and soft drinks. The cost is minor, it gives you an edge when recruiting.
6. Offer better benefits. As a rule, plumbers offer lousy benefits. Offer better health care and pay 100%. The difference between paying 80% and 100% is minor while the impact of “100% company paid” insurance is huge.
7. Subsidize vacations. Vacation bundlers, like Destination Motivation, offer vacation vouchers for hotel/resort stays or short cruises. These are sharply discounted. Consider offering them to employees who have been with you for at least a year. This boosts your employee retention and is great recruiting incentive.
8. Feed plumbers breakfast. If you dispatch the first call from the shop, consider feeding your plumbers breakfast. This can be simple food like breakfast tacos or breakfast sandwiches. These are low cost, will differentiate you from other employers, and will result in higher sales, better performance, and greater customer satisfaction from plumbers who have something more than coffee on their stomachs.
9. Pay for haircuts. In the Service Nation Alliance bi-annual survey of contractor customers, the most frequently mentioned complaint about field service people is poor grooming. If you pay your plumbers to wash their trucks, pay for their haircuts. Hire a retired barber to come in once a week to cut hair or work out a discount with a local barber and have him bill you for haircuts and trims. This not only improves your company image in the public, it becomes another employee benefit.
10. Offer regular training. Training is like bathing. It wears off so you should repeat it regularly. Good training is also a recruiting tool. People want to grow and improve. Show them how they can in your company.
11. Train on technical skills, soft skills, and life skills. The trade is pretty good on technical training. It is getting better on soft skills, such as being better communicators, asking questions, and so on. It is only beginning to recognize the importance of life skills. Sadly, too many young people today are not taught personal financial management, so they are always broke. They are not taught how to be good spouses and parents, so their home life ends up in chaos. Include life skills as part of your regular training.
12. Create career paths. Everyone wants to know if there is a way to advance. Create a career path where your plumbers and office personnel can advance over time. When an employee reaches training and performance goals, give them an opportunity for a better title and pay. If you do not, someone else will. Formal career paths will also give you a recruiting advantage.
13. Replace old trucks. Old trucks look poor and breakdown. Breakdowns cost more than repairs. While the truck is out of commission, it is not producing. Management is distracted. These are hidden costs that add up. Replace on old trucks on schedule.
14. Wrap your trucks. Wrap them in any color but white. Women think white trucks are abduction vans. You’re scaring your customers when you drive white trucks. Your plumbers are like your customers when it comes to your trucks. They want to drive nice, neat, spiffy looking trucks. A good wrap gets attention of customers and prospective hires.
15. Recruit minorities. Plumbers as a rule, do a poor job recruiting minorities. Find good, young candidates by visiting with the preachers of African American churches and Catholic churches serving the Hispanic communities.
16. Fire prima donnas. Prima donnas tend to be top producers who think their performance makes them untouchable. Fire them if they act up. They hurt company morale, causing others to perform worse. They cost management time. They generate drama.
17. Hire apprentices. Find people with the right attitude and aptitude and teach them the rest. Make them apprentices, working with your most seasoned plumbers. This makes work easier for older, knowledgeable plumbers, extending their work careers, and gives you a supply of up and coming talent with no bad habits. It’s a long term strategy for growth, but a proven one.
18. Incent employees. Pay your employees a bonus when they recruit a friend and give them a residual for 12 to 24 months (or longer) afterwards. This not only encourages your team to help recruit talent, but encourages them to help with talent retention.
19. Geofence suppliers. It is possible to geofence around a supply house and then, bombard the social media and Internet advertising feeds of everyone who enters the geofence with recruiting ads for your business.
20. Tap into your customer base. Your customers might know someone who could be a candidate for your company. This could be a friend, friend’s child, or a relative in the trade who works in another town who your customer wants to move closer. When you list the requirements to be a member of your team and send it to your customers, you are also communicating that you have great standards, good training, and so on.
21. Recruit from other towns. If your area has a cost of living, tax, or other advantage over another part of the country, consider running digital ads targeted to plumbers from the higher cost of living area and promote the better quality of life available. Instead of a hiring or sign-on bonus, offer to help with relocation expenses.
22. Be flexible. Recognize that your employees have lives outside of work and make adjustments for that. Adjust work hours to accommodate the family needs of employees. Let plumbers be off-call for things like school plays, spousal doctor appointments, and other personal needs. A little flexibility on your part will position you as a family-friendly employer and allow you to attract better talent who need a little accommodation.
23. Cater to spouses. If a plumber’s wife is supportive of the company and wants him to remain, it becomes harder for him to consider looking around at other opportunities. Do things to recognize spouses and the sacrifices they make. Send a gift card to a spa periodically, flowers on an anniversary, and so on. There is power in appreciation.
24. Celebrate. When the company achieves a milestone, celebrate it. Do something fun company wide. Buy everyone swag. Celebrations are fun. They are contagious. They make work a little more fun.
For more recruiting ideas and downloadable materials you can use to help your recruiting, check out the Service Roundtable at www.ServiceRoundtable.com.