When Good Men Are Hard to Find – and Harder to Hire

Expanding your crew can be more difficult that simply setting up an interview.

We install our own work—we don’t use subcontractors. We’d like to hire subcontractors, but here’s the problem: there are less and less of them and the good ones want a lot of money. Plus, we want someone showing up in our vehicles, wearing our shirts, and installing a roof or siding the way that we want it installed. Our company is committed to best practices.

It’s August, and we’re starting to push jobs out to October and November. As a result, we want to expand our crews with good people. People who want to know what they can do next, rather than when the next break is.

Where do you find them?

False Leads

Recently, we found two guys in their late teens, early 20s through a connection. During the interview, the foreman explained the ins-and-outs of the job. It’s tough work, he explained, but they’d be paid at least $15 an hour. They’d be working with the crew, but not on a roof for a while. In the meantime, the team would show them how to use a brake, how to bend metal.

The new hires showed up on their first day completely hung over. We’ve all been hung over and out in the hot sun trying to work. It’s just drudgery and you’re really not up for learning anything. The pair explained that they’d been out partying the night before—they were immediately sent home.

One called back at the end of the day and apologized. He said that he’d appreciate another chance, so we told him to report for work the following morning. He never showed up.

Jobsite Recruitment

Two weeks ago, we saw a crew working on a roof. We walked right up and asked if they had steady work. The head guy was open to the idea of working for us. We asked if we could look at their work. We wanted to get up on the roof and watch how they installed.

Much is revealed on a jobsite. The crew was using all of the right ingredients for an excellent roof: Deck Armor, ice and water-shield. We observed for a while. We told them that we’d be in touch, but it really wasn’t the crew that we were looking for. They were nailing high and otherwise not installing to our satisfaction.

What’s a Great Crew?

When you see a crew that knows what it’s doing, it’s like watching a professional baseball team. They know how to turn a double play, they embrace the fundamentals, and they operate like an agreeable machine. They know how to exert the least amount of movement to get the maximum amount of work done and done properly.

What makes a great crew? Two things: leadership and skills. But both of these traits are in increasingly short supply. If a new shingle roof is supposed to last for 20 years, how come we’re replacing them in 12? Or, in some cases, seven? What you need are all the right pieces: drip edge, starter course, ice-and-water, and proper ventilation.

Very few competitors do an attic inspection. We’re doing a job right now for a young couple that just bought their first house. The roof was installed less than five years ago. We pulled the roof up to discover that there’s no drip edge, but there is ice-and-water shield. Unfortunately, whoever installed the shield never peeled the plastic back to open the adhesive. They just nailed it, plastic and all, to the roof.

So far this year, we’re at 150% of the goal set for sales growth. So the question is, how do we maintain the quality that has gotten us all of these jobs? Top GuildQuality ratings, referrals, high marks on Angie’s List? Because you can’t sell what you can’t deliver.

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