I’m guessing, like most contractors, you’ve tried to hire someone before. I’m also guessing it didn’t work out. OR that hire, who was supposed to be a second you, ended up being more of your permanent assistant than your replacement. Now, you are still just as swamped and just as busy. You are building your company where if you leave for a trip to the beach, much less retire, everything falls apart and grinds to a halt until you get back. The secret to great hiring in contracting: A hire should grow your company horizontally, not vertically (we discuss this in more detail in the video at the end of this article).
Not to sound dramatic, but hiring the right people is literally the difference between extreme success and closing down shop. When my contracting company was in growth mode early, we would give any guy with construction experience a shot. “He seems like he knows a ton and I’m so overwhelmed, it would be great to have him step in right away and take some load off my shoulders.” I went back and calculated one 12 month period where 2 bad hires equaled over $250,000 in losses. That didn’t even account for the reputation hit and clients lost from the disasters created by the wrong hires/ no training plan. Please note, this wasn’t when we were a huge company – that year we lost a quarter million dollars on bad hires, we had a revenue of $2 Million. That was a huge loss for us.
The big issue with hiring someone with experience in the industry is that your jobs will be run only as good as your hire has learned in their previous experience. Even if your hire is great at managing your projects, there is no consistency between your jobs and their jobs. Your customer is not receiving your product, but instead the product that your new hire is offering. It may be good, but most likely, it is not what you want representing you.
So how do you hire someone that is a true representation of your company? The first big mistake contractors make with their hires is that their “training” consists of riding around with you saying “do what I do”. Every decision you make, every action you take on a jobsite should be a part of a written process. If you do not have a project management process defined, how will your new hire know your expectations? ProServe Alliance has a 10 step Project Management Process that we would love to share with you so you can take it, edit it, and make it your own. Without a written expectation of how every job should run, your new hire has no baseline of what your product looks like.
The biggest mindset flaw contractors have is that you think you are selling a product. You are not selling a new kitchen or a new basement remodel, you are selling an experience. Your job is to create a fantastic client experience. A perfect quality kitchen doesn’t matter if your client was stressed out and aggravated with you throughout the entire process. I would 10 times out of 10 rather have a 90% perfect final product with a great client experience over a perfect product with a client who will never work with me again.
What most contractors get wrong is that they try to hire someone with all of the tools or someone who they view might know as much or more than they do. This hire rarely works out. If they have the intangibles that you are looking for AND the experience in construction, why are they looking for a job? If you can find the person that has the intangibles (which we talk about in part 3 of this series) with minimal experience, you can teach and mold them into exactly what you need.
So, what are the intangibles? There isn’t an exact science, but you want someone who meets your core values (How to create core values for your company), who can sell and make clients comfortable, who is eager to learn, who is humble with gumption, and who has a high work ethic.