The most universal characteristic of a plumbing company in 2022 is a dearth of job candidates. Do not complain about it. Do something. Here are 12 things you can try.
1. Work on recruiting weekly
For most contractors, plumbing is haphazard at best. It’s back of the mind until there’s an idle truck, then it’s urgent. As a result, the first guy through the door who can pass the 98.6 test gets hired. Recruiting is too important for fire drills. This should be something worked on every week.
The rule of thumb is 30% of the business owner’s time should be spent on recruiting. In other words, dedicate a day and a half each week to interviewing candidates, staying in touch with candidates, preparing recruiting support material.
2. Define your ideal candidate
What is your ideal candidate? Describe him (or her). How old? How much experience? What kind of background? Just like marketing to new customers, identifying your prototypical job candidate allows you to market to him more personally. Whenever you think if a recruiting ad, video, etc., think with your ideal candidate in mind.
3. Write out why people would want to work for your company
Why you? What makes your company different from every other company? Is it your culture? What about your culture? Do you offer more or better training? Is your pay better? What makes you stand out? If you cannot define it clearly, you cannot communicate it.
4. Write out why people would want to work in plumbing
The same thing holds for working in the plumbing profession in the first place. When you run across a bright, young kid with all the potential in the world, how do you convince him to work in plumbing? California plumber Eric Dutton used to tell candidates that every mother wanted her daughters to marry a doctor or a plumber. The truth behind this is unknown, but its effectiveness is not. It worked for Dutton.
5. Create an online application
If a prospective candidate drops by your website, do you make it easy to apply for a position on the spot? Do you have an online application? Do you outline the requirements to save everyone time (e.g., drug testing, background checks, etc.)? It might be as simple as a candidate entering contact information. Then, call everyone who fills out the form, whether there’s a position open or not.
6. Record a short recruiting video
We live in an attention-deficit world today. The service trades are especially characterized by short attention spans. So, make a recruiting video. Make it short. Make it fun. Put it on YouTube, Vimeo, Rumble and any other video site you can find. Put it on your website as well.
“Whenever you talk with a potential employee, stay in touch. Even if it is just by email or an occasional text message, stay in touch.”
7. Create a recruiting brochure
A recruiting brochure is fundamental. It is as important as a company brochure. You are not serious about recruiting if you lack one. The recruiting brochure offers an added bonus. Going to work for your is not merely the candidate’s decision. It affects the candidate’s significant other as well. The recruiting brochure is a sales piece for the candidate and maybe more importantly, for the candidate’s significant other.
8. Market to customers
When you need people, the place to start is with your existing customers. By identifying what you are looking for, you are also able to market to your customers, you are able to communicate that you are growing, and you are also reaching out to people who are familiar with you. Who knows who they know? They might have relatives in other towns with plumbing experience.
9. Stay-in-touch with candidates
Whenever you talk with a potential employee, stay in touch. Even if it is just by email or an occasional text message, stay in touch. You never know when the situation will change for you or the candidate. Staying top-of-mind is important.
10. Stay-in-touch with past employees
Unless someone burnt bridges on the way out, past employees should be prospective candidates for rejoining. Sometimes people who quit feel funny about reapproaching the place they left. Don’t let them. Make sure they know that you will welcome them back and stay in touch to keep the door open. Rehires are often the best employees. They have been to the other side of the fence and can attest that the grass is not greener.
11. Grow your labor force
In the long run, the answer to the recruiting game is to recruit people with the right attitude and aptitude, then teach them the rest. Build apprentices into your pricing and put them on a truck with a senior plumber. When they are ready, give them a truck. This is not conducive to the fire drill hiring most plumbers deploy, but it does mean the people you bring on board will not bring the bad habits they picked up from their last plumbing company with them.
12. Create an onboarding process
Finally, when you do hire someone, the first week is critically important. It sets the tone. Develop an onboarding procedure so that you are guiding each person through all of the administrative requirements of going to work for you and teaching the way you want things done from paperwork to overtime.