If you’ve read my column consistently, you’ve probably gathered that I am passionate about sales, marketing and leadership. These are the three core competencies we all must master in order to create success and improve our businesses every single day. Nothing happens in a company without a sale being made. There is no sale to be made without a lead generated by some form of marketing. Both of these functions will only ever be as successful as the leadership capabilities in the organization.
This month I want to focus on sales (marketing and leadership also are bound to find their way in). However, I’m not referring to the traditional sales techniques I usually teach all around the world regarding client engagement, involvement and relationship. This is about one of the biggest challenges facing our industry, which is finding (and more importantly, retaining) quality salespeople and team members.
Believe it or not, the solution to this problem also relates to sales, only in a different way. When it comes down to it, the quality of our team members is a direct reflection of how well leadership has sold the benefits of working for you and your company.
We all hear, read about and sometimes instigate those typical conversations about the labor force: “I just can’t find any qualified ________.” You can fill in the blank based on your own trade because there’s a good chance you are participating in these discussions yourself. You must first recognize this conversation is not solving your problem in any way whatsoever. In fact, I would argue that it’s actually holding you back from a possible solution because you’re focused on the problem instead of creating a viable resolution.
One of the most important responsibilities of every leader is to sell existing team members on why the grass is notgreener on the other side, and that it is in their best interest to remain with your company. You must remind them often of the personal and professional benefits of working for your company. If you are not making them feel honored and special, I can assure you your competition is looking to “court” them at the first possible chance.
Every home service company has challenges, and it’s part of your job to make sure your team doesn’t focus on the challenges more than the overall positives your company has to offer.
Another aspect of this sales responsibility is to sell potential team members on what makes you and your company better than any other option in the marketplace. Every progressive contractor we coach is looking for good people right now. How do you stand out? How do you sell your “program” to the possible recruit?
During a recent Titanium Club coaching call, we were discussing the similarities of a college football coach and our leadership roles surrounding recruiting top “players.” Head coaches travel the country visiting top recruits and their parents to sell their programs, benefits and upside potential in order to attract the best talent.
The last time I checked, our industry isn’t doing so well at this aspect of sales. This is a problem for some, and a massive opportunity for others. If you’re willing to put in the work, pinpoint what makes you an exceptional employer and assemble sales strategies into a true recruiting program, you will win against your competition.
So, how do you put together an effective strategy for recruiting and retention?
1. Outline of benefits. Create a document that describes all the reasons someone would want to work for your company. This will help you solidify the benefits in your own mind so they are easier to communicate to current and potential team members. Start by answering these questions: Why is your company exceptional? What do you have to offer that enhances your team members lives, both personally and professionally? What are the positive aspects of your company culture? What are the long-term career growth possibilities?
Make sure to include tangible and intangible benefits, and pay attention to phrasing as you are crafting the outline. Instead of just saying, “We offer training and professional growth,” say, “We provide top-notch training that helps our team members deliver the best customer service in our market, while giving them the ability to earn the income they deserve to support their families at the highest level.” See the difference?
You can even have your current team members give their input about why your company is such a great place to work; this will give you a starting point for your outline and help your employees focus on the positives.
2. Examine your leadership. Based on your outline, take a hard look at how your leadership supports and contributes to the effort of consistently providing value to your team members. Are you really committed to team member growth, or are you just saying it because it sounds good and you know you shouldbe? What are the specific actions being taken to support your statements?
Don’t forget people want to be a part of something bigger and growing. Even if you’re not “there” yet, when it comes to the most attractive offerings, it doesn’t mean your vision and goals for the company won’t get certain people excited. Some team members seek out small companies, while some desire to work for the very largest companies in town. If you and your leadership are always authentic about your vision and goals, it will help the right team members get behind the company.
3. Examine your marketing. When considering employment, most prospective team members want to work for a company that is portrayed well in the community. They want to work for a professional, solid company they can be proud to be associated with.
Your current team members aren’t any different. Try to see your advertising and marketing with fresh eyes. Would you be excited to work for your company, based on what is being communicated? Really look at your messaging for consistency, positivity, innovation and community connection. Make sure what you are saying will help attract (and keep) the type of team members you want.
4. Share your message, vision, mission and values relentlessly. When it comes to sharing your message, and how passionate you are about your company and team members, don’t just think you can have one meeting, explain your perspective and feelings, then be done with it. Your message to your existing team as well as prospective team members must be a mantra you carry all the time. It’s your mission and your passion, so communicate it often.
This article was originally titled “Recruiting players for your team” in the August 2016 print edition of Plumbing & Mechanical.