ACHRNEWS

Contractors Need a Process to Recruit

February 12, 2007
Drew Cameron, of HVAC Sellutions, tells his audience at Masters of the Game II that there’s no denying it costs to recruit, but it’s worse if you do not. According to his calculations, it costs 30 percent of a person’s annual compensation to recruit the person, but it costs up to 1.5 times a person’s annual compensation to replace that person.

The title of their session was “Recruiting, Interviewing, Hiring & Compensating Technicians.” It may as well have been, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Techs, but Were Afraid to Ask (or Do).”

To say the least, Drew Cameron, president of HVAC Sellutions, and Joe Crisara, of ContractorSelling.com, combined to give attendees of the Masters of the Game II conference plenty to swallow regarding the ins and outs of techs. In truth, the avalanche of material the two dished out in the day-long session was enough to make participants dizzy.

“Wow! Plenty of good stuff” is all Mark Edmundson, president of Edmundson Mechanical Services (EMS) Inc. Scottsburg, Ind., could muster during a 15-minute breather between instructions.

Yes, plenty indeed.

PUT RECRUITING IN HIRING PROCESS

Cameron initiated the training onslaught by noting that recruiting and hiring should be one of the more important functions addressed by each and every contractor-owner.

“We should have a stable of possibilities,” he said, referring to potential, future employees.

In his estimation, recruiting should be a continuous process, noting that effective sales management starts with the right people.

“Sales management becomes laborious and unrewarding because of the poor job done during the recruiting process,” he charged. “Effective recruiting allows you to work on your business, not in it.”

To handle all of the recruiting and hiring considerations, Cameron encouraged participants to follow a system, plus “enlist the help of everyone you know.”

“Good people are hard to find, but worth the time, expense, and effort,” he stated. “Good people ultimately cost less and produce more. They save you time, too.”

By having a mapped-out process, he said, this produces streamlined hiring and yields more desirous results.

“Now is not the time to be thrifty,” he said, asking that contractors not hold back with money or time in the recruiting and/or hiring process. “Don’t cut corners, pinch pennies, or shave minutes. You are only cheating yourself and your company.”

The main reason employees quit, he explained, is because owners do not provide workers with opportunities.

“Grow your people and your company will grow,” he said. “I mean, you have to help your employees grow. You must consider advancement and expansion opportunities.”

Looking at the other side of the coin, Cameron said the disenchanted employees that stay lose motivation and are mentally shut down. In the end, performance declines, and animosity, negativity, and a questionable attitude surfaces in the workplace.

“Seven out of 10 employees who leave a company never say why they are leaving,” said Cameron, who pushed for exit interviews, designed to find out what, if anything, pushed an employee to leave a firm. “If you don’t ask, you are not going to know. Results do not lie. If it is something worth noting, then you have to deal with it. But if you do not ask, you will never know.”

Looking at his audience, he left with an open-ended question: “Are you vulnerable to an attack?”

GENERATION NEXTECH?

Crisara stepped right in to point out the various obstacles contractors face today and how this, in conjunction with several other factors, is changing the mindset, ways, and means of future employees.

Among the contractor obstacles Crisara cited included fuel costs for trucks, equipment costs, cost of new tools needed for new equipment, skyrocketing insurance premiums, and even techs, “some who are stealing customers on the side.” These issues contribute in the creation of a new breed of techs or, as Crisara so dubbed them, “Generation NexTech.”

“These new techs have a unique mind,” he said, meaning they won’t wait. “It is an instant mentality. They want to get to something quickly.”

At the same time, the change in the new equipment of the new millennium is another factor in the shaping of tomorrow’s techs, as is the federal oversight of the contracting industry, the impact of the high-tech job market, the effect of premium end service retailers, the shortage of qualified techs, and the advancement of technical and sales training.

“Contractors must also be aware of ‘the Starbucks factor,’ ” he said, clarifying by adding, “Generation Yers are good at pampering themselves. We have to keep this in mind when we are looking for new techs.”

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

In Cameron’s harsh reality, if a company is having difficulty in attracting and retaining fabulous people “it’s because your company stinks,” he said bluntly. Owners have to realize that having a recruiting and hiring process is a necessary evil, breathing bodies become corpses, and top performers are getting dejected, he said.

“And management wonders why results don’t manifest themselves,” said Cameron, adding that many owners play problem-solver and put out fires, rather than managing productivity.

To be productive, Cameron isn’t so sure that hiring a candidate after the first interview is a solid decision. The chances of pegging the right prospect on only one look or visit stands at only 20 percent, per his research. As he put it, the candidate will: work out good or great; won’t work out and you have to dehire the person; the person quits and leaves; the person quits, stays, and underperforms; or “they infect your workforce and company,” said Cameron.

Quoting management guru Peter Drucker, he added, “It is much cheaper to pay a lazy nephew not to come to work than to keep him on the payroll.”

There’s no denying it costs to recruit, but it’s worse if you do not, said Cameron. According to his calculations, it costs 30 percent of a person’s annual compensation to recruit the person, but it costs up to 1.5 times a person’s annual compensation to replace that person.

“This equates to up to three times compensation in lost revenue,” said the trainer from Kennett Square, Pa.

“That’s up to $750,000 over five years. And that doesn’t account for lost time and opportunity.”

After going through some intangibles and “soft factors” in the recruiting and hiring process, and after addressing some of the biggest recruiting mistakes (see sidebar “Intangibles and Soft Factors,”), Cameron pointed out that hope should not be a strategy.

“Hoping is chaos,” he said. “You have to make decisions and you have to base it on solid processes and efforts.”

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Crisara followed by providing the pluses of having a recruiting plan in place. The purpose, of course, is to attract top performers, and the objective is to optimize market potential and leverage the company resources for maximum results.

“It’s not going to be easy hiring a ‘Generation NexTech,’ ” he warned.

The consultant from the Chicago area thought it was best to look over possible candidates one has assembled, plus examine the Internet and print media for more candidates. Other “secrets” he offered included recruiting experienced employees, creating a farm system of candidates, and recruiting through other avenues, such as schools, job fairs, and direct mailings. In the end, Crisara called for creating job descriptions and training.

In summarizing the class, Cameron, speaking last, stressed the fact that recruiting and hiring are the first steps to building a successful company.

“Poor, short-sighted hiring decisions are the equivalent of building on a sinkhole,” said Cameron. “What you do at this stage sets the tone for what’s to come, good or bad.

“In the world of professional recruiting, you are the master of your own domain or creator of your own demise. You decide.”

Sidebar: Intangibles and Soft Factors

Drew Cameron provided the following intangibles, “soft factors,” and questions that need to be asked or considered in the hiring and recruiting process:

  • What is the potential of the candidate?

  • How long will it take for the person to reach it?

  • How much time, money, energy, and other resources are required for the candidate to reach potential?

  • Is it worth it?

  • Meet them offsite and consider the following:

  • Do you like them?

    - Do they get along with their family and parents?

    - Are they B.S.ers?

    - Have they saved money?

    - What do they have to show for their earnings?

    - Are they honest?

    - Are they polite and courteous?

    - Do they arrive on time?

    - Do they speak clearly?

    - Are they appropriately dressed and groomed?

  • Do they offer good follow-up and follow-through?

  • What are they like over lunch, dinner, or coffee?

  • Are they kind to service waiters and janitors?

  • Is the person 50 percent of what you are looking for?

  • What was your initial gut instinct?

  • How would I feel having my kids work with them?

  • How will I feel about this person in 5, 10, 20 years?

  • Any chance I may later regret hiring this person?

    Also, take these into consideration:

  • Success breeds success.

  • Don’t recruit a service manager. (“If you are hiring a tech, hire a tech,” said Cameron.)

  • Hire for accomplishments.

  • Don’t listen to their excuses or blaming.

  • There are no bad résumés.

  • Listen to your gut if you’re on the fence.

    Publication date: 01/29/2007