5 simple ways to find new staff

Most tradies say the same thing: It’s hard to find good staff. The Motor Trade Association (MTA) recently said there are 1,600 jobs throughout NZ that haven’t been filled. It’s a problem. So if you have too much work, how do you find more skilled staff to grow your business?

Well, even in a shortage, there will always be good people who are looking around.

Take a look at your competitors and you’ll see some of them have bigger teams. If they can find good staff, so can you.

So let’s begin.

  1. Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
    The sooner you start looking, the more likely you are to find someone. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again.

    One of my clients, a builder, had been actively looking for a salesman for many months. They finally found someone. Three days later, he quit! They were gutted to say the least.

    Unfortunately it was only a few weeks till Christmas, and they were heading into quiet time. Waiting until the New Year seemed logical. After talking it through however, we decided it was better to try again, than wait.

    Then they found John, who has been a real star for them. He has consistently sold twice as much as any of the other reps. Sales have literally gone through the roof. If they hadn’t kept advertising when they did, they wouldn’t have found him.
     
  2. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
    Good staff know what they are worth. Don’t worry, the good ones will always earn you back way more that they cost you.

    If hiring someone at a higher rate means jobs will be done right, less callbacks and less stress, then you will free up time to grow your business. It’s worth it.

    Also consider what benefits you offer. Why would this job be more attractive than anything else out there? Are current employees happy with benefits? Ask them for feedback and new ideas.

    It might be as simple as free breakfast once a week over a toolbox talk. The flexibility to leave early occasionally if the job is done. Incentives when they meet targets. Or maybe it’s a generous tool allowance, latest iPhone or Samsung work phone, uniform, company vehicle, etc.
     
  3. Your vibe attracts your tribe.
    Look at the latest ads on Trade Me or Seek. Most are demanding and boring. Who wants to work for a company that has a high list of demands and no benefits?

    Right now there are about 50 ads the same: “Builder wanted. Must have own tools, transport, be hardworking, experienced and able to work unsupervised. Apply now.”

    Here’s the deal: If you want the great applicants you have to have a great ad. Right?

    Visualise the best team member you have on board right now. What exact advert would attract another just like them?

    Put some personality into the advert too. Make it friendly, talk about what you offer and how you really look after your staff. Make sure it reflects your vibe and how you operate.

    What kind of company you want to be. How do you want your team to feel about you? What makes you unique? Are you about precision and high standards? An easygoing team that has a lot of fun? Serious about work/life balance? A growing professional level company that dominates your niche?

    Also make it easy for them to apply. Some tradies are not great with paperwork so a phone call might be better in some cases. Of course if it’s an admin, sales or supervisor position you will still want a proper CV.
     
  4. Think outside the box.
    First, ask around. Some of your best hires will come from word of mouth. One way to quickly get the word out is to set aside a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon. Shout pizza and get your team to message friends and post on social media. Use the time to reach out to your contacts and do the same.

    Since you’re likely trying to reach under 40’s, you’ll want to list your advert online. Trade Me or Seek is a good place to start. Also post on your Facebook business page and in local groups.

    What about taking on an apprentice as part of the plan? They take a bit of work in the beginning, but in a few years you will have guys trained in your way of doing things.

    Always field test applicants. Don’t discount mature age apprentices either. Things to check are: Are they punctual? Can they think for themselves? Are they willing to learn? Can they follow instructions? Are they honest? Attention to detail? Remember skills can be taught - hire for attitude.

    Also consider recruitment agencies. They might cost a bit more but often they have a pool of workers ready to start immediately. It could be short term or long term, as long as you have good margin on jobs and can afford to pay a bit extra this can be a good option.

    Depending on your trade and what you are looking for, some immigration and recruitment agencies are sourcing highly skilled overseas workers from places like South Africa. Talk with them, see what options are available.

    An engineering firm I worked with had a staff of around 20 welders. Around half of these were hired from other countries. It worked for them, it might work for you.
     
  5. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.
    I was speaking with a business owner recently who was looking for drivers. Their comment was “you just can’t get drivers.” I know there are not many around. But to say you can’t find drivers ever? That’s going to trip you up.

    We talked it through, made the job advert more appealing, got interview questions ready, and threw the dice.

    A few weeks later they’d been receiving much better quality applications. The guy they hired told them in the interview “I kept going back to your advert. I just couldn’t go past it. I really want to work for a company like yours. So here I am.”

    The bottom line is this: If you have the right hiring process, you can still find excellent people, even in a difficult market.

    Go for it. You might be surprised who you find. And it could be the next game changer for your business and your sanity.

    by Daniel Fitzpatrick
    Business Coach at Next Level Tradie