Growing a drain cleaning or plumbing business comes with many challenges. Finding new clients is only half the battle — creating a team to service those new clients presents several different obstacles. Many businesses in the plumbing industry start as a one-man shop — someone who is great at what they do and services an area where they’ve made a name for themselves. When it comes time to grow though, those owners have to go through hoops to find employees who have the perfect balance of on-the-job expertise and customer service skills. Where does a business owner find these superstar employees? And what can a business owner do to keep them?
The first step is to develop a clear job description that addresses your needs. Despite where or how you post your job openings, you won’t see much response without having a clear and detailed job description. A description should include an overview of the role and how it connects to the company’s vision, along with responsibilities, requirements and qualifications. Having a clear job description will help you make informed decisions during the recruiting and hiring process and after hiring, it can serve as a basis for performance management. Need help starting out? Use our job description template to get started.
Once you’ve figured out the type of person you’re looking to bring to your business, you can start using that information to attract the right talent. Here are some tips on how to maximize your recruiting efforts:
Finding experienced tradesmen can be challenging. According to Pew Research Center, 79% of people looking for jobs have utilized online sources. There are many websites business owners can utilize when trying to find a new employee:
- Craigslist allows businesses to post local job openings for free (in some metro cities, Craigslist has started to charge a minimal fee). Bonus Tip: When on Craigslist, don’t forget to look in the “Services” section where local community members post services, such as plumbing, as a service offering. Some of these people may be interested in full-time employment while others might have potential for subcontract work. There is no harm in reaching out to them.
- There are many similar online platforms available to post job openings — Indeed, Monster and ZipRecruiter are common examples of these. These online job boards post jobs for a small fee. Hundreds of people search these sites daily looking for work based on job title, location and other keywords.
Use Social Media
The prominence of social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have opened up another avenue to advertise job openings. These platforms enable you to post details of job openings, requirements and how to apply for your followers to see, and you can reach out to people who may post that they are looking for a job in your industry to let them know you’re hiring. Also, encourage your current employees to share posts about job openings to increase your reach.
Inform your current employees about job openings, and offer referral bonuses for employees who bring in someone to fill a role. In addition, research says that people who are referred to a job by a current employee are a better cultural fit because they most likely possess the same values and work ethics as the referring employee (source).
State Workforce Development Departments
The high-tech methods available on the internet and social media for recruiting are easy and convenient, but that doesn’t mean other avenues should be overlooked. State-run employment departments are a great place to meet people looking for work. Many government agencies and local workforce development departments also host job fairs.
Bonus Tip: While you’re on your state/local employment development department’s website, look for government subsidized training programs that might be available. These programs help at-risk individuals get a second chance through employment training development. You may benefit from these programs by having an intern that eventually becomes a great employee while also helping the community.
Local Job Fairs
Job fairs are hot spots for recruiters to be introduced to motivated people who oftentimes are able to begin working immediately. Another plus side of job fairs is that you’re able to meet a large number of potential candidates on the spot. This face-to-face interaction can serve as an initial screening of an employee. Job fairs also introduce you to non-traditional candidates who might otherwise get overlooked based on their resume. Job fairs typically draw a large crowd, so this also means more people will become aware of your company name and brand and can spread information by word of mouth.
Consider Hiring Apprentices
Consider contacting local trade schools and government agencies to enroll in their apprentice training program. By training an apprentice you can mould them to ensure they are a good fit for your company’s needs and culture. This means they are not only learning the necessary skills of the trades, but also those specialized skills that are unique to your particular business. They, in-turn, get hands-on experience in the trade.
Retaining Current Employees
Bringing in talent takes time and money, but retaining the talent you find is just as important. Here are some tips to improve retention rate at your company:
Say Thanks and Offer Rewards
Humans have a basic need to feel recognized and appreciated for the work they do. Frequently express gratitude toward your employees for the work they do, no matter how big or small the task, and offer the opportunity for rewards and additional incentives to take the thank you even further.
Reward and recognition programs don’t have to break the bank, either. If an employee is going above and beyond each week, treat them to lunch or surprise them with a gift card. It’s the little things that count.
Give Your Crew the Tools They Need to Succeed
People innately want to take pride in the work they do. If employees don’t have the means to do their job well the first time, they will move on to an employer that is willing to provide the proper resources to them.
Don’t let faulty or outdated equipment rob you of your superstars. Frustration from not having the right tools can mount up to high turnover. Not only will high-quality equipment show your customers that you have invested in your business, but it will also show employees that you trust them and are eager to invest in them.
Bonus Tip: In job descriptions and during job interviews, highlight that your company believes in being technologically advanced and keep this idea at the forefront during the hiring process. Talk about the equipment you use and how often you update it.
Retain Your Superstars by Helping Them Grow
Employees you want to retain are often the ones who seek opportunities to learn and grow. As a sewer and drain cleaning business, growth opportunities may seem limited, but they do exist. Owners and managers need to show extra effort in helping their superstars feel challenged and able to explore new territories of the business.
Cross-train employees so they can tackle different types of problems and use multiples pieces of equipment. Ask experienced employees to train new ones, not only on equipment and on-the-job skills, but also on soft skills such as customer service and handling difficult clients.
If you only do residential work, challenge your seasoned employees to pursue commercial or municipal accounts. If you solely do drain cleaning, challenge your seasoned employees to research the equipment you’ll need and the business opportunity that exists in inspection work.
It’s an Investment, but It’ll Pay Off
Retention is vital to the long-term health of your company, and minimizing turnover will have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line.
Recruitment and retention can be time consuming and costly, but cutting corners can be much costlier. Be proactive and patient, reward your hard workers and pay attention to the details.
Start Building Your Team
Want to get started in hiring your next employee? As mentioned above, writing a job description is one of the first steps. To help, we've created a drain cleaner and plumber job description template and sample job description.
The Drain Business is a series of articles written to help plumbing and drain contractors build and grow their business. For more resources like this, subscribe to MyTana's newsletter, where we'll keep you up-to-date and informed.