By Megan Alderton, HomeAdvisor
Is your business struggling to find and keep the talent needed to service a growing customer base? If so, you’re not alone. And you may be looking at an opportunity to develop your business differently — and more profitably — than you’d ever imagined. Just take a cue from the HomeAdvisor pros at Reliant Roofing.
When they first started their Jacksonville, Florida-based roofing business in 2015, Sean Shapiro and Cameron Shouppe were dealing with high turnover, low quality, disloyalty, bad habits and bad attitudes — not to mention a short supply of workers qualified to install and repair roofs. So, they decided to take employee development into their own hands. Now, thanks to their inventive strategy, Reliant Roofing has more than 20 loyal employees, a healthy job referral program and a thriving company culture. And they’re crushing the competition because of it.
Here’s how they pulled it off:
- They found their sweet spot. Sean and Cameron flipped 200 houses together in just five years before starting Reliant Roofing. So, they knew the roofing companies in their area weren’t putting their best foot forward. In fact, just about every roofing crew they hired showed up late (if they showed up at all) and came to the jobsite looking unkempt and acting unprofessionally. There was a glaring lack of professionalism in the local roofing industry. And Sean and Cameron recognized that filling that void — working with a trusted resource like HomeAdvisor and even deploying their crews in branded trucks and polo shirts — would quickly set them apart from the competition.
- They took a resourceful approach to recruiting. Given their own experiences, Sean and Cameron knew they didn’t want to hire practiced roofers from local roofing crews. So, they got creative. The first thing they did was find a highly qualified, bilingual master roofer — Camillo Calle — to lead recruitment and training. Then, they directed Camillo to recruit from community centers like churches, restaurants and soccer fields. The idea, they say, was to look for workers not with the right skill set, but the right mindset — to build a team of hardworking individuals who’d enjoy being part of something bigger than themselves.
- They created a groundbreaking training program. Since new recruits come in with zero roofing experience, they have to learn everything from how to use a nail gun to how to tear off an existing roof. So, Sean and Cameron buy dilapidated houses to give them a true-to-life training ground. First, recruits interview with Camillo who vets them for culture and brand ambassadorship. Then, Reliant puts them to work on training houses, where they not only learn hands-on about safety, the roofing process, and different roofing components and types, but also how to effectively work together as a team.
- They took measures to retain employees. Typically, roofing contractors negotiate with crew leaders on a flat price for a project. And typically, crew leaders dole out the pay to the crew. But at Reliant Roofing, Sean and Cameron have purposefully created a fair compensation model that rewards progress and makes each worker feel valued — and that’s created a huge sense of loyalty and buy-in among their employees.
Reliant Roofing’s Advice to Business Owners:
With markets booming across the United States, businesses good and bad are getting more work than they can handle, says Sean. And a lot of business owners aren’t giving long-term staffing solutions a lot of thought. “Everyone’s super busy and promising the world to consumers, but they don’t have any skilled labor to do the work,” says Sean. “That turns out to be an adverse approach to business — to be taking on more work that you can actually bite off at the moment — because you get desperate and will settle for lower quality people to come and facilitate the work. And over time, that’s going to kill your brand.”
The skilled labor shortage is only set to worsen over the next 10 years, as baby boomers retire and business owners are left to fill the gap, explains Sean. So, it’s important that everyone in the home services industry start thinking about how to attract and retain a different kind of workforce. “It may seem daunting,” he says, “but it’s really easy to implement and it will make a big difference in your business.”
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