If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that it's difficult to find employees, I'd buy an island in the South Pacific. I don't expect the construction labor pool to increase significantly in the near future, which means we need to figure out how to adapt to the shortage.
Contractors across the country are looking for about every possible office and field person you can think of, and most are having a hard time filling those positions. Our Canadian friends are doing the same. Ditto for other contractors in other countries.
Those of us who have been around a while saw this coming. Young people just weren't getting into this business at the same rate that we and our friends got into it in the 60's, 70's and early 80's.
It's possible that young people will become interested in working in the trades again. When they consider college debt, and realize that providing a needed service is a respectable way to make a living, they might come back to the idea of working with their hands.
If you want to attract good employees, you need to pay top dollar. There's nothing wrong with young people wanting a good wage for their work, as long as they perform. When I was young, that was my interest, too; I wanted to be paid well. So as a business owner, if you want the good people, you have to be willing to pay accordingly. You won't be able to do that unless you're charging enough for the work you're doing.
Along with paying top dollar, I'm hearing that the contractors who are able to hire the very best people are the ones who provide health benefits. Medical plans, vision and dental plans, and sick days are all part of the package. It isn't cheap to offer, and it will make your jobs more expensive.
That means that you must sharpen your sales skills so that you're better able to convince potential clients that the job you can and will do for them is worth more than the money in their pocket.
Back in 1998, I was teaching one-day classes based on our book, and an attendee stood up and made this statement. It was so good I wrote it down; I'd give him credit if I knew who it was. Print it out and hang it on your wall:
You must recognize the importance of charging enough for the work you do.
When you charge enough, you have the money available to use the best mechanics and subs to build your jobs; you can buy from the best suppliers so that you use better materials; you can hire the best bookkeeper and accountant to take care of your books and financial affairs, the best office manager to run your company . . . in short, you can afford the best people.
By using the best people, it frees your time, giving you the ability to run your business and not have to worry about what your employees and subs are doing. The best people are people you can trust. You can count on them to get the job done right the first time.
When the job is done right the first time, you have well-run jobs and satisfied customers. That is the key to making money in construction.
That's right; good employees help you sell your jobs. Being able to give a time schedule and having a good enough reputation that they know you'll get the job done as scheduled, is a tremendous advantage when you're out selling. Don't give a maybe, we're not sure, depending on this or that we may or may not . . . Get your company in a position to deliver. That will increase your sales all by itself.
The smart employer makes it clear that ALL applicants will be considered for the job. There is still a prejudice against women in construction, although it's much better now than it was 40-50 years ago. I can't remember a single woman who was doing framing in those days. Now it's common to see women working on job sites, both residential and commercial. Coaching clients tell me that when they hire women to help build the job, productivity improves. When we work with larger companies, the majority of the sales staff are women.
Focus on providing the best working environment and you will attract the best people.