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6 Mistakes Concrete Contractors Make When Hiring People

By Doug Herbert

As spring arrives, so do the opportunities for concrete contractors to do more work. We emerge from our winter slumber to finally see more bidding activity and orders from customers.

Before we know it, we will be sweating it out in June, wondering how to find enough laborers to get all the work done. There will be opportunities to make more money, but finding the right people will be the biggest obstacle to higher profits and company growth.

To ensure that you can capitalize on profitable projects and increase your market share, avoid these six mistakes when trying to hire good employees.

Mistake #1

Poor Strategy for Finding New People

Most contractors rely on referrals from current employees and Craigslist ads to find new employees. When what you have been doing isn’t giving you the results you want, it is time to develop a better strategy. In addition to asking yourself what you have done in the past to attract new hires, ask what you haven’t yet tried.
There are multiple low-cost ways of attracting laborers to your company. The more of these you do simultaneously, the more people you will attract.

Mistake #2

Hiring Anyone Who Walks Through the Door

When you have four weeks’ worth of work to do in the next two weeks, it can be difficult to resist the urge to hire anyone that walks through your door. Don’t do it! Much like deciding to go to a third bar in the same night, you will regret it in the morning. Hiring the wrong person can cause a lot of headaches at best, and a lawsuit at worst.

It is better to wait for a better candidate to hire later than it is to hire the wrong person today. Be sure you have a formal method for screening and qualifying those who apply at your company. And, importantly, follow that method for every person, every time.

Mistake #3

Throwing Them to the Wolves on Their First Day

Even experienced tradesmen need to get up to speed with your company and how you “do things around here.” General laborers with little experience in construction will have that deer-in-the-headlights experience if they go out with a crew immediately.

A new hire’s first day of employment should involve an onboarding process that includes an orientation to the company procedures. This can be performed by someone in your office, or by a shop foreman, if you have one. The new employee can work at the shop or yard for the rest of the day and be ready to go with a crew on their second day. When you put them on an established crew on their first day, you are asking them to run before walking.

Mistake #4:

No Training of New Hires

You have probably seen this on social media – Controller: What if we train our people and they leave? CEO: What if we don’t and they stay? That’s important to remember. But when you are just trying to get enough guys on the job site to keep your customer from screaming at you (again), it can be tough to think about a structured training program.

Training, though, comes in all shapes and sizes. For starters, assign a veteran on your crew to teach the rookie the ropes. On your rain days, keep the guys at the shop for two hours and teach them how to read plans, figure out what fillers are needed at a corner, or how to line a wall. Any amount of training will pay for itself many times over.

Mistake #5:

Not Finding Out if They Are Right for Your Company

When we hire someone, we expect that they will work out well at our company. We send them on their way and then move on to a hundred other things we need to do that day. But what if they aren’t right for our company? What if they are incredibly lazy? What if they are a pain in the butt to be around?

Be sure to follow up with your foremen early and often about the new hires. If they are not a good fit, you can try moving them to another crew. If that doesn’t work, fire them quickly yet gently and suggest they apply at your competitor’s company. It is better to be a man short than to have one that causes a lot of problems.

Mistake #6:

No Retention Strategy

You can have a great hiring process and bring in a bunch of new people, but if you don’t keep the good ones, you will be miserable – along with everyone else around you. The entire company is affected when you lose good employees. Develop a strategy of identifying good people. Then, recognize and reward them for their behavior in front of everyone. Thank people publicly for doing the things you want repeated. Announce employment anniversaries and other milestones.

Exceptional employees are ambitious. Talk with them about the possibilities for advancement at your company. Make sure they know you see them as valuable. Retain the people that are profitable for your business.

Improve Your Hiring and Retention Systems

Finding the right people is often the biggest challenge for concrete contractors. If you are better at it than others in your area, you will have a competitive advantage and be more profitable.

Make a plan to fix these six hiring and retention mistakes before you need to hire people. Enlist the help of others in your company to tackle these areas. If you wait until your workload is full and you really need the workers, everyone else in your company will be too busy to do it well. Do it now while there is still time.

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us