Become the Contractor of Choice in Your Area
Originally published: 1/1/10 by Ruth King
How to become the contractor everyone wants to work for in your area.
Every day I hear the complaint, "I can't find good techs." However, there are many contracting companies who I've worked with (and some that I know of) who don't have a problem finding technicians. They have a waiting list of technicians who want to work for their company. What do they know that the rest of the contractors don't?
They make an effort to become the "contractor of choice" in their geographic area. This is simple in concept and difficult to execute. However, if you make the effort, you too can have a waiting list of technicians and other personnel who are "chomping at the bit" to work for your company. Here are the seven basics:
Have standards that are enforced for everyone. Your policy manual should apply uniformly. Every one should know what the rules are and what the consequences of not obeying the rules are. This means that if your best technician or best manager makes a serious mistake, you have to treat the situation equally as if your worst technician or worst employee made a mistake.
You have to live by the standards too. If you require clean trucks, you as the owner must have a spotless truck. If telephone calls must be returned within 24 hours, you must return all your telephone calls within 24 hours. If you require uniforms, you must wear a company-lettered shirt. People follow the leader.
Sell service agreements. This is the best way to build trust with your customers and always have enough work in slower times so that there are enough hours generated to keep a roof over your employees' heads and food on their tables. With enough service agreements, you can choose to do overtime work only for your service agreement customers. Then, your employees get less burned out during the busy seasons.
Let your employees help set goals for your company. They are on the front lines and usually have great ideas. If they help set the direction, they will work toward achieving the goals. They'll be more satisfied because they have input into where the company is going.
Have a career path for all of your employees. This is essential so that employees know where the company is going as well as know where they have the potential to rise to and what it will take to get there. Have training in place so that an employee can take advantage of growing in his/her career.
Let your managers manage. This is difficult when you don't agree with a decision made by a manager. If you have a problem with a manager's decision, speak with the manager and jointly decide what is going to be done. If you allow employees to go around their managers, then the managers will have no authority and cannot do their jobs. As an owner, your door should always be open. However, for issues that arise specific to a department, the employee should be asked whether he talked with his manager. If not, send the employee back to his manager first. If he has, then it may be a joint conversation with that manager.
Share financial information with your employees. You don't have to give detailed information. However, employees must know how the company earns a profit and how their job impacts the profit. A profit sharing plan is also important. Everyone knows how the plan is derived and should be able to calculate his/her bonus. Some contractors decide whom to give bonuses to, based on their feelings. This causes morale problems. Make it a "cookie cutter formula" so that it is fair for everyone. You'll be surprised at how the employees themselves will weed out the people who aren't productive.
Communicate often. Let employees know what is going on inside the company. Let them know where the company is with respect to the goals that were set. Employees instinctively know when something is wrong just by watching owners and managers. If things are going well, share the good news. If things aren't going well, ask for input. You'll get good ideas from your employees which could solve the issues.
If you accomplish these seven activities, you will have a more productive and profitable work force. Better yet, you'll start getting the reputation as being the Contractor of choice in your geographic area.
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