As a business owner, you likely dedicate a sizable portion of your revenue to marketing. Putting your money back into the business helps to ensure a steady stream of new clients. It's a crucial part of growing your revenue.
What many business owners miss out on, however, is another kind of marketing — employee recruitment. In the snow and ice business, who you hire is every bit as important as finding new customers.
The Challenges of Snow and Ice Recruiting in Today's Labor Market
Finding the right candidates can be a significant challenge. There may be few potential applicants overall. If so, you'll need to stand out from the crowd and tell employees why your company is a fantastic place to work.
Labor Shortage Problems
Low unemployment is a good thing for the workforce, but when there's a period where there are more jobs than employees to fill them, it becomes challenging for business owners to stay staffed.
We hear a lot about a shortage of skilled workers, especially in tech-related fields, but at this point, employers are having a harder time finding so-called “blue-collar” workers for positions that don't require a college degree. Two of the big reasons we're seeing this shortage are that more people are going to college, and lower-skilled younger workers are living at home longer.
Only a limited number of job seekers are actively looking for jobs in the snow and ice removal business. Therefore you'll need to be proactive and invest resources to attract talented workers.
Job Seeker Demands
The bottom line is that lower-skilled workers have a great deal of leverage in the current labor market. Employers who need these workers often find themselves competing with other businesses from a limited talent pool.
Workers today are gravitating toward positions that offer:
- Opportunities for advancement
- Above-average wages
- Flexible work schedules
- Pleasant work conditions and on-the-job perks
Offering each of these qualities can be a tall order for small business owners, especially those impacted by seasonal fluctuations. Still, just because it's a tight labor market doesn't mean you can't find and keep quality team members. You just may need to adjust your approach.
Crafting an Appealing Recruitment Message
Put yourself in the shoes of today's job seeker. Take an objective look at your prior job listings, or ask a colleague to give you their thoughts. Here are a few things that could be turning off potential applicants:
- A list of requirements but not much insight into your company culture or unique perks
- Vague statements about joining a "successful team"
- Not enough details about what the job entails day-to-day
- Lack of enthusiasm or friendliness
Remember, you're trying to fill a position that is part-time, on-call, outdoors in cold weather — and frankly, fairly dangerous. Finding enthusiastic applicants with a great work ethic and a team spirit can be a tall order. Your recruitment message needs to resonate with today's job seekers.
The good news is that there are several ways you can enhance your job postings and attract qualified, friendly applicants.
Highlight Factors Today's Job Seekers Want
We know that employees are looking for positions that pay well, offer benefits, and have a flexible schedule. And, according to Gallup, job seekers are also looking for companies that provide growth and development opportunities.
Approach your job listing the same way you'd approach a new client promotion — just as you're probably advertising your services, not your prices, you should look beyond the pay rate. The truth is, competing on price is usually a losing battle. There's always someone willing to pay less. There's also always a business willing to pay just a bit more to attract the best applicants.
Zero in on what employees value beyond the pay rate. Can you offer opportunities for advancement down the line? Do you give employees the chance to cross-train so they can gain a broader skillset?
Even if you don't have a formal advancement program in place, emphasize points like the rewarding of dedicated employees with loyalty and investment into their professional growth.
Job seekers also prefer to apply with companies that value camaraderie and a positive work environment. Let's face it — snow and ice jobs are tough, so it's a good idea to showcase your dedication to creating a fun, positive team environment. Make it clear that your team works hard and plays hard sometimes, too.
Find Job Seekers Where they Are
Today, online job postings are not only common, job seekers expect legitimate businesses to post them. You have several choices for reaching applicants online:
- Job boards like Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor
- Facebook and Instagram advertisements
- Google ads
- Social media interaction
One approach that has stood the test of time is simple word-of-mouth recruitment. Encourage trusted friends and family to ask around. It can't hurt to ask and you may find an ideal connection.
You Hired a Great Candidate — How Do You Keep Them?
Hiring is only part of the equation. Your business will benefit from a well-trained, happy workforce that sticks around for the long haul.
Spend time developing a training program for your new employees that touches on all the aspects of the job. This approach will lead to more confidence all around. Often, business owners throw new employees into the role to learn "on the job."
This kind of training may work for some employees, but you run the risk of losing employees who may have responded better to a more measured approach. You'll know the employee has gone through specific training on their key roles and the employee will feel more confident.
Don't forget to incentivize and reward all your employees, including new hires and longtime team members. For example, after a long day of digging out after a snowstorm, you could reward your team with a gift card or a small bonus. Do whatever you can to encourage your employees to stay with you season after season.
Skip Hiring, Training, and Retention Challenges with a Third Party Answering Service
Many home services businesses use answering services because it's more affordable than hiring actual customer service representatives (CSRs), provides them with 24/7 coverage, easily scales up and down during busy and slow seasons, and allows them to skip the headache of hiring, training, and retaining employees. For this reason, you may want to consider a third party when it comes to sales and customer service. If you do go this route to prepare for the busy season, try finding a 24/7 answering service that specializes in snow and ice management so they're familiar with the nature and urgency of the calls that come in.
Staffing is a Key Success Factor
The way you approach staffing and employee management influences almost every aspect of your business. Your employees are the public-facing ambassadors for your company, on and off the job. When you invest in their well-being, you're investing in your business as well.