Finding it hard to hire good employees and even harder to keep them around? You’re not the only one—many small businesses are struggling to stay staffed and keep providing the same level of service.
Nick Huber knows a thing or two about hiring. In fact, he created a podcast series all about preparing your business to grow and finding the right employees.
We asked Nick to share his insights about attracting, hiring, and keeping talent in the home service industry, whether you’re hiring your first employee or your 50th. These are his top tips.
Nick Huber’s top 9 employee hiring tips:
1. Get a mindset of extreme ownership
Nick has seen companies continuing to grow even in a tough labor market. It’s an equal playing field, he says, so if competitors are doing better than you, they’re just doing something different.
We’re all operating in a tough environment, Nick says. His advice is to own that reality and figure out what to do differently.
“It’s tough to swallow, but I’m the business owner. This is my job. If I can’t hire and train, I’m not doing my most important job. It forces you to take action to make it happen.”
2. Pick average people—don’t wait for amazing
Many business owners will say they’re successful because they found and hired amazing people. In Nick’s experience, this isn’t the case—you can’t find that kind of person every day.
The average person can deliver great service with the right motivation and training. So instead of waiting for a “unicorn,” Nick recommends building a company that thrives with normal people.
“I’m not discounting the ability to find great employees, but it drives me nuts how business owners will say, ‘It’s all about hiring great people.’ No, it’s not. It’s about being a leader that can build a system and build a business that can operate with regular people.”
3. Create structure in your business
As a small business owner, your day can be chaotic. Some entrepreneurs like chaos because it leads to creativity and opportunity, but most employees like structure and consistency.
The key to consistency is creating processes and structure that help people do the same great work every time. When your employees know what makes clients happy, they’ll be happy, too.
Pro Tip: Can’t afford to hire the team you need? Nick recommends raising your prices to match the higher overhead. As your company scales, your prices and the work you’re doing should scale, too.
“As entrepreneurs, there can be a lot of surprises thrown at us. We feel that chaos is normal. Most employees are not like that. Most employees want structure [and] the tools to succeed.”
4. Be prepared for employee turnover
Employee turnover is normal in any business and can happen at any time. That’s why you should create a hiring process that’s bringing in applicants all the time, not just when you need people.
When you create structure and redundancy, the business can keep operating the same way, even if an important employee leaves.
“If you have one foreman who can handle the chaos and they quit, you’re in trouble. That turnover could cripple your business. Have that structure so if somebody quits, it’s not, ‘Oh my God, our whole business is on fire.’”
5. Ask your employees what they need to succeed
According to Nick, we’re in a hot job market and employees have lots of options to choose from. That’s why he believes in creating a good environment for top performers who add value to the business.
He recommends having a weekly call to ask questions like, “What’s the hardest part of your job right now? What are you stressed about? What can we do to solve that and make you happy?”
Pro Tip: Some people want to stay in the role they have, while others want to move upward and become leaders. Find out what each employee wants to do and find a way for them to do it.
“If you’re not helping them and giving them the tools to win, it’s going to be really, really hard to keep top talent. Start focusing on making them more efficient and giving them more tools to succeed.”
6. Post and promote the job
It’s normal to spend money recruiting. In today’s environment, says Nick, many companies spend just as much marketing to potential employees as they spend on customer marketing.
You should, too. Write a job description and promote it with Indeed and Facebook ads. If you have time and money to spare, try billboards, job fairs, and recruiting outreach for trade schools.
“You have to get as serious about finding employees as you are about finding customers. Some of the businesses that I work with are spending equal dollars on marketing and recruiting.”
7. Look for people who already have a job
The best people for the job probably have one already. This is especially true if you’re looking for someone to replace you so you can work on your business instead of in it.
That means the people you’re looking for may not be looking for you. So don’t be afraid to approach someone who’s already working somewhere else—it may be the only way to get them.
“The best people already have jobs. You gotta go out and get them.”
8. Approach potential employees in person
Don’t know where to find employees? Go out into your community and find them in person. Try big box stores or chain businesses, places with hardworking employees looking for a change.
Go up to them, start a conversation, and ask if they know anyone looking for a job. Then give them a flyer with job information, like employee pay, hours, type of work, and contact details.
This is a great chance to meet people and get to know them before an actual hiring interview. Both of you will have a good idea if this is a working relationship you want to build on.
“I don’t like picking on small businesses and trying to steal their employees, but I have no shame swiping great employees from big companies that have big machines to find and train good employees.”
9. Don’t be afraid to hire friends and family
Some business owners say not to hire friends and family because it can ruin relationships, but Nick is a big fan of this hiring practice. You just have to be ready to fire them if needed, he says.
To avoid that situation and preserve the relationship, set expectations early. Tell them the good things and bad things about the position so they’re prepared for the job long before they get it.
Based on how they respond to the challenges you’re telling them about, you’ll know if your friend or family member will do well as one of your employees.
“I have fired best friends. It’s not always fun, but I’m very, very, very good at managing expectations so we don’t have busted-up relationships over this stuff.”
Ready to bring in employees who will work as hard as you do? Try Nick’s hiring advice for yourself and see how it can help your business grow.
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