How to Find the Perfect Employee for Your Home Service Business

home service employee in front of electrical box

“Hiring someone who needs to learn.” That’s a line from an Apple ad. Not only do I like the sentiment, but I believe in it. If you are hiring, you should be looking for talent, not just skills. Now more than ever, it is important to bear this in mind. You may have experienced some of this yourself – one of your older, more experienced techs retires early and suddenly there’s no one qualified to replace him. 

It’s no secret that in today’s competitive marketplace, finding the right people to staff your home services business can be difficult. Twenty years ago, it was common for there to be an influx of new, entry-level candidates graduating from their trade school programs or apprenticeships and entering the workforce. So, what has happened over the last 20+ years? The number of young adults leaving the trades for college has increased exponentially. Young people have been pushed away from trade schools and blue-collar work and steered towards college as a “better option” when in reality there are many high-paying blue-collar roles sitting unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates. Now we are starting to see that the people that have been in the trades the longest are starting to retire, so how do we replace them? This is only going to worsen because as the number of home service companies increases, so does the demand for qualified employees. 

I work with entrepreneurs in the home services industry, and they often struggle to find the right people to fill their roles. Some hire based on personality alone, while others rely heavily on resume screening and referrals. However, what they should be doing is hiring based on the three A’s: Attitude, Aptitude, and Appearance, then pay the employee to learn the job. Essentially, if you are looking for the perfect candidate, find someone with the ability and eagerness to learn, then unlock their potential. We call this idea replenishing the workforce. But if we aren’t looking for skills, then what do we look at when fielding potential new employees? 

1. Hire for attitude

Plumber in front of water heater

People who want to hire for the right reasons should look for people with a positive attitude. If you’re going to invest in hiring someone to work for you, make sure the person you hire will be around long-term because you’ll be depending on them. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s okay to hire someone who seems to be a good fit in the short term and see how it works out after the first few weeks. 

You should keep in mind that hiring for the right reasons can lead to a long-lasting relationship between you and your employees. If you have good workers, they are likely to stay with you for years. On the other hand, if you hire for the wrong reasons, you might find that these workers will eventually leave you to seek employment elsewhere. It’s not all about you; it’s about what’s best for the people who are working for you. Your main focus should be to help the people who work for you to get the job done. You can do this by making training a priority focus. The sooner you start, the better.

2. Hire for Aptitude

HVAC techs working together

As an entrepreneur, it’s likely that you’ve heard the term “hire for attitude, train for skill.” The idea behind this concept is that people who are naturally talented can be taught what skills they need to have in order to complete a task. When a person is truly talented, they’re able to pick up new skills easily. However, while they may pick up the skills easily in a practice setting, they may not know when and where to apply them. For this reason, it’s important to consider their ability to learn as well as their attitude when fielding new candidates. This is where aptitude comes in.  

A good rule of thumb is to choose employees with a strong desire to learn. If a person has a strong desire to learn, they will be eager to learn whatever new skills they need to master in order to be successful. You should also think about the company culture. If you have a team of people who have a replenishment mindset, they are going to be more willing to learn new skills. If you have a team of people who are more concerned with their own comfort, they are less likely to take the initiative.

3. Hire for appearance

Happy Plumber

When we say hire for appearance, we don’t mean hire based on what they look like – we mean hire someone based on how they show up and act on the job. Appearance is important, but it’s tied to behavior. If you’re hiring someone to represent you or your company, you want to make sure their appearance on the job is up to your standards. So, when you’re looking for a job applicant, make sure you see a demonstration of the kind of behavior you want to see from your techs in the field.

For example, if you’re interviewing someone for a position, they should be on time. If you’re interviewing someone for a customer-facing role, then they should be polite and respectful to the customer. In short, appearances matter. However, so does behavior. Don’t just look at the physical appearance of the person. You need to see if he or she can be dependable and capable of learning the job. Make sure they demonstrate the qualities you want to see in the people representing you.

4. Train Them to Do the Job

one service tech training another

Once you’ve found the right candidate, what will make them feel like a great fit? You can do this by showing them how they’ll need to be productive. Be clear on expectations and set a training program in place. Identify your best techs, and out of those, identify who would make a good trainer and pair them with your newest employees. By identifying this potential and providing clear direction you create a cycle of workforce replenishment; you are actually building your own workforce from the ground up. 

People learn differently, and each person needs to learn in the way that works best for them. While you may think you know what your employee needs to know, you might be surprised how much your employees don’t know or aren’t paying attention to. If your team is looking to grow, they should consider hiring an outside coach to help them to develop the skills they need to lead by example. A big part of training is providing the necessary tools for success.

Your new employees should not just learn how to do their job but also how to do the job well. This is very important, especially if you want your company to be successful. To succeed in finding the perfect employee when there aren’t any qualified candidates, you will need to make workforce replenishment a priority in your business. People often ask “what if I invest all this time training a tech and they leave?”, but they should actually be worried about what will happen if they don’t train them and they stay. 

5. Evaluate Their Performance

Team of service technicians

After your new employees have been training for a while you will want to see which are excelling and which employees are struggling. You’ll also need to identify what they’re struggling with so you can help them develop the skills they need to succeed. This process will also allow you to identify which tasks each member of the team should take on in the future and will help to identify techs who can act as trainers and continue the cycle of workforce replenishment. Remember, just because someone is a good technician, does not mean they’re a good trainer. 

The people who work for you will be your most important asset. Without the right people, you will fail. You cannot manage a business or organization without having people to help you out in different ways. It is important to identify what the problems are when you evaluate your team members, and then try to improve things. Also, when you evaluate your employees, don’t be afraid to tell them what their strengths and weaknesses are. You will be able to help them to grow and get better. Keeping this line of communication open will foster growth and build employee trust and loyalty.

To be clear, finding great employees is not as complex as it sounds. It’s just a matter of understanding the traits that are attractive to potential applicants and then communicating what you need to be successful. Once, you have the right person on board, teach them to do the job. That’s it. When you break it down like that, it may seem simple. But, don’t let that fool you—it is challenging to set training processes into place when it hasn’t been a focus in your business. So, while it is simple, it’s not easy. Still, if you approach hiring with a replenishment mindset, you will be on the right track to finding the ideal employees for your home service business.