For most construction companies, it is not too difficult to find people with bodies who are able to nail shingles. The difficulty is finding the right people - people who are as committed to excellence as you are.

The success of your company depends on your ability to recruit, hire and retain the right people.

The title on the cover of the April 2006 issue ofEntrepreneurmagazine reads: "Employee Retention: Solving Your #1 Business Challenge." It goes on to say, "You told us holding on to good employees is your biggest problem." The fact is that there is no use at all in retaining poor employees, so you must first recruit and then hire the right people before you should worry about retaining them. In fact, if you recruit and hire the right people, you will want to retain them. The reason a lot of companies don't retain well is because inside their gut many employers really don't want to keep the people they have! They simply recruited and hired poorly.

For most construction companies, it is not too difficult to find people with bodies who are able to nail shingles. The difficulty is finding the right people - people who are as committed to excellence as you are.

Recruiting, hiring and retaining Latino employees carries its own unique set of cultural, legal and business challenges. Before going into more detail about each of these areas, allow me to share a few thoughts with you as to why I believe the Latino workforce is the very best labor force in the country today.

First, the overwhelming majority of people from Mexico and Central America come to the United States specifically for the purpose of working. They want to work; this is why they are here! People are motivated to work hard to earn money not just for themselves, but also for their families back home. I realize that generalizations about members of a culture can be easily misunderstood as not everyone is the same, but generally speaking a strong work and service ethic is engrained in most Latino cultures, whether the people were born in America or another country. Another reason is we're just really good people to be around. Don't just take it from me; ask your peers. Americans all over the country tell me how much they enjoy just being around Latino people.

In this three-part series I will give you the keys you need to open the door to success in recruiting, hiring and retaining successful Latino workers.


Let's think not only in terms of recruiting, but marketing as well. When you are recruiting, you are really marketing your company to your future associates. If you know how to market your products and services to your clients, you should be able to recruit new employees effectively as well.

The key questions are as follows:
  1. Who do I recruit?
  2. Where do I recruit?
  3. How do I recruit?

Who Do I Recruit?

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Where Should I Recruit?

The best example of recruiting known to mankind is the U.S. Marine Corps. Young men enlist in the most dangerous and physically challenging branch of the military in the world's most aggressive military. Have you watched their television commercials? Nothing but adventure and challenge. Being in the Marines is like being up on a roof - a whole lot of adventure and challenge.

So, where do the Marines recruit these young men who want adventure and physical challenge? They recruit on school campuses, that's where. They wait for these kids to get out of high school and enroll. I believe every company should have several young men waiting on their phone call with the good news, "Hey, congratulations on finishing high school. We would like you to come and work with us." Sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn't it? Do you know why? I'll tell you why, and this is going to hurt - most owners and managers of roofing companies don't really believe it is a good job or a promising career.

How can you market your company (that is, recruit someone to work for you) when it's something you don't believe in? The main reason so many companies have such a hard time recruiting is because they don't believe they are offering a solid career path to someone.

My friend, if a person traveled all the way from Mexico with a low level of formal education and a salary history of around $100 a month in U.S. dollars, if he could find work at all, wouldn't working for a great company like yours at your company's starting salary more be a great job? This is especially true if you really do have a great company. At the very least, if you show respect, pay decently and ensure the employee's personal safety, it's a pretty good gig. What could be better than being out and up in the open air?

Here are my three top places where you should recruit Latino workers:

1. Schools.A lot of young men these days have no plans of entering college. This doesn't mean they won't work; it means they don't want to go to college and study. Some people are not book people. They enjoy working with their hands. Why not go to a school that has a high Hispanic populace and conduct a job fair there? You'll even get the added benefit of having someone who speaks some English. (If not, he couldn't graduate.) These people can make excellent future supervisors, and most of them have grown up with the examples of their parents and family members being hardworking people. In this setting, you can even screen students by speaking with their school counselor before making a final hire.

2. Churches.Every minister I know wants to help the people in the congregation find a good job. This not only helps the minister get a firm footing with the family, but it also helps the level of donations to the church. The ministers of Hispanic churches are very motivated to help their members find a good job. They will also know what type of person they recommend to you and will be careful to recommend good people, since their reputation is at stake also. My advice is to make good friends with several of the local Hispanic ministers. You could even hold a job fair for them; many of them are part-time ministers and may just like being a bit closer to God - you know, in elevation.

3. Latino Associations.In cities or areas with any sizeable Latino population there are normally one or several social organizations offering job placement services. This is great because these organizations have already screened the person because, again, to some degree their reputation is on the line. These organizations also hold job fairs on fairly frequent intervals, so get involved. Just pick up your local P

How Should I Recruit?

Recruiting is selling, and to sell, you must be sold. Treat recruiting like you treat sales. Do you have any recruiting brochures? Do you send a nice letter to your potential new partner telling him more about having a great future with you? Do you make a follow-up phone call like you do when you are trying to sell someone your services? Do you? Go after the best and you'll be the best.

Make a vow to stop waiting until the last minute to find someone under pressure. This is like trying to make a $10,000 sell on Thursday knowing full well that you can't make payroll on Friday if you don't. Too much pressure equals bad business.

You should recruit systematically, professionally and with a firm belief that you are offering a solid work opportunity.

As a legitimate contractor, you should have your own employee base that you recruit and train. This is the only way for you to be sure that your image and your butt are protected. If you choose to use subcontractors, which I do not recommend, make sure you are dealing with one who operates his business in an ethical and professional manner and use your influence to help others see the benefits of operating as a professional business within the United States.

Did you know that the City of Atlanta had to put additional police force at several different train stations due to increased assaults on Friday afternoons on Latinos being paid in cash? Who pays them in cash? The subcontractor who doesn't want to report taxes, that's who. Many of these companies - and it pains me to admit this - are run by Latinos. I hope we can find a way to reach them and help them to begin to run their businesses professionally and ethically. This is in everyone's best interest.

In the next article in this series, we'll go into detail as to how to hire these wonderful people you will soon have waiting in line to work for you. Hiring is a lost art in many roofing companies, and I'll teach you how to make sure you consistently hire the right people who will still be with you when you are ready to retire.