It costs a lot of time, money and energy to hire, train and retain top-quality employees, but if you do it the right way, it’s worth the investment. That was the message of Michael Huntington, director of maintenance operations for AAA Roofing Co. in Indianapolis. The third-generation roofing contractor shared some of the ways his company has built its workforce during the past 90 years in his presentation titled “Retaining Quality Workers and Maintaining Integrity in Tough Economic Times.”
“We spend a lot of money training people to do things the right way,” Huntington said. Proper training allows a company to reach maximum efficiency and ensure quality. Trusting relationships with employees help solidify great relationships with customers, who are more likely to recommend the company to others. “It also helps increase the loyalty among our clients, who are always mentioning our fabulous workforce,” he said.
It’s nice to get congratulatory calls from customers about a job well done, noted Huntington, but that’s just the icing on the cake. “The end goal is to eliminate the competition and give customers a quality installation at a good price.”
The philosophy has kept AAA growing despite a tough economy. “We’ve been able to increase profit and revenue over the last six years,” he said. “There is always work to be done. It’s easier for roofers to weather the economic storm. You’ve got to work on your business, not just in your business. And it’s easier to grow a business when you can trust everything else is fine.”
It all begins with hiring, noted Huntington. All the training in the world won’t help if the employee doesn’t have the right attitude or the talent to execute the task at hand. “You have to hire the right person for the right job,” he said. “It seems generic, but often people miss on that key point.”
The hiring process can be time consuming, but it doesn’t pay to rush it, noted Huntington. “You have to be patient,” he said. “Get to know people before you hire them. It doesn’t stop at the background check. Call all of the references. Have multiple interviews. Talk about things besides roofing. And most of all trust your instincts. Don’t overanalyze.”
Also, don’t be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you are. “It makes you look awesome, and it makes your job incredibly easier,” Huntington said.
After the hiring process, you’ve got to make sure employees buy in to your company’s way of doing things, and that means listening as well as talking. It also means expressing appreciation for a job well done — another commonly overlooked point. “If you don’t appreciate your guys, they won’t appreciate your business, and they won’t install the quality product the customer deserves.”
Employees have to know what the company does and what it stands for, and that begins with a clear, concise mission statement. When employees feel a part of the company’s overall vision, everyone on the team succeeds. “If the mission is not clear to them, they might not make the decision you want them to make,” said Huntington. “When we hire people, we look at it as a long-term investment. We want to provide a career, not just a job. I’m very proud to work at AAA Roofing, and I want my employees to feel the same way.”
Creating an enjoyable, challenging and rewarding work atmosphere can also be the best recruiting tool a company could have. “Retaining quality employees can help you maintain successful, stable, profitable growth throughout any economy.”