Competition for workers in roofing is brutal. Skilled roofers, office staff, salespeople, or estimators; the best are in high demand. 

Solutions have been presented at RC’s annual Best of Success conference for years. We’ve heard some great ideas, such as advertising at high-school football and soccer fields or aiming recruiting ads at landscape workers. Anything to find potential workers who identify as enjoying outdoor work. 

We’ve written about engaging with technical schools to compete for skilled-trade workers about to graduate. Some roofing contractors have become engaged with technical schools in their areas. Roofing contractors have engaged with SkillsUSA, attending their skills competitions to meet with trade-school instructors and students about to enter the skilled trades.

Developing skilled workers is essential for the roofing industry to thrive. Growing your roofing business demands that you are perpetually in recruiting mode.

It’s arguably more important to stay in retaining mode. It is important to always be ready to replace workers but retaining them is money in the bank.

I believe the best way to keep good people is by being a good boss; running a company with a culture so compelling that nobody wants to leave. And, as a bonus, people working in great companies are themselves great recruiters.

One management technique often overlooked in construction trades is a keen focus on people. The thought is if you take care of your people, they will take care of your customers and your business. Most contractors focus first on customers followed by key employees, paying the least attention to the employees who power the jobs and are the face of the company on projects.

A quote I heard some time ago from Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian stays with me. Asked to describe his job as CEO of Delta in five words, he responded with, “Taking care of our people.” Sage advice from the head of a successful enterprise with 80,000 employees.  

You have great options for taking care of your people. I won’t cover them all here, but will offer one example. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recently presented roofers with the opportunity to gain recognition as a certified professional. NRCA’s ProCertification program gives skilled roofers the chance to hold a third-party accredited certification in one of 19 different disciplines. The program is still under development, but the first three disciplines, available now, are key: Asphalt Shingle Installer, TPO Installer, and Pro Foreman.

If you form a partnership to help your roofers become certified, you will not only employ roofers that stand above the crowd, you will have roofers with whom you have partnered to enhance their careers.

I’ve heard all the arguments against supporting roofers to become certified. Contractors think if a roofer becomes certified, they will only cost more or leave for a better job. I think that is very short sighted. People don’t leave great jobs at great companies.

Things you do for your people, such as helping them through the ProCertification process, add to the story you will tell people you are trying to recruit. The story of how you help your people succeed is one of the most compelling you can tell.