Finding quality labor these days is extremely difficult.
Not only has there been decreasing interest in the trades in recent years, the 2008 recession forced many business owners to retire early without being able to pass down their knowledge to a new generation of tradesmen.
But, there’s hope.
In this post, we’ll go over eight tips you can use to create a quality labor force in this day and age:
1. Recruit from existing job sites.
This tip may seem basic, but many contractors forget that one of the best places for finding laborers is at existing job sites.
By going to ongoing projects, you can get up close and see the abilities and work ethic of laborers there firsthand, so that you can have more trust in the experience they claim versus a candidate found online.
Practically speaking, this recruitment process isn’t very difficult. You can assign an employee to go to local job sites, get a hold of supervisors’ contact information, and look into whether there are any crews offering to work on other jobs.
2. Keep track of your individual workers
Here’s a tip that’s a bit neglected among contractors: a lot of the talent you can find out there might already be working at your jobs right now.
The individual laborers that work for your pieceworkers and subcontractors are also great labor options for your own business and all you have to do is keep track of their contact information so you can call on them when needed.
Create a master list of all your pieceworkers and subcontractors by trade so you can call on them as needed.
3. Never use an agency
Many contractors have learned this tip the hard way… he truth is, it’s very difficult to trust the hiring recommendations from non-construction sources like agencies.
This is because, more often than not, candidates who have to rely on agencies to find work usually lack skill and experience. Even in the chance they turn out to be quality workers, it’s hard to be certain beforehand without any context.
It’s usually a better use of a business owner’s time to look for labor through construction-related sources, rather than go through the unpredictability of agencies and job posting sites.
4. Ask around for Pieceworkers or “small groups”
There are many pieceworkers and independent crews out there available for freelancing.
The only thing is that many of these 1099 workers depend on crews of undocumented laborers, so you may run into some “gray” area with the IRS.
However, legal status aside, many of these crews have good work ethic and are skilled at their trades, making them highly sought-after labor options for construction companies across the country. In fact, according to the Center for American Progress, undocumented immigrants make up 13% of construction workers, despite making up only 3.2% of the U.S. population.
In the context of today’s labor shortage, it seems many companies are catching on to the practicality of hiring these freelance laborers, so if you’re shorthanded, these teams are a cheaper, quality option.
5. “Lease” labor from similar companies
There’s lots of companies who have labor to spare, and you can use this to your advantage. By reaching out to companies in a similar field as you, you can find many who are willing to provide workers for an hourly rate.
For example, if you reach out to concrete or drywall companies and ask for an hourly rate, most of those companies would be happy to provide you with labor for an added fee. So, if they have a spare concrete worker who makes $30/hr, they’ll charge you $35/hr in order to make a profit of $5/hr, simply by just providing labor. When you run the numbers, providing a crew of just 10 full-time workers, that business could make $2000 in a week.
Due to its ease and practicality, this system of labor is quite popular among smaller contractors. Of course, workers leased from another company might not be as reliable as an in-house team, but the simplicity of this strategy makes it a helpful tip for companies who are shorthanded.
6. Find Pieceworkers on Craigslist
Although you will have to go through a lot of bad ones to find the good ones, Craigslist can be a great source for finding independent contractors if an in-house team doesn’t sound like a good option for you at the moment.
7. Contact local trade or vocational schools.
Many contractors want top talent, yet they don’t make much effort to find it. A simple, yet effective strategy you can use is to reach out to trade schools directly and see how you can get into contact with new graduates.
Of course, trade school graduates tend to be easier to develop because of their formal training, so they tend to expect higher wages, which contractors should be prepared to pay to remain competitive. On that note, that leads me to our final tip:
8. Pay top dollar and recruit experienced talent
With this labor shortage, securing quality can seem almost impossible due to labor turnover. Labor turnover is the rate at which workers leave your organization and in recent years, labor turnover rates in construction have skyrocketed.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the annual quit rate in 2021 for construction workers was almost 30%. For reference, the average labor turnover rate across all industries is around 18%, making construction one of the most unpredictable industries in terms of employment.
With a workforce that’s constantly cycling through employers, it’s important that you are competitive with your pay if you want to secure quality workers for the long-term. It’s unfortunate, but nowadays the main way contractors can attract top talent and keep them employed is by paying higher than average wages.
The Secret to 10X your Construction Business
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