At Wylander, we constantly get calls from owners in desperate need of talent for their market. Sometimes it’s a more proactive approach – the owner has had steady growth, and they see the trend is expected to continue, but other times, it’s a call for help.

Recruiting employees in many markets can be really tough: It may seem like it would be relatively easy to find an estimator with Xactimate experience in the southern California market. However, when you take into account all of the parameters in place such as pay, commute (SoCal traffic is brutal at best), benefits and bonus plans, a lot can go wrong once you do come upon a “qualified candidate”.

Finding the Talent

In order to find top talent in a reasonable amount of time, you need to use all of the job boards that are available to you. Some of the more popular ones include CareerBuilder, Monster and Indeed. Make your job post appealing – this is your first chance to entice someone into calling you! Be realistic, but keep your posting optimistic. Use keywords that are relevant to your exact needs. This allows Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to take over – your candidates will use keywords when searching for an open job in their market, and if you’ve used the right ones, your job will show up first in their search results.

Making the Hire

As you move along in your hiring process, being flexible with interview times is crucial. Over 60% of the candidates we hire are passive – this means they already have jobs and we actively sought them out (they weren’t looking). For them, taking a day off for an interview is not nearly as easy as an unemployed candidate showing up at any time you specify. At the interview, be prepared with questions and write down their responses. Notes are important in the second interview stage, or even the upcoming months of their employment. Perform personality assessments; this will give you an insight into their “areas of opportunity”. But a word of caution: knowing a person’s personality will not tell you everything about them. Be sure to keep an open mind and have a good understanding of the value and also the limitations of an assessment before forming an opinion about a candidate.

Train & Equip

When you’ve hired your new employee, it’s certainly an exciting time! But unfortunately, we often forget all of the “tools” our new employee will need to be successful on day one. Plan ahead and prepare a list of items that your new employee will need to do their job; don’t wait until the first day of work to order their computer. Run your list by someone who is in the position now to check if anything is missing. Have your IT person create their login for DASH, Xactimate, Moisture Mapper, email or any other software that they’re using. Create a calendar of training, and note the source for that training. DASH has excellent online training that all new employees should be required to do.

It also helps to have an existing employee as a resource for your new hire. New employees never want to bother the “boss” and will often go without instead of asking how to do something. Make your new hire feel welcome and included right away – s/he only gets one “first day of work”. It sounds simple enough, but many owners have not been a new employee for years, and some owners have never worked for anyone but themselves. I once had an estimator I hired poke his head inside my door and ask, “I’m sorry to bother you but can you show me where the bathroom is, please?” It occurred to me that during the frenzy of daily work and the excitement of checking off the “Hire Estimator” box on my to-do list, I never took him around and gave him a proper tour, nor introductions to the staff. Put yourself in their shoes for the first week or two; it can be an enlightening experience.

Employee Retention & Managing the Generations

After getting the initial hire, we are often asked how to retain good employees: Now that I’ve got ‘em, how do I keep ‘em? There’s not an easy, straightforward answer. Keeping good staff has its challenges. In today’s generational work pool, we are seeing questions from candidates like, “Will I have a flexible work schedule?” and “As long as I get the job done and hit my goals, are you okay if I go hiking some mornings?” Baby Boomers, and their work ethic along with them, are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day[1]. Fortunately, we have the Millennial generation filling the gaps… right? Millennials get a bad rap, but it’s not always deserved (only sometimes). We have the most educated generation in the history of our country and we have to figure out how to harness that intelligence and maximize it. They grew up watching their parents work all day and into the evening, only to be laid off during the Great Recession. Many jobs were lost, subject to wage reductions, and most of their retirement was gone, too. The reality is there are more Millennials than there are Baby Boomers[2], and they will be running our country in the near future. Owners need to make work a good place to be, dare I say it, even fun. Have a slide from the second floor to the first, ping pong tables, or employee anniversary parties. Post funny signs in the bathrooms (“Don’t slip on the pee!”). You’ve figured out how to sell to your customers, but now you need to figure out how to sell to your employees. The most difficult employees for a recruiter to “steal” are the ones that say “I love my company and people I work with.” Strive to be that employer.

Take a Close Look

In closing, I would encourage a restoration business owner to look at attracting, training, and retaining new and current employees in a different way. Interview existing employees to see what their thoughts are on the company, workplace and environment and make note of what they love and dislike. Motivating people is not going to work. They are either motivated or they’re not[3]. Stay ahead of the curve and the competition by listening better, planning better and hiring better.


[1] Pew Research Center- Baby Boomers Retire (

[2] Pew Research Center- Millennial Overtake Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation. (

[3] Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work and What does- Book by Susan Fowler (