As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at the R&R table at Violand’s Business Planning Retreat. If you’ve never attended this event before, it’s unique and inspiring; a great place to share ideas and plan for the future. Inside a large banquet hall, tables are set up for restoration and cleaning companies to work together to create their business plan for the following year. Vendors have tables around the outside of the room.

Each day includes different tasks to complete, and there are brief breakout sessions before lunch. This year, the breakout sessions have focused on recruiting, company culture, and succession planning. Unsurprisingly, the sessions about recruiting have been very popular and draw a large crowd. The conversation very closely echoes the sentiments shared by contractors in this year’s State of the Industry study (see page 13). Hiring is hard in the booming economy. The shortage of skilled workers just compounds the problem. But, I’ve overheard some creative recruiting ideas while sitting on the sidelines the last few days.

The Gym

Are you or someone in your leadership team the type that hits the gym early every morning? One restorer said their local gym (the cheap one with the purple branding that will give you pizza) has been a great resource for hiring. The employees are already used to heavy lifting, work early hours, and are severely underpaid. That contractor has hired four people out of that gym and into his company.

Open House

Several companies host open houses that help with bringing people through the doors. People who attend an open house are already interested in the company, right? One gentleman said he works for a few hours every Saturday morning anyway, so he opens his doors and has donuts and orange juice for anyone who walks in. Over the past six months, about 30 people have visited on a Saturday morning; he’s hired three of them.

Schools & Job Fairs

College isn’t for everyone, and more and more high school graduates are thinking twice before taking on student loans in the name of higher education. More students are starting to see that there are good career paths that don’t require a degree; enter restoration! If your local high school has a career day, job fair, or anything of the sort, be there! Same with local community colleges.

With unemployment at a record low, and Lowe’s and Sam’s Club paying more for retail workers than contractors can pay a water tech, the market is tough! Sell the fact that the restoration industry is a career path. Show the next generation what’s ahead, and hopefully some of them will eagerly follow!