How To Hire Great Installers

Come out ahead of bad hires and assemble a great crew


It's a refrain heard time and again among Rain Gutter Association (RGA) members: one of the greatest challenges in running a gutter installation business is not just attracting, but also retaining, quality staff. The construction industry has a reputation for not attracting the most reliable individuals. Yet, with a strategic approach and concerted effort, your business can break the mold, attracting a steady stream of high-quality applicants.

This comprehensive guide will shed light on how you, as a gutter company owner, can navigate through these challenges. From clearly defining your needs, effectively marketing your openings, using RGA resources, setting precise expectations, to facilitating pre-employment testing and certifications, we'll explore proven strategies that can help you attract, select, and retain the best installers for your company.

Interview Within a Value Framework: One of the most effective ways to evaluate potential installers during the interview process is by adopting a value framework approach, as advocated by Gino Wickman in his seminal work, "Traction". At RGA, we've encapsulated these values into the acronym INSTALL: Integrity, Neatness, Safety, Technical Expertise, Attention to Detail, Learner's Mindset, and Leadership. Your company may have its own set of values.

Incorporating a value-based interview approach ensures that the potential hire is not only proficient in their skills but also aligns with your company's core values, significantly enhancing the likelihood of longterm retention and team cohesion.

For instance, suppose you're interviewing a candidate for an experienced crew lead role.

You might start by asking technical questions about gutter installation techniques, such as how gutters are hung or how they would handle a complicated job. This allows you to gauge their Technical Expertise and their capacity to work independently. You could then follow this up with questions designed to ascertain their Attention to Detail. For example, you might ask about a time when they had to carry out a particularly meticulous job, how they ensured its precision, and how they handled any challenges encountered. After the interview, take time to evaluate how well the candidate's responses and demeanor align with your team's value framework. Are they demonstrating the qualities represented in INSTALL? If the overall answer is yes, then you've found a candidate who is likely to add significant value to your team, both in terms of their technical skills and their alignment with your company culture.

Maintain a Steady Flow of Applicants: One of the key strategies for ensuring a reliable and talented workforce is maintaining a steady stream of applicants. Aim for a robust pipeline of around 20-40 applicants a month. Although not all of these individuals will be interviewed, having a larger pool provides you with greater flexibility and a safety net. This proves invaluable when you need to hire quickly to accommodate for turnover or rapidly expand your workforce.

Building such a pipeline may require investing some resources into advertising your open positions. Social media platforms, particularly Facebook, can be a cost effective and far-reaching tool for this purpose. By crafting engaging and targeted ads, you can reach potential candidates who might not have been actively seeking a job, but upon seeing your ad, are compelled to apply.

However, the ease of application is crucial. The more complicated the application process, the higher the chance that potential candidates drop out midway. To optimize this process, consider hosting a simple job board on your website or providing an online form for easy application submissions. An easy-to-navigate, straightforward application process can significantly increase your pool of applicants, contributing to a continuous stream of potential new hires.

A steady flow of applicants doesn't just provide you with more options—it also allows you to maintain a high standard, ensuring you're always bringing the best possible talent onboard.

Leverage Online Interviews:
In today's digital world, utilizing online tools for the initial interviewing process can significantly streamline your hiring efforts.Platforms like Zoom allow you to interview more candidates in a day.

These initial virtual interviews are especially useful for gauging a candidate's qualifications, their communication skills, and getting a feel for their personality. You can assess their familiarity with the gutter installation industry, their understanding of the job requirements, and how well they align with your value framework, all from the comfort of your office.

However, while online interviews are efficient and convenient, they may not entirely replace the value of in-person interactions, especially for subsequent interviews. In-person interviews offer a deeper, more personal connection, enabling you to observe the candidate's demeanor, their level of professionalism, and how well they might fit into your existing team. Moreover, in-person meetings could allow candidates to demonstrate practical skills that are difficult to assess over a video call.

Therefore, consider a blended approach. Use online interviews as a filter to identify potential candidates, and then invite the most promising ones for a more comprehensive in-person interview. This way, you optimize both your time and the opportunity to meet the best potential installers for your business.

Invest in Your Community:
Building strong ties with your local community is not just about creating a positive brand image—it can also be a highly effective recruiting tool. Engaging in community activities, whether it's sponsoring a local sports team, participating in charity events, or hosting community-building initiatives, can significantly boost your brand's reputation and visibility.

The best candidates are often those who come to you via referrals or those who have seen your company actively making a difference in the community. By demonstrating your company's commitment to giving back, you attract individuals who share similar values and who are likely to be highly committed and loyal to your company.

Community investment isn't just altruistic—it's strategic. It helps position your brand positively in the public eye and differentiates you from competitors. This not only enhances your chances of attracting more customers, but it also makes you an employer of choice for potential employees.People want to work for companies that care about their communities and demonstrate strong ethical values.

Every charitable act, every sponsored event, and every community initiative is an opportunity to showcase your brand, your values, and your commitment to your community. It's not just excellent advertising—it's a powerful recruiting tool.

Use RGA Resources: As a member of the RGA, you have a host of resources at your disposal - including fliers designed to recruit installers - that we can brand with your logo. This material is most effective at job fairs or in the office, but consider giving some to your employees to aid in their recruiting efforts.

Embrace Inexperienced Installers: It's natural to gravitate towards candidates with a wealth of experience, but don't be too quick to overlook those new to to gutter installation. Hiring inexperienced installers can actually be a strategic move for your company, offering several distinct advantages.

First, inexperienced installers bring a fresh perspective to your operations. They don't need to unlearn bad habits they may have picked up a different gutter company, and they'll more easily adapt to your way of doing business. One RGA member, AdvantageSeamless Gutters in MN, actually prefers to hire people without experience for this reason.

Secondly, inexperienced installers are often eager to prove themselves and may demonstrate higher levels of commitment and motivation. This drive can result in exceptional performance and dedication to the job.

The key to unlocking the potential of inexperienced installers lies in effective training and mentoring. This is where the resources provided by the Rain GutterAssociation (RGA) can prove invaluable. The RGA offers a variety of training resources that are designed to quickly and efficiently onboard new employees, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to become competent installers.

These resources include comprehensive training programs, certifications, and pre-employment testing tools that can help gauge a new hire's training needs, ensuring they can hit the ground running. Moreover, with this tailored training approach, you can mold HOW TO HIRE GREAT INSTALLERS Page 3 new hires in a way that perfectly aligns with your company's standards and values.

So, consider inexperienced installers not as a hiring risk, but as a potential asset. With the right training and guidance, they could become the driving force of your company's future success. After all, today's trainee could be tomorrow's team leader.

Pre-Employment Testing and Certification:
RGA offers valuable pre-employment testing tools for members, providing insights into the applicant's understanding of gutter installation. It can help gauge how much training new employees might need, allowing you to prepare for their onboarding and training phase.

RGA certification is another important factor to consider. Having certified gutter installers not only gives your company a competitive edge but also ensures your staff members adhere to industry standards and best practices.

Pay Well: Compensation plays a huge role in your ability to attract and retain the best talent in the industry. As the saying goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

A study by the Center for American Progress found that the cost of losing an employee can range from16% of their salary for hourly, unsalaried employees, to 213% of the salary for a highly trained position. This high cost is due to the expenses associated with hiring and training a new employee, along with lost productivity as the new employee gets up to speed.

The study also highlighted that offering competitive wages could significantly reduce turnover rates, as employees were less likely to leave a well-paying job. By reducing turnover, companies could avoid these associated costs, making it a sound financial decision to offer higher wages to employees.

Paying competitive wages is an investment in your team, your services, and ultimately, your business's overall success. When you offer attractive compensation packages, you attract higher-quality applicants, reducing the risk of hiring subpar installers or those with questionable backgrounds. Not only that, but you also foster employee loyalty and reduce turnover, saving your business from the cost and disruption of frequent hiring.

This approach is especially crucial when it comes to crew leaders. As the individuals responsible for overseeing work on the ground and directly interacting with customers, they are the face of your business. If they are not paid commensurate with their responsibilities and skills, there is a real risk of them starting a competing gutter company. This could lead to both your employees and your customers, especially the contractors you subcontract for, being enticed away.

Affording competitive wages, of course, is dependent on maintaining healthy business revenues. This involves optimizing your sales practices, establishing aggressive yet fair pricing strategies, and effectively marketing your services. Fortunately, these are all areas where the Rain Gutter Association (RGA) can provide invaluable support. The RGA offers resources and expert access to help you refine your business strategies, ensuring you have the revenue required to invest in your most valuable asset— your employees.

If you're an owner of a small rain gutter company, consider becoming an RGA member. Our association provides an abundance of resources designed to help you. As a member, you'll have access to:

  • Comprehensive training: Hone your skills and stay updated on industry developments.
  • Certifications: Gain recognition for your expertise and commitment to quality.
  • Valuable resources: Learn from a supportive community and access materials to help you manage and grow your business.
  • Benefits: Gain access to discounted services and software from RGA affiliates.

The Rain Gutter Association is committed to raising the bar in the rain gutter industry, benefiting consumers and businesses alike. Take a step toward success and longevity today—join the RGA.
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