Hiring Strategies for Home Service Companies

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Our pros consistently list hiring as one of the top challenges to growing their business. We’ll walk you through how to build a successful hiring practice using examples from our own company. We’ll provide examples of useful interview questions and other tips for how to successfully interview job candidates.

Overview: The Keys to Successful Hiring

Housecall Pro’s Senior Vice President of People Melina Fairleigh has been building successful teams for over twenty years. She’s developed four key principles when it comes to hiring:

  1. Tell your story 

  2. Have a hiring process

  3. Embrace your past

  4. Change your mindset

In this video, she talks to Housecall Pro’s COO Brooks Pettus about how home service companies can apply her principles and improve their hiring process.

There are four key things that I think people should be looking at when they're looking at hiring. And the first is to really do a good job of telling their story. So even if you're just an owner-operator, you've never hired someone you're known or operator for a reason. So what was that reason? What made you go want to do it yourself? You thought you could do it better. You thought maybe you could do it with more integrity. You thought you had a skill that could benefit customers. So tell that story because these days candidates have choices. You probably won't be their only job offer. So how do they choose you in the end? And part of that is just by sharing who you are, you know, where are you on your journey as a company? Why did you get into this in the first place? And sometimes you gotta reach back and remember, because if you're out there looking to hire, you're probably frustrated. You're probably overworked. You know, you probably are not sending out the signals necessarily all the time of like, this is the best place to work because you're in that situation of really needing someone yesterday.

That store to be real, authentic, motivated, like catalyzing for someone to come join your vision, right? Your view of the world that you want to, and the pursuits and the dreams that you have, you want them to become a part of that. So it has to be something that's real and that they'll have that same visceral response that you do.

Yeah. So that's the first is to really connect with, you know, why you got into this in the first place and then share that story. So let's say you were going to post a job online or, or post something down to the local trade school. You know, if they've got a bulletin board, don't just copy what the other guys are doing. I mean, being formed by that, like know how people are describing jobs, but then tell your story. People remember stories, the bullet points are nice, but like why, why your company? So that's really the first thing. So then the second thing is to have a process, to have a hiring process, right, and what's more best in class and I'm an operator, but I love process. Right? I love systems. You will, you are the best hiring process that I've yet come across. So where did that come from?

We've built a replicable machine, you know, to have stages and steps and then to follow them through. But once you map them out, it does become easy. I mean, it doesn't necessarily create more texts in the world, but at least when you find one, you know that you've got a solid process. Nothing's getting missed. No balls are getting dropped. If you tell someone, you'll call them back on Wednesday, you call them back on Wednesday.

But to be clear Mel, it's simple. Like you're not talking about rocket science. I'm talking about just a system that is deliberately get up and do this and this and this every time. Right. So give us, give an example or a couple examples of how our process runs.

So for one of our most common positions, we start with a phone screen. So it's a conversation it's 20 minutes or so. So with the member of the people team and they find out what that person's looking for, make sure they've read the job description, make sure that they really have the experience they say they do. And then from there they schedule someone to come in on site and meet with a couple of people. Um, we also have a little sort of work product test where we have them do a mock phone call. Like they might get, we actually do it while they're here. They sit in one conference room, we sit in the other and they give us a call and we go through a bit of a script and just see how do they really sound? Um, so it's a real live demonstration, and then from there, we have a process of voting. It's pretty simple yes, let's bring them back for an interview. No, let's not. Or hey, let's talk about it. Some and everyone involved everyone's vote is equal.

To work with that person. So it's important that we all have a say and no matter what my position or your position is, the people in the front line are the ones we'll be closer to that individual. Most likely anyway. So everyone has an equal vote.

Everyone has equal vote. And then we bring them back for one, one final interview and do the same round of voting and then make an offer. And week we can run that process over and over again, and we can run it with amazing speed. And we will often talk to candidates to have two or three things in process. And we finished first, but not because we cut a corner or don't do the work. The third one I want to touch on is it's a little bit controversial. We've been talking about finding good people and keeping good people. But the third item is to embrace your past, which means there are probably some folks that got away, you know, there's that good employee. That's not working for you anymore. That maybe went to work somewhere else. Maybe they went to go do it on their own. Maybe they even took a customer and you're not feeling so great about that, but maybe some time has passed. So what are they doing now? Maybe the grass isn't greener. Think about how much better your life was when they worked for you. So stay in touch with those folks. That's a great idea. Instead of writing them off, which is much more like my ego will say, damn then like I write to you all, but that's a narrow way to live in reality. It's an emotional way to live versus what's the best thing for my business now. And over time, that's a great idea. And that's poorly kind of helps build your networking skills to which you have to have if you want to be in this business. So it's not just your customers, but you're thinking about networking people that can work with you or that may have worked with you and bring them back in this world. We have, I mean, we look about 10% of our customers come back to us who left us because they love working the pride and they realize, Hey, I can't go back to pen and paper. It turns out that technology was pretty good. So it was kinda the same thing for workforce.

So much is about timing. You know, you could have had a great employee who something was going on in their life that, you know, will cause them to need to go do something else for a while, but stay in touch, see what they're up to. And then also in a case where let's say you, you did have two or three candidates, um, maybe even offered one. And they said, no, or maybe you were down to a final to keep in touch with the ones that you don't hire. You know, the runner up, if you will, because again, maybe they were too experienced, maybe too expensive at the time or not experienced enough.

For the stage of where you are in your business dictates when that person might be a fit right down the road and not today. Yeah. That's so, so you're basically just building a pipeline of opportunity and relationships he can use. The point is not to start from scratch every time. Right. And that really leads me to the fourth thing, which is to change your mindset about hiring. Hiring is not an event. It's not something that happens at one moment in time. So my recommendation is that people start to say, I'm always looking for great people, right? I'm always looking for great people. You might not have a whole, you might not have an opening. You might be a one person shop. But someday you're going to need someone. So to let your network know, Hey, I'm always looking for great people. When someone says, Hey, are you hiring right now? You know what? I'm always looking for great people. I might not have a whole today, but I'd love to spend 10 minutes on the phone with the person you have.

Download Our Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Hiring Practice

Now you know why you need a hiring process. Download our step-by-step guide to building the best hiring practice. Here’s what’s included in the download:

  • Detailed checklist of hiring process

  • 7 job posting templates

  • 20 sample interview questions (related to technical skills, values, cultural fit, and future goals)

  • List of technical testing resources sorted by industry

Free Hiring Guideline Checklist and Job Description Templates

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In the next video, Mel gives examples of great questions to ask candidates. She also shares her thoughts about how the hiring process fits into your brand and can impact how people see your company.

I've noticed this. And I think I've interviewed now, well, hundreds and hundreds of people, you do the little things really well. Also make sure that everyone who's interviewing. So let me say it differently. You make sure that when that candidate comes through our office and even long before any of it, after they have an extraordinary experience, because we want to be, well, we want our employer brand to stand for something right. That they're going to learn something they're gonna grow. And they're gonna develop by coming here and participating in this process regardless where they get the job or not. So little things like you make sure that the interviewers myself included show up on time. Yeah. Because you want to make sure that I'm being respectful of their time, but I'm investing in them in some way. I find that remarkable because in other companies I've had that, wasn't always the case and those little things add up and you get great feedback that, Hey, I had this great experience. I mean, I didn't get the job or I did get the job, but they really treated me well. And I felt like I learned something and I grew, and that's all you can add about it. Think of, think of candidates like customers. It's rare that they have a neutral experience. It's always typically a positive experience or a negative one. There they are. Absolutely. And, and also I've had candidates that we haven't hired that have referred other people to me, Hey, I wasn't a good match for this spot, but I think I know someone who might be because they had such a good experience. We actually survey all of our candidates after their interviews are completed and the process is over. So if we offer you a job, we survey and ask you how the experience was. And if we didn't offer you a job, we surveyed you and ask you how the experience was so that we know, and we know where we can improve.

The other thing I've noticed that you do with this team is you prepare, you actually coach the people, interviewing them on how to give a good interview and even some of the sets of questions and the kinds of questions you want to ask. Do you want to talk a little more about that?

We compile for any of our open positions, a set of questions that will help us get to the information that we need to make a relevant hiring decision. So whatever technical skills we need, we build questions around those to make sure that nothing's ever missed and then around culture and how we do work together. We ask people questions like, how do you have fun at work? Hopefully they have fun with their coworkers, with the customer and we'd get to hear those stories. So we build that out for every job so that we're not only asking you about your experience or your skills or your education, but we're also asking you about, you know, what you're like to work with because we work in close quarters and how we're we all sit right next to each other half on top of each other. You can hear everyone's conversation. We want to work with people who, you know, we're going to add to the culture in a way that is exciting and positive.

I would probably be them, you know what I would find if I was going to call the last, you know, three houses they went to, so assuming they've done this work before, so, you know, think of the last three jobs you went on. If I were to call the homeowner, what would they tell me? You know, what would they say about you? If I were to ask people really start to think about that and they, you know, what you want to hear? Someone says, gosh, I really hope that they'd say, I did the little extras or I took extra time. Or if there's someone that's home, when they clean, I think they'd say that they look forward to me coming over.

And that moment of truth, pick me to surprise them a little bit, but in an authentic way, they reveal so much, right. It really lets you into who they are and how they think about their own personal brand and what the value is of the work that they deliver and the experience they deliver. Because so much of what we've observed about the home services space is that like, I can't tell you anything about electrical work. The light goes on, the light goes off. That's about as much as I know, but I can tell you everything about the experience I have with that tech who came to my house. And I can also tell you, like, just like I would have my review or my feedback. What did I think of that individual? What was the customer service that they gave me? Did they do the things that they should do in a professional way?

Do they ask me, what does success look like when they came to my house? They even asked me ahead of time, how would this be a great service call, such a rare question, but it's one that I love. And one that I coach and some of the people that I get to work with, because if you just ask what success is, and then you deliver on that value, it's so easy, then ask for a review or for a reference or a referral. And those are the kinds of things that I'd want to know. If I were hiring a tech, would they be able to go, not just do the work technically, can they go and take care of the customer? Because that's what a magical list in growing a business. It is that obsession around customer, around the customer and the consumer.

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