Director of Content

Erika Taylor is the director of content for Professional Remodeler. Contact her at etaylor@sgcmail.com or 972.803.4014.

Poach-proofing

Half of his team quit over a single two-week period. The loss was devastating. 

December 21, 2018

I'm friendly with a design-build remodeler who averages around $5 million in annual revenue with 10 employees. Most of his staff are on the production side, and he’s always prided himself in mentoring young people who come into the field with little to no experience.  

So, imagine his surprise when earlier this year, out of nowhere, half of his team quit over a single two-week period. The loss was devastating. This remodeler—who asked that his name not be published—had a number of projects in construction and more in the pipeline. The departures on his team caused a mad scramble for new hires while keeping current work going with a skeleton crew. 

So why did so many of his key players leave at once? Is the guy a terrible boss? Were his projects on top of a leaky nuclear plant? No to both. The people who left did so because they were offered 40% more money to go work for another construction company. Forty percent! Who could turn that down?

This remodeler isn’t alone. A strong market combined with a massive workforce shortage has made poaching stories pretty common across the industry. 

To that end, we looked wages and benefits for production jobs in nine different markets, and found there was an average of 5.3% growth in compensation from 2015-2017. Wages for production jobs are projected to increase another 3.6% in 2019. Those numbers are pretty much on par with the average pay raises across all industries, yet are they high enough? 

A strong market combined with a massive workforce shortage has made poaching stories pretty common across the industry. 

Judging from our story on poaching in this issue, I would say no. We talked with a lot of remodelers-—most wouldn’t go on the record—and many tell a similar tale. 

Tanya Donahue, president of Rhode Island Kitchen & Bath, has an apprentice carpenter who was offered a 30% increase to go work for another company. When Donahue found out she matched the competitor’s offer without even blinking. She then increased the pay for the rest of her team “above the 3-4% cost-of-living increases that we already give.” She adds that with the extra labor costs, “We expect to be down a couple points by year’s end.”

The lower profits no doubt hurt, but Donahue was smart, nimble and proactive in the way she handled the issue. She—along with a number of other remodelers quoted in our story— also do something else that’s just as valuable.

A large part of poach-proofing your business lies in creating a company that inspires loyalty. Every year Fortune publishes a ranking of the top 100 places to work, and the metrics they use to judge is a great lens through which to view your own company. Those variables are: Values, Innovation, Financial Growth, Leadership Effectiveness, Maximizing Human Potential, and Trust. 

Employers who score high on all six stand a much better chance of retaining team members even in the face of competing job offers. Read more about how remodelers fight poaching here.  

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