May 21, 2020 | By: Melissa Honan, CEO at Bookkeeping For Painters
“If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... the A-Team.”
We all have a problem and it is clear from the SBA’s recent bungle of assistance that, more than ever, small businesses cannot rely on government intervention and need to help themselves. We just swung from having the lowest unemployment rate in over 50 years to over 30 million unemployed Americans. Things aren’t good and we shouldn’t pretend that everything is sunshine and rainbows. But any successful business owner can tell you that when things aren’t going well, it’s time to make good things happen.
For the past several years, I’ve been hearing painting business owners from all over North America complaining about the lack of skilled workers - or even just unskilled workers. Many of you have hired or contracted work to any person you could find with a pulse. Pass a background check? You’re hired. Didn’t pass a background check? Eh, you’re probably still hired. This is the time to change that and to work on creating better habits when it comes to recruiting. It’s time for you to go out and find your A-Team.
When I go to painting industry events, I can ask a table of painting business owners what their strategy for hiring employees is and get a dozen different answers. So, for the purpose of this article - I am going to discuss my favorite demographic to nag painting business owners about:
Those Damn Millennials aka Generation Z
First of all, there is a 50% chance that when you complain about those damn millennials, you are most likely complaining about Generation Z. Millennials were born between 1981-1996 - that means that they range from 24 to 39 years old - they’re mostly out of college, in the workforce, have families, and have lower back problems. They’re also the largest generation after baby boomers - with 22 percent of the US population - and projected to surpass baby boomers this year. If you say you don’t want to hire millennials - chances are, you already have.
Most millennial complaints are actually directed towards Gen Z - those that were born between 1997 and 2012 - so, ages 8 to 23. The biggest problem that faces each generation is that we’re all placed in a labeled box based on our group as a whole. So, yes, take one of the many complaints that you can have about “kids these days,” and it’s probably true for some of them. However, there are always going to be outliers that bring something more to the table.
We’re talking about a generation of entrepreneurs, explorers, digital experts, and individuals who foster independence. Does that not sound like the making of a future painting business owner? They don’t want to sit in a COVID-infested cubicle for the next 20 years waiting for a 10 cent annual raise. They want to go and make something and see results now. Sure, they’re not going to be easy to manage - but the answer to that is to just change the way you manage so you can foster these young individuals and build upon their strengths.
There are varied rumors that school will not reopen in the fall - embracing the new “e-learning” curriculum that keeps people safe and costs low. Overall, this seems like a popular strategy in regards to curbing the spread of COVID; however, it is an unwelcome fate to prospective and current students that shell out an average of $32,000 a year for the ultimate college experience. This is the time to open a door that shows them there are other options available. Of course, this isn’t going to work for everyone but this is a strategy that does work for a lot of you, and it may be worth a try.
So, how do you find them? Young people aren’t subscribing to services like Indeed and frankly, Craigslist is for creepers. For this to really work in your favor, you need to go where your target audience is: social media. Post ads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest - heck, I challenge you to make a Tik Tok video directing applicants to call you! What is the worst thing that can happen? You have fun and you still don’t have anyone to hire? Best case scenario you find the painter or estimator of your dreams because they liked that you put yourself out there to find them.