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Ep 29: Part 1: Where Did All The Good Talent Go? – Recruiting Roundable with the BTA Coaches

The major trends we are seeing right now in the contractor labour market
A simple solution you can implement today if you can’t afford top talent
How to attract top talent and what it means to be an ‘employer brand’
The culture that attracts great people, how to build it, and how to measure it
The 7 Fundamentals you can leverage to become a top employer brand
The characteristics of a present leader that a team chooses to follow

Watch Episode 29 of the Contractor Evolution ShoW

Listen to Episode 29

Read a Summary of Episode 29

In previous episodes of Contractor Evolution, we’ve talked about tactics and systems, as well as habits and best practices to build the business of your dreams. But really, none of this matters if you feel your labor pool is evaporating before your eyes.

It’s a challenge so many contractors face.

In fact, the struggle to get manpower has become so severe it’s now the proverbial elephant in the room – and we at Breakthrough Academy think it’s time to tackle that elephant head-on.

In this 2 Part Recruiting Roundtable Episode we’ve culled some of our brightest minds at Breakthrough Academy (our parent brand) in the form of coaches Danny Kerr, Thomas Cobleigh, and Ryan Gabel. Combined, they have worked with 100s of highly successful companies in our industry.

In this episode, the coaches discuss the macro trends driving the labour shortage and most importantly, what you as a business owner can do about it. They also talk about The 7 Traits That Make Up A Strong Employer Brand and how building an Employer Brand will become more attractive as an employer.

Let’s dive right in!

The Problem

Labour shortages have been mounting for years: “A lot of people are retiring from the construction industry and not as many people are entering it, even though as a whole the industry is expanding,” says Ryan.

On top of that, Millennials and Gen Z-ers are not as gritty as previous generations and are shifting to tech jobs. Then there’s the pandemic, which just adds insult to injury. “People are being paid to sit at home right now due to COVID,” Danny says. “That’s making the chasm between the work that needs to be done and the manpower available even bigger.” And most experts say that chasm won’t close anytime soon.

The bottom line is, if you’re going to prevail in the recruitment game, you can’t just have an efficiently run business. It needs to be more. It needs to be an entity that attracts people.

The Solution: Become A Strong Employer Brand

While many entrepreneurs have pondered how they add value to the marketplace, relatively few have put as much thought into the value they offer their team. And yet that’s exactly what attracts new recruits.

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson is a great example of someone who developed a killer employer brand. He was so focused on treating employees exceptionally well that even though he lost some of them as they matured, he was getting more new employees because they had heard such positive things about the company.

"The ability for a leader to get their team across the finish line and feel like winners is huge – and makes everything a lot more fun.”

The 7 Traits Of A Strong Employer Brand:


1) Visible Growth Opportunities

Developing ascension plans for staff is one way to become an attractive brand. Thomas cites Judy and Claude Kolk, owners of Kayben Landscape, as entrepreneurs who created a well laid out and organized career path for employees; it detailed the level of experience and abilities needed to assume these roles within their company. 

(Be sure to spend around six hours each year focussing on the high performers and their future path.)


2) Top Tier Compensation

Paying team members fairly and competitively is attractive to employees, but Ryan points out that compensation is more than just money. “Maybe someone needs Friday afternoons to be flexible. Or maybe someone else could benefit from having a gas card. Be open minded and work with your people to determine appropriate compensations.”


3) Run A Mission Based (or Purpose Driven) Business

You created your business to make the world a better place, at some level, so tell that story to engage people. Employees want to be part of something meaningful. 

When Danny became part of a national painting franchise in Edmonton years ago, he felt like an underdog wanting to be the best – that became the mission driving the entire company. “I hired other people who felt like underdogs, and that became our culture. As a result we proved that Edmonton can be the best place ever to rock a painting business.”


4) Fun Company Culture

You can’t attract new recruits without making your workplace fun. How? Make sure you allocate $ toward some super awesome kick-ass events, recognizing milestones and achievements, taking your team out to dinner or sporting events….and then use social media to your advantage and post about the fun things you’re doing. It’s great for ROI.

But Danny warns that a fun culture only works if it’s accompanied by a performance culture: “The ability for a leader to get their team across the finish line and feel like winners is huge – and makes everything a lot more fun.”


5) Recognition

Recognizing individuals for their hard work is often overlooked, especially in the trades. It’s time to recognize the big (and small) wins! 

Establishing a ritual to give individual staff members their due isn’t difficult. Ryan uses an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of peoples’ performance and the perks they love. “When you give someone a bonus you don’t just add it to their paycheck, you give it to them in cash in an envelope. You look them in the eye, thank them for what they did, and shake their hand.”

6) A Sense of Being Part Of Something Bigger Than Yourself

Your business is a unique, complex, ever evolving organism, and everyone plays a pivotal role. How do you communicate that effectively?

“One thing we do as we run our weekly huddles with our team, is that each section of the company reports in on where they’re at versus their goal,” Danny says. “We’re accountable to each other and we can see how each one of us is contributing to being a part of that bigger idea.”


7) Present Leadership (as opposed to absentee leadership)

Regular 1-on-1s with employees are essential. “Most employees are desperate to know what’s going on with the rest of the company,” Ryan says. “If you can spend five minutes a month with each person to get a vibe on where they’re at, as well as tell them what your successes and visions are, that’s a really powerful tool.”

Conversely, Danny advises not to be an overbearing leader, one who assumes all sorts of duties and makes the team feel that they’ll never measure up: “My reason for being is to help my team get across the finish line by providing support, not by doing the work for them.”

(You can get the free resources we talk about in this episode here)



Doing all this isn’t easy, but once you’ve got it down, your employees will become your biggest advocates and almost do the recruiting for you. 

In Part Two we’ll discuss quick win strategies that a lot of our highest level contractors are leveraging to bring aboard the A-players they need, even in this tight market. We can’t wait to share that with you.

Benji Carlson

Benji Carlson

As the son of two proven entrepreneurs, Benji’s spirit for self-starting business runs deep. Since he was a young teen, Benji has been starting and running profitable small businesses; most recently culminating in a highly successful 4-year career as a franchisee with College Pro Painters. Benji’s enormous heart and passion for people is what drove him to produce over $1,000,000 in revenue while taking the highest quality care of his employees and customers. He was consistently acknowledged for having the most productive staff in the company, while leading more junior franchisees to fulfill their potential. Benji’s uncanny ability to find the right people and put them in the right place make him a natural fit for Breakthrough Academy’s Assessment Team.

Upon finishing up his career with College Pro, Benji set out on the ultimate victory lap: a nine-month transcontinental motorcycle trip from Canada to Peru.

Benji lives in beautiful Kelowna BC. During the summer you’ll usually find him on two wheels: either bombing down a trail on his mountain bike or cruising the pavement on his motorcycle. When the snow falls, he escapes to the mountains for steep and deep powder.

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Welcome to Contractor Evolution, a show created for high-performing contractors that are focused on scaling up, working less and increasing profitability.

While a lot of other shows focus on early stage growth challenges, we focus on real life scenarios faced by contractors that are scaling at a rapid rate, and how they keep everything dialed in without losing sight of work/life balance.

If you’re ready to evolve from a contractor into a better business owner, you’re in the right place.

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