How to Find and Keep Good Employees

Steve Stone
Owner CEO

One of the biggest problems we face when trying to find potential employees is that more people feel like success is deserved and not earned. Kids graduating expect to go straight into a job where they are making the kind of money we are making after 10 years in the business. You and I know that is not reality. Reality is that you have to start at the ground and work your way up.  It takes a little while for these new grads to figure that out. In order to combat this preconceived notion we have to get the right potential employees in the door to show them how we are going to get them to the level of success they desire.

Finding and keeping good, dependable employees is not an easy task. That’s something I learned the hard way during my 20 years in the plumbing and HVAC business. Keeping good employees is just as difficult as finding them.  Even after you get them in to interview and they accept the position, you still have work to do. Once you have them, make sure you don’t let them go.


One of the biggest challenges for employers comes from being unsure on how to attract respectable employees. Before I joined success groups I was faced with this same challenge. I was trying to hire other companies’ employees and that never worked out in my favor.  There are several problems with that method. One was that if you take them away from another company you will run the risk of having to play the bribe game with pay. The potential employee could say that they would come work for you if you will pay them $8 more an hour. The second issue with recruiting from other companies was if they were no longer with the other company because they got fired and see your add in the paper or online, the likelihood that you want him on your team is slim. We overcame this obstacle by hiring from outside of the service industry.

The first step you should take is offering your potential employees something that they will see as beneficial to bring them on board. Focus in on what makes them tick and put a plan together. There is no question that pay, incentive pay, benefits and 401K’s are all factors that will help attract employees looking for a career versus just a job. The difficult part about this is that you must educate the people you are trying to recruit about what these benefits truly mean for them.

When you were younger retirement and 401K’s were not as important as what you’re going to get paid upfront and the potential for overtime and/or bonus pay. Because they do not teach the importance of planning for retirement in school, when potential employees come out they have absolutely zero interest in planning for the future. However, don’t count it out completely because at some point your employees will see the benefit, it does attract good employees but at this point in their lives new employees are looking for pay and insurance.

Another thing my company did to find good employees was to offer a referral and recruitment program. Whoever referred the tech we hired would be in line to receive a $500 bonus after that employee made it through the 90-day probationary period.

Here is the key to recruiting – recruit even when you don’t need someone. The biggest mistake you can make is when you stop recruiting. When I had my plumbing company I had good people walk in my office that would have fit in perfectly, but I did not need anybody right then. I learned from this experience that if I could see the opportunity in these walk-ins and believed they would be a good employee, I needed to hire them. In the end they will pay you back 10 fold. Don’t let them walk out of the door.  You find a place for them. You can never have enough good people.


Once you get your new employees on board you have the hard job of keeping them bought into the company. One way we incentivized our employees once we had them on board was by finding out what hobbies they had. Letting them visualize what they will receive for reaching their goal is key. Let’s say one of our new hires liked to hunt and fish.  I would ask them what kinds of rifles they liked and I would hang them on the wall so they could see them each day. If they liked football, I would find out which team was their favorite and purchase season tickets.  I would set out a goal for them to generate $30,000 more in sales and once they reached their goal they would get the rifle or the tickets. This concept can be used across the board, over and over. Once your employee reaches his $30,000 goal, put another one in front of him with another incentive. Say he or she has always wanted to take a fishing trip to Canada.  Explain the company will put money towards a trip if they hit x, y, z in the next 18 months or 2 years. Don’t just stop with one incentive. Always keep the goals and rewards in front of them. That is what makes them focus. It gives them something to work towards, helps you grow your company and makes that employee buy into the company.

Another way to keep good employees is by supporting their continued education. Trade school’s offer specialized training in many of the service industries including plumbing, HVAC, and electrical. I highly recommend this if your company can afford it… and if you can’t, figure out how to. We funded this program by flat rating. This allows you to save the money needed to send them to school. Then make sure to join a success group.  A success group can help grow your company faster and give you insight into how to grow your employees.

So, we grew our employees. It took a little longer and a little more effort on our part, but we were happy with the employee we molded in the end. When spending more time upfront training employees you create opportunities. You have the opportunity to create an employee for life by showing them you’re willing to spend time on their career and their success.

If you’re willing to put in the time to train your employees it will pay off. This is where it’s important to not just interview based on skill. There is integrity, the way they carry themselves, and attitude. You can take a good attitude and go really far with that. I have seen many employees who are good at what they do, but their attitude will not fit your company. I would rather take an employee with no skills and as long as he fits the mold mentioned above he or she will make you an excellent employee if you’re willing to put in the time.

Remember, you hire your mistakes. It is up to you to hire your successes. Attitude is everything! There are some people that want to be behind a desk but there are others that have the desire to work in the service industry. It is your responsibility to provide your employees the opportunity to work for a company that’s willing to give back and, in turn, make the same kind of money as the suit and tie guys.

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