How trade businesses can hire the right staff at the right time, every time.

Tips for Small Business Hiring apprentices

Floods and droughts. It’s the old adage that applies to so many aspects in life - both at home and at work - especially for jobs you have on in your trade business, and the workers you have to carry them out. Unfortunately you know all too well that sometimes you may have a flood of jobs, a drought of workers, and vice versa.


So what can you do to even out the ebbs and flows?


Get intimate with your business.

Intimately acquainted that is... knowing your business inside out helps you in several ways. Having a thorough understanding of what the needs of your business are, what the make-up of your team is (from a skill, experience, personality, and character perspective), and where your strengths and weaknesses lie helps clarify exactly who you need to hire. We’ve recently produced an ultimate hiring guide for tradespeople, and there are a whole lot of questions you should be able to answer. Check them out here.


An irresistible workplace.

If you create a work environment where your employees will never want to leave, you’ll also create a workplace where other tradespeople will want to join. And that’s half the battle won. A repressive workplace, where bosses bark orders at everyone and mutual respect is non-existent, is unlikely to attract quality talent. Instead, work really hard to produce a culture that makes people want to come to work every day. Here’s some examples of how you can make your workplace awesome:

  • Golf or fishing days
  • Monthly team awards
  • Occasional morning tea shouts
  • Recognition, recognition, recognition
  • Little or no overtime or weekend work

Go digital and don't look back.

As more and more trade businesses move to cloud-based software, more and more employees are becoming familiar with and expect it to be part of their daily work life. It really is a case of once you go digital, you won’t go back. So if you haven’t implemented job management software in your business, you will miss out on some of the brightest up-comers in the industry as they simply won't want to do old school paperwork - making your search for new employees even harder.


Systems. Systems. Systems.

Make your business even more attractive to potential employees by creating systems. Essentially, this means documenting every task in your business so everyone follows the same processes. It sounds like overkill but it will dramatically minimise the errors your staff make. This also sounds like a very time consuming task, which I won’t lie - it is. But once they’re setup and in place they add a level of professionalism other businesses often lack, they look mightily impressive, and they show you mean business.


An apprentice scheme.

While the skills shortage has made it really hard to find great tradespeople, it’s a lot easier to train quality workers from scratch. That’s why the right time to start an apprenticeship scheme is now. And while you may already have an apprentice, don’t think the job’s done. Ensure you have a constant stream of apprentices coming through your business. Having a new apprentice start at least every two years is a good cadence. And to be sneaky, make friends with local trade schools to give your business the first pick of each class.

If you want to take your apprentice scheme to the next level, start a work experience programme. This is generally where school leavers come into your business and follow you or one of your staff around for a set period of time. They get a taste for what it’s like to work in your business, and if you like their attitude and see they’ve got loads of intuition, you can bring them on as an apprentice.


Always be looking for excellent tradespeople.

There’s never a wrong time to hire world-class employees. At the same time, there’s never a right time to hire wrong employees. It’s been said by many people in many different ways that the cost of hiring the right person, even if it means paying a little more than you’re comfortable with, will far outweigh the cost of hiring the wrong person for the job. World-class employees pay for themselves ten fold. 


Floods and droughts. And that place in the middle.

With these tips, you should be equipped to know when is the right time to hire the right staff. Is it when they incidentally come across your path? Maybe it’s when they hear about how awesome your business is through the grapevine? Or perhaps it’s when you bring them through your work experience and apprenticeship schemes? Yes. To all of the above - it’s in the floods, during the droughts, and in between them. Read more about this in our ultimate guide on hiring and keeping world-class tradespeople here.