Kitchen & Bath Design News

FEB 2019

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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them have the desire to run their own firms and leave after just a few years. One of the ways to ensure a good hire with a school can- didate is to have that person join the firm as an intern, and almost 21% of respondents favor this approach. This strategy works for the employer, who can screen the worker, as well as the student, who can learn about the company and see whether it's a good fit. "With design school interns, we can see how they work and their personalities ahead of investing in them as a new employ- ee," commented one dealer. "My best hire was an intern recommended by her in- structor, a woman who knows my business style," added a Connecticut-based designer. "This intern came to work for me in her last year of school over 20 years ago. She still works for me – or with me at this point – through graduation, marriage, two children and three moves/changes of location." Hiring from unrelated fields was also favored by almost 21% of respondents, because it allows for training from the ground up. "I like to train from other fields, because those employees are 'hungry' to learn and strive to be complete in their pursuit of knowledge," one dealer offered. "I like to train people from unrelated fields so they learn to do things our way," added an Alaska-based dealer. A Georgia pro noted that, while training from an unrelated field takes longer, the employee does not compare processes to previous employers. Still another pointed out that hiring from unrelated fields is more economical. "We are a small company and, at this time, we can't afford to hire employees with formal training," noted the Kansas dealer. Coming in much lower were options such as online and traditional job postings, as well as association websites, job fairs and recruiters. When respondents turn to online advertising to reach potential employees, over 49% said they choose general job websites such as, and to run their ads. But while online job sites bring the most candidates, "refer- rals still tend to bring in the most qualified candidates," offered a Minnesota-based designer. Almost 30 percent of employers rely on local newspapers or websites to find recruits. "We find running a general ad works well b ecause we reach people who are actually looking for a job. We can weed out skills somewhat before we interview," stated an Ohio dealer. "We've found that, in our area, our production and installa- tion personnel usually use Craigslist or Facebook to find jobs. Craigslist typically has better quality/more qualified applicants, though offers fewer hits overall," a Virginia dealer reported. Over 15% of dealers turn to a professional association web- site, while 12% post ads with industry publications and web- sites. More than 8% of those responding said they use industry recruiters or headhunters to find the best candidates. "We like using a private recruiter," stated a Michigan dealer. "She is very familiar with our company culture, and her firm is small enough that we are one of her most valuable clients. She will seldom recommend an applicant that is not a company culture fit. Also, by using a third party, we have discreet access to the entire geographic market." Other sources include social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Though a small percentage – just 4.2% – use this path, those who do noted their success with it. "LinkedIn has proven to be successful for us," said a California-based dealer. "Generally we hire people who are cur- rently employed but silently searching for new opp ortunities." 1. Where Dealers Search for New Employees Referrals from employees/ industry colleagues Other industry companies Design schools Train from unrelated fields Interns Job postings Association websites, job fairs 73.9% 24.5% 24.1% 20.7% 20.7% 15.4% 7.5% Source: KBDN Personnel Survey, January 2019 2. Skill Dealers Say They Need Most Right Now Install/construction/ trade help Sales Design CAD Administrative Social media Marketing Other (carpenters, project managers, etc.) 46.1% 30.7% 29.1% 21.2% 11.6% 10% 9.5% 6.2% Source: KBDN Personnel Survey, January 2019 KEY SKILL SETS For those who have recently hired or attempted to hire new staff, a whopping 85.4% said it was "extremely difficult" (31.7%) or "somewhat difficult" (53.7%) to find someone with the skills they needed (see Graph 3). Only 7.1% said it was "relatively easy" or "very easy" to find help, and 7.5% said it was "not very difficult." "High-skill employees are just not out there looking for a job," stated an Arizona-based builder. As far as what skills are most in demand, resp ondents overwhelmingly focused on the need for more and better instal- lation, construction and overall trade help (see Graph 2). Over 46% cited this as a major need for their businesses right now. "The lack of field workers is making it difficult to keep clients happy because of long waits for construction to start on their projects," stressed a Wisconsin designer. "All of our seasoned pros and craftsmen are retiring, and there aren't any coming up to take their place," lamented anoth- er dealer, located in New Jersey. "We are finding that the quality of contractors and remodel pros isn't what it used to be." "Fewer young people are entering the trades, making the existing pool smaller," noted a New York builder. "As the current pool increases in age, and more tradespeople with experience choose to work for themselves, that pool shrinks even further." February 2019 • 61

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