Al Levi On Finding Great Techs… Is It Possible?

Ep. 66: Finding Great Techs... Is It Possible?

BCC 66 | Finding Great Technicians

Is it possible to find great technicians these days? The short answer is yes! You just need to reach out in different ways. A lot of the techs today are Millennials and Gen Z and they will not do anything until they know why. Once you bring them in as an apprentice and teach them why they will be the best employees ever. Join your host Ryan Englin as he sits down with the CEO of The 7-Power Contractor, Al Levi. Al will talk about how to recruit and train apprentices. He will touch on the box org chart system and the power of process manuals. Learn how to staff up so that you can find great techs. Al always says, “You want to always be recruiting, always hiring, always orienting, always training, and always retaining.” Learn what it takes to recruit good talent today!

Al Levi On Finding Great Techs… Is It Possible?

I’m excited about this guest because he shares a passion very similar to mine in helping contractors, staff with great people build great processes, and amazing companies. He’s an author, speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He retired before the age of 50. I’m pretty sure he knows what’s going on, and he’s got some of this stuff figured out. He’s got a book out, and he is known for sharing his wisdom of The 7-Power Contractor system. Al Levi, I want to welcome you to the show.

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity. It’s always great to meet new people virtually. I have a lot to share. You and I have been talking back and forth here, and it’s amazing we are on the same page. We’ve got a lot to share.

Al, tell me the biggest myth of the industry. What are your thoughts on that?

The biggest myth in the industry, especially now post-COVID, middle of COVID, I don’t know where the end or the beginning of COVID is anymore. I don’t know how you put that out but here’s what we do know, it’s not about a shortage of work, which reminds me back in the dot-com era. If the accent is a little bit still there from New York, I can share with you that it got to the point that people started to say to me how soon you can start instead of how much. That’s how crazy busy it is. This cycle has come and gone.

The cycle I’m referring to is I can’t find great help. I’ve got all the jobs that I could ever need, and I can’t find great help. It’s more difficult, no question about it these days but this too will come and go, so what are you going to do to change the dynamic? The biggest focus I want to share with everybody is this myth about, “I can’t find great techs.” I have an answer for you. You are not a test driver, and I have test driven everywhere.

That’s something I’m passionate about too helping these guys find great techs. We have a different approach, which I love because some people are going to resonate with one over the other. There’s so much truth in what you say, and it’s human nature for us to have short-term attention spans and memories. For many years, the trades have been struggling to find good people. It comes and goes in waves. I found an article written in the ‘60s about the labor shortage.

I want to share with everybody else, my brother, Richie, who was the outside hands of gold, my brother, Marty, was the inside guy, and I was the bridge between the two, the rest of it. Richie and I go to a seminar, and we were about 25 years old. The guy on the stage is saying that the average check is going to be 50 years old.

The two of us looked at each other and go, “That is a horrible thing.” We cannot let that happen because we already could see what was going on when you ran out of the runway. As a tech, you can’t work forever at any level. It opened our eyes to where this was going, and that was years ago. That was the case. It’s not new. It is something that comes and goes until you learn how to get in front of this problem.

You can find lightning in a bottle but it's really hard to do that over and over again. Click To Tweet

It’s becoming more of a problem or it’s happening faster now. A lot of it is we communicate so much faster. Not so long ago, you had to wait for the newspaper to show up. That was usually 2 or 3 days late. Now, my phone has already six alerts since we started talking. The information travels so fast that it feels a lot worse than it is because of that.

There’s no relief from it. It’s a 24-hour news cycle. On my phone, I can get anything. We have over the communication of methods but it is a little different this time. I don’t want people to go, “Is it the same?” It’s not but it’s slightly different. There are some people that I don’t know how they are dropping out of the labor market. I’m a little too old to get that. I woke up, went to work, got paid, and then my life changed. I don’t know when that will come back into a roll, hopefully, sooner rather than later. There are still young and willing people out there who are dying for an opportunity to go to the right company.

In your approach, if you are a Baby Boomer like myself or maybe even a little younger than that, the enemy of this is thinking that they are not like you. I have a quick story to share about that. When we finally decided to build our own techs from scratch, in other words, we took young and willing people with no skills, started them as apprentices, and worked them up to our box org chart, which we call the ladders.

I had a VNM that a good worker for us. He had risen up the whole chain. His name was Tommy. Tommy was helping me with these guys get him through the training. One day, he comes to me and goes, “They don’t want to work hard, stay late and do that.” I said, “Tommy, it’s funny that you mentioned that because the older guys were telling me the same thing about you.”

This is not new, and this is the classic line about, “Is there a different communication style?” My dad was a big mentor to me, I went to work for him. One of the lessons that he shared with me is, “If you think people are going to do what you want them to do because you said so, you have been born to a boss 50 years too late because that ship has sailed. Nobody is doing anything. This is decades ago. Until they know why, and they want to know two things.”

He didn’t call it a whiff because that wasn’t an expression. He goes, “What happens if I do? What happens if I don’t?” This fits into the management style. In my particular case, it’s taking young and willing apprentices, and providing the skills. What do I get for doing that? I get to climb the ladder and build a career rather than a job. That was our whole number one way to differentiate ourselves as the employer of choice. I had 2,000 competitors on Long Island, and it was a couple of million in population.

This is not an exaggeration. I only knew that because a good friend of mine was in the industry when I was complaining about that. He goes, “Instead of complaining about your customers, why don’t you think about this? Your customers woke up this morning. They could have called 2,000 other people but they chose you. Why not think of it as an honor?” That perspective changed me, Ryan.

You said something that I want to go back to because when you said it to me, the first thing that went through my mind was, “This is great to tell these kids that there’s an opportunity for a career path and everything else but I’m small. I’ve only got a few trucks on the road. It’s not like they get to go climb the corporate ladder and be a supervisor, estimator, and salesperson where they can go all these different places. We are a small contractor.” What do you say to someone like that when you say, “Give these guys a career path and talk to them about how they climb up that box chart?”

BCC 66 | Finding Great Technicians
Finding Great Technicians: To be proactive instead of reactive, you want to always be recruiting, always hiring, always orienting, always training, and always retaining.

I have worked with some of the largest companies in this country. I have worked in the United States and Canada when I was doing one-to-one, which was my second career for many years. My programs are online these days. That’s how I do it. In December 2019, I was flying back from a monster job. A great electrician in Huntsville, Alabama, had the chops. It’s never going to get better than working with him and this garage door guy that was also 30 something shops. I already had my products online and that’s what I did.

I have worked at one-to-one. There was a guy who was the same age as me. We went to work with him when he was in his 60s, and he was at the dining room table with me. His wife was in the next room. That was the accounts receivable, accounts payable, playing with the grandchildren on the floor. There was a guy out in his garage playing CSR and dispatcher and one tech, which happened to be his son. He took the systems, org chart, manuals, and the training. He built himself a training center as directed. He got to the point where he had twelve techs.

He had apprentices becoming junior techs, junior techs becoming senior techs, and senior techs becoming field supervisors so that he could go to a second location and run it the same way. You are arriving here, and what I mean by this is you keep moving as we keep bringing more people in. They are not a threat to you. This was something I had to learn. I assumed they would be thrilled that people were coming. The great news that my company is I had people that were not afraid to tell me stuff to my face that they knew I wouldn’t like as any good New Yorkers would know.

He would say to me and goes, “We are not bringing anybody to help you fill that staff because if they don’t work out, you are going to blame us. Plus, they are going to take our calls away from us.” That was important until I proactively address that, I couldn’t even get my recruiting program. I had a recruiting program years ago, “Bring us somebody, train him and get X amount of dollars, stay 6 months, make 1 full year, and get X amount of dollars.”

I had to explain based on the org chart what makes it come to life is, “You are senior tech now, and you are never going to be a field supervisor until we bring more people in behind you so that you can be that field supervisor, be a service manager, take over the install manager box or become a big-ticket salesperson, which is what I call a system advisor. You are stuck, so you have to help me do this together.” I have done it to very small companies, and that was a great point that you brought up there because I didn’t want to go over that.

A key piece to what you said was the visual for the technician to look at. It’s not just lip service. It’s like, “Even though it’s a box org chart, I have a plan. Here’s what it looks like, and when you help me execute on this plan and build this company up, there’s an opportunity for you.” I hear that a lot of times like, “My techs don’t care how big the company is.” I’m like, “They’ve got to do it.”

It’s your job to let them know why they should care. People look at the box org chart, especially small companies, and you go, “I’ve got all these boxes, and I don’t have all these people.” I go, “Nobody has all the people.” I have worked with 200 employees. People’s names are in different things. The first org chart I talk about is a box org chart. It is a flat chart, and the idea is it has these steps or ladders as you move up the company. It’s a clear top line, flat managers, so there aren’t a million layers to go through.

I have worked with some monster companies in multiple locations. We try to preserve that. There is no CIO, CTO, CFO, CEO or any alphabet soup you want. That’s not about the boxes it takes to run the company. There are some key things about that, which is on those boxes, there are two boxes that you, Mr., Ms., Mrs. owner, or whoever you are out there, you are never leaving these two boxes. One is the marketing manager, and the other is the financial manager.

You don't have to be great at marketing. You have to be great at making sure the marketing's effective. Click To Tweet

The reason I always say this is because if we don’t have more calls than we can humanly do now from the right customer at the right time, then we have a problem, and nothing else is going to fix it. You are in charge. You don’t have to be great at marketing. You have to be great at making sure the marketing is effective. The financial manager, ultimately, it’s your money.

There are so many sad tales about where you will get pulled over the eyes of the owners because they thought they could hire somebody from the outside, and they will make it all go like, “I’m not good at numbers.” Welcome to the crowd. I’m not great at numbers either but I’m good enough to know what I need to know when somebody has given me a load of BS.

Interestingly, you say that because we have worked with people who have had that wool pulled over their eyes and hurt them. It’s sad but it probably happens more than we know about.

It happens a lot. It’s like talking about two companies being hacked, companies who know they have been hacked, and companies who have been hacked but they don’t know. Until you know your numbers, doing live budgeting, and you can trust with being handed up to you and it’s coming to you in a timely manner, you can’t bill it. The point about these boxes is, “Why should I care as an employee?” It tells me where I am today with your company, where I can go tomorrow, and who is my real boss because everywhere I walk in this office, somebody yells at me. That’s very demoralizing.

The last thing is, if I need help, who can I legitimately go to for that help? It’s better that you have operating manuals, which is how you do it. When I think about the box org chart, I always call it the bingo board to run your business. How do you cover the squares, is an operating manual for each of those boxes. The manager’s role, when I would show up to the big fancy companies goes, “What should my managers be doing?”

I go, “Nothing,” which you can imagine paying me a lot of money, they weren’t happy to hear that. I said, “What I mean by that is nothing now.” I told them manuals are for the bottom row of the org chart, which is the base of a pyramid. Their job is to make people who report to them accountable to the manuals they have and start filling the ranks with more good people. That’s where we are going to cross into the stepping power.

I want to tell our readers is I know that Al’s talking about this box org chart a lot. Even me, I’m like, “I haven’t seen this thing. I need to see this.” You are going to have an opportunity to get one at the end of the show. Hang tight and read because what we are talking about is the foundational work you need to do as the owner to go out there, and find and attract great techs. I want to get back to the technician. I know you’ve got a new course coming out too on this, so I would love you to touch on that. What’s the 1 or 2 things that they can do when they get back to the office that they go, “That made my life better when it came to finding techs?”

The biggest thing to understand is it comes into the story. I wasn’t born enlightened. I have made every mistake that you can even think of. I have fallen in every hole. The only thing I will give myself and my family credit for is when we climbed out, we went, “That hurts. Let’s not do that again.” I have watched contractors all over the place in all different sizes fall in the same holes. This stepping thing will come again. It will suffer, you get comfortable, and it will come again. People are going out with no systems and getting spy because you’ve got one magic person, that will go away. This is the cycle of business. You need to attach to being what we were not.

BCC 66 | Finding Great Technicians
Finding Great Technicians: The point of the box org chart is to tell you where you are today with your company. It tells you where you can go tomorrow. It tells you who your real boss is.

I always say this stuff is all funnier than it was when it happened to me. We were in New York City in the shop and got two weeks’ notice. That was great because at least we had some time to plan. One week was still okay. Sometimes, they would leave the keys on the dashboard, and we would have to go, “Are they gone?” We didn’t know much. My brother, Marty, the inside guy, nicknamed our hiring practice as the mirror test, which he meant was if you fog the mirror, you are hired no matter what time it was because we were reactive and never proactive.

If you want to change the staffing equation, the biggest takeaway is becoming proactive versus reactive. I have five steps to that. We didn’t do any of it until somebody left, and now we are in desperation. We had no plans for this. It’s always recruiting, hiring, orienting, training, and here’s the big one, retaining. You are filling up your company with a bathtub full of great people but there’s a drain wide open if you don’t attach how you keep the good ones on the team. That’s the drain that you have to slow down. That’s the big step, retaining.

Thinking of it, the first word I said to everyone was, “Always.” Somebody will say, “I have enough people.” I bet there are two knuckleheads at your company that you are dying to get rid of but you won’t. It was the same with me. Plus, things happen. I have a great story. There’s a great company in Des Moines, Iowa. He got to about seven techs, which is where life gets better, and they were doing good. We had all the systems. That was until one guy didn’t want to live in the big town of Des Moines. He went back to a population of 9,000. Another guy decided he didn’t want to do any on-call. He goes to work at a utility plant.

All of a sudden, 1 more quits, and he’s got down to 4. I told him, “You have a problem. Not just because all that money went out the door and the ability to handle your calls. They are going to have you over the barrel. What you have to do is you have to take on-call shifts. Here’s what I want you to tell them because they are going to hold you accountable while I’m saying next. Go in front of them and go, ‘I’m going to take the on-call shift to help out but here’s what you need to know. We are never going to be here again. We are going to be 20 techs in 2 years. We have all the manuals, training center, and training curriculum. We are going to do this together, and it’s going to be good for all of us.’” I don’t know why he picked 2 years because, in 2 years, he had 20 techs.

It’s one of those things, too. You’ve got your seven guys, and everything is going great. This was a long time ago for me but I know people can remember back to this. When you were sitting there in school, you took a test, and if you were one of the fast ones, you’ve got done first. You always sat there, and you are like, “What did I miss?” You are waiting for someone else to get up and turn the test in.

As soon as 1 person turns it in, 7 people line up. They were all sitting there waiting. The same thing happens, and I have seen it happen so many times. The first guy leaves, and every other guy goes, “Maybe there’s something else that I need to be looking at and pursuing.” All of a sudden, like dominoes, you lose 3 or 4 techs overnight, and you are like, “I wasn’t ready for that.”

I tell the story usually in seminars and workshops. I gave my brothers and my dad three years’ notice. A couple of reasons. I was not going to leave my brothers and my dad in a tough place but also, I was going and not coming back. They made sure all of my systems, planning, operations, staffing, sales, sales coaching, market, and finances that this was all rock solid that brought in great people, trained them on our systems, and did all this. I had a strategy for people that were going to be taken over by one of my install managers. I had groomed him for everything.

Two months before ready to go, he comes to me and goes, “I feel bad but I’m going to go work for manufacturer’s rep.” At that moment, I said to myself, “If I were my employees and not me, what would I be thinking?” Instantly it came to me, “Al and Jake are leaving. Maybe I should go with them.” I pulled them all into a big meeting and said something to them. I learned from sales about how to raise an objection

Take young, willing apprentices with no skills and get them hired up. Click To Tweet.

I said, “I’m leaving. You all know that, and I have given you plenty of notice. Jake is leaving for a good opportunity, and we wish him well. If I were you, I would be thinking maybe I should go,” which was not what they thought they would be hearing. “Here’s what you haven’t taken into account. I’m gone and out of the way. This career is now much more available to you. Jake is leaving. His career is much more available to you.” Here’s the thing. People say to me, “Why did he need techs now?” What a shock.

My good co-consultant, Ellen Rohr, a great financial person, turns to me one day when we are riding in the car together, and she goes, “Al, when is the best time to plant an Oak tree?” I go, “I’m from New York. I didn’t even know what an Oak tree is but what do you want to tell me, Ellen?” She goes, “Ten years ago and now, because this will come again.” I talk about your org chart, your salary levels being together, and your manuals covering because, without the manuals, you can’t leverage your company.

That spills into staffing power, which is being able to take young, willing apprentices with no skills and get them hired up. For instance, we had five install crews a day and the rest of the service techs. These five crews needed helpers, and they hate it when I would give them new people. We talked. I go, “What do you want me to get them to?” They said to me, “These are the set of skills. We want them to be able to mix cement, thread pipe, and know the sizes of these fittings.” He gave me a list, and it was about a page long, “We created the first five days you are at the company a complete list of what you had to learn as an apprentice.”

It was a good screener because we are looking for young and willing, and if you are not picking up and don’t have any hand skills, we love you but you are not working here. We hired more apprentices than we could use because we knew it was going down a narrow path. They were going to go. We are going to make them go, either way, it was going to happen. My goal in hiring is I was looking for five apprentices that I could make to junior techs.

When I went to class, it would be a four-month class, which is the very structured thing that we did, so they could get out with our operations manual, which is if it was 2 inches thick, they could do about 1 inch of it safely. If they proved for 6 months to 1 year that they could do it, they came back, and we took them through junior tech to senior tech, where we teach them the rest of those tasks. We teach them sales, sales systems, operational systems, and the technical system of your service tech. If you are an installer, we teach communication systems, operation systems, and the technical things it takes to be a good installer.

It’s interesting what you were saying there because we coach something very similar. Everybody that comes to me needs techs but I always bring up this idea of apprentices or developing training programs. They were like, “I need a skilled tech with the experience.” I always ask them and say, “How much of the work that your tech is doing regularly?”

It’s unskilled work like unloading the truck, loading the truck, and all of these go for type things. You can get somebody for half their wage to help them with this. He can get more jobs done in less time and higher quality because he’s focused on the skilled stuff, not filling out the paperwork, in your CRM, and all that other stuff and this other kid is learning this whole time.

We’ve got to a point where we were at work long enough, and all of our good conversations came with the stupidest time of the night, which was 2:00 AM. My brother, Richie, and I were the last two techs standing in the whole shop. We are in the office, and my brother says, “Why don’t they do this? Why don’t they do that?” Finally, I looked at it because I was exhausted. I go, “If they could do all of that, why would they be here? They would be down the road in a white truck and doing whatever it is.”

BCC 66 | Finding Great Technicians
Finding Great Technicians: Many contractors, all over the place in all different sizes make mistakes and fall into the same holes. Remember that you can always climb out. This is the cycle of business.

You get the whole employee, and that means willing, unwilling, skilled, and not skilled to get the whole thing. Why don’t we start with young, willing, unskilled people and have the ability to get them skilled up but trained our way? That leans on the manuals heavily. There’s a technician manual that is very critical but it tells me what I do as a tech from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I go to bed, other than the plumbing, heating, cooling, electric, carpentry, commercial roofing, kitchen cabinetry, and garage door. This is a list of some of the programs that I have worked with companies to do this.

Believe it or not, that’s helpful to have those work manuals. It’s not as important as the CSR manual doing their job, kicking the call, handing off the dispatcher right, getting it all out to the tech right, and closing the loop, so the customer doesn’t feel forgotten. He’s getting all the information from the tech back to the dispatcher. That is where companies are broken, and this is your opportunity to fix those manuals there. I mentioned about that class that we went to as 25-year-olds, my brother and I, about the average age of 50.

We said, “We’ve got to build a hands-on training center.” We did and put a hands-on training center. Sure enough, 1 or 2 later, my brother is calling me from the field. He goes, “Didn’t you show him how to do motor rotation?” I go, “I did, but they are out of the field for a year or two.” There was nothing to lock into. We had to back up and write those manuals. When we’ve got done, we realized we had built a training center all wrong because the manuals and the table of contents tell you the tasks that you need to train them on. That is what you have to build the training center.

There are a lot of stuff about training centers. Guys tend to build it rough or make light bulbs and have wiring diagrams. Here’s what I can tell you for building no less than 50 of them. They get good at moving wires around, which has got nothing to do with what you do. Your little boards on the wall are not how they are going to learn it. There has to be a feel and touch whatever you have in the field.

We were talking about that when I saw that 60 minutes or something, and they loosened the intake on the top of the water heater years ago. All of these plumbers out there like, “See? All plumbers want to rip you off.” I’m like, “How often has that happened in the field?” I tell my clients too like, “If you are going to build any training, make sure it’s real-world stuff. Don’t sabotage things that don’t get sabotaged out in the real world.”

I also want to put all relics in. I try and teach them the best of it. If you want to make a class, take out the brand new thing, put the old thing in, teach them a lesson, and get it out of there. I’ve got the shops where they have all these dead skeleton things and go, “Inside, you see where it’s broken.” You can’t do that on the job. I made one mistake, which is the plumbing.

We made it beautiful and looked like going to a kitchen, bathrooms, shower, and the whole thing. We said, “Let’s put a loose side panel in so they could see what’s behind it.” They get out to the job site, and they are looking for the loose side panel. I tell the clients, “Do not do this.” They see the picture, and sure enough, they do the same thing.

I have a question for you, and I don’t know if you have the answer to this. Everybody wants the answer. If you don’t have one, that’s okay. You say, “Find guys that are willing and unskilled.” Where I get hung up on is nobody is willing anymore. Nobody wants to work. Everybody is entitled and wants a paycheck for no work. Where do you find these willing people?

Sales is about asking good questions and shutting up. Click To Tweet

There are two aspects to that. Let’s blow up the myth first of all. Don’t look at me and think how old I am. Think of all of what I have built all around. I was in the ZOOM DRAIN Franchise, which was Coast-to-Coast. I was one of the Cofounders of that. Our techs are nothing but Millennials and now moving to Gen X, nothing but that, whatever you have already labeled them to be. They are the best employees ever. There is a difference. They will not do anything until they know why.

Ellen said a great thing to me many years ago, and I turned it into part of my sales seminar at the end. I always get emotional because it’s true. She said it elegantly, “We as plumbers and drain cleaners keep bad water from good water. Before we did that, people died of the plague. We wrestle lightning and make all your housework with electrical. We keep you warm in the winter and keep you cool in the summer. Are you asking if we are important? The answer is a screaming yes.”

When they know the why of what they do, that career spelled out in the org chart and where they can go and grow because, why come to you if you are just giving me a job? That’s what they want to know. They want to know that it means something and that it does. You have to be able to communicate when they communicate. What has changed from when I did interviews many years ago is I would talk in a selling proposition to get them to come. Later on, as I learned to get better at sales, sales is about asking good questions, shutting up, and letting them talk and sell themselves.

I had a lot to show because I had this training center. I knew anywhere they were going to go for another interview, they are coming back to me if they have any shot, any chance at all that they are interested in this training. The thing about it is you need to be reaching out in new ways. You can say, “He runs something on Indeed.” They go to Glassdoor and know what kind of company you are. I have started to find, even at the end of my own career, they were more prepared for the interview than I was at times. They had been online and searched your website.

If your website is not spectacular, don’t have tons of customer reviews and people who say how great you are, and then the section that has your techs, CSRs, and your dispatchers saying, “I didn’t know anything. They gave me a career. I love it.” I was doing nothing with our ZOOM DRAIN guy who came from the mailman. He had a bunch of dead-end jobs and knew how to take a pay cut to get started with our apprentice. He ended up going from apprentice to junior tech, senior tech, Field Supervisor, and Service Manager. Now, he is the GM.

That is not a lone story about making true on this. He talked about this, and it still resonates with everyone that comes in the authenticity of that. At my own company, the “kids” I trained many years ago are now the top sales guys, sales managers, and they are in all these big levels. If you ever hope to have inspo, which means we had the main shop and had three satellite operations, you need to have systems and a field supervisor who has been trained on all of those systems to go run that.

I was telling this story at another show to a couple of good friends. I said, “Most people couldn’t run their company the same if they went across the street.” They started to laugh, and I go, “What’s so funny?” We grew out of our old company, so we’ve got the building right next door to us. We are on two separate sides of the globe. What I’m saying is the ability to repeat. I mentioned the electrician and the garage door company. They were all the same like Starbucks in the best way possible.

Michael Gerber talks about that in his book, the E-Myth, the franchise model. It’s going to be able to duplicate and repeat that but I want to go back to something you said because it’s so critical for everybody. The big thing that has changed is the speed at which information flows. You need to understand that looking for a job now is like dating in the ‘20s.

BCC 66 | Finding Great Technicians
Finding Great Technicians: Techs today are nothing but Millennials and Gen X. They can be the best employees ever but they will not do anything until they know why.

You get apps and swipe left or right. That’s the level of commitment that you need to decide if you are going to date somebody. I don’t know about your time but back in my time, you either met someone at school or work. You had to go out of your way to meet somebody, a bar, club or whatever it is.

It’s also an attention span that you bring up exquisitely. You have a nanosecond to get their attention and a nanosecond to lose it. What am I going to get my impact? I don’t care what you say but this is the basic of all sales. You can tell me all day how great you are. You could show me every diploma or whatever you have achieved. What I want is somebody that was me that’s now moved up in my interviews when they would come in through the door for hiring.

Part of my interview process with these new apprentices is I go, “I have been talking to you. I’m going to give you the tour but here’s what I want you to know. I have asked one of my field supervisors who was like you. He’s going to come in here, and I’m leaving. You could ask him any question and do anything you want. He’s not going to be reporting back to me. When you come onboard, you have your eyes wide open about what it is.” I even had to tell them because I’ve got to the point where I had way more than I could humanly use. The good news is the better as I’ve got as a trainer, and the same thing is repeated with all my clients, the better they get at the staffing program, and the better magically the people that come out on it.

There’s so much to it, and to wrap things up as we do here, I want to repeat a couple of things that I heard that are going to be important to our readers. The big thing is to understand what your org chart looks like. You are going to have an offer for them so that they can get a copy of that box org chart that you were talking about.

The other thing, too, is to understand your processes. You talked a lot about the manuals but more importantly, you talked about what are the things that these guys are doing in the field. That’s the stuff that’s important. We need to train on real-world stuff, not putting the Lucite window on the wall.

It could be some dead carcass of a heating unit you dragged back to the shop that’s not connected to anything.

We’ve got to train them through real-world stuff. The other thing too and a couple of things that are near and dear to my heart because a lot of what we do in our program is around sourcing, “How do you find these willing people? How do you find the skilled techs?” Becoming attractive to those you want to attract is important. You mentioned that with the websites, reviews, and employee testimonials.

Online is so important. You need to go where they are. Years ago, it was a newspaper that they would read, not the newspaper I was necessarily reading. This is the thing we did work with trade schools and went to a bunch of different places. What I want people to understand is I always talk about recruiting is marketing. You have to be busy marketing to get new customers. Put the same effort into marketing to get good, young, and willing staff.

I have a question that usually comes up. This was not me. I found this from another guy that I worked with. I paid him so that I could use this. “How do I know that they are willing?” He goes, “Go through all your questions, halfway down through the questions, look up and say this. ‘This is going to sound funny but part of our interview process is I’m going to ask you to sing. I know that could be embarrassing, so I’m going to start you off, and you are going to join in. Happy birthday to you.’”

Recruiting is marketing. Put the same effort that you put into marketing to get good young, willing staff. Click To Tweet

When I heard this originally with the guys on the stage, I turned to another New Yorker buddy of mine and go, “That is the stupidest thing I ever heard.” He turned to me and goes, “Six months ago, I thought it was but I will tell you now, I will never hire again.” Every one of my customers that have done it has found willing people.

There are so many opportunities. Being online is so critical now. It’s where 90% plus of job seekers go. The ones that don’t go there are probably because they are related to you or you have met them out at the bar where you didn’t feel old school way. Other than that, they are online, looking at you and their competitor, and they are going, “Which one do I want to plant my flag at?” Al, this has been great. One thing I want to ask too is you talked a lot about these process manuals. I want to make sure that our readers get that right box org chart. How do they get these process manuals? Is there a way to contact you?

You can reach me at [email protected]. On the website, you will see under products is a whole program there. If you go to my website,, right at the bottom is chat. I offer a free 30 minutes to any contractor. It’s pretty simple to do that. It’s not a sales call. It is my gift back to the great mentors that came into my life. I’m only where I am now because of them. I never get that confused. I have told in our early interview, if not for great mentors, this guy would be in a basement, still turning wrenches late in the night. It’s not a pretty sight.

Go to your website, check that out, and the org chart will be there as well.

I have given them the link that they need, and they are welcome to reach out to me. The manuals and the org chart, there’s a page that has all of that on that.

Al, thank you so much. I enjoyed this. I could see we could do a couple more of these.

This is a big thing. You and I have the same passion to make life better for guys.

Once your staffing course comes out, I want to know more about that. We will probably have to have you on for that as well. Thanks again, Al. I have enjoyed it. If you are reading now, make sure you get to the website and get a free copy of that org chart. Thanks, Al.

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About Al Levi

BCC 66 | Finding Great TechniciansAuthor. Speaker. Consultant. Entrepreneur. Al Levi is a success story like no other. Retiring before age 50, Al Levi began sharing his 7-Power Contractor system, helping other contractors throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia know more success and less stress in their businesses. Contractors can access Al through his book, online one-of-a kind Operating Manuals program, and his long-running column in Plumbing & Mechanical magazine and now in PHC News. For more information, contact [email protected] or visit

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