Most firms avoid calling their competitor or colleagues to find spare capacity when they are in immediate need of skilled labour. They may engage a contractor they don’t know well, often with mixed results, or hire too fast or too early. They rarely spend the appropriate time to do their due diligence including calling references, especially if their reference is a competitive firm, checking prior work experience and credentials or observing competency and fit.

Hiring is one of the most important activities in any business, especially when hiring for technical expertise. Hiring without serious consideration of culture, the incumbent’s history or long-term intentions, can be very costly. When I ran my business, I experienced the impact of the wrong hire on my team and overall performance. It sends the wrong message to the team, can cost money and can jeopardize relationships with key partners and customers. And yet, when firms are in ‘react’ mode, that is what they often do. “Find me a person with experience now”.

Slowing down this process and looking at other options for filling gaps in manning, can provide breathing space to hire well, while at the same time creating a viable option to access experienced, quality personnel for short term needs.

Here are five reasons for using strategic partnerships in your marketplace to address this challenge:

  1. Growing networks can help expand your business. By creating and working with strategic partnerships, you may be able to tap into certifications, experience or synergies that you typically don’t offer, to add greater value for your customers and perhaps your partners as well,
  2. Tapping into a pool of experienced and skilled resources can address peak demand more effectively, economically and quickly,
  3. Having a network of competent personnel gives you the time to ramp the business and prove the need for additional staff, which leads to the next reason,
  4. Very often firms that depend on competent skilled labour, experience what is known as the glass ceiling. It is very hard to take the firm to the next level, often peaking into higher sales, but dropping back, unable to sustain growth. If personnel are hired too early, overheads rise, while profits suffer or stagnate. Manufactures deal with this by triggering additional resources at a sustained utilization for their equipment, monitoring their numbers and planning expansion using known and proven protocols. In this way, facilities follow growth rather than lead it.
  5. Cultivating strategic relationships provides the flexibility to handle unpredictable peaks, even if there is no intention to push revenues to new levels.

Many trades do not have the infrastructure or systems in place to capture critical metrics such as: revenue per billable hour, effectiveness and efficiency percentages, callbacks, or to directly isolate the productivity of the last 5% of the job. Often the last 5% literally eats profits and customer goodwill, and is more typically a result of the challenges created by peak periods. In these periods two few or the wrong people are sent to site or workers are called off sites to address other demands, disrupting their focus. These are all very critical elements to manage and monitor.

Demands placed on crew and businesses to navigate the many priorities during peak periods create employee fatigue and cost the firm in many ways, not the least of which is lost productivity or quality, trying to do too much, with too little resources, in too short a timeline. Perhaps an overstatement, but I believe that the bulk of callbacks are related to protracted and poorly executed workmanship during peak periods, creating challenges in and for the last 5% of the job. These can be better addressed and benefit from creating strategic relationships in your marketplace and avoiding over working employees or letting key relationships down.

As I’ve been introducing LincEdge, I have noted that many Electrical Contractors have relationships in place to reach out to, for just these reasons. We believe that our tool makes this connection easier and faster, while ensuring documented communication. This also engages staff that would not otherwise be billable or productive, which improves profitability and can put revenue into the business, while reducing costs in slower periods.

We’re seeing a shift in how business is conducted with more and more online solutions. The sharing economy can have a positive impact on your bottom line, especially when it is done safely and efficiently. Check out LincEdge and give us a call with your feedback. We can make a difference.

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Head shot photograph of Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn Sanford is the co-founder and CEO of LincEdge.

In the past, she had co-founded and ran a custom install firm for 24 years.

You can find Marilyn on LinkedIn.

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