As a consultant to roofing contractors for many years, Greg Hayne, founder of the Hayne Coaching Group, knows blue collar culture. And he sees first-hand how construction companies overall – and roofing companies in particular – are facing a whole host of challenges related to finding the right people for their team. We talk about some hiring tricks he recommends for clients.
We also get into the concept of peer groups for business leaders, which can be a tremendous asset in solving challenges related not just to hiring but any business problem you are facing, from marketing to insurance to estimating.
Tune in now to find out…
- The biggest myths about the roofing industry – and about construction overall
- The importance of “better” problems and how – why – to create them
- A proven method for hiring good people (you don’t look at their skills first)
- How to create the right mix of members for an effective peer group
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Ryan Englin: Welcome back to another episode of the Blue Collar Culture Podcast. I am your co-host Ryan Englin and I am here today with Jeremy Macliver.
Jeremy Macliver: Welcome back, everyone.
Ryan: Today’s guest is no stranger to the blue collar industry. In fact, he has been working with roofing contractors for the better part of his career. And he’s created a proven process around creating great service, training, support, implementation groups, peer groups, he gets people together that think about these problems and he helps them come up with the solutions by breaking through their biggest challenges. Today I want to welcome Greg Hayne from the Hayne Coaching Group. Greg, welcome to the show.
Greg Hayne: Thanks, Ryan. Good morning.
Ryan: So roofers. We’ve all dealt with a roofer, whether it’s from our home or whether it’s our business, we’ve all heard a story about our roofer before. So help me understand, what are some of the biggest myths about roofers that we want to break down on today’s episode?
Greg: Well, one of the biggest myths about the roofing industry is that it’s simple and anybody can do it. Roofing has, especially commercial roofing has become pretty sophisticated. And some of this is with the technology that goes into the roofing. And some of this goes into the safety, things like that, that are only indirectly involved with actually putting the roof on. So to be successful as a commercial roofing contractor today requires a lot more technical expertise than it did 50 years ago.
Ryan: Got it. So and I hear that a lot in construction like, there’s just so much more complexity in it, safety stuff aside, compliance stuff aside. Like, the technology is advancing, the skill sets are increasing. It’s just something that overall in the construction industry, but particularly, we’re going to talk about roofing today. So what is that, what are some of the biggest challenges that creates for commercial roofers right now?
Biggest Challenges Commercial Roofers Face
Greg: Well, I think most roofers think that the biggest challenge they have right now is finding the right kind of people to come to work for them. I think, and that’s clearly a problem that they’re all struggling with. But I think that in many cases, the problem is not simply whether there’s a suitable inventory of human beings out there so much as that I think our, many of our roofers today are looking for the wrong kind of people.
To put a roof on really does, it’s not that hard. And I can take the two of you guys up on a roof, if you’ve never been on a roof before, and in a very short period of time, I can have you be technically proficient enough to do most any of the work that you need to do on a typical commercial roofing system.
So it requires skill, but it’s not a super, it doesn’t require a Ph.D. or anything like that. So roofers tend to go out and hire people that have minimal skills because their perception is a lot of skills aren’t required. But what is required today is you’ve got to have people to function well together, that play nice on a roof, they have to have some management skills, they have to be able to manage their crew, lead their crew.
And most of the people that I see on roofing crews haven’t had any leadership training. Many of them have been put in the role that they’ve been put in because they simply know more than everybody else but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re qualified. So I think that that one of the reasons we are struggling is because we’re often looking for the wrong people. We need to look for a, I’ll put it this way, a higher tier individual for many of the roles.
Ryan: Yeah, I like to tell people the reason you can’t find the right people is because you haven’t defined who the right person is.
Greg: Oh, that’s for sure. And of course, the other component of this is culture.
Greg: We didn’t talk about, nobody talked about culture 30 years ago. It was, everybody has culture. Everybody has culture. But the contractors today that are really thriving are the contractors that build really healthy cultures so that there are people who want to come to work. They like working there. And people aren’t being, subcontractors have been very successful at doing that.
Ryan: So let’s dig into that for a minute because I think a lot of times, the perception is, well culture is something that the white collar companies do because everybody’s sitting around in their cube singing Kumbaya and doing lunch together and playing Xbox together. And that’s culture. And that’s not true.
Greg: No, that’s not culture.
Ryan: So help us. What’s your definition for culture inside of an organization?
Company Culture as Defined by Greg
Greg: You know, I’ve really never thought about it that way. When I think about culture, I think about constructing a workplace environment that is healthy where everyone is empowered to do their role and do it well. They get the support they need when there are challenges that come up. And every business has the challenges that come up.
They’re addressed in a healthy way. They don’t pretend they’re not there. They say, you know, this is a problem and then they take steps to try to address it. It certainly is about having healthy communication. But it’s not about singing Kumbaya. Kumbaya is a result of people wanting to be together. It doesn’t necessarily bring people together.
Ryan: Yeah, I think that’s great. And one of the things I heard in what you just said was, never once did you mentioned culture is about someone that has the right skills that could turn the wrench that can swing the hammer.
Greg: No, no, no. Oh, heck no. And it’s kind of interesting, because the typical roofing contractor, if he needs a foreman, he goes, I was just looking at somebody today that had a bounty program. And if you bring me an apprentice, you get this much and you bring me a dream when you get this much and everything they had there dealt with skills. If you know all the systems, you get a bigger bounty if you bring me this guy in.
None of it had to do whether or not the guy was a jerk or whether the guy can’t hold a job because he was doing drugs, or I mean, or that he’s abrasive and nobody wants to be around him. He’s the kind of guy that when you’re around him, you know, everybody gets chest pains. That’s very typical. They start with skills. And the, and by the way, the successful companies that I know, the really successful companies, in terms of having made culture the focal point, they hire for culture, and then they teach the skills.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. And I find that when companies hire for culture, they increase engagement, they increase productivity, they increase profitability. And especially if you’re in a company that has a lot of safety parameters, they reduce their incidents of safety issues. Like people are safer because they watch out for each other, they take care of each other, they call each other out. And it’s not perceived as being a jerk. it’s watching out for somebody else on the team.
Greg: Agreed. Totally.
Ryan: So I would love to talk about this a little bit more. So one of the biggest issues that I find when I talk to people in pretty much any business is the amount of time they spent digging in, getting to know the person before they hire them.
So employee referral programs, I think, serve a great purpose when they aligned to your values and they help support your culture, which most don’t because most companies don’t have a core value of let’s make more money, but all their bounties programs are all about money. But if they have a good screening process, they have a good hiring process, they have good systems there to be able to find the right people when they’re talking to them. What have you seen some things that have worked and some things that haven’t?
Modern Hiring Tools
Greg: Well, I think that the single most important thing you can do when you’re hiring an individual into your company for I’m going to describe this as a non-blue collar position. So this is going to be a white collar position, if you will, is to do some sort of a behavior assessment, a computerized behavior assessment.
Like a disc or Myers Briggs, or something of that nature, to help you understand what you can expect out of this individual behaviorally, what drives them motivationally, what their emotional intelligence is, where they are in terms of their understanding of themselves, where they are in this world, where they fit in. And all of that stuff can be assessed with mouse clicks with a remarkable degree of accuracy.
And I find that the companies that use behavior assessments just have way more luck with hiring. Now, that doesn’t speak to culture, but it at least, you know, there’s so many people that find somebody that they want to have, let’s say, be a salesperson, and then you look at their behavior report and this person is an introvert.
This person is not interested in money so they’re gonna fail in a sales role, in a traditional sales role. And sometimes I say, why would you even be considering this person? So, I think that that’s really important. I think that’s really important. I think it’s a really powerful tool. And, you know, these behavior assessments are very easy to find out in the marketplace. They’re not all the same. They’re certainly all available.
Ryan: Absolutely. We use a couple of different ones. One that I like for salespeople is called, its sales drive. The assessment is figured out that the single best indicator for sales performance is their amount of drive. Are they willing to push through all the nos? Are they willing to do all that? And there’s an assessment out there that salespeople can take, and it’ll tell you how high their drive is.
And then also, on the assessment side, we use a lot of behavioral assessments. But one of the things that we like is the integrity assessment. There’s an assessment out there that’ll actually tell you if people will do drugs or alcohol on the job. And it’s amazing because people actually admit to it. We say, yeah, it’s okay to go do some drugs on my lunch break. I’m not at the job site and then come back and operate heavy equipment, which is crazy.
Greg: They’ll report this to you. And then they’re surprised when you don’t hire them.
Ryan: Absolutely. So when we’re looking at craftworkers, because that’s a lot, I know that, especially here, where we’re at in Arizona, there’s a lot of roofers that are struggling to hire crews. And it’s crazy, although maybe not because in right now, it’s 112 outside and it’s hot. But what do you find when it comes to hiring the craftworkers, what are some good ways besides the behavioral assessment that you’ve seen work for finding good people that are going to fit that culture?
Greg: Well, you’ve got the standard sorts of things where you ask your employees who they know, have them bring people in that they know. I think that one of the things I’ve seen a contractor do successfully is build a presence on Facebook. What they do is they talk about when you come to work for us, this is our culture, these are our core values. These are the things that are important to us. Of course, most roofers talk about those things. And so they have a lively presence on social media so that they’re visible. They find that helpful
Ryan: Got it. So one of the things that I know you do in your work is create peer groups to help these owners, these leaders to overcome some of the challenges, whether it’s hiring or anything else that comes with being a part of business. Talk to me about how some of that works regarding the peer groups and some of the benefits that there are in connecting with people that are in your industry, even if they might be considered competitors.
Building an Effective Peer Group
Greg: So the peer groups that, I think there’s a number of ways you can do peer groups. And the way I go about doing it is I find non-competing contractors who are of similar size and similar focus. So, for instance, I’m not going to take and have a peer group and put a residential contractor in it if everybody else is commercial because it just doesn’t work.
And also, even if I have a bunch of commercial contractors, if you put a contractor that’s got sales of $5 million in with somebody who’s got 50, that doesn’t work either because they have completely different kinds of problems. And so they have to be similar size, similar for, non-competing, so you’re not sitting across from your competitor. So, you know, one of our peer groups has somebody in the state of Washington, they’ve got somebody from Ohio, somebody from Tennessee, somebody from Florida, somebody from Michigan, you know, and somebody from Atlanta and so forth. They’re scattered all over.
So we bring them together three times a year to work at some sort of a location on their business. And the way we’ve structured them is we do this for a day and a half. So they typically would fly in on a Sunday. We work all day Monday and Tuesday till noon, and noon on Tuesday we are done so that you can get to the airport and get home. And we cater-in lunch and we all go out to dinner together. And we work on everything. I mean, we work on everything. I mean I am best known for my work in helping commercial contractors grow their service departments.
That’s kind of the door through which all of this happened. We work on production, we work on service, we work on estimating, we work on hiring, we work on branding, we work on marketing, we work on purchasing, we work on insurance, and just anything that you can think of, we work on. And I’m amazed at the variety of new things that come up in these meetings. We’ve probably had over 50 meetings so far.
And just the other day, here comes an email from a member saying, hey, my umbrella policy’s going up 50%. What do you guys pay? And everybody then responds back, Well, you know, this is my, I got a 10 million umbrella and this is what I pay and this is who my carrier is. And they dump it all out on the table. And that, and then this is a larger contractor but we think that if he changes carriers, he’s going to save $50,000 on premiums based upon, or seen with the other contractors. Well, there’s a little value in that, you know?
Jeremy: A little?
Greg: Yeah, that’s right. And so, you know, there’s best practices that go on. We have formal best practice sharing, everybody’s typically asked to bring something you think you’re good at to share. And we make them write it up so that we can pick it then and store it in a shared folder so everybody can have access to it. But people bring their problems. You know, hey, this is my problem. My business partner is not holding up his end of the deal. What do we do? And the business partner’s not there. You know, and so they talk about it. Or, hey, I’ve made a mistake and if I don’t fix this, I’m gonna go out of business in 90 days. What do I do?
Jeremy: I love it, you know, it brings me the quote, do you want to go fast, go alone. Do you want to go far, go together? And, you know, and I, when I started my body shops, you know, we talk about it often, you know, business owners that jump out there, they got the bright idea, they got the world by, you know, by the horns. They’re gonna, ready to ride this thing. And they get about a year into business, you realize, well, it’s a lot harder than it looked.
And I joined a peer group. And you’re exactly right. It was like, all the numbers are open. Somebody would be excelling in one area and somebody would be excelling in another area. We went to like a convention, everybody like, well, I got my, you know, turnover on my cars, or my cycle time down to or my profit on this. Like, everybody would be bragging about their one candy stick thing but they weren’t showing the other side of it, hey, I’m totally messing this other department up, right?
Greg: So here’s what I tell contractors when they’re having a conversation with me about joining one of these groups. I say, look, I get to see behind the curtain in all these companies and here’s what I’ve learned. You’re all a mess. All. I say, and the guy at five million dollars and the guy at $500 million, yeah, they have different problems, but they’re all a mess.
Jeremy: Usually, their different problem is a couple more zeros. That’s what I found.
Greg: Yeah, yeah. Fair enough.
Jeremy: Other than that, it’s about the same problems, if you look at it.
Greg: Agreed. But, you know, the bigger companies have, yeah, they have more zeros behind their problems, or they have more risk behind their problems. But anyway, that’s one of the things I share. And of course, we curate members. We just don’t let anybody in. When I, if I’m on a call with somebody and all he wants to do is tell me how good he is, I’m really not very interested in him. I’m interested in the people that know they’re a mess and they know they want to get better and they’re willing to acknowledge the fact they don’t have all the answers.
Jeremy: I truly believe that a large portion of my success has been to peer, I was in peer groups in both businesses that I ran, and just having that place to what you’re describing there, go and say, I am bombing it right now. Because we all have those moments that we’re scared, we’re not, it’s not going. Just having that place where you know that, hey, this guy really does good at this and he’s not doing so good at that. I can help him here, but he can help me right here. Wow, it’s pure gold.
Get Better Problems
Greg: It is. And the other thing is, you discover that, oh, you know, all these problems I have, this is normal. Yeah. This isn’t me. This isn’t like I’m doing stuff wrong. This is the way business is. And you’re always going to have problems. I know there’s this quote by Tony Robbins, it’s that, you know, what you want, you don’t want to lose your problems, you just want to have better quality problems.
You know, we could do a whole podcast on what that means. But he’s right. You know, you want to see the caliber and the quality problem go away. And a great example of this, I was talking with a friend of mine and all these people become my friends, but he has an employee he can’t fire, and, he can’t fire this employee. And the employee’s not even an owner or a family member, but he can’t fire the employee and the employee is toxic. And when I started working with him five years ago, all conversations were around how to deal with this employee.
And I had a conversation with him the other day, and I had to ask whether this employee was even there or not anymore because we never, I never hear about it. But this is, so this is a guy that has figured out how to take this employee and put him in a role where he can’t break anything, where he stays out of everybody else’s way and where he does the least amount of harm. And that’s because he’s grown. And now the problems he has are a lot better problems. He still has that problem. He’s fixed it as best he can. So better quality problems.
Jeremy: As we bring this towards a close, I want to dive into that getting some better problems. Like, how to, explain a little bit with being a part of a peer group, I’m here with it, how does this help me elevate my standards to where I have better problems? I love this.
Greg: So, I’m not sure that this is going to address your point directly, I’m trying to, but the thing that immediately popped into my mind is that most roofing contractors that are in, commercial roofing contractors, do not know what a salesman is. They think that the way you get work is that you put together your quote, you load it up into an email and send it to somebody.
And then you expect them to say yes. And they think that’s a sales process. And so they walk into a peer group meeting, and there’s like nine members in there. But there’s this one guy in there who has six salesmen. And they hear what kind of performance that he is getting out of his people in terms of revenue generated. You know, if we’re talking service, how much they generate per service truck. If we’re talking production, how much they’re generating in gross profit.
And you would say, Well, what does gross profit have to do with sales? Well, with sales, you can better pick and choose what work you do. You can focus your market, your salesman can go after the market that you’re better able to serve so your margins are going to be greater. And so you’ve got eight contractors sitting there that have this, the term I heard the other day is spray and pray approach, or bid and beg, okay?
And here’s somebody that actually sells, and they’re just killing it. And so now it’s like, oh, the problem I have is I don’t have salespeople. They didn’t even know this was a problem for them until they see somebody that is performing with them at a real high level. And so then they just start to do it and the first thing they do is screw it up. They hire the wrong people, they don’t manage them correctly. And so now they have a whole new set of problems that they never had before.
But as a general rule, the quality of these problems keep elevating themselves. And here’s the other thing, they have to grow. The number one thing that holds you back in your company, if you’re a business owner, is you. You’re the big pinch point. And if you aren’t yet, you’re going to be. And so until you’re willing to acknowledge that you’re the problem, it’s not them, it’s you, you know, you’re stuck. And then when you have, when you decide you’re the problem, oh, that’s a whole different quality problem to have to deal with.
Jeremy: I love that. And, you know, you’re speaking exactly the experiences I would think I’d have. Just this one problem, I would go to the peer group, I would learn deeper things, it would open my mind to the business, give me clarity to go back with confidence to really work. And you’re Of course corresponding with those peer members throughout the months that you’re away, and you keep growing.
But you start focusing even on better things. So sometimes the thing that’s screaming at you right now, really, you can just let that little thing, scream. Let’s go get something more important. And we can dig a bit deeper. So, Greg, it’s been great having you on. Definitely an expert when it comes to this and it’s been wonderful. If our audience was wanting to reach out and learn a little bit more, dive into this peer group, especially if they’re in the roofing, what’s the best way for them to get a hold of you?
Greg: Oh, the only way for them to get a hold of me is to go to my website. First of all, they can connect with me on LinkedIn or Facebook, but otherwise, it’s Hayne Coaching Group, HAYNEcoachinggroup.com, and they can schedule a video chat with me. They’ll have access to my calendar and they can do that.
Jeremy: Alright, so if you have heard this and you would like to go learn a little bit more go to Hayne coaching Group, that’s HAYNE Coaching Group, and schedule a video chat with him. Greg, thanks so much for being on. We appreciate it. Thank you.
Greg: Thanks, Jeremy and Ryan. I enjoyed it.