Hiring and Retaining Employees


Having quality personnel within your Dealership is crucial to its success.  To hire quality individuals, the first place to look is within.  What we mean by this is that the commitment level and stability of your employee base will directly reflect the commitment you have to your Dealership.  When you are interviewing a potential employee, think about what is going through their mind.  Where are you meeting, what are you telling them about the position, how secure are they about making a living working for you?  All these and more are flowing through their mind during your initial visit.

Running a successful CTI Dealership is a full-time commitment.  If you haven’t made this commitment, don’t expect your employees to, you will constantly fight turnover and motivation problems if you do CTI as a sideline to your “real” work.

Once you have made this commitment, then it’s time to start figuring out what it will take in order to keep yourself and your new employee(s) busy.  Start with an advertising plan, this will give you an idea of how much advertising or hustling you’ll have to do in order to keep your people busy and productive throughout the year.  A good tool for this is the Advertising planner and worksheet located in this manual.  This should give you an idea of how much to spend in advertising, how many jobs you will need to sell, and how to plan the applications to keep your crew busy year round.  The biggest motivator and loyalty builder you can develop within your staff is their ability to count on you to afford them ability to make a living for themselves and their families.

Who do you look for?

 Some tips for recruiting staff that has been shared with us from our Dealership network is

  • Find someone who has a family to support.
  • Find someone who has a mortgage vs. renting an apartment.
  • Your new employee should have a relatively stable job history (no more than an average of one job per year for the last five years.)
  • Criminal and credit history checks are becoming more affordable, contact PICA for criminal background checks (normally $50-$75 per check) and Equifax for credit history check (normally $40-$60 per check). This will give you a better feel for the personal habits of your new employee.

What do you offer an employee?

Again, our Dealers have shared with us what their biggest selling points are when interviewing potential employees about their positions.

  • A stable, 40 hour per week job throughout the year.
  • In a majority of the cases, the ability to work during the daytime only.
  • Health care (check into associations such as the Chamber of Commerce or use of a staffing service to help keep these costs down. Also, figure these numbers into your overhead before you decide what to pay per hour for your employees.  This should be considered part of their compensation.)
  • Bonuses for weeks where the crew installs above average square footages, for keeping call backs below a certain minimum, or if the company does over a certain amount in revenues for the month. These bonuses could be cash, dinner out, or something as simple as a case of beer.

What should I pay an employee and how?

Although it is difficult to provide a generic number that works throughout the U.S. regarding hourly labor rates, below is an example that will at least give you a starting point:

Three crew operation

Lead man: $15-$20 per hour plus health benefits

Second man: $12-$17 per hour plus health benefits.

Third man (part-time in many cases): $8-$10 per hour no benefits.

Considering that you are paying your lead and second man throughout the year and your third man is working 20 hours per week on average, your labor cost for the year would range from $64,480 to $87,360 for their hourly rate annually plus the FICA, and other taxes associated with having employees along with their medical insurance.  This three man crew, once semi-accomplished, should be able to install a minimum of 2500 square feet per week.  Considering an average year having 45 weeks of installations, your annual production should be in the range of  100,000 to 125,000 square feet annually which means your labor cost per square foot with all items included would run 75 – 90 cents per square foot.

CTI Dealers are split on how to pay their employees.  Some pay their employees an hourly rate while others will pay be the square foot installed.  The argument regarding the square footage rate is that this will create an incentive to boost productivity since a crew is paid a flat amount regardless of how long it takes them to install a certain job.  It also creates a “flat” overhead expense for the job vs. having the labor become a variable.

As a business owner your CTi Dealership can be a tremendous asset in your portfolio of investments. To see how your business is performing though, you need to see it from three different angles, namely, the income statement, cash-flow statement and balance sheet.

The Income Statement details the business’s cash generating ability. It projects such items as revenue, expenses, capital (in the form of depreciation) and cost of goods. You should generate a monthly income statement for the business’s first year, quarterly statements for the second year and annual statements for each year thereafter.

The Cash Flow Statement details the amount of money coming into and going out of the business – these reports should be generated monthly for the first year and quarterly for each year thereafter. The result is a profit or loss at the end of the period represented by each column. Both profits and losses carry over to the last column to show a cumulative amount. If your cash-flow statement shows you consistently operating at a loss, you will probably need additional cash to meet expenses. Most businesses have some seasonal variations in their budgets, so re-examine your cash-flow calculations if they look identical every month.

The Balance Sheet paints a picture of the business’s financial strength in terms of assets, liabilities and equity over a set period. You should generate a balance sheet for each year profiled in the development of your business.

(The above was taken from the book Start Your Own Business by the staff at Entrepreneur media)

Remember, a stand alone set of books for your business will not only show you its real performance, it will also point out what is working well along with what needs to improve. In addition, a separate set of books for your business will make it much easier for a potential buyer to see what they are purchasing if and when you are ready to sell in the future.

Building Credibility

As a small business owner, reputation means everything! It’s extremely important to establish and maintain a solid reputation in your local community. Be known as the local “Concrete Resurfacing Expert.” Know the competition in your area, and the products and services available to your potential customers. Keep up appearances, be honest, be professional and always be punctual for your appointments. Remember all the work involved to get those valuable appointments. If you must be late… call to reschedule.

Get the word out in your community about “who you are” and “what you do.” Try different things. Sponsor a Little League baseball team or become a contributing booster for local schools. Always continue to work on your reputation in the community. This will go a long way in building credibility with your customers. Another easy way to build your reputation and credibility is to speak at local public engagements. Take time to think about and research, where do local businessmen or home owners get together? What organizations are in your community? The local Chamber of Commerce will have information regarding Kiwanis Clubs, VFWs, Home Builder’s Associations, Home Owner’s Association, Garden Clubs, small business organizations, YMCA’s, etc. Join a few of your local organizations and ask to speak at more. All civic organizations need speakers for their luncheons and meetings. Most of us dread speaking in public. So, make it as easy as possible for yourself, come armed with as many visual aids as possible. Bring sample boards, portfolios, brochures, etc. Put yourself in a position to let the product sell itself. Essentially, you are building your network. Hopefully, the better your network the more credibility you will gain in your community. Remember, when speaking in public it’s okay to be nervous. Look at it as just another Home and Garden Show, but with a captive audience. Keep it simple, but make it fun!

A wise man once said, “actions speak louder than words.” So get the ball rolling and call your local Chamber of Commerce… find out who’s out there. If you don’t know who they are, they won’t know who you are!

Concrete Technology would like to congratulate the following Businesses on their December anniversary date as CTi Dealers:

CTI East Coast, FL – 26 years
Brak-Hard Concrete, KS – 19 years
D&D Concrete, PA – 16 years
CTi of Sand Mountain, AL –  16 years
CTi of Columbus, GA – 7 years
Concrete Complete, NC – 2 years
CTi of Central New Jersey – 2 years
Surface Technology L.A., CA – 2 years
CTi of Springfield, MO – 1 year
Concrete  Design Techniques, MN – 1 year
Dreams in Concrete Realized, VA – 1 year
Concrete Made Perfect, IN – 1 year
Creative Stone Specialists, IL – 11 years
Custom Concrete Coatings, TN – 11 years
Livingston Building Company, NC – 8 years
Concrete Unlimited, Canada – 7 years
Fix Your Concrete, PA – 6 years
CTi of Atlanta, GA – 3 years
Fairfax Concrete Technology, VA – 3 years

Maybe you have a little extra time on your hands this holiday season and want to do some reading on running a business.  Below are some titles we highly recommend, they range from general information on running a business to creating a vision to specific information on marketing, sales, etc.  Enjoy the read:

  • The E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber
  • Sales for the Self Employed – Martin Edic
  • The Complete Guide to Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Managers – Steven Finkler
  • Built to Last – Jim Collins
  • Good to Great – Jim Collins
  • Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  • The Millionaire Mind – Thomas Stanley
  • Guerilla Marketing – Jay Conrad Levinson
  • The One Minute Manager – Kenneth Blanchard

Finding Your First Employees

You’re just starting your Dealership and as you start to market and speak with customers, a question keeps coming up in the back of your mind, “when should I hire someone to help me get these jobs down?”

Most new Dealers have concerns over whether to hire someone when their book of work is not covering a number of weeks, but they are also concerned about how to manage their time effectively when they starting to install the work they have sold while keeping the pipeline filled with new customers.  Below are some tips for transitioning from a one or two person operation to hiring your first employees.

Friends and Family:  Many times a son, friend, brother in law or wife can be the first help your business utilizes.  This doesn’t have to be a permanent solution (unless you and the person want it to be), but can get your business in a scheduling and cash flow situation where hiring someone full time becomes easier.

Temporary staffing companies: There are many local and national companies that provide temporary staffing for the construction industry.  Performing a Google search for “temporary construction staffing companies”, will give you the information you need.  These companies will provide your Dealership the labor it needs for as many or for as few days as you need.  This gives you the luxury of having help when you need it but not incurring the overhead expense of a full time employee until the business can afford it.

EMS and Firemen: Folks who work on ambulances or as firemen normally have schedules where they work two full days and are then off two full days.  This schedule works well with most installs and provides labor for you without having to keep the person on full time.

Making your material go farther

Did you know using CTi’s Smart Prep System can make your Hallmark products cover more?  The Smart Prep product line was originally designed to create a better preparation process for the concrete and to repair cracks with a better system.

Many Dealers are now using the Smart Prep to create a smoother finish that allows the CTi decorative products to cover more and to perform better.  The Smart Prep product line allows the decorative products to create an even stronger bond with the concrete which allows for better performance in the long term.

Concrete Technology would like to congratulate the following businesses on their November anniversary date as CTi Dealers:

ADC Concrete Creations – LA – 14 years
Black Diamond Home Innovations – TX – 13 years
Surface Concepts – MO – 12 years
Concrete Designed – NY – 3 years
Re-Crete Solutions – AL – 3 years
Alabama Concrete Technology – AL – 3 years
Custom Concrete Creations – TX – 2 years
Acrylic Concrete Designs – FL – 2 years
Inland Empire Concrete Restoration – WA – 2 years
Kiss Home Services – FL – 2 years
Kingcrete – MO – 2 years
CTI of Dallas County – TX – 2 years
Southern Concrete Design – MS – 1 year
C4 Concrete Technology – VA – 1 year
McCrory – CTi Services – TX – 1 year
Custom Concrete Restoration – MN – 1 year
Concrete Designs of Tampa Bay – FL – 1 year
American Tile Descaling, Decorative Concrete Division – CA – 1 year
Creative Concrete Solutions – TN – 12 years
Concrete Solutions of North Georgia – GA – 6 years
Artistic Concrete Solutions – PA – 9 years
Classy Concrete Solutions – WI – 7 years
Klas Concrete Designs – Dominica – 6 years
Coastal Concrete Design, Inc – AL – 4 years
Ben’s Concrete Resurfacing – PA – 4 years
CTI of St. Clair County – IL – 3 years
CTI of New Haven – CT – 3 years

Creating a More Productive Crew

Productivity is at the heart of a successful home service business. Your operation can only be as successful as the people who work for you. Working with Dealers for over 25 years, I’ve found enhanced productivity comes from focusing on three main areas:
1) Motivation – this comes from a number of different means, but mainly it’s the atmosphere and culture your company provides your crew people. I’ve seen owners and crew chiefs who can get more out of their people by setting a pace on the job site, keeping the atmosphere upbeat and letting the guys know when they’re doing a good job. Other ways to motivate are also bonuses when a crew exceeds production goals for a time period, this could be money, lunch, or other material ways to show the crew you appreciate them.
2) Training – In working with the Dealers, I’ve noticed a distinct difference between when a crew is unmotivated and when they are not properly trained. A poorly motivated crew normally moves through the entire project in slow motion; a poorly trained but motivated crew will normally show signs of slowing down only during the phases of the project where they are not as sure due to the poor training. To combat this, you first need to understand where the training gaps exist. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask the crew or observe them in action. Most people want to do a good job and if they are unsure how to do this will tell you what they need to be better if asked.
3) Organization – This culprit is all too prevalent in the home services industry these days. Most businesses in this industry have to take their materials and equipment to the homeowner’s location. This leads to a challenge of insuring everything needed is in the trailer when the crew arrives for the project. When a crew has to go back to the warehouse to get missing materials or equipment, you not only have the downtime of the employee who is retrieving the materials, but many times you have the downtime of the entire crew to contend with since they cannot move any further on the project. Checklists of all items that could possibly be used on a particular project is one of the best ways to address this issue. If a crew shows up Monday morning and is preparing the trailer for a project they are starting that day, a checklist should be provided to insure they load everything possibly needed in order to avoid the dreaded downtime.
Working with your employees, motivating, training and keeping them organized will not only lead to higher productivity, but will also lead to better longevity with your crew and higher profits.

Word of mouth advertising is one of the most effective and profitable for a business.  Word of mouth advertising comes from your Dealership offering the following:

  • An agreeable buying experience for the customer
  • A top quality installation
  • An education for the customer on what the product can do and can’t do
  • Ongoing follow up to insure future satisfaction from your customer as well as giving your customer a chance to give you referrals.

With this said, your first area to examine is how your customer buys from you.  This starts with how the phones are answered, how your Dealership looks regarding your trucks and how you and your crew is dressed.  Did you show up for your initial appointment on time? Did you complete the job on schedule? How do you leave the job when it’s done?  All these factors help determine whether how a customer feels about their overall buying experience.  This is one of the most important factors as to whether you’ll get referrals or not.

Second, is the installation quality, this is a two-edged sword.  On the one hand, the perception of the customer can work for you since your customer’s job is normally the first one they’ve seen in reality.  This excitement normally overcomes any small inconsistencies you develop during the job and the customer satisfaction is normally the easiest part of the whole equation.  The other side of the coin though is that particular customer you may run across.  Are you doing everything within reason to satisfy this customer?  Too many times we are trying to get the job done quickly so we can get paid and get on to the next job.  A fussy customer can sometimes be your best referral if you take the time and work with them to insure their satisfaction.

Third is the ongoing satisfaction from the customer.  This is best accomplished by educating the customer about what to expect from the product.  Basic things such as telling the customer to hose the area down periodically to keep it clean can keep your customer happier than the one who feels the product should be self cleaning.  In addition, explaining to the customer that the product is not bullet proof so if they drag a heavy, sharp object across the area they’re not surprised that it scratches.  An educated customer will normally talk about the product more because they understand more about it; this creates the word of mouth advertising you want.

Lastly, is the ongoing follow up.  Business owners are hesitant to call their existing customers because they’re afraid the customer may have a complaint.  It is always better for the customer to tell you about any concerns they may have than the 7 or 8 friends that could have just as easily been referrals.  Calling your customers offers you the ability to diffuse any concerns before they become problems and also provides you with a chance to ask the customer the simple question, “do you know anyone else that may be interested in having their concrete beautified?”  Referral business is the key to bringing your Dealership to incredible heights as far as growth and profitability, don’t let this ideal chance pass you by.

Use a follow up system that insures each customer receives the same attention, an example would be:

  • 2 weeks after the sale, send the customer a thank you note
  • 30 days later, a questionnaire mailed out asking the customer for the thoughts on their experience with your company.
  • 2 months later offer a special for existing customers only (10% off any job over 300 s/f)
  • 90 days later, a request for referrals.
  • A birthday card on the anniversary of their installation. This also serves as a reminder for the re-sealing every two years.