What’s your competitive advantage in the trade industry?

Customers are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a trade business to suit their needs. High quality service is in abundance, lucky for them! But, for an awesome tradie battling to compete in this crowded industry, how can you stand out from the bunch? What’s your competitive advantage in the trade industry?

  • Is it the awards the business has won over the years?
  • Is it the fact that you have over 20 years of trade experience?
  • Or perhaps it’s the fact you are geographically located closer and hence can be considered their ‘local tradesman’.

Research suggests businesses find their competitive advantage in their employees.

Yes, the person who answers the phone and is first point of contact for the business, plus the tradesmen who end up onsite working directly with the customers. They are the face of the business. This does of course include you too, if you are answering the phones and are on the tools.

This is where trust is built, relationships are nurtured and professional advice provided to assist the customers to make empowered and smart decisions about products/services they may require.

In order to attract and retain employees that’ll truly provide a competitive advantage, you need to leverage their employee value proposition.

An employee value proposition is what you offer your employees. Simply paying them a wage is not enough to keep them around and performing at their best.

At the end up the day, any business can pay them a wage so to keep your employees you need to offer a bit more. Employees who are getting this “bit more” are satisfied. Satisfied employees are engaged and committed to the business. They are more likely to recommend their workplace to people and they are less likely to leave.

In summary, your employee value proposition = employee job satisfaction = positive employee behaviour outcomes = a competitive advantage for your business.

What are some things you can do to make sure you have satisfied employees? Let’s take a look at two of our top tips to keep your staff satisfied.

1. Employees who take ownership

What’s going wrong?

Most trade business owners hire a new tradie and basically throw them in a vehicle with a branded shirt and think that this is okay. Or perhaps you spend a week with the new tradie in your vehicle while you repeat ‘the rules’ over and over again and then send them out on their own. ‘Perfect’ you might think.

Well is it? Ever seen a pattern of 1. they make mistakes, 2.get roused on by you (yep, you can get short and cranky when you want to), then repeat, and 3. they leave. And you’re left wondering why? No trade business owner wants a revolving door.

What you can do right?

You need to slow down! When you hire a new tradie, sit down with them and explain their role, why they’ve been hired and why they are important to the business. You need to take the time doing proper training; in a vehicle with another tradie learning step by step your systems.

Use a combination of flowcharts (we have about 40 for the tradie role alone) and on the job training to get them use to your processes, what is expected of them so they can take true ownership of their position, and hence, represent your brand with pride.

It needs to feel more like an honour to be ‘let out’ on their own to see customers. A position they have earned, not thrust upon them to ‘sink or swim’.

By doing this, your staff are more likely to take ownership over their work and feel like an integral part of the business. From this, they may be more willing to take on more responsibility and work harder.

2. Great workplace culture

What’s going wrong?

Most trade business owners don’t get their team together. Not for a meeting – ever, and certainly not for a social event! The idea is far from their head.

In fact, they wonder what value it would give them anyway.

Because of this, the tradies are like strangers and hence treat each other this way. For example, when a job goes bad they can’t rely on each other to help out. Worse still, the moment they have a bad day, or things don’t go their way, there’s no trust, no relationship to lean on to bring them back from the edge. The revolving door continues.

What you can do right?

It is common knowledge that a happier workplace equals happier staff. But how do you do this?

It is said that your team will stick around and provide loyalty not based on the business itself, but because of the people they work with – their team mates and the boss. Of course the basic necessities to operate on a daily basis need to be in place to make their life easier – a vehicle, branded clothing, tablets to operate in the field and the tradie know-how to complete their job. But there’s a level above this that can only be created by you. The culture!

Striving to build solid mateship between your staff is integral to their long term commitment.

Our fortnightly tool box meetings are integral to the tradies building a relationship based on trust. There is nothing more bonding than food, more specifically for an Aussie bloke, a good ‘ole bacon and egg roll on the BBQ for breakfast. No better way to start the banter amongst tradies, and a great relaxed environment to start the morning building a mateship on trust and camaraderie.

We also hold quarterly team dinners, often including their partners. Knowing and understanding the partners well certainly help to connect you better with your tradie. They offer a positive and supportive sounding board after that inevitable day at work bitching about the boss. Their response will be ‘they aren’t that bad!’

The better the relationships between your staff, the happier they will be, and when they turn up to Mrs. Jones house with a beaming smile, you know they’ll convert that quote and secure another long term customer!

By nurturing your staff just with these two examples, your employees will feel like a valued part of the team, their job satisfaction will increase, and their behaviour will greatly benefit you and your business – giving you an advantage over your competitors!

What’s next?

  1. Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
  2. Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.