A builder shares her secrets to retaining great employees and remaining competitive
I’ve been working in the homebuilding industry for the last 22 years. Brace for impact: I’m a woman.
I know. You’re shocked. Larry Webb said it best at the 2014 Professional Builder Housing Giants Conference: “This business is dominated by a bunch of old white guys.”
I’ve been Vice President of the largest homebuilder in Idaho for the past twelve years. I’m not the owner’s wife, his mistress, or his sister. I’m asked that often--but yes, I am the Vice President of the entire company. We do it differently around here.
Of a total of 72 employees in our company, 51 are women. In a male-dominated industry, women make up 71% of CBH Homes. Let’s also point out that we run at one employee for every twenty starts, versus the industry average of one employee to ten starts. Do I have your attention yet?
Some would say Corey Barton, the owner and founder of CBH Homes is one incredibly smart (and lucky) guy. I couldn’t agree more. Average employment length in the U.S. is 4.4 years. At CBH Homes, our team members have been with us for an average of 7.12 years.
Are you surprised to hear that we’ve been voted one of the Best Places to Work in Idaho for six years running? You shouldn’t be. The trick to high employment duration is to be absolutely sure that new recruits belong on your team. Our secret is what we call the CBH Gauntlet. It sounds scary but if a recruit can’t handle the application process they’ll never cut it in our company. We’re a loud, fast-paced, hardworking kind of team (hence the 20 starts to 1 employee ratio). If recruits don’t fit into our culture, they’ll never last.
Let me share all of our hiring secrets, most of which were inspired by my good friend and sales expert Myers Barnes:
1. Submit application online
2. Fill out questionnaire
3. Complete personality profile
4. Phone interview
5. Strength Finders 2.0 Test
6. First in-person or Skype interview
7. Follow up by applicant and video
8. Second in-person interview
9. Visit the field
Our secret to success has been establishing a process, sticking to it, and being consistent.
Most applicants– female or male–easily accomplish Task No. 1 in our hiring process. Where we lose 90 % of applicants is at Task No. 2. Answering twenty basic questions about themselves is, apparently, challenging. It seems that applicants don’t want to do the work. Past that, the applicant pool becomes tragically small. Can they do the work of getting hired? If yes, we happily welcome them to our team.
Women need to enter the homebuilding industry. Every year at the builder show circuit, I'm surprised by the lack of women in attendance. Maybe they just don’t realize that it’s a viable option when they are on the hunt for a new career. It is.
So, welcome to the New Boys Club. It looks pretty good to me.