National Trainer Helps Contractors Grow and Flourish
The old saying goes, “Good help is hard to find.”
In the property preservation business, the saying could also be “Good help is hard to keep.”
As a property preservation trainer for Laudan Properties, Deandre Dickerson knows it is vital to his company’s success to not only find talented, hard-working candidates, but to also guide newcomers through potential pitfalls in the industry so they can succeed and become established.
“I’ve really been in a nice position to be able to solely focus on training and working with our contractors, so they are getting the service they need,” Dickerson said. “Sometimes it requires coaching, training, one-on-one, Go-Live meetings, (and) phone calls.”
Dickerson has always had a strong passion to help people -- for a long time he aspired to be a firefighter. While that was not the path his life would ultimately follow, the desire to help others is being fulfilled in his job as a trainer
“It’s been a joy to be able to work with the contracting companies and see the growth,” he said. “That is one of the most satisfying things about my job. Being a part of that.”
The hands-on approach seems to be working for Laudan. In the last couple of years, the company’s retention rate has increase from nearly 40% to well over 70%. Keeping contractors onboard is a critical part to Laudan’s growth, says Dickerson, and he is doing his part to make that happen.
“It’s been a joy to be able to work with contracting companies and see the growth." — Deandre Dickerson, Laudan
Dickerson began in the industry with LPS Field Services (ServiceLink) in 2007. After steady growth in his work there, he made a switch over to the regional company Laudan more than two years ago.
Laudan does work in approximately 21 states and its coverage area continues to grow. The services provided include inspections, preservation, REO and repairs, total rehabs and demolitions. He said the company has about 250 independent contractor companies in its network, many of whom are small “Mom and Pop” type of establishments.
A large number of Laudan’s contractor candidates contact the company through its website. Before the contractors can even be considered for work, however, they must have general liability insurance. Dickerson said it also helps to have errors and omissions insurance, and to also be Aspen Grove certified.
From there, it’s Dickerson’s job to discern whether a relationship with that contractor will work. He said he asks a series of questions to get to know they candidate, including:
- How long have they been in the business?
- Where are they located?
- What type of services are they hoping to provide?
- What are their ultimate goals in the business?
He said along with those questions, there are character attributes the company looks for as well.
“We look for passion and the desire to succeed!” he said. “I listen carefully for experience, ownership and pride. I have a conversation about honesty and like-minded partnership goals.”
“A lot of times (the contractors) are coming in very new and looking to establish themselves,” he said. “… But are they a good fit for what we are trying to do?”
Laudan's training process has "a lot of moving parts"
Dickerson said Laudan goes over a set of standardized expectations with the candidates, like how to winterize a property, how to update work orders in Property Pres Wizard (PPW), and how to access a property that may have preexisting locks, without damaging the property.
Not everyone is hired, but those who do go through a probationary process. Dickerson said Laudan checks out each contracting company’s work to make sure it meets the standards they require, while also recognizing that it is still a learning process for the contractors.
Dickerson said there are “a lot of moving parts” in the training process. He could have five training sessions set up during a day, one could be to teach someone how to use PPW, for another it could be how to make acceptable bids.
Along with training, Laudan offers other advantages working for them as well. The company supplies summary reports to its contractors that keep track of earnings, penalties and incentives. He said Laudan offers an incentive program to its contractors that has goals that are attainable for many.
Another benefit that Laudan gives its contractors is that it partners with MFS Supply in providing start-up kits and other supplies to get their tasks accomplished.
“With the strong (MFS Supply) partnership, we have been able to put together creative material packages for our network to help them save money,” Dickerson said. “Our network appreciates the ease of ordering … for reasonable prices and great quality. The partnership has been a big success.”
Laundan has also been active in using the Contractors Wanted section of the MFS Supply website when posting job opportunities for different areas of the country.
Dickerson said that the company launched of a new website in 2016, and has a new industry training and communications platform called Yardstick. This Learning Management System (LMS) will be used by the company to deliver rich training content through various media types -- just another way for Dickerson to help Laudan's contractors grow in knowledge of the industry.
*If you are a contractor and are looking for jobs in your area, check out MFS Supply Contractors Wanted Blog, which will give directions on how to sign up for our program.