Using this step-by-step framework from Leaf Home’s Chris Counahan can help position new employees up to excel from the first day on the job.

Kaitlin N. Schuler, Editor

February 24, 2023

3 Min Read
Onboarding scrabble letters
Josie Elias/Alamy Stock Photo

With the continued tightening of the labor market, retaining personnel is as critical as ever. Getting new hires started off on the right foot can help increase the likelihood they stay and succeed with your company.

To this end, Chris Counahan of Leaf Home shared his company’s six-day plan for onboarding success with attendees of Dave Yoho Associates’ Growth Mastery Summit. Counahan used sales reps in his example scenario, but the framework can be adjusted for use with any new hire at a construction company.

Day 0: Complete orientation tasks

Get the formalities out of the way early. New hires should complete paperwork, try on company-branded shirts to determine their size, and have their photo taken for an ID badge. Counahan sends them home with hard copies of the company’s pitch book and sales manual and provides links to demo videos for how to use the pitch book.

Day 1-3: Get focused in the classroom

On the first day, Counahan focuses on the basics, including reviewing the company pitch book, learning product offerings, learning to perform quality inspections, understanding and practicing measuring and pricing, and attending their first weekly sales rep call.

Leaf Home makes use of training videos as well as in-person instruction, Q&As and practice examples, and Counahan makes it a point to encourage copious note taking on these classroom days.

On Day 2 in the classroom, new hires focus primarily on practicing the skills they reviewed the previous day, including pricing jobs. They also learn strategies for closing sales and review the sales manual, and Counahan emphasizes practicing and reviewing at home during this first week especially.

Day 3 has new hires further honing their sales closing skills, including reviewing how to handle a lost sale and how to address common objections and rebuttals. They also cover any secondary discounts or special situations that clients may want to discuss and receive training on company software used for scheduling, financing, credit card payments and any other relevant systems.

Day 4: Head out into the field

Now it’s time to send the new hires out on the job, with supervision. Counahan says that waiting too long to get new sales reps out into the field can hamper enthusiasm, but it’s also difficult sending new hires out too early.

Thus, new sales reps ride with an operations manager, regional manager or senior sales rep who works by the book and can provide further guidance. The new hire simply shadows on Day 4; it is a day to gain knowledge and practice building confidence, Counahan says, which creates enthusiasm—and enthusiasm sells.

Day 5: Meet with the new hires for a review and assign leads

The meeting on Day 5 serves as a time to review systems and closing procedures again with the new sales reps. Counahan emphasizes company culture during this meeting, which includes the importance of wearing the company-branded polos, and assigns each new rep one or two leads with which to follow up. This can be solo or with a more senior team member if the new hire would like a higher level of support.

Counahan also emphasized the value in praising publicly and correcting privately to help build confidence while also ensuring employees are growing and receiving direction when needed.

Day 6: Let the new hires hit the ground running

According to Counahan, by Day 6 of this process, new sales reps should be confident and able to run solo leads. It is important, however, to identify early opportunities for continued improvement and development and to continue ride-along sessions as needed.

Counahan suggests that the operations manager should ride along and observe new reps selling over the next week to monitor progress and identify areas of strength and potential areas of growth.

About the Author(s)

Kaitlin N. Schuler

Editor, Infrastructure & Construction, Informa Markets

Kaitlin Schuler has nearly a decade of experience as an editor and journalist. Prior to joining Informa, Schuler served as special projects editor for Professional Remodeler magazine and, previously, editor for the American Nuclear Society. She earned a master's in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and a bachelor's in English from the University of Michigan. She now resides in southwest Michigan with her fiancé and 12-year-old cat. 

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