At 6 a.m. Monday morning, your cell phone rings. It's your dispatcher informing you that two of your best drivers have quit. But he tells you he has two potential replacements already lined up. When you ask him about their qualifications, he reassures you, "They both breathe, have CDLs, and have no felony convictions." In desperation you respond, "See how soon they can start!"

Any LBM owner who relies primarily on reactive talent-seeking strategies won't last very long, as these tactics typically lead to high turnover rates and disgruntled customers. It is imperative for building supply owners to integrate far more strategic and practical approaches to finding and keeping employees who fit with their company cultures and client needs. Gleaned from more than 20 years of consulting and research of best practices, here is a simple five-step model for LBM leaders who desire to find and keep great employees.

Step #1: Profile Your DNA

What Makes Your Great People Great?

Before your can find and keep more great employees, you need to analyze what characteristicsdefine a great employee at your company. To create a DNA Profile of your employee base, start with these questions:

1. Who are our top performers?

Make a mental or paper list of your best employees, regardless of their position or seniority. Try to limit your list to between 10 percent and 20 percent of your top performers.

2. What are their common characteristics?

Think about all the things these employees have in common. It could be anything from work styles to personality traits, habits, hobbies, religious preferences, schools attended, anything at all. Narrow your list to no more than six common characteristics within all your great employees.

Your DNA Profile will be unique to your company; what makes an employee great in your firm is not necessarily what it takes to be great in another firm. A well-thought out DNA Profile will help you more effectively focus your recruiting, retention, and promotion activities based upon the success criteria of your firm, not upon the job slots you need to fill.