Working Millennials

This map and comment posted by Strati Georgopoulos recently showed up in my LinkedIn feed and got me all fired up.

“Millennials came of age during a tough economic time: Student debt has reached an all-time high, and the job market is more competitive than ever. As a result, young people today aren’t earning as much money as their parents did when they were young. The median annual income for employed millennials was taken from Minnesota Population Center’s 2014 American Community Survey and Pew Research Center’s definition of millennials: Americans born between 1981-1997. The medians ranged from a low of $18,000 per year in Montana to a high of $43,000 in the District of Columbia.”

I commented “This is really very sad. Often people refer to “Millennials” and you might automatically envision a recent college graduate. Someone born in 1981 is now 34+ years old. 34–in their prime earning years! This chart really shows median incomes for AMERICANS not just stereotypical millennials. That’s a problem. College may not be the best choice for our high school kids. The biggest complaint I hear from business owners “lack of skilled labor”. Welders earn $55k, carpenters $42K, construction manager $71k. Consider what path you’d recommend to your student. What advice would you give?”

Later, I got to thinking more about it. Folks $20,000/year in Ohio is $384/week! If they’re working 40/hours, that’s under $10/hour. No wonder they live at home with parents. Can you blame them?

Who can forget “Living in a Van Down by the River!”

The fact is that better-paying jobs are available they just may not be pretty. One of our favorite family shows is “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel. (I may even have a big time crush on Mike Rowe…) Mike points out “Back in 2009, 12 million people were out of work. Most Americans assumed that could be fixed with 12 million new jobs. Thus, “job creation” became headline news. But then, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics quietly announced that companies were struggling to fill 2.1 million skilled positions…. Now, eight years later, unemployment is down, interest rates are under control, and inflation is in check. But the overall labor participation rate is very low, and the skills gap is wider than ever. In fact, the latest numbers are out, and they are astonishing. According to the Department of Labor, America now has 5.6 million job openings.”

Here are some of the median salaries examples in some of the most needed roles. Of course, with experience and management skills, employees can earn much more. Become the boss and own your own company, the income is limitless.

Concrete finisher $40k | Painters and Drywall hangers $46k | Mason $39k | Electrician $58k | General Contractor $94k | US Bureau of labor and statistics

Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis (BAGI) is tired of waiting for that skills gap to close. The need is so big, they’re taking their message directly to high school kids. Volunteers comprised of industry professionals (builders, remodelers, plumbers, technicians) head out to local school career fairs and set up tables to talk to students about jobs needed right now in the field and income potential. Watch their news coverage

And that’s just in the remodeling world, how about other skilled trades? 10 Best-Paid skilled labor jobs

As Mike Rowe pointed out, “Don’t let anyone tell you opportunity is dead in America”

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek Kuth.

Median Income Map source:

Chris Farley Image source:

Living at Home Chart source:

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Home Show Season

In most cities from the first half of January through the end of March is home show season. It’s that time of year when home improvement companies, home service companies, and other assorted businesses promote their products and services to an audience that, at that time of year, would have the time and opportunity to spend a few hours walking the aisles of a home show. After all, the weather is cold and dreary outside and it won’t be long before everyone walks outside and makes note of what needs to be fixed or replaced on their homes.

As part of my profession, it’s important to keep up with what’s going on in the home show realm, so I visit them each time they come around. I’ve been doing that for twenty years now and feel like I’ve seen a lot of really good techniques for selling and a lot of really bad ones too. In talking with business owners after a home show wrapped up I could typically tell based upon their response whether sales were good or not and know how they approached the attendees. It was good, bad, or ugly.

Let’s start with the good. Some businesses get it; they really know how to promote their business to a variety of attendees in which some attendees may have a strong interest and some that may have no interest at all. They know when to approach attendees and know when to pull back the reigns.

Salespeople who show confidence but not arrogance usually have more success in engaging show attendees. By just saying something as simple as “Hi” as attendees walk by and having eye contact can start them off in a positive direction. There’s no need to sell as soon as they open their mouth. If the attendee acknowledges the greeting with a response and eye contact, that’s usually a signal that they are open to a conversation, or willing to listen. If the attendee doesn’t respond and looks away or down at the ground the sales person typically takes that as a cue to move along to the next person. It’s simply reading body language and respecting the signals.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad home show salespersons out there. It ranges from the virtually non-existent to the overly eager salesperson. You’ve seen the non-existent salesperson. They are busy reading a book or staring at their phone trying not to do anything to “bother” anyone unless they are specifically asked by an attendee. The first impression that they give of their business is that they wish they were anywhere else but here. Even worse than the non-existent salesperson is the empty booth. Even after all these years, I’m still amazed at how many booths are unattended during show hours. Why did the business spend all that time, effort, and money to have a booth if there’s no one in it? No staffing equals no sales.

The overly eager salesperson is exactly what you would think. Pushy, loud, and aggressive. I’m sure that their personality isn’t really like that outside of the show, but they feel like they have to make sales and have this strange sense that the home show is akin to a carnival. They completely ignore body language of attendees who are signaling “leave me alone”. Typically it’s a real turn-off to attendees and gives a bad impression of the business. Just think of when that business advertises outside of the show. It’s likely to trigger memories of their pushy and obnoxious home show salespeople. Good luck overcoming that.

And then there’s the ugly. For the most part, these are the booths that are placed on the outer edge of the show. There’s a reason why- the products and services associated with these booths are the “infomercial” types. P.T. Barnum would be proud of these salespeople. They’re the ones with the headset microphones doing a scripted show, or they stand in the aisle and try to get you to hold their product or ask you ridiculous questions such as “What’s your favorite color. We have thousands of colors!” Why would color matter if no one knows what you are offering in the first place? I’ve even heard a makeup booth salesperson ask every female who passed by “Would you like to look pretty?” Ouch! Why didn’t she just say “Hey! You’re ugly! We can fix you!”.

Take note if you place your business in a home show or public event to offer your products and services. It matters whom you staff your booth with and how they interact with the attendees. Treat attendees with respect and friendliness and you’ll get more positive reactions that will lead you to more customers.



Contributed by Jeff Vice.