Operating a house painting company in a cold climate means there is a cyclical flow in the volume of business. People don’t want you to paint inside their homes when it’s too cold to open their windows to allow the fumes to escape. In subzero weather it’s impossible to paint outside. Managing employees with this kind of schedule can be a challenge.
Finding Seasonal Employees for Home Improvement
The bulk of my business happened from April until October. My two top performing employees were people I had run across on jobs where the home owner was having minor repairs done on the house. They were both skilled in doing drywall and other repairs that are sometimes necessary before painting. I also hired college students for the peak season when I had several jobs going on at once.
Consequences of Leaving New Employees Alone
It can get a little crazy driving across town between neighborhoods to oversee multiple jobs. I made the mistake of leaving one of the new college students on his own for a day before checking in. I returned to discover he had painted a building on the owner’s property that was not part of the contract. Although the home owner was not disturbed, it cost an extra $200 in materials. After that experience I never left a new employee alone for long.
Creating Clear Instructions
I learned to make a checklist for the employees to refer back to any time I knew I would be off the job site for more than an hour. Verbal instructions are subject to individual interpretation, but written instructions made my expectations clear.
Providing Good Training is Imperative
I come from a family of professional commercial painters and learned the trade during summers when I was a student. Using certain techniques made it easy to get the job done swiftly and accurately. When training my employees, I kept them with me on a number of homes to “apprentice” them to the trade. Maintaining a close watch over them and correcting mistakes as they happened taught them good work habits.
Avoiding Confusion with the Customers
It’s normal for a home owner to want to discuss the work being done on their house. They can tend to make confusing comments or requests to the worker that happens to be there at the time. My employees understood they were to politely tell the home owner I would be contacting them to discuss the situation. The employee never answered the clients’ questions – they immediately called me with a “heads up.”
Increasing Productivity through Incentives
It was important to me that my employees went away at the end of the season with a decent amount of cash in their pockets. Most of them were students and they needed a specific amount of money to carry them for the academic year. I offered them a $50 bonus each time they did a job well and completed it ahead of schedule. They worked effectively and earned good money.
The Best Seasonal Employees Help Grow the Business
When business began to slow down at the end of the summer, most of my employees left to start up the college year. I still had the two, skilled people to consider. I continued to give them incentives to get the jobs done early. On the days we had no houses to paint I paid them an hourly rate to help distribute marketing materials and flyers to homes that obviously needed paint and repairs. I picked up enough contracts to keep them employed for most weeks until the spring. They took a greater interest in the business and became the crew leaders that made it possible to expand my company.
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