The exterior paint season is about to start and the key to a successful season is the same as a great paint job: being well prepared. Before you find yourself fully booked with appointments, it’s a good idea to take some time out to make sure that your team is ready to go. The more effort you put into your “prep” now, the more smoothly your business will run during your peak time.

1.    Give new hires a chance to meet fellow team members.

You don’t want to put a new person in a situation where you’re sending them out on a crew to do a job where they have never met the people they’re working with before. If one (or more) people on a work crew have to spend time getting acclimatized to each others’ work styles and what your supervisor expects of them, they’ll be less effective on the job — at least for the first few projects they take on.

2.    Arrange training sessions for your team.

These sessions are a great opportunity for everyone you’ll be working with to meet and get to know each other. New hires will need to attend more training sessions than people you’ve worked with before during the summer, since you’ll want to go over your company’s policies and procedures, as well as make sure that they know how to use all the equipment properly.

3.    Examine all equipment and replace anything that has become damaged.

The training sessions with your team members open up an opportunity examine all of your equipment to ensure that it is in good working order. Don’t assume that all ladders, scaffolds, power washers, drop cloths, brushes, rollers and paint trays have survived the winter well.

Give all of your equipment a detailed examination to make sure it’s safe for your crew to use. Examine it for dents, loose parts or anything that looks or feels abnormal.

Set up the ladders and the scaffolds.

Do they feel sturdy when someone steps onto the bottom rung? Have a team member do a practice run going up and down to ensure that these pieces of equipment still feel sturdy once someone moves up higher on the rungs. Check to make sure that extension ladders can be opened and closed with ease.

4.    Go over safety procedures with all team members.

Safety should be a primary consideration before you start your busy exterior season, and you’ll want to ensure that everyone on your team knows about on-the-job hazards like falls, cuts from nails and exposed wood, etc. Remind everyone to get a tetanus booster shot before starting work for the summer if they need one. If they aren’t sure, they need to check with their doctor to make sure before their first day of work.

You’ll also want to make sure that your team members know about the importance of avoiding working during the hottest part of the day and staying well hydrated when working outside. Be sure that your team members can recognize the symptoms of heat stroke:

• Headache
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Flushed skin
• Rapid breathing
• Altered behavior or mental state
Someone experiencing one or more of these symptoms requires immediate medical attention. Instruct your team members to call 911 or the local emergency number immediately. While waiting for help, move the affected person to a shady area or into a building. Cool the person down by any means available, such as spraying with a hose, sponging with cool water, or placing inside a cool shower.

5.    Order driving record checks on all team members driving company vehicles.

Another aspect of safety is to ensure that anyone who may be driving a company vehicle, even for a short run to a hardware store or a convenience store during the day, has a clean driving record.

6.    Make sure your team is familiar with ordering, supplies and your billing software.

Since many contractors are switching to using a digital method for tracking customers’ orders, as well as keeping track of supplies they have on hand and invoicing, you’ll want your team to have appropriate familiarity with these systems, based on the type of work they’re doing for you.

If you have a system which allows you to accept credit card payments electronically, get your team familiar with how it works before sending them out on jobs.

Now is the time to work out any minor bugs. Once your team gets in front of a customer, even minor issues can make your company look less than professional.