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Painting Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am really close to running an add looking for subs, I am so fed up with employee's this seems like the logical choice
This quote is from the thread on subcontractors.
It is such a good discussion, I didn't want to interrupt it.
I was also fed up with employees as well, until the last year or two.
We now have 9 employees on payroll, and still hiring.
Yes, all of them quality people with great potential!
Every single one of them can be trusted!
What changed? I did.
When hiring, the number one question is not
what can you do?
It is:
who are you?
After the right people are aboard, we train them a bit, and let them run with it.
For example, we are now painting a huge office building and we have 3 months to do it.
After the first floor or two, everyone knows what they are doing,
night after night. I don't have to be there at all.
At the same time, the office employees are in awe!
Our painters are professional, pleasant, polite and yes, very happy.
Every single one of them is treated with respect and are almost given the keys to our company. They refer to the company as "we", "us" etc.
They get paid well, their personal lives and aspirations are important to us.
For example we will go as far as having fresh fruit (in a fruit bowl) fresh juice, bagels etc daily in the staging area (idea borrowed from Google).
These guys are here to stay and their future is connected with ours.
In the meantime, job, after job, they impress the customers so much,
that they tell us often that they would never hire regular painters again.:blush:
There are almost 100 hand written testimonials in our website and if you read
through them, the common theme is the painters.
Company culture with us is number one and leadership aside, it comes from the ground up.

The point is: if we have employee problems the problem lies with us.
 

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FT painter/FT dad
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1,254 Posts
Seems like you run a very good operation George. And I absolutely agree with you when you say that if you have problems with employees that you are the underlying problem. Makes sense...

But I'm actually quite upset with you. You have failed to mention that you are branching off into Connecticut so I can work for you.

...and I bet if you and Brian we're to team up...you guys would create a new breed of "Superpainters" and sweep the country in 1 generation :yes:
 

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Painting Contractor
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2,565 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
George, does your operation have any profit sharing scheme, and could you ever go so far as to run "open book" accounting?
We do have a bonus system that sometimes is very lucrative.
Let's say the crew has until Friday to finish a job.
If they finish Thursday they get paid for Friday anyway.

I don't know what you mean about "open book" accounting,
but they are welcome to see reports or anything in Quickbooks.
They know what our sales are, what everyone makes, including me,
how much we charge for every job, they can profit margins etc. if they care to know.
 

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Systems Fanatic
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1,390 Posts
Where were you when I needed mine?
George,

I hope you know I was kidding. I think what you are doing is great. My pets won't enjoy this expression, but there is more than one way to skin a cat.

The internet and boards like this have made so much more possible, if only we take advantage of the information available. Obviously you have, and my hat's off to you for that. I enjoy witnessing and learning from successful people, and you are certainly someone I've learned from.

I do have a few questions. I assume you changed the culture in your company. (If I'm wrong, please correct me.) How did you do this? Did you clean house and start fresh with new employees, or make changes and explain them to existing employees? If you kept existing employees, how did you explain the changes? How do you explain it to new employees? What kind of turn over are you now experiencing?

Thanks.
Brian Phillips
 

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Painting Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I hope you know I was kidding.
I do.
The internet and boards like this have made so much more possible, if only we take advantage of the information available
Most of what I learned I learned from these boards and the people in them.
I went through archives and hundreds of posts of the 3-4 boards in the last few years. I got to know people like you, Mark and others. I read hours and hours of posts, a lot of it from people like R.K and others during the old diatribes..
I do have a few questions. I assume you changed the culture in your company. (If I'm wrong, please correct me.) How did you do this? Did you clean house and start fresh with new employees, or make changes and explain them to existing employees?
If you kept existing employees, how did you explain the changes? How do you explain it to new employees? What kind of turn over are you now experiencing?
Hiring becomes really important.
One of the interview questions is:
What is your biggest accomplishment in life
but then, I give them the time to answer that. A lot of time.
The latest hire's accomplishment was, having and raising 4 children.
Watch their eyes light up when they realize you really are listening.
Also everyone hired is told that this is work in progress and company culture will be shaped by every one of us. Daily.
Can you go wrong hiring a great mother of four?
I suppose we lost some of the bad apples, they just didn't fit in.
We fired 2 painters and one quit in the last 6 months. The turnover has not been high.
The work atmosphere is fun. They actually like coming to work.
Also when I can (often lately), I add more hours for the job, on top of what their slow production rates would dictate. Sort of like transferring some of our clients money from our clients pockets to the employees pockets. I have to do something with the leverage all these leads give me.
So you get a painter averaging $32 per hour on the Office Depot repaint job, when her regular rate is $18 per hour.
The two girls just finishing a large residential with amazing quality,
they will clear over $600 bonus each, over the last two weeks.
There was an exterior job, when we were over budget and weather was a problem. Everyone was a bit stressed. Then the customer shows up with great treats and drinks for lunch.
He said: "what I like about you is, you are not only good painters, you are good people"
I keep coming back to that comment, because it does matter
 

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employees

We lose, as we guarantee the hourly.
It doesn't happen often, but it does.
George, a step to distance yourself a bit from this possibility would be to bring the subject of extras and change orders up with the employees at the weekly pep talk... Have them notify you quickly, when the clients ask them do do those little things that add up, and can eventually make a difference between profit and loss on a job.
 

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I have a feeling when George says loose, he doesnt actually loose money, he just doesnt make as much. lol

George have you ever thought of lumbing the jobs togeather, to even out any loosers and winners. I have thought of it, but it always seems to complicated for me.
 

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Painting Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
George, a step to distance yourself a bit from this possibility would be to bring the subject of extras and change orders up with the employees at the weekly pep talk... Have them notify you quickly, when the clients ask them do do those little things that add up, and can eventually make a difference between profit and loss on a job.
The change orders are ok
What happens is, some of our painters are a bit slower than I think
which is fine if I take that into account every time I estimate.
Also, being chronically under-staffed sometimes they are overworked and tired.
It doesn't happen often.
A bit more education about pricing, labour budgets etc. at the meetings would help.
 

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Painting Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I have a feeling when George says loose, he doesnt actually loose money, he just doesnt make as much. lol

George have you ever thought of lumbing the jobs togeather, to even out any loosers and winners. I have thought of it, but it always seems to complicated for me.
There have been couple of bad ones that made me think:
"what was I thinking?"
But there are some really profitable ones lately, so I think we are ahead overall.
As production rates improve and the more familiar I am with what they are,
things will improve.
I know this is a business, but I don't want to take the fun out of work.
 

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Born To Be Mild
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4,956 Posts
After the right people are aboard, we train them a bit, and let them run with it.
My question is do you hire quality people with NO experience and train them, or do you go for a good tradesman and try to convert him/her?

I am thinking that this year, we will try to start with some people from scratch and train them in our procedures as we go. Anybody have any luck with this?

As far as women, I have one who was great and all the clients love her. Now she is starting a cleaning business and as it grows, she works less. (can't blame someone for building thier own business)
 

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George

I really like your approach. We are attempting the same thing in Vermont. I sent you a private message to discuss it in more detail. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Scott
 

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Painting Contractor
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
We have had people with a lot of experience,
some with some and some with none.
The best candidates for us are the ones with 1-2 years experience
and a great personality.
Sometimes crusty old painters (like me) have many bad habits to break.
As far as women painters, it is a novelty with some customers,
but our women are tough and hardworking.
We have six women and three men working for us now,
We just hired the best canditates for the job, gender is never an issue.
 
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