Hiring good employees is a critical part of the painting business. Poor hires can have a negative impact on your company's reputation, and high turnover rates can be a time-consuming financial drain. According to the American Marketing Association, the average cost to replace an employee is 30 percent of their annual pay. So what's the solution?
Basing hiring decisions on character, not just skill, can help your company minimize costly staffing misfires.
“Before interviewing job applicants, think of specific actions you require from employees in the position and then think of the root character trait of the action,” says Ron Jasniowski of the Integrity Training Institute. “Then create questions and scenarios to discern if the candidate regularly practices the trait and the action.”
For example, in checking for dependability, a question to ask potential hires might be: “Everybody misses work sometimes. What are some legitimate reasons to miss work? Or, “What would you do if your car doesn’t start?”
If you’re hiring a project manager, you might want to ask questions relating to diligence on the job. An example is: “On projects that were behind schedule, what are some of the ways you successfully got them back on track?”
“We’re looking for people who want to make a career of painting,” says Jeff Cutliff of 1st Class Painting & Remodeling in Anderson, S.C. “I want our people to be here for 10, 20 years, and to come to work every day because they want to, not because they have to.”
Attitude and aptitude are both important, says Tim Hanke of Hanke & Leech Inc. in Little Rock, Ark. His ideal prospect is a talented craftsperson that is extremely detailed oriented and has experience both in the field and as a business owner.
“Someone who has worked for themselves before knows how tough business is,” he says. “They know if something costs me money, it costs them money too. If somebody’s not pulling their weight, they let them know about it.”
Hanke will hire someone with no painting experience, if it’s the right fit.
“With an apprentice, the first year costs you money,” he says. “In the second year, you break even. It’s not until the third year where they start making money for you, so you want to make sure they have a longterm commitment.”
Office personnel are also key hires. Doug Bedford of Eureka Painting in Eureka, Mont., says that hiring a full-time office assistant was “a big boost to my bottom line” by freeing him to service customers and make more bids.
His advice for this position: Hire someone who knows business and computers, but, just as important, make sure they are willing to learn the painting contracting business. Train them in the field first, so he or she understands your work process.
For an estimator position, a desirable character trait may be thoroughness. An appropriate question might be: “They say we learn from our mistakes. Can you relate an experience from your career when something was left out of the process and caused a problem. What did you learn?”
You can view an expanded hiring questions list for employers at the Integrity Training website
Painting company owners have a variety of methods and ideas on the subject of hiring. Some favor seasoned professionals. Others prefer to hire workers with no experience so they can train them in their methods. In either case, the goal is to find people who will stick around for awhile.
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Video: Preparing Your Hiring Questions