Are you ready to hire that first employee?
I mean are you really ready to hire that first employee?
I want to go over a few things about whether you should or shouldn’t hire that employee.
I am Ron Ramsden, and I am a DYB coach, also a painting contractor up here in northern Massachusetts.
For those of us who have a larger company, sometimes we work by ourselves, there are a few exceptions, maybe work as a franchisee painter and always hired subcontractors.
However, if you are actually a hands-on-painter or once was, it came to that time where you had to hire your first employee.
I want to go over a few signs that may mean you’re ready to hire that first employee but are kind of nervous or even afraid to take that first step.
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If you work for yourself, your pay in profit will hit the ceiling, I don’t care what you charge an hour, we’ll just throw out a number, $50 an hour, you work 40-60 hours a week.
You know you are not making $3,000 if you work 60 hours a week, you have overhead, you have supplies, you have all that other stuff that you have to account for.
It comes to a point where it doesn’t matter how many hours you work, you seem to be making about the same amount of money.
This may be a time where you have to start thinking about putting an additional employee on, to take some of that labor burden off you and also to hopefully make a profit on that employee.
Second, there are only so many hours in a day, so many hours in a week, in a month, that you can physically work.
If you are working on interior residential or even residential homes, people don’t want you there 12 hours a day, they want to have their dinner, they want to have their breakfast without you painting the outside of the window or painting the ceiling where they are actually congregating.
There’s only so many hours in a day you can actually physically work, you work all those hours in the day, you run home, you do an estimate, maybe you are doing an estimate on the way home, you get home, you are writing it, you are picking up paint.
Again, there’s only so many hours.
With that being said, there’s no time for you.
Of course, it’s all exciting when you first start out.
You are in that first summer or whenever you started it and then you realize that you’ve worked the entire summer and you haven’t done anything for yourself.
What are you actually working for?
Are you working to make money?… Because you are going to hit that ceiling.
You are only going to make so much, your body can only do so much.
Your body will tell you when you have to stop and when you need a rest, you could be working and working, eventually hitting some kind of ceiling.
You are going to be exhausted, it’s being outside in the sun or whatever it may be, moving ladders, there is only so much your body can actually handle.
Those are some of the things that you will be starting to feel, if you are thinking about growing your business, you are actually going to be thinking about hiring an employee.
These are a couple of the steps and things you have to watch out for when you are hiring an employee.
You want to hire for Character.
A lot of us have thought we are just going to hire a high school kid, he can help me when I need him and you know I don’t really care who it is and I just give him a couple dollars cash under the table.
Are you really helping yourself or helping your business out at all with that?
You’re not growing your business, you are putting a really bad Band-Aid on the business, around that issue of how to employ.
You need to actually take your time and do it right.
There are no guarantees in this world, you could find the best employee in the world and something could happen like someone offering him a few dollars more an hour and there’s a good chance (s)he’s probably going to leave.
They might decide they want to open their own business, there are other factors, but if you start looking around for a person that has good character, you treat him with good character.
That means you treat him as a human being, you treat them how you would want to be treated, not how you’ve been treated; but how you wish you’ve been treated, you are going to actually find much better employees.
Train and Trust, training an employee and trusting an employee.
A lot of us when starting out and taking that first step to hiring someone, we think that we just have to put an ad on Craigslist or tell our friends or our buddies going to come on.
Most of them don’t even have a paintbrush, so all of a sudden we put them on the side of a house and we start having them paint and in the back of our mind don’t think that they have no clue of what they are doing.
You really have to train them and training takes time out of production.
You’ve got have to have trust in them, that they can do a good job, but they can only do a good job if you train them.
Try starting them with smaller things on the job site, maybe it’s moving the ladders in the beginning of the day, maybe take 10-15 minutes and show them how to paint some siding, work alongside them and then over time give them a little more rope.
Let them do a few more things over time because what we find is, a lot of the times, the guys if they are not on the job site, their employee is not on the job site.
Why? Because they don’t trust that person.
You’ve got to look at it from a future employee’s eyes, they need to make money, they won’t be working for you if they didn’t need to make money.
I don’t know very many people who are independently wealthy, who want to work for me or work for you as a painter, so they have to make money.
They are looking to work probably a 40-hour a week, they are assuming 8 hours a day unless you have some other kind of arrangement ahead of time.
For example, “I can’t get to the job till 9 tomorrow, I have something I have to do,” so they’ll just show up at 9 and we are only going to work till 3, the employee is not getting a lot of hours.
You’ve got to also trust your employee that he can do a good job, so if you train him to do certain things and when you are not there and maybe they are doing the sanding and scraping, maybe they are not applying paint or something like that.
In conclusion, Train, and Trust.
As you start to grow, don’t be breathing over your employee’s back because you have worked for so long by yourself and you are probably a perfectionist.
If you weren’t a very good painter and wanting to grow the business, if you start really micromanaging your employees and you know, double checking, triple checking, you are not going to have employees pretty often.
You wouldn’t want it to happen to you, I know your name is on the side of the truck and your name is on the business, but people who grow their business don’t have time to micromanage.
If you don’t micromanage, the culture of your employees will grow and they won’t be leaving as soon, so think about that.
Also, praise the employees, let them know when they did a great job!
Always make sure you let them know when they do not so good of a job, but praise them when you had a great day.
It’s always great when you get a pat on the back, it doesn’t have to be always monetary, a praise like, “great job, we killed it today, we really kicked some butt, we finished a side of the house, we finished two sides of the house today, we did a great job.”
Also, pay well, this is a big problem for a lot of painters; they will put an ad in the paper and they will want to pay $9 an hour.
The problem is, you need to think of what you are charging for labor per employee, $30-$50 an hour out on a job, so you want to pay them at least $12 an hour.
You should also pay them in cash, so you want to skirt the system in one pipe and eventually, everybody gets caught or you know something’s going to happen.
Given that the employee never gets hurt while he’s on your job site, working for $12-$20 an hour cash because the burden is on you and the homeowner and we wouldn’t want that to happen.
However, if you give them incentives, you say, “you hit [these certain points], your pay is going to raise.”
As they get more experienced and they are always on time, you can start to trust them more. When it comes to being on time, maybe they are constantly having transportation issues, give them incentives, “when you get your own vehicle, your license, that’s worth $2 an hour.”
It’s a lot easier to pay an employee that you have and like than it is to find a new employee.
This is typical with customers, a customer that you have now cost about $1, to find a new customer cost about $6, so it’s 6:1 to find a new customer.
Can you imagine what it costs to retain an employee compared to finding and training a new employee every time you need one?
So, a couple of other extra tips I would say is, make sure you have a few dollars in the bank, you don’t want to just break even.
You don’t want to have a terrible cash flow, you don’t want to be waiting for that next check when you want to hire someone because that employee should not have to wait for their pay.
No matter if you pay every week, you cut checks on Friday or hold back and it comes in through a payroll process the next week.
There should always be enough money to pay that employee, that’s what you have deposits for, that’s why you have payment program stipulations with customers.
Or if you don’t have those, you have been working for yourself for a bit now and you have some money in the bank because you are going to be waiting for a check now and then.
No matter how you operate, someone’s going to owe you money.
They might be waiting for a final walk-through, they might be running out of checks that they didn’t get.
It could be a bank holiday where they are going to write a check on a Friday and Monday is a holiday, you are not going to get that check for Tuesday, it’s no good till Tuesday, it doesn’t show up in your account.
You need that cash flow, it’s really not conducive to make your employees wait for their money. Make sure you have all this stuff lined up, that is money in the bank.
Start looking for a head now and when you are ready to hire someone, unless you have this special arrangement with someone, I would really look to hire someone full-time.
Although nothing is guaranteed in this world, if you are an interior painter, sometimes the weather is not affecting you, because that employee is not working for you but just for the love of the job, they really want to get paid.
If you follow these tips with a hiring for character and such, you will end up finding some great employees.
You may have to kiss a few frogs to find the right one, but this will help.
Like I said, if you are willing to pay them cash for a couple of days a week when you need them, I would just say, cross your fingers and hope everything goes well.
Anyways, if you start your business on the right track and keep it on the right track, soon that one employee will grow to two employees which will grow to three employees, you can then step back, maybe out of the bucket and then work on the business so you won’t have to be actually working in the business.
Your body will like you much more, you might create a process, you might not be touching a piece of wood with some paint, but you will find that the business will start to grow, start to flourish and the sky’s the limit, no longer is the pay in profit hitting the ceiling, it’s as high as you want to go!
I am Ron Ramsden, I am a DYB coach, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, helping painters work on their business so they don’t have to work in the business.
Have a great day!