11 Steps to Turn Your Crew Into a Team
So you have a painting crew?
But could you go as far as to call your “crew” a “team?”
I am Ron Ramsden, a painting contractor, and a DYB coach in Massachusetts.
For years my guys came to work, put in their hours, went home and that was it.
We prayed that they actually came to work on Monday after a great weekend… but in the last couple of years we’ve instituted some things that changed us from a painting contractor with a bunch of guys to a team.
I want to share those 11 tips with you right now.
You can institute a couple of them, all of them, half of them, but if you catch any of them, and start using them, you are going to see some change!
- Dress for success:
Have you realized that driving around a clean car feel so much better than driving a dirty one?
Do the same thing for your painters.
Buy them some nice shirts, buy them some pants, maybe give them an allotment once a month for a gift card to purchase some new pants.
Buy them some outerwear, some really nice sweatshirts, but spend the extra $10, $15 on sweatshirts.
These shirts are going to last for months and months and it would make them proud to put them on.
What we do is we give beanies in the winters because it’s cold up here in North England Recently we just ordered some trucker caps that the guys have actually voted on with a really cool logo.
A little different than anything else and those are the things they are going to be wearing everywhere even besides work!
- Change their reference:
What do I mean by that?
Don’t call them your, “painters”, or “employees”.
Call them your TEAM.
If you start referring to them as a team, they are going to play as team and that’s a big, big thing.
Not every job has to have a bonus, but if you put something into writing so that they know what they’re aiming for, they are going to strive to get that.
If you are going to say that you’re going to give a bonus, give the bonus.
Here’s an example:
One time my guys were painting the side of a house,I said, “if you guys finish this side of the house today, I’ll give you all $35 each.”
It’s not a lot of money, but for those guys, they were already working on it.
They might have finished it without the bonus, but at the end of the day they all got $35 extra.
I was happy. The side was done and I fulfilled my promise to them.
Make sure you are there so they don’t have to hunt you down to get the bonus!
- Pay more than other companies:
What does that mean?
If painters in the area are getting $15 an hour, what is it really going to cost you to pay them $16 or $17 an hour?
It is so expensive to hire a new person, that onboarding process, the interviewing and then pay them well.
In another article, I explained about paying the guys. It’s so worth it to pay them a little extra, than to spend way more time and money onboarding someone new.
As of today, we have 3 projects going on with 3 crews out there and I didn’t visit any of them.
One of them was a brand new job, the crew went and took care of it.
They will be there for 3 or 4 days. I don’t have to visit until the end.
Pay them well and they will treat you.
You also end up getting painters from other people, and other companies, because painters talk.
They hear you are paying well and they’re going to want to work for someone who pays well.
- The work truck:
Are they driving an old truck?
Invest in the company, buy them something that they are proud to drive.
I know some of these are a little costly to do, but in the overall scope of things, it’s going to change the way people look at your business.
Your team works for the business so they are going to keep these trucks clean.
You’ll be raising a lot of levels. You’ll be raising the bar of the company at the big-time.
- Interact always:
A few years ago, and I shared this in an article before, that I’d stop in a job site, I’d walk over, talk to the crew and then leave.
Sometimes I used to go and point of something they’re doing wrong if I saw it.
Now if I visit a job site, I make sure that I talk to every one of those painters.
I know what they are doing. I know what they are coming across and that was they are going to the game tomorrow.
I only found out about that when I stopped at the job site.
I was talking to a couple of the painters and they said, we are looking forward to going to the game.
For a little bonus there, I gave him $100 and said, “hey, have a few beers on me.”
Those are the little things that will make them enjoy working for you!
You’re not going to go broke. You are only going to build the character of the team.
- Keep everyone in the loop:
“The loop”: let them know on the job site, how many hours they have.
Share the workload with the entire crew.
You don’t have to share the numbers if you don’t want to.
We do, because everything is assigned to dollar amount and everything is also assigned to hours, so they know how many hours they are shooting for.
Keep them in the loop of what’s happening.
When you do that, they are not going to feel like, “I don’t know what we are doing here”.
They can also plan. They can say, when we finish this side of the house, we have the other side and we are not doing the front because they are replacing the windows.
They know that they are going in and they have a game plan when they get there.
That’s okay to share with everybody. Even our college kids are on basecamp for the summer.
- Share the schedule:
This came to me a few years ago. I noticed when the weather started changing, guys were dragging their feet, jobs weren’t finishing on time.
It was because they were afraid that they were going to run out of work.
Hence, we started using basecamp; a project management tool.
We share the schedule with them so that they can see how much work we have piled up for months to come, especially in the summer.
If they want to take a vacation they are going to let us know.
They also know that if they are planning on taking a vacation, they have all this work ahead of time and they can save some money to go and spend a little extra on that vacation.
- Group Me, Text Me:
We are all familiar with text… or hopefully.
GroupMe is an app where the entire team can interact, similar to text.
They can share pictures and other things with that.
You’ll find that in off-work time, they are talking about other things; vehicles, can someone borrow something, whatever is going on at the moment.
During the work day, they might be talking about some equipment, spray equipment or something like that which is on the job site.
- Team Dinners or Cookouts:
The guys love things like that!
Once a month we do have breakfast for the team.
We have a set time and place, like Panera Bread.
They come and I do pay them for the time. It’s half the time.
The time is 7:30 to 8:30, they come in at 8 o’clock because 7:30 is voluntary.
Almost every single one of them shows up.
- Team-building events:
We’ve talked about this before, I just want to remind you.
We’ve tried golf. My guys are not great golfers so we had to stop that…
Fishing trips, they love their annual fishing trips!
We’ve gone bowling. I have even taken them to the big paint manufacturers, Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams expos.
I invite the guys. They get free brushes, free shirts and that kind of stuff.
They are ones who interact and see the new stuff, what’s coming up and it’s no surprise to them.
Most other painters don’t do that. Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and many other manufacturers are glad to have more people walk through the doors because they bring in their vendors and the vendors want to see people interact with them.
Those are 11 different things that helped us build our team!
I am Ron Ramsden, a DYB coach, and a painting contractor in Massachusetts.
If you have any questions for me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also check us out at joindyb.com. You’ll find the whole arsenal of information we have there.
If you want to get in touch with me, find me on Facebook. I would love to chat with you there.
Keep those brushes moving, stay out of the bucket and make some money.