Take Your Company to New Heights

I recently got a call from a prospective client.  He needed the exterior of his house painted and needed some rotting trim to be replaced.  He warned me that the house had lots of glass and angles.  “No problem,” I assured him.  When I arrived to do the estimate, this is what I saw: He wasn’t kidding! Multistory exteriors can be challenging, not only logistically, but also safety-wise.  My company uses a 60-foot man-lift to work on hard-to-reach areas.  Not only is it more safe than the alternatives (ladders or scaffolding), but it increases our productivity.  There is very little on-site set up required and the lift can quickly be moved from one location on an exterior to another. Utilizing the man-lift does require extra responsibilities.  Regular maintenance is needed to protect our painters and our clients’ property.  Just like a vehicle, it needs to be inspected once a year.  There is also an annual training session lead by the inspection company; the crew gets licensed to use the equipment and everyone learns about proper safety precautions. When bidding a job, there are several things that should be factored into the equipment cost for a job that will require the man-lift.  You will need to factor the time it takes to inspect the machine each day that it will be used.  You also need to factor the fuel it will consume.  You may need extra material – heavy-duty plywood – to protect soft ground and support the man-lift.  And you’ll have to factor in the cost of ownership or the rental fee (keep in mind that you might have...

Tips for Increasing Your Workforce – Part 3

The Interview: You spent some time creating a great job posting and you have several applicants who look promising on paper.  Time to interview!  Before meeting the applicants in person, prepare 3-6 questions and a task for interviewees to complete.  The questions should provide you with a broad impression of how the candidates approach challenges that might be encountered on the job.  The task should give the candidates a chance to demonstrate their skill. Let’s say you are looking to hire a painter to fill a crew.  You may ask questions like: Explain how you would go about painting a…(pick something common but challenging).  Would you do any prep work?  What details need to be considered? Tell me about a time when you had many different tasks at the same time.  How did you manage these? Give me an example of a complex project/task you had.  How did you approach it?  What was the outcome? Give me an example of a time when you had to work cooperatively with others on a team to complete a job. Tell me about a time you had to deal with an upset customer.  What was the problem?  What did you do?  What was the outcome? * Notice that none of these questions could be answered with Yes or No. Then, to get an idea of the candidate’s current ability level, you will ask him or her to paint something – a shutter, a window frame, a cabinet door. Other interview considerations: You may want the candidate to meet with several members of your company during the interview process, including a manager (the...

Tips for Increasing Your Workforce – Part 2

The Job Posting: Last week we talked about generating a list of tasks to be done and a list of skills a new employee should have.  You’ve got the list of tasks and skills ready, right?  Great!  Now to compose a job posting to attract qualified applicants.  If you don’t include enough information, you risk a flood of responses from unqualified people.  The best job postings are specific, informative, and easy to read.  You can break it into segments and present it like this: Job Title This is like the subject line of an email.  It’s the first thing applicants will see.  This headline should give applicants a general idea of the job in 4-8 words. Note: Writing in all capital letters is the equivalent of yelling on paper and should be avoided. About Your Company Two sentences to describe your company will give applicants an idea of who you are and what your values are. You can provide a link to your company’s website. The Job In a few sentences, describe the job and the type of person you are looking for as clearly and specifically as possible.  Things to include: Whether position is full time, part time, or contracted Location and approximate hours Describe what the employee will do at this job (use your list of tasks to write this!) Note: You can use bold, underline, or italicize to draw attention to key words. Note: You can use bullet points to separate information and make it easier to read. The Skills Here you can make a list (hooray for the skills list you already made!) of the...

Tips for Increasing Your Workforce PART 1

The weather is fine, your calendar is filled with jobs, and you need another set of hands!  How do you find the right person?  A well-planned job posting and pointed interview questions can help you do just that.  Here is Part 1 of 3 to help guide you to the right employee.  First thing’s first:  the job description. “I need someone to paint exteriors,” or “I need someone to work on my landscaping crew.”  This sounds self-explanatory, but there may be skills that you want potential candidates to have that you are taking for granted.  If you need someone to paint building exteriors and you primarily spray exteriors, then you probably want someone with experience using a sprayer.  Start by making a list of the tasks that need to be done.  If you run a painting business, these tasks may include painting interiors/exteriors, prep work, clean up, erecting scaffolding, or loading supplies.  Thinking about the day from beginning to end will help you hit all the tasks. Once you have a list of tasks that you need a new employee to do, create a list of skills that the ideal candidate will have:  experience, ability to work on a team, being on time, the ability to speak multiple languages.  Some of these skills will be MUST HAVES (perhaps like having a driver’s license) and other will be bonus skills (having the ability to use a computer, for instance). Set your lists aside for a bit (an hour, a day), and then revisit them.  Add to the lists if you think of additional responsibilities or skills.  Next week we’ll talk...