Tips On Hiring Employees for Your Spray Contractor Business

In our previous post, we talked about getting started as a subcontractor. Our tips focused on people who are just getting started in the spray contracting industry.

In this post, we’d like to look at the opposite end of the spectrum and outline important tips for spray contractors who are established enough that they need to hire employees for a crew.

If you’ve worked primarily as a sole proprietor and spray subcontractor, the idea of having to hire and manage employees may seem daunting. It’s not easy to find the right people, and you’ll probably have to change the structure of your business. It also means you’ll have to manage people on the job site, which offers its own set of challenges.

However, having a crew means you can take on bigger jobs, invest in more texture machine equipment, and generate more revenue. It may be an inevitable result of your own success, so it pays to be prepared.

The first step when you get to this level will be to hire your crew. This is a critical step that will impact your quality of work and reputation. Let’s outline how to get the best people to build your business.

#1. Plan Ahead

One of the biggest mistakes spray contractors make with hiring is to wait until they are right in the middle of their busiest season and realize they need help immediately to complete jobs.

This turns the hiring process into an emergency. You’ll have to hurry through the recruiting process and, in all likelihood, you’ll hire any warm body that shows up.

This is not the way to get reliable employees that will stay with you.

Instead, consider not just your work schedule, but your prospective work schedule for the year. Calculate when you may need help and plan ahead. Work through the hiring process during your slow period, such as during the winter months when more workers are seeking employment.

This will give you the time to conduct interviews and choose employees who are the best fit. Hiring in a hurry rarely results in getting the best people for your business.

#2. Take Advantage of Hiring Resources

Today there are many resources available to find employees. With the internet, you can list jobs in a variety of places, including Craig’s List, contractor job boards, and social media sites.

You can also take advantage of local publications, job fairs, and referrals from general contractors.

Cast a wide net to tap into a decent pool of applicants. By taking the time to connect with more people, you’ll get a better sense of who will work for you, as well as who won’t. You’ll have a better chance of finding crew members with relevant experience.

If you limit your search, you may end up having to hire people you don’t feel comfortable with. This results in getting unreliable people who don’t meet your criteria for quality work.

#3.  Make Your Listings Clear

Be detailed, clear, and descriptive when you post a job listing. Give detailed descriptions of the spraying work you do and be clear about the experience you require. Give details about the types of workers you seek and how you deal with issues like punctuality and work ethic.

The more detail you include, the less likely it will be that you’ll have to interview unacceptable applicants. This is a big time saver and it results in getting better people when you hire.

#4.  Learn How to Interview

One thing that will pay major dividends for your texturing business is learning how to interview prospective employees. This is not easy, but the good news is that it’s a skill you can learn.

Plan ahead when you interview by having the questions you want to ask ready. Go beyond experience so you can get a sense of the type of person you’re dealing with.

Do some research into how to conduct interviews. There are many books and online resources that offer free interviewing/hiring training.

Many contractors struggle with conducting interviews because they don’t prepare and don’t believe it’s something that they have a feel for. This can be a costly, ongoing problem.

If you learn how to interview, it’s a skill you can use as long your spray contracting business has to hire people. It’s a worthwhile skill for any business owner.

#5. Ask For References

When you think you have a good candidate, ask for and check references. You can learn a lot by calling just one former employer.

Preferably, your candidates will have some kind of spraying or drywalling experience. But even if their last job was working as a dishwasher you can learn about their work ethic, promptness, and reliability with a quick call.

Remember our first tip. It takes a bit of time to check references, and if you’re rushed to hire you’ll skip this step. Just remember that getting the right people will save you time and headaches down the road.

#6. Hire For Character

Imagine two candidates for your job. One has experience as a drywall sprayer but when you check his references you find he has trouble getting along with others and occasionally shows up to work hungover.

The second has no construction or drywalling experience, but he’s known as a great person to work with and has history that demonstrates a solid work ethic.

Who would you hire?

At first you’d probably lean towards the guy with experience, but in truth you’d be better off to hire the guy with better character.

You can train a person who’s enthusiastic about the work to operate a tool like the Kodiak portable drywall sprayer. In short order you can have him doing quality work.

But you can’t train a person to have character. You can’t change a guy’s personality and it will be hard to alter after hours vices that impact daytime work.

Look for experience but favor character if it comes down to it. You’re better off training the right person than allowing for the wrong one.

#7. Provide A Career Path

If you’ve gotten to the point where your business will use multiple big spraying rigs and always employee a crew, think long term.

For employees, that means offering a career path. You may need guys who can work as managers or who can work independently at different job sites. You may need people who can help with administration and sales. You may need reliable drivers or people who provide mechanical/maintenance support.

Pay the right people what they’re worth and provide benefits for long-term employees. Treat them like family and you’ll get treated that way in return.

You’ll probably hire many seasonal workers, but you want core positions filled by people who will stay with you. Their career stability is your business stability.

Match them with the most reliable texture sprayers and airless sprayers in the business, and you’ll have a winning combination for long-term success.

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