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Hiring (and Keeping) Great Painters


February 26, 2021

A recent poll by American Painting Contractor magazine asked painting contractors about their biggest business challenges.  This is the second of three blogs addressing the most reported challenges.

It’s not easy to hire painters and it’s also not easy to keep them.  Reliable and professional painters are often poached by competitors.  Others start a few jobs on the side and end up running a business themselves before they realize it.  And many painters can easily transition to other contracting jobs. While this can be a good thing for all involved during the winter lull, it means that many painting contractors face a fresh hiring challenge each spring.


But there’s a best place to work in every town and in every industry.  The best employees know where that place is, and if they get the chance to work there, they’re likely to take it and not look back.

How do you earn that reputation?  Here are three things to keep in mind about your employees when you’re building your business processes.

Your financial equation is important

We explained earlier in the month that winning is losing when it comes to price wars.

One of the biggest reasons not to pursue rock-bottom pricing is your ability to take care of your employees.  If all of your revenue goes to covering salaries and job expenses, there’s nothing left for you to spend on marketing or sales to fill your calendar.  There’s nothing left for promotions or pay increases.  And there’s nothing left to help out an employee facing big life challenges.

Instead of being the price “leader,” offer a better, more reliable service and guarantee better work.  Then charge what you need to charge to make that happen.  When your business is ready to grow, don’t hire anyone who can’t meet your company’s high standards.  If your pricing is right, it will be much easier to afford – and to keep – those employees.

Reliable employees want reliable jobs

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain.  When employees feel like their jobs (and their hours) are reliable, they’re less likely to leave a job or start another one on the side.  On the other hand, companies with boom and bust cycles are much more likely to burden employees with both burdensome work demands and short paychecks.

Painting businesses that work hard at balancing their workload throughout the year are going to be perceived as better employers.  Working to fill the calendar is one of the biggest roles of management for a painting contractor.

If there’s a light season, start trying to book discounted work months ahead of time.   And while there’s always an element of taking the business when you can get it, remember there’s a real cost to booking work into a packed calendar, even if it looks profitable on paper.  The more time your employees spend thinking about how many (or how few) hours they’re working, the more likely they are to find somewhere else to work.

Honor and respect hard work

Trades workers, including painters, do hard work.  Sometimes that work includes odd hours, harsh weather and tiring physical labor.  Unfortunately, they don’t earn as much respect as they deserve for that effort.  Some employers and customers are rude to them, and many are guilty of looking down on them.

Because of this, it stands out even more in the trades when an owner or manager truly cares about their employees.

Unlike higher salaries or better benefits, it doesn’t cost anything to show your employees that you appreciate their hard work and really care about them.  And it will impact employee retention.

Recognize employees when they work overtime to meet a tight deadline.  Take an interest in employees and their families and celebrate their successes. When they have important events happening in their lives, try to adjust schedules to help them meet their personal obligations.

At some point, your best workers are going to be offered more money.  They might be promised better hours, or opportunities for promotion, or less physical labor.  The one thing another employer can’t promise is that they’ll start their new job with the trusting and respectful relationship they have with their manager.  If your company feels like family – if you’ve shown them that you really care about them – that might be enough to keep them where they are.

To learn how ProPainter Websites can help bring you more business, call us at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com.

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