How To Manage Painting Crewmembers!

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Hey everybody. Brandon Lewis here, coming to you with a quick video on how to manage painting crewmembers and stop babysitting them. Just yesterday, I was on the phone with a guy and he said, "I must have ran through at least 30 painters in the last year." Now, maybe part of that has to do with hiring and onboarding practices. I'm sure some of it does. But it sounds like a management and probably a personality issue to run through that many painters. And I get this all the time. People say, "I just need to find good people. I just need to find good people and I'm running through people." And then when I start asking them questions about how they manage their crew leaders, the systems, the processes, the way that they manage the personality of the painter as well. I'm like, "Yeah, the reason you're running through crew leaders is because all this stuff is broken and the crew leader probably doesn't want to work for you." And it's stressing you out. It's stressing him out.

So I'm going to talk to you about how to do this properly, in really kind of no particular order. I'm going to break it up into a few sections. And I want you to think about how you're running your painting business and if any of this is applicable.

Before I do that, if you have not registered for the Painting Profit Summit, check that out. We have virtual and live tickets. And in fact, we're having an emphasis on operations for this year's sixth annual event. And we're having an operations pre-day because this year we really learned that it's essential to make more money with fewer painters as we endure the labor shortage.

So let's get right into it. Oh, by the way, I always forget to ask this. Please do like our YouTube channel, follow it, and maybe even forward it. Share it in some of the painters groups that you're in on Facebook. Here we go.

So the first part of managing painters is this. You got to give them goals. Okay. G-O-A L-S. And what kind of goals are these? Are these just any old goals? Like paint this by the end of the day? Do that? I don't think so. I think that leads to micromanaging.

When I say goals, there are two really primary goals, well, three, that I want to give a crew leader. Number one is labor and material budgets. I don't know how far I can go on the screen over here. Right about there. So number one is labor and material budgets. You can't send somebody out to a job and not tell them, "Hey, this has 32 hours in it. This has 113 hours. This has 76 hours." And those hours need to be tracked in a tracking sheet. We'll get to that in a moment. And you need to be doing daily job costing so you know if they're on budget or not. Same thing with materials.

And you really need to have some sort of saved labor and saved material bonus program so that when they do deliver for your company, from a gross profit standpoint on the project, which is frankly all they can control, that they are rewarded for that. So what gets measured improves, what is measured and reported improves exponentially, and what is measured and reported and incentivized builds a culture. And it doesn't just have to be monetary. It can be recognition, it can be contested, etcetera.

The second thing that you want to do is you want to give them customer satisfaction goals. Okay. Now, how do you quantify that? Customer satisfaction. In our program, we have a Likert scale, which is a range one to 10 on several different items. We get about a 90 some odd percent response rate on that every time we use it. We do it in person. And it just tells you, how do you score on one to 10? We've got overall satisfaction on the very bottom, which is probably the most important score. But we've also got professionalism, timeliness, neatness, courtesy, things of that nature that are just as important as the quality of the finished product.

And then third, and this is where we're going to kind of get into some of the things that makes this happen, is that they follow processes and procedures. And these need to be really like the 20% of things that make 80% of the difference. I watched two extremes, as it relates to managing crew leaders and painting companies. Either number one, people want to not do anything. They want to just give a bunch of verbal instructions when they drop somebody off. And that never works. It turns into chaos. If you've been doing that for a long time, you know that that doesn't work. If something doesn't work, try something different. That's a good idea.

But labor and material budgets, customer satisfaction, processes and procedures. Now, what's in the process and procedure aspect? And this is also for you and it's for them. So there's two sides of processes and procedures. And one of them is at the crew level. I actually call it crew leader level. And what we have is we use something called an ultimate crew leader packet, and you can create this yourself. And inside that crew leader packet, we have meet the crew leader sheet. Very simple. It just says, Hey, this is your crew leader. This is what you can expect. Here's his contact information. Don't contact the office. We've got to empower the crew leaders.

It has a labor hour tracking sheet. So every day they can track the labor hours, shoot that back to you at the office. We'll talk about that in a moment. It has a very simple process and procedure checklist. This is how you start a job. This is what you do every day on a job. This is how you close out a job. Has a customer satisfaction sheet, a dual column checklist, which is very different than customer satisfaction. This is to make sure that the job closes out well, payment envelope, scope of work, equipment checklist, and a few other items to make sure that when they go out in the field, they've got everything they need to do the job without you.

Now, if they don't have everything they need to do the job without you, guess what you get to do? Babysit. "Well, I'm so tired of babysitting these painters." Well, maybe if you babysit yourself and your business a little bit more and got these systems in place, you wouldn't have to continually babysit your crews.

Now what's the last thing? Okay. It has to do with processes and procedures. And this is what happens at the office level. And this is really your responsibility or your operations manager's responsibility. It could be a really good admin.

So office responsibilities, I'm going to put office level here. Sorry for the handwriting. I know it's terrible. So office level, you really need to have an SOP, Standard Operating Process, and a checklist for every project. Right? Call this a project checklist. This is what we call it. And you need scheduling. You need a scheduling sheet. And this is for all jobs that are pending and in progress. And you may have 15, 16, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100 jobs on this sheet. And then you have your daily assignments. And then I would add a painter capability sheet. We're about running out of room on screen here. Painter capabilities.

Okay. An SOP checklist is very simple. It's with every single project. You can just put it in a Manila folder. This does not have to be complicated. If you want to digitize it, digitize it. Fine. I've not seen it make any difference. In fact, I've seen digitizing some of this stuff make it worse. Every project happens the same way guys. It's like this thing happens and this thing happens and this thing happens. And there's an email that has to go out to the client for color selection. This thing gets checked. That thing gets checked with the paint orders, the paint inside the shop. And we started the project. Did they have the yard signs? Have they got the ... the 40 door steady work program? Like there's just a checklist. I mean, every project, regardless of size, has usually almost 90% of the same activities.

And the problem is, as an owner, is if you try to keep all that in your head and just look at a scope of work and then try to remember the 20 things that happen before the job starts, during the job, and to close the job out and then to do the marketing to the clients after the job and the database entry and all that stuff, you're just going to miss stuff, drop stuff. It's going to be chaotic. And there will always be in your mind, this nagging sensation that you are forgetting something because you are.

If you went to the grocery store and you needed to pick up 15 things and you didn't have a grocery list, you might get out of there with 10 of them. Well, same thing in your painting business. Same thing for your poor ol' crew leaders that you send out without any organization or tools. Doesn't work.

Scheduling sheet. You need to be able to plug these things in so that you know by doing the division of the labor hours and your available labor, rather. So if you've got 10 painters, you've got 400 labor hours a week. If you've got 1600 hours, you're four weeks out. Very simple. Let's you know who's going first, when these jobs can be reasonably expected to start. And your daily assignment sheets, I love the way that we do it in our program where we just have individual sheets for every day. And it's almost like a little puzzle. And you know that some people are going to stay and some people are going to move. And so it's just real easy to just say, okay, this is where these people are going to go. Right? Very easy.

And so I would recommend to you that all of this be in place because it it's not, you get to babysit - instead of properly managing painting crewmembers. And it's not the crew leader's fault. It's your fault. Because it makes no sense to do something in a disorganized fashion over and over and over again. I am not a big fan of excessive formality. I see people try to just excessively formalize their company. Nothing gets done. A lot of people that come from being a painter to a crew leader to a company owner, that doesn't really even jive with the personality of our industry to be overly formalized. However, if you lack a certain amount of formalization in your business, it just turns into a you know what show.

And so if you're interested in learning any of this in greater detail, or if you would like to have these done for you, tools and processes and procedures, there's a few things you can do. Number one, register for the Painting Profit Summit, especially that operations pre day. I mean, we're going to spend four hours getting into all this. Second thing is just shoot me an email. I'm not an ogre living underneath the bridge. I'd be more like a troll maybe, at my height. And so if you would like to have some help on this stuff, instead of just like struggling with it and reinventing the wheel as if nobody has figured this out, I'd be happy to help you. I've done it for 450 painters in six different countries. I bet I can do it for you.

Do join us at the Painting Profit Summit. Go to, or hit that yellow button on the top of the screen at We'd love to have you attend live or virtually. It's going to be a good time. Hopefully this helps you stop babysitting your painters.

Take care, guys. Talk to you next time.

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