Secrets to Hiring Star Pressure Washers & Avoiding Bad Apples

hiring tips pressure washing Jan 24, 2024
pressure washing, hiring tips

Deciding when to bring on your first employee can be challenging as a new business owner. You may hire too soon before having enough consistent work or cashflow to support payroll. On the flip side, waiting too long can stall your growth if you’re constantly booked out weeks in advance yet remain a one-person operation.

A good general rule of thumb: If your schedule is completely full and you’re turning down jobs 3-4 weeks out because you can’t keep up with demand yourself, it’s worth considering making your first hire. Just be sure you have enough operating capital saved to pay an employee for at least 1-2 months as they ramp up. The last thing you want is to fall behind on payroll and wind up in debt right out the gate.

Hire for culture over qualifications

When evaluating applicants, place more emphasis on finding hard workers who align with your company culture versus those with the most experience. Here’s why: while you can easily teach someone the technical skills needed to perform the job duties, work ethic and the right attitude aren’t so easily instilled.

Look for eager, reliable candidates willing to learn over those asking about compensation and perks right off the bat. Seek people who worked summer jobs growing up over those with spotty employment histories. Identify self-starters who take initiative to solve problems without constant oversight.

Soft skills matter in this business – people skills, communication abilities, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and grit. Do they show perseverance to get the job done and willingness to pitch in where needed? That’s the right culture add.

Set new hires up for success

For employees to gain confidence quickly, have structured training programs with clear expectations. Outline step-by-step processes from start to finish so rookie mistakes are minimized. Encourage questions and ongoing open dialogue. Resist scolding – even well-intentioned workers mess up while learning the ropes.

Creating feelings of psychological safety upfront helps prevent disengagement and turnover later. Provide ample positive feedback about what they’re doing right. Instead of blaming missteps on the employee’s character or competence, focus the conversation on behavioral impacts: “When the bushes don’t get covered and chemicals drift, here is what happens...”

Own where your systems may be unclear or you should have supervised more closely. People respect leaders who remain accountable rather than default to finger pointing when things go wrong. Oftentimes it’s not a person problem but a process problem at the root. Tackle those with patience.

Hire ahead of seasonal demand

Anticipate hiring needs 1-2 months ahead of your busy season, not right when demand spikes. Job boards get flooded with posts around the same times annually, creating a rush of competition. You’ll pay more per applicant in advertising fees as rates increase when more companies vie for talent simultaneously.

The best candidates also tend to look earlier and get snatched up first while the reluctant and less responsible ones wait until the last minute. They then blanket apply despite not being that interested because they finally feel financial pressure.

Cast your net far and wide leveraging both digital and in-person channels – Indeed, LinkedIn, Facebook, online job fairs, community bulletin boards, friends/family referrals, local colleges and trade schools. You need visibility where both active and passive candidates spend time.

Being intentional about the hiring process sets you up for retention success long-term. What good is making a rushed decision or costly compromise hire who doesn’t work out? Short term pain, long term gain.

Emphasize vision and values

Consider hosting group interviews where applicants learn about your achievements, culture, expectations, training and compensation package through an informal presentation. Highlight why your firm is a great place to build a career. This showcases authenticity over stuffy questionnaires alone which feel transactional.

Weave themes of camaraderie, community, and your founding purposes into the dialogue. Share what makes your team unique and sets you apart from competitors. Align on shared values and motivations early so candidates self-select in or out.

No one wants to dredge through months of disengagement and frustration before realizing it’s just not the right fit on either end. Being upfront also reduces risk of investing in training someone unlikely to stay. Best case scenario – a few superstars stick around for years to come.

Always be recruiting

Accept the reality that turnover will likely remain high industry-wide. However, refusing to hire won’t stymie that trend. Maintaining an understaffed, overworked squad only exacerbates stress and burnout. The more congested the pipeline, the quicker tenured people bail out.

Instead, build a bench. Continuously network, interview and upskill promising applicants even when heads are adequate on deck. Should abrupt departures occur, you won’t get left shorthanded or crippled by gaps. With understudies on standby, operations won’t miss a beat.

Make recruiting a habitual part of your monthly routine – not a crisis-induced last resort. Be ready to scale seamlessly as fortune strikes and contracts expand. That’s how resilient enterprises run.

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When should I hire my first employee for my pressure washing business?

Hire your first employee when your schedule is completely booked out 3-4 weeks in advance and you're unable to take on additional jobs to meet demand. Also ensure you have enough operating capital saved to cover 1-2 months of their salary while they get up to speed.

Should I hire for experience or cultural fit and attitude?

Emphasize hiring for culture fit and the right attitude over experience in most cases. While skills can be taught, work ethic and the willingness to learn matter more. Seek motivated self-starters rather than those focused predominantly about compensation and perks.

How do I set new employees up for success during onboarding?

Have structured training programs outlining procedures from start to finish so expectations are clear. Encourage questions and provide ample positive feedback focused on behaviors rather than character. Own where your systems or oversight may need improvement when missteps occur.

When should I start recruiting to meet seasonal demand?

Begin recruiting 1-2 months prior to your busy season, not right as customer demand begins spiking. This avoids competing amidst mass hiring that inflates advertising costs and diminishes applicant quality. Cast a wide net leveraging both digital and in-person sources.

Should I consider group interviews?

Yes, group interviews allow you to convey your company vision, culture and values transparently to multiple applicants simultaneously. Highlight what makes your team unique and let candidates self-select in or out based on fit. This builds authenticity and alignment early on.

How much turnover should I expect in this industry?

The pressure washing industry sees high turnover industry-wide year after year. However, understaffing exacerbates stress, fatigue and further turnover. Maintain a bench through ongoing recruiting and always have understudies on standby to prevent gaps when abrupt departures occur.

Should I still recruit even when fully staffed?

Yes, constantly network and pipeline candidates even when heads are adequate on deck. That ensures no crisis hiring when needs arise unexpectedly. Make proactive recruiting a habitual routine rather than a last resort so you can scale seamlessly as contracts expand.

What if a new hire doesn't work out?

If a candidate you moved quickly to hire turns out to be a poor culture/skill fit, view it as a learning lesson. Refine screening and interview practices to become a better “talent selector” long-term. Reassess what qualifications or assessments best indicate job match potential.

How much notice should I give applicants if no roles currently open?

Be transparent if you’re engaging candidates without imminent openings. Make no guarantees or commitments so their expectations remain realistic. Consider paying for their time or offer networking check-ins to organically develop relationships with promising individuals.

What recruiting tasks can I offload instead of handling internally?

Consider outsourcing recruiting workflows you lack specialized expertise or bandwidth for. Leverage agencies to refine job advertising, applicant screening, interview scheduling/facilitation, background checks and onboarding. Focus your limited time/energy on business development and client fulfillment.