Hiring a Painting Estimator? You Need a Prospector, Not an Order-Taker

Posted by David Chism | Thu, Jan 28, 2021

 Hiring a Painting Estimator? You Need a Prospector, Not an Order-Taker

First, just a quick heads-up: this post is writ­ten pri­mar­i­ly for the paint­ing con­trac­tor audi­ence. If you run anoth­er type of home improve­ment busi­ness, I do hope you’ll glean a few ben­e­fits as well. 

Paint­ing esti­ma­tor” is one of the hard­est posi­tions to fill. Don’t take my word for it: almost all of my clients have echoed the same sen­ti­ment over the years.

Think about it — you prob­a­bly start­ed your paint­ing busi­ness with you being the chief esti­ma­tor. You can go out and sell $1 to 2MM while run­ning your busi­ness too. Then you final­ly find an esti­ma­tor and won­der why he or she can­not close $500 – 750k a year? If you can do it and run the whole com­pa­ny, why can’t some­one else do it? 

It’s prob­a­bly because you’re hir­ing order-tak­ers, not prospectors. 

What’s the Difference?

When you go to a sit-down restau­rant, you review the menu and wait for the serv­er to come by, take down your order, and serve you what you asked for. 

It isn’t rock­et science. 

So, what makes some servers excep­tion­al and mem­o­rable? Typ­i­cal­ly, it’s those who don’t even need to write down the order, pro­vide an expe­ri­ence, and are engag­ing. Maybe they offer a sug­ges­tion or two, guid­ing you toward the best deci­sion pos­si­ble. You’ve prob­a­bly expe­ri­enced a few of those! 

It’s sim­i­lar in the paint­ing world. I have seen both order-tak­ers and prospec­tors sell paint jobs, but it’s the prospec­tors that win in the end. 

A prospec­tor, also known as a hunter, pro­vides the mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence and OWNS the process. They don’t real­ly need a lot of direc­tion, either. The mar­keters can share the plan and a few ideas, then the prospec­tor will get to work with­out rely­ing 100% on the mar­ket­ing team to pro­vide all the leads. No excus­es, no finger-pointing.

Let’s talk about Jon­dec Paint­ing, a res­i­den­tial paint­ing com­pa­ny in the sub­urbs of Chica­go. I’ve been work­ing with their team for about a year now and have had the priv­i­lege of work­ing along­side one of their esti­ma­tors, Chris Piatt, since day one. I am so impressed with this guy. He is any­thing but an order-tak­er. He is a learn­er. He will not set­tle with just what we, the mar­ket­ing team, will hand over to him. I am able to give him ideas on ways to prospect and grow leads through­out the year on top of the leads we already pro­vide. Chris lis­tens, asks ques­tions, and then gets to work. When we get togeth­er dur­ing our month­ly calls, I know that he did not just sit back and wait for the phone to ring. He hunt­ed! He prospect­ed! He got his hands dirty. It makes all the difference.

Your paint­ing com­pa­ny will be more suc­cess­ful when your sales team is con­nect­ed with your mar­ket­ing team and they play nice­ly togeth­er. Chris is a good exam­ple of this once again. He comes to our meet­ings with ques­tions and is always will­ing to learn and be teachable. 

What’s the Takeaway?

Hire peo­ple who want to learn. 

Look for a sales­per­son who does­n’t have 20+ years expe­ri­ence, but one who learns and will nev­er be found look­ing to you for leads. Don’t get me wrong — I am in the busi­ness of help­ing com­pa­nies get more leads! Yet there should always be a good bal­ance between self-gen­er­at­ed leads and new leads. If a hun­gry prospec­tor has a good sys­tem in place to not only sell jobs but knows how to nur­ture those prospects/​customers time and time again, your busi­ness will thrive. 

You as the busi­ness own­er then need to make sure you take care of peo­ple like this. Make sure you give him or her the tools need­ed to suc­ceed. Will you have open lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion? Do you have ways to reward a key employ­ee? Will this per­son feel val­ued in your organization? 

5 Tips for Hir­ing a Prospector

A deep dive into hir­ing prac­tices is a top­ic for anoth­er day. In the mean­time, here are a few quick tips to keep in mind. 

  1. Start in-house. Some of the best hires I’ve seen are made right with­in the com­pa­ny, espe­cial­ly from the paint­ing team. You might have a hun­gry prospec­tor right under your nose, just wait­ing for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to shine.
  2. Expe­ri­ence isn’t always essen­tial! You can do a lot of train­ing and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment to grow some­one who has the raw skills and dri­ve. Hir­ing some­one who already has their own process and may be unteach­able is a seri­ous gamble. 
  3. Hone your inter­view­ing skills. Take a close look at the deep­er ques­tions, pro­vid­ing insight into who this per­son is and what they real­ly offer. Resumes can be only skin deep. Ask specif­i­cal­ly about how they would han­dle cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, too. 
  4. On the oth­er side of the coin, there can be peo­ple who have a wealth of man­age­ment expe­ri­ence, but are ready to get back in the game.” Maybe some­one who grew their own com­pa­ny and is tired of the day-to-day grind, and would pre­fer to rub shoul­ders with peo­ple and get out from behind the desk. Again, it comes back to ask­ing the right ques­tions and clear­ly out­lin­ing exact­ly what the role involves (and what it doesn’t).
  5. Reach out to your own con­tacts. Putting out an email to your per­son­al list can be worth­while, let­ting peo­ple know who you’re look­ing for, and ask­ing if it lines up with some­one they know. You could be offer­ing just what some­one is des­per­ate­ly look­ing for. 

Hang in there! Hir­ing can be stress­ful, but it also can be extreme­ly fruit­ful. Keep hunt­ing for your hunter!

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.

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