Projected Training Timeline

I would like to get some input from other companies on a projected training timeline, as follows:

In your business, how long does each phase require? What do you feel is a realistic timeline to go from the “new hire” phase to “leadership” phase?

Phase 1
New hire with no experience>functional helper

Phase 2
functional helper>skilled technician, semi-independent

Phase 3
Skilled technician, semi-independent> skilled technician, completely independent

Phase 4
skilled technician, completely independent> skilled technician with leadership responsibilities (ie. crew leader)

so the total development track would go like this:

New hire with no experience>
functional helper>
skilled technician, semi-independent>
skilled technician, completely independent>
skilled technician with leadership responsibilities (ie. crew leader)

does this format roughly fit the track you follow? are there any other significant variables to add?

also, for they guys who do pressure washing as an add-on, or who do mainly pressure washing- i’m interested in how your training timeline looks.

in your reply, make sure to describe what type of business you run (ie. “window cleaning only”, “50% windows, 50% pressure washing,” “90% storefront” etc.) that will help us compare apples to apples.

Great question, man!!!
I will go light on the timing, because it takes me a loooong time to consider someone truly “ready.”

My ‘other variable:’ all training would have to be a side by side with me.
Anything they learn has to be directly from my mouth/actions or something that I have personally taught a trusted employee.
Edit: I have no tolerance for bad habits, and I am always willing to explain WHY my methods are what they are.

I’d say functional helper - about a month.
[wetting down windows, knowing how to safely draw blinds, remove screens, etc…]

Semi Skilled/Solid Rookie - 3 months
[squeegee but I still check work, mop without making mess, supervised ladderwork]

Skilled - 8 months
[I’d set a standard at ‘perfect’ windows, but wouldn’t truly expect it- comfortable ladder climbing but not left alone]

Skilled no real supervision - 1 year
[they’d know my process, able to spend time inside peoples homes alone, know the routes, solid ladder climber- critical thinker]

Leadership - ?
I think that leadership could come quick once I’m comfortable with the safety, process and adapting ability is there

I agree with your methods, but that timeline would never work for me.

Typically, if someone doesn’t “get it” right off the bat, then they are replaced quickly.

We are writing it into our manual that the first two weeks are an audition. $10 an hour, shine or shove off.

Here’s what I would do differently…

I’d say functional helper - [COLOR=#ff0000]2 Days - One Week[/COLOR].
[wetting down windows, knowing how to safely draw blinds, remove screens, etc…]

Semi Skilled/Solid Rookie - [COLOR=#ff0000]2 weeks[/COLOR]
[squeegee but I still check work, mop without making mess, supervised ladderwork] [COLOR=#ff0000]“Gets” the WFP process[/COLOR]

Skilled - [COLOR=#ff0000]1 month[/COLOR]
[I’d set a standard at ‘perfect’ windows, but wouldn’t truly expect it- comfortable ladder climbing but not left alone]

Skilled no real supervision- [COLOR=#ff0000]1-2 months[/COLOR]
[they’d know my process, able to spend time inside peoples homes alone, know the routes, solid ladder climber- critical thinker
[COLOR=#ff0000]Anybody that makes it this far is being prepped for leadership.[/COLOR]

Leadership - [COLOR=#ff0000]2-3 months[/COLOR]
I think that leadership could come quick once I’m comfortable with the safety, process and adapting ability is there

I think you and I aren’t far off on the beginning of the process.
I think I’m showing a little ‘lack of faith.’ I should turn off my instant skeptic button.

And I actually messed up, I meant to say “remove difficult screens” meaning they experienced several different types.

Long story, short… I’m definitely cool with your helper and semi skilled timeframe.

With a WFP I’d probably be right there with ya.
We’re still a very ladder-heavy company (formerly chairwork heavy, so it’s definitely improving.) :slight_smile:

Oh, Im probably one of the biggest Waterfed whores in the industry lol

I’m probably right in between these two guys in terms of timing^

phase one (noob helper): 1-3 weeks

phase two (semi-skilled tech):3-6 weeks

Phase three (skilled tech, semi-independent): 6 weeks-12 weeks

Phase four (totally independent skilled tech): 3 months-6 months

Phase five (Crew leader/management position): 6 months-2 years

A couple of observations, as I’ve given this more thought

  • the time range widens with each phase: that’s indicative of the fact that, as time progresses, the “naturals” and the real stars separate themselves quickly and achieve their potential much sooner. others, while capable of reaching phase five, seem to take longer for a variety of reasons (ie. age, previous job experience, familiarity with manual labor, adjustment to working at heights, etc.)

  • i’ve had to really dial back my timeline over the last couple of seasons. i used to train at a pace even longer than J’s, maybe even a more protracted timeline than that. back in the day, i would have never left ANYBODY alone on a job with less than 6 months experience. I’ve learned that’s just not practical if you want to sustain any growth. this has also made me realize the need to dial back my standards just a tick (which was very hard, but i’m glad I did). I was forced to embrace the idea that (almost always) a good window cleaner’s B+ work= a customer’s A+ result. There’s simply no way I could train for A+ work and get anywhere in terms of growing my business.

  • i have come to believe that having a repeatable, systemized training program (at least for the fundamentals of each aspect of the business) is critical and can really be the difference between launching a knew hire quickly into a skilled tradesman, vs. having him wallow in mediocrity for weeks or months. it also opens up the possibility of delegating that kind of training to someone else in the company down the road.

  • avoiding the complicated, nuanced and challenging jobs out there in favor of slam dunks seems like a better and better idea every time i think about it. the MTV crib-type jobs are nice for the portfolio, but training a tech to handle himself in an environment like that is no simple (or quick) task.

Agree, but way easier said than done. Ooooo, do those big jobs look good going into the bank account. The problem is how much of your life they suck up.

you know, i’ve hung my hat on jobs like that for years. but i have to ask myself: “is the money really better, all things considered?” i wonder, is pursuing work like that really a business thing, or is it more an ego thing? probably a mix of both, but ego can be a poisonous thing for a business.

Yeah, ego. And it can be easy to talk yourself into doing “just one more huge job like this.” “I know we aren’t focusing on these anymore… but we can knock this one $2300 job out in 2 days. Ahh… what the heck.”

Most guys will NEVER reach the “leadership responsibilities” level because it is something they naturally lack. Being any kind of leader requires some level of self motivation and desire to excel. The truth is, a lot of guys (looking to work in the labor industry at least) just don’t have it. I guess because they don’t like having responsibilities and just want to put in their 8 hours then go watch football. I can respect that, but they will never climb that employment ladder unless they are doing something to deserve it.

I think most pressure washing jobs can be done with a 5 minute hands on rundown on how to run a surface cleaner and wand. The real experience is needed to determine the best method of cleaning and chemicals on each job and understanding how the equipment works. Since every job is different, someone on site must have some knowledge or else something is going to get screwed up real quick.

Cleaning windows with a squeegee takes a little longer to get good at, I would say if they haven’t picked it up in 1-2 months they’re toast.

i pretty much agree with all of the above, but i still think that has to be the endgame of any training program you put together. if some guys hit their ceiling before they get to that phase, then so be it.

but you still have to try to build that mentality into every person you hire, if for no other reason than to see if you can awaken leadership qualities in someone who doesn’t (at first glance) appear to have them.

Liking this thread… Makes me wonder how much benefit do you guys think there is to a new worker starting as part time (2-3) days per week as opposed to starting them full time (4-5). Do you think that the results as far as progression are direct correlation between number of days worked in a specific period of time? Or do you feel that other factors such as training process and personality are bigger factors?

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what they do while working WITH you can be much different than what they do when you are not around or expected to checkup on them

so what’s your antidote to that problem?

i absolutely think that makes a big difference. i saw it first hand last year. my one new full-time guy quickly passed up my two new part time guys, even though he started two months after they did. if i had to put a number to it, i would say you can train a full time guy 20% more efficiently than a part time guy, after both have worked the same total number of hours.

I agree with what you said Caleb, a person invested in a full time roll will advanced faster then a part time persons just because of hands on training and constant learning, opposed to part time person only being invested in a part time roll.

Every great once in awhile you will find that “rock star” that even if they are part time they kill the learning curve. (but its a rare find.)

Trust but verify on a regular basis

I have experienced similar to Boss

good field workers usually aren’t good leaders (leading natural born rather than taught, GOOD leading a whole other story)

good leaders can be primadonnas

Chris’ All County is the largest residential company I have come across, most are downtown commercial which lends itself way more to crews showing up, taking the truck out, working all day for multiple days on a project with a foreman etc etc

unless it’s a top 1% income 'er’s home, 3 people’s a crowd on a home job, meaning more people need the unique skills of residential

which if one has those unique combination of skills (good with people, familiar with construction, strategist and problem solver, self motivated and efficient) seems to strike out on their own in residential

focusing on slam dunk jobs with lower skill = more people trying for those jobs and the more one is competing with DIY’ers as well

lower skill homes usually = lower income + “middle class dissappearing” = fewer middle class = less affordability = more competition for fewer $

lower skill homes mean smaller job $, more stops, more drive time, more admin and co-ordination per truck

smaller jobs mean smaller crews = more trucks = more “rockstar” independent leaders needed

. . .just what came to mind when I read your post is all, how are you seeing it?

Lots of good stuff going around here, but I’d like to adress JC’s post…

I agree. And in my mind it can be the most innocent mistake on their part.
(meaning, no maliciousness. Just not following my rules)

I’m adamant about starting on the first floor, inside.
For as many customers we have who are ‘veterans’ with having workers in their house, there are more who aren’t quite as familiar.

My goal is to have a cust see our process and begin to feel comfortable with it.

  • I HATE the idea of darting upstairs to the bedrooms where all they hear s shuffling and unknown movement.
    I’d rather inconvenience US than give them any chance to wonder.

Also. When you start downstairs, they will tend to move out of the main room (from the tv) to get out of your way.
THEN, when you get to the upstairs, they are happy to go back down to the “mind numbing box on the wall.”

I decided to let one of my guys loose with a crew, and he immediately (defiantly, I suspect) went upstairs, while the housekeeper was downstairs.
I get there and she’s questioning me on broken blinds, scuffs on this and that, blah blah…

WHY? Because she didn’t witness our professionalism.
All she heard was noise, and felt the need to check up on us/go behind us.

Long story, short…

wow bruce, there’s so much going on in this post… i don’t know where to start.

firstly, when i’m talking about the really challenging resi jobs, where you need that special someone to run point, i’m not talking about the 1%. the 1% makes between 300k and 400k a year, and probably lives in a million dollar house. a million dollar house is usually just a $500k house with more square footage. i would take those all day and it’s easier to train guys to handle that environment.

i’m talking about the .01 percent. the people who make $1mil plus/year and live in $5-$10mil homes. thats where the risk grows exponentially. and that’s the challenge, the millstone around my neck when it comes to these jobs/customers. there are so many nuances to dealing with these people and the environs they create for themselves. sure, it’s an exclusive clientele and a self-perpetuating lead generator, but in my experience it takes several seasons of experience before a tech “get’s it” on his own when it comes to these jobs.

let’s go back to risk. in a middle class home, or even in an low-upper class home, you knock over a lamp and it costs you $50, or maybe $500. in a .01 percenter’s home, you knock over a lamp and it may cost you $10,000. same mistake, way different consequences. slop a bit of water on a rug at a 1%er’s home? maybe a $300 bill at the best rug cleaner in town. do the same at a .01%er’s home? irreplaceable hand woven $40k afghan rug ruined.

so unless you are charging an extreme premium, are onsite at every job in this category to manage yourself, or have some unbelievable stud that you have implicit faith in, is it really worth taking on that risk? if we do a cost/benefit analysis of “more windshield time/more competition/shrinking disposable income/more admin and backend tasks” vs. “seriously invested leader necessary/high risk/protracted experience and training arc” i think you’ll agree it’s not so cut and dry.

…ughh, that’s all i can process for now. i’ll get back to comment on J’s take later because i think he’s on to something important, and it’s worth discussion.