Training Program

I work for a small power wash company in Maryland. The owner has done a great job at growing his business, but one of our biggest dilemmas is hiring the right people, and training them. I want to give our techs the best chance at succeeding so I am working on implementing a new training program for our new hires, as well as our current techs. I am looking for advice on this. How do you go about training your techs? Is there a set program/schedule you follow that has really worked? I understand callbacks are inevitable, but I would like to reduce our callbacks as much as possible; and strengthen our team. I am open to any recommendations. Please be kind - I am just an office manager (not a tech) that wants to improve our company any way possible! I appreciate any and all feedback!! Thank you. Sarah

Have them go on a bunch of jobs with a senior guy and watch. Then they start doing some jobs with the senior guy critiquing them then test them over the course of a few days to “sign them off” on doing jobs solo. Keep in mind, i feel like, a lot of people working for a power washing company are there for the paycheck. It wasn’t their dream as a kid to wash houses so they’ll do enough to get by. If they kill plants or mess something up they have to suck it up and call the boss, then it’s not their problem anymore.


This is pretty much the case in general. The “pie in the sky” dream is to create a purpose/vision as to why you do what you do (hint: the answer is not clean houses, but can be very different for every business). You find people whio align with this. Pride in a job well done is always a useful trait. If you have a majority of people who fit that, the others will either not last, or want to fit in.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but one of our systems we’re going to use this year is “F-up Fridays” (that came from the crew, going to rename it). We asked them what would help and they (almost unanimously) suggested calling out one another on their mistakes. Tied in with that will be a lesson for the whole team in how this could have been avoided, so that every crew doesn’t have to learn the same lesson the hard way.

The last option is to structure pay in some fashion to incentivize efficiency (speed but without mistakes). What I have seen in having that for a year+ is that our calbacks have shifted more from “missed areas” to things like broken flower pots or SH stains on driveways (in other words things that don’t require the crew to go back at a loss of potential money). I have a system in place that would allow me to start disincentivizing those sort of “damage $$s” callbacks, but it isn’t at such an untenable level that I’ve felt the need to pull the trigger on that one either.

Ultimately, find out what motivates your people. Money seems like the obvious answer (and is the one you will probably get most if you ask them directly), but often reality plays out differently. We had a contest last year for gift cards tied to them submitting job pics, but no one was really doing it. We setup a nacho bar one Friday (we do something like that every Friday, so it was kind of expected) but jokingly told them they had to submit pics to get nachos…we had submissions from not just every team, but every individual within the hour… $50 had no impact, but $5 in nachos got every single one of them on board :man_shrugging:

As for training, I won’t name any specific ones because it can get so divisive (but I’ll happily share specifics in a message if you wish). Find out what fits/works for your systems and processes, implement it, and stick to it. You have to be willing to invest in new people (be it training resources and/or just “dead” hours of not generating revenue).

Hire Gen X.

I looked that up. I meet that criteria. We are fortunate in that we only get a call back over every 4 or 5 years and then it’s something stupid.

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You should have known that…but good luck hiring a crew of all Gen-Xers. To be honest, while we decry the younger generations (as every generation throughout history has done), in the end it boils down to the same thing it always has, parenting. Some are raised right, some aren’t. I have had 18 year olds that I can’t make room to promote fast enough, and I’ve had guys older than me that I wouldn’t even have back for a follow-up interview. Such is life I guess.

Having a Masters degree in Training and Development, and having years of training experience, good luck.

My one tip for you is this, if you have multiple trucks/vans/trailers, to make it easier for new people, make every single one of them exactly the same. Same toolbox, same tools, everything the same colors, layout the same, otherwise you are causing confusion for a new person.

Just because you do something a certain way, and have done it for years that way, doesn’t mean that it makes sense to anyone else.

Label stuff, all of it. Leave a guidebook or pamphlet on the rig so if they aren’t sure they either look in the book and get the answer, or the book says if it isn’t covered call the boss’s/manager’s cell phone and put that number in the book.

Unless you listed it in your job description and tested people for mathematical abilities, reading comprehension, and spatial reasoning, don’t expect them to have any of that.