Took It As A Challenge

tell you that you are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime
Connor, Veteran Lethbridge

I would like to congratulate you on your decision to learn more about our amazing company. If you are reading this, I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme amongst the other Student Works Painting (SWP) letters in this package. Those brave enough to delve into running a Student Works business can sum up their entire experience into these few words; this will be the most challenging yet rewarding summer of your life. As I am finishing my third year with SWP I can tell you that what you are about to embark on is truly an adventure of a lifetime.

I used to be a shy kid who would physically shake at the thought of public speaking. When the clipboard showed up on my desk, I took it as a challenge. Let me tell you, this “challenge” has felt like being on the world’s largest roller coaster, except the roller coaster has been lit on fire, derailed, blown up, and magically came back together to leave you soaring towards the next peak.

After three years I can confidently say that I have faced nearly every challenge that can arise in an SWP summer. The key is to turn every challenge into a learning experience. Hold this idea deep inside no matter what happens and reinforce it with your painters, often. You are going to be pushed farther than you ever have before. This summer you will essentially be working multiple part-time jobs that all need to be given quality attention.

You will be an HR Manager. It is critical to put time into recruiting the right people.  Hiring the wrong painters will cause you unnecessary stress, they will take advantage of you, disrespect you, and quit on you with no remorse. Once you have the right crew, treat them well and realize that not everyone should be managed the same. I tried using a blanket style management system in my first year and had an embarrassingly high turnover rate. This lesson took me two years and fifteen lost/fired painters to learn.

You will be a Salesman. Painting a house is a relatively simple task, the key in an estimate is to never forget that we are selling ourselves. The client is already considering painting, otherwise, you would not be in their home in the first place. Your job now is to have the client imagine your crew doing the work. The hardest part of sales for me was always accepting that no matter ‘how well I sell it’, I will not always get the job. There will be estimates you walk into with complete confidence which will end with an on the spot rejection. You will need to realize that sales are a numbers game. In my first year, I won the estimating award for doing more estimates than any other rookie. However, I was only tenth amongst the rookies, this is because I only booked 48% of the estimates I did. If you want to succeed, you will need to grind and do as many estimates as your schedule will allow (ESPECIALLY IN THE PRE-SEASON). Despite hearing this time and time again from District Managers and other franchisees, this lesson took me almost three full years and a lost Mexico trip to truly learn.

You will be a Production Manager. This is where the rubber meets the road and you start making money. As you take on this role, you’ll deal with application issues, peaks that seem impossible to reach, unsafe painters, rain delays, and at times jobs that were severely underquoted or are running far over budget. You will have to collaborate with the HR Manager in you to put the right painters on jobs to ensure projects are completed with the highest quality. It is important to remember not to let clients walk all over you. Know when to draw the line with overbearing clients who demand perfection. Know that it is okay to say no to clients who keep adding onto the job and expect it to be free. Clients will respect you more if the Salesman inside you sets the proper expectations and the Production Manager puts his foot down rather than becoming a ‘Yes Man’ to please everybody. This lesson took me the majority of my first year and approximately $8900 in sales lost to the word “yes” to learn.

You will be a Client Relations Specialist. I’m saying this now and I will say it again when we meet, you will not be able to please every single client. You will have crazy clients, clients who will try to lie to your painters about what is being painted, and worst of all, clients who will yell at you and make you feel like the size of a mouse. I cannot stress enough how important communication is. Never go a day without talking to each of your current clients. Most client issues can be avoided by identifying and addressing a potential issue or concern before it grows. You WILL have client issues, deal with them NOW. This took me almost two years and multiple 6:30 am angry phone calls from neglected clients to learn and apply.

I personally promise you that this summer will be the most difficult thing you have ever done. Do not forget to talk to other franchisees about your struggles. I guarantee you that whatever is going wrong, people around you have faced it before. Since we face such unique challenges. the franchisees become very close over the summer.

Should you choose to continue, I want you to take a mental screenshot of your life at this very moment and then reference it at the end of your SWP summer. I guarantee you that you will be a more confident, personable, driven, and all-around better human being. You will learn superior time management skills that will help you succeed in school and you will have better relationships with everyone in your life. You will be happier, even just knowing that you RAN A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS at such a young age (Something most of the population has never done). You will, however, need to buy new pants with bigger pockets.

Trust me when I say that if a kid who was too shy to say hi to a girl beside him in class can take this on and grow a VERY successful business with the right work ethic and attitude, then so can you.

Enjoy the roller coaster ride and never forget to keep learning!