Updated: Nov 21, 2021
“Your car needs four new tires’ came the text message from my 23-year-old daughter Buck Wheat.
The girl an expert at selecting pronouns.
When the pandemic and subsequent Montvale Massacre ended my employment with Benjamin Moore, THE zippy Subaru WRX I had leased to handle my daily commute from Stamford to Paragon Drive became superfluous, the same day I did.
Noticing the automobile surplus the opportunistic Buck asked if she could make the “Soobs” her own?
“Until the end of the lease?”
Always grateful when Fortune provides an opportunity to buy my daughter’s love, I consented to the transfer of possession.
Responsibility for maintenance, apparently stayed in Stamford with the car’s title.
“It didn’t need tires when I gave it to you!” was a good point! But ultimately not compelling enough to cause my progeny to take responsibility for her car’s upkeep.
Down a few dollars but happy for the time to catch up with the always sprinting Buck Wheat, she spent the hour waiting for her car to be completed, updating her father on the tales of the overworked.
“Sometimes as many as FIVE days a week!”
And of course the stories which help a father understand why his daughter had no money to replace the tires on her car.
With labor shortages continuing to make filling the schedule a challenge for independent paint dealers, most independents I know are looking for efficiencies. A way to handle their growing volume, without the frustrations and expense of hiring during a labor shortage.
Thinking of your store’s total staffing spend in terms of staffing-hours purchased. A staffing-hour defined as the number of hours each employee works in a period of time multiplied by the number of employees. A dealer with five 40-hour per week employees employs a total of 200 staffing-hours each week.
Which limits that dealer’s productivity, and therefore sales, to the amount of work that their staff can accomplish in those 200 hours.
In more normal economic times dealers would be wise to hire to meet the current demand. But with the expense, inconvenience and futility of efforts to add staff in the current economy, dealers should look to invest in training to gain the efficiencies they’ll need to continue to meet demand.
While training isn’t free, it is an inexpensive way to increase productivity in a retail operation of any size. Accomplished without wasting hours on Indeed.com looking through the resumes for a unicorn: a person willing to work retail, at a pay level which fits your business model.
Independent retailers are not the only ones waking up to this nightmare labor scenario. Sherwin-Williams, PPG, Kelly-Moore and other paint manufacturers who own their own stores will have the same problem as independent retailers: they’ll need to learn how to do more with less.
But these companies have an advantage over independent dealers. Their size and scope give them the ability to fund the cost of training, and make training tools available across a large network of employees.
Most have large investments in training already in place.
Many of the manufacturers, distributors, co-op’s and trade organizations of THE independent channel provide training services for dealers and their staffs. To their own disadvantage, dealers have been slow to avail themselves of these services.
I encourage dealers to seek out training opportunities where they are available. Beginning with the NHPA, the trade organization which represents independent paint dealers. On my podcast this summer, the group’s executive vice-president Dan Tratencek spoke about his groups training for dealers and their staffs. It’s here if you missed it, or want another listen.
On Thursday I’ll have another episode of Mark, My Words! In THE News. THE format quickly becoming a hit among dealers. Thank you all for watching and listening.
This week’s episode the dealer for sending me swag goes to Joe Pisarri of Eagle Paint & Wallpaper in Englewood, New Jersey.
Now that I am putting out a video each week though, I have nearly run through the pile of swag dealers sent me when I first made my appeal in August. So if you support the work I do on behalf of independent paint dealers show your appreciation by sending me an email here. I’ll give you my thanks and my home address To send me a tee shirt, sweatshirt, cap or hoodie with your store’s name on the front. I’ll wear it while I record an episode and show my appreciation with a shout out, and my thanks.
So to Joe Pisarri, and the surprising number of you who make it to this last sentence each week, thank you!