Bradley Kimberlin, Columnists, V5I1

Training New Builders

You’ve been blessed, and your shed business is growing. Your years of hard work seem to finally be paying off. Growth brings its own set of challenges, one of which is how to train new builders.

When you first started building sheds, it was probably you and few of your friends or relatives. You spent part of your time doing office stuff but were also able to be on the shop floor quite a bit, perhaps even doing some of the building yourself. Now, you spend all your time keeping the office going and maybe only visit the shop two times a week. 

You’re starting to notice a trend though: Some of the new builders just don’t “get it.” Quality is suffering, production is down, and waste seems higher than it should be. That’s not the culture and values you founded the company on.

How do you effectively train a new builder to meet your high-quality standards and be motivated to get work done efficiently? Here are a few tips you can use when you bring someone new on board.


While everyone on the team needs to own the company’s core values, the owner or founder of the company is the best person to share these with new employees. 

The passion for why you started in business rests with you, and you should be able to articulate your values in a way no one else can. This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out ordeal, but schedule 30 minutes with each new team member sometime in their first week and help establish what your company is about.


This one pertains to the new builder’s direct supervisor. Before you hire someone, have a clear plan for how to onboard (integrate) them. 

Do you need them to fill out any paperwork? Have the packet ready for their first day. Where is he going to work? Who is he going to work with? 

Contrast these two scenarios:

Scenario One:The new guy shows up at 6:45. You told him to be here at 7, hoping that would give you enough time for paperwork, yet here he is, early, asking you what he should do.

You wanted to pair him with Joe, but he isn’t in yet and you remember that late Friday Joe texted you and said he’d be a half hour late on Monday. It’s getting awkward with the new guy just kind of standing there, so you grab the first builder that makes the mistake of walking into your office and ask him to, “Get the new guy started until Joe gets here.” He looks confused but goes back out into the shop, new guy in tow. 

You breathe a sigh of relief and promptly forget about paperwork. Hopefully Joe shows up soon and everything works out. A few days later, there’s a big emergency because the new guy wants to get paid, and the office doesn’t know anything about him since there’s no paperwork.

Scenario Two:The new guy shows up at 6:45. You smile—he’s early: that’s a good sign. You take him into the break room and hand him the New Hire Paperwork packet. This has everything the office will need to set him up to be paid. 

A little before 7, Joe comes in and asks if the new guy is here yet. You reply in the affirmative and he heads over to the breakroom. The new guy is just finishing up the paperwork, so they both come back to your office. You take the paperwork, review it, and let him know everything looks good. Together, he and Joe head out to the shop. 

You’ve given Joe a simple building to start with, knowing that it will take longer since he needs to explain things to the new guy. But you’re not worried—after a week of working with Joe, he will be ready to go on his own. You verify with the owner and he confirms that he will be meeting with the new guy from 12:30 to 1 today, right after their lunch break.

Notice any differences? When a new builder walks into chaos and disorganization, it sets the tone for him that organization and planning are not valued here.


You’ll need someone to show a new builder how to build your style of shed. A good hire will understand nail gun usage, proper saw techniques, etc., but every company has different ways of doing things. 

When you assign a new guy to an existing builder for training, compensate the trainer fairly. Typically, it will slow him down if he is training properly. It’s not his fault that the company is hiring someone new—don’t hurt his pay. Don’t have the mindset that he needs to “take one for the team.” That will translate into his training and he will either do a poor job, rushing through it, or a negative attitude will bleed over into the new guy. 

If you are paying by piece work, I’ve taken the approach of giving the trainer the full piece work rate for the work they complete together, and the company paying the new builder an hourly rate during training. It’s best to have a specified time period for training, either one or two weeks, so that the new builder knows he needs to learn, and the trainer doesn’t take advantage of free help.


Any new employee needs to know what you will be holding them accountable to. Whether it’s a quality control checklist, a certain amount of production or a “no overtime” policy, be clear with the expectation up front. Create the environment where the builder feels just as responsible to meet the targets as you do. 

The first time a target is missed, it’s not a five-alarm fire. However, don’t ignore it and hope it gets better. Pull the builder aside and ask what happened. Explain the expectation and ask for his input on preventing this in the future. Addressing negative traits early on will create a healthy environment of growing and learning.

You can also implement these strategies with your current team. Setting a good example goes a long way. If you’ve failed at some of these in the past, don’t beat yourself up. Own your mistakes and be humble in your approach. If you approach these changes from your heart, your team will respond well. 

Until next time, Be Excellent!

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