Building and Construction, Feature, Operations, V5I4

Training the Trainers

As much as we’d all like to keep a successful shed-building team together forever, it’s just not possible.

One builder might be ready to retire. Another may find a new job. Or, most desirable, your business grows and you need to hire new builders.

That means you have to train the newbies, and your most valuable training asset is … your veteran builders. But your veterans probably feel like they are there to build, not train. That means you have to train your experienced builders on how to train your new builders.

Shed Builder Magazine reached out to find out some ways business owners can help train veteran builders to be better trainers. Here is advice from two experts in the shed-building industry.


As a part-time shed writer and being employed in the shed industry for nine years, my business partners find it funny that I have never built a shed. When I started with my company, I thought soffit was a contagious disease I needed to avoid.  

My role currently is sales and marketing manager, but, honestly, I built objects and worked construction with my grandfather many summers of my youth. I was the one who had to separate the nails that were for the other side of the wall we were working on.

I carried tools and supplies and was the “retrieving tool specialist” who had to go back down the ladder when we forgot a tool that we needed to do the work scheduled for that day.  

 I heard him tell my grandmother and mother that I was a big help to him on the work site. Some might not call it “help” now, but I knew that him having an assistant was better than doing a project solo.

The skills I learned from him gave me the ability to make things for myself and family. I learned quite a bit from him over the summers and looked up to him for advice and counsel in many projects. 

I also learned how to make rubber band guns for my kids, up to kitchen cabinets made from recycled barn siding. If he didn’t take the time to mentor me and patiently teach me woodworking skills, I would not be able to do what I can do now. 

What veteran builders must fully understand is why my grandfather treated me the way he did. Of course, when I started with him, I was probably a pain to have around, but as he was patient with me and taught me things, his work load became easier as we worked together and got projects completed.    

A little of his time teaching a newbie techniques and tricks became an asset to him personally. 

He also found ways to improve as I did things, and this opened up opportunity for discussion on why do we do this that way and can we make this easier and more productive. Our experience together opened up opportunities for other work also.  

This mentoring process enabled us both to grow our skill sets and benefited our work experience and our bottom-line profit on the jobs we completed.

What if all veteran builders took all the time needed to teach newbies the tips and tricks of the trade? How much more would we be productive as workers and how much would our bottom line show greater profit?

Newbies, be patient and willing to learn. Attitude is everything. When I hire, I look for attitude. I can teach and grow your experience, but I can’t always change your attitude.

Veteran builders, if you are patient and mentor the younger work crew, you could have bragging rights on who you helped to be what they are today. Think about it: You could be the one that mentors someone who turns the industry upside down!  


As far as technique of training, I can offer a little guidance. I have been our trainer for about 12-15 years here at Better Barns. If a new builder wants to learn, I can have him building most normal buildings within a week if he starts with a basic knowledge of carpentry. 

The key is to show them your way of doing it, and then allow them to do it. Start with the most basic tasks, like building trusses. Teach them the whole process and let them do it with you. Then, let them build a set on their own while you supervise. Once they can do that, let them build a wall with you, etc.  

Try to limit new information per day to just a couple areas. Be very patient. This is where the pay comes in. I work on salary, so I’m not rushed and worried about my own check while training. Let them learn by doing, as that is what will stick the fastest.

Now, here are my keys to successful training:

Be very patient.If you are in a situation where you have to rush, you will not do a good job training. Take the time to cover details and explain why you do it this way.

Allow the new builder to do most of the building while you watch and give pointers.Most people do not retain nearly as much information as what they hear. Most people who are talented with their hands—like a shed builder—are not auditory learners. Instead, they learn by doing.

Teach them a basic task first.The sooner they can do something on their own, the better. That way, if you are called away for some reason, you can leave them with a task that doesn’t just feel like busywork.

Teach more than just how to build a shed.Teach why to pay attention to the details. It makes a lot more difference to a new builder if you can explain how an issue might seem to a customer, rather than just telling them to do it a certain way.

Let them win.Don’t penalize new builders for their lack of experience. Help them to succeed as quickly as possible so they are happy to be a part of the team.

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