Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lessons from Bob the Painter

In a hunt for ways to spruce up our new home, Kee asked his coworkers for names of painters that they'd recommend.  That night Kee came home with a scrap of paper that said, "Fat Bob the Painter...(XXX)-XXX-9468."
There are many lessons to be learned from the contractor that we have hired to paint our new house.  Many of these lessons can be applied to your own career or job hunt.

1. Create a Name for Yourself
Bob came highly recommended from several of Kee's coworkers.  Funny thing is that they all referred to him as "Fat Bob."  Strange, I thought, and kind of rude.  I called the number that was given to Kee and left a voicemail.  About 9:45 that same night during a tornado watch, Bob called me back.
"Hey! It's Bob...the fat, old painter."
So that's why they call him that.  Everytime Bob enters the house or calls me, he says that same tag line.
It's even to the point that one day in the car I heard Twiggy singing, "Bob the fat painter...he can paint it!"  I have had several conversations with both her and Kee pleading them to stop calling him "Fat Bob."

2. Be Prepared at the Interview
Bob came to give us an estimate on Thursday at 2:00.  By 4:00 he was back at the house with a gallon of my chosen color and a gallon of white ceiling paint.

3. Show them Something They Can't Live Without
Like I said, Bob wasn't even hired yet when he came back to my house with the paint. In a matter of a half hour he spread out drop cloths and painted half of my kitchen ceiling and one wall in my kitchen.  I stood in amazement at the ease in which he trimmed without painter's tape.  It looked great!  He was such a professional! 
He wiped the paint from his hands onto his plaid shorts and said, "You just call me tomorrow and tell me if I'm hired or fired."
Then it hit me...I had to hire this guy.  First off, he was such a great painter.  Second, I couldn't live with a half painted ceiling and one painted wall in my kitchen!

4. Dress the Part
Now be careful with this one.  I guess what I mean is that Bob dresses like a painter.  He is a 66 year old man with a very typical physique.  His "uniform" consists of paint splattered shorts and white wife-beater tanks.

5. Compliments are Always Appreciated
Bob pulled into the drive in his green SUV with a silver Jesus fish emblem on the back hatch.  Carrying a rusty old ladder, he stops to meet my kids.  He plays peek-a-boo for several minutes with Z.  Then he takes one look at Twiggy and says,  "S@&T, she's beautiful!" 
Now I would definitely suggest avoiding the expletive-strung speech, but truthfully it made me smile.  A compliment is always nice if it is good-hearted.

6. Keep Your Employer Engaged
Now Bob likes conversation.  I think he likes it almost as much as he likes painting.  Countless times he has asked me, "Have you figured me out yet? Have you figured out that I'm a character?"  After talking with all my house cleaning helpers, I realize I am not the only one that he has posed this question to.  Honestly, Bob, I knew you were a character from day one! 

7. Share What You've Got
Bob is eager to share everything with you, whether it is his expertise or his lunch!  He started painting with his dad when he was six years old. He is quick to tell me why he is doing something a certain way or is offering me a free painting lesson.  Don't worry, I haven't taken him up on the lessons...I feel that would just ruin his beautiful work!  When he's not attempting to give painting lessons, he is trying to give away his food.  Everyday he brings a bunch of grapes in a plastic bag, a hunk of Longhorn cheese wrapped in plastic wrap, a bologna sandwich, and three Hershey's Chocolate Bars.  "Hey now, help yourself to some grapes or chocolate...seriously take some," Bob tells anyone walking by the room. 

7. Make Your Employer Feel Like They are Number One
Bob is sure to put our material bills and notebook paper bills in a hidden drawer in our house.  He cautions, "Now, I don't just do this for anyone."  When I'm contemplating painting a ceiling or tackling another room, he'll say, "Now you know I'm not coming back. H$#L I'm supposed to be retired."

Bob aced the interview.  He will get an excellent evaluation and will be missed when the job is done. And once again someone will be talking over lunch and asking about painters in the area.  We'll scribble a note on a piece of paper and hand it over in confidence.  It will read: "Fat Bob the Painter...(XXX)-XXX-9468"