‘Hello Sir, do you sell any bubbles for spirit levels? How about any tartan paint? Or maybe a long weight?’
The days of being a tradesmen starting out in the trade are an interesting time. You’re learning, adapting and growing, but you’re out in the field and not in the comfort of a classroom. Things suddenly seem different. The question is; if you were to start over, what would you do differently? If you bumped into your fresh faced younger self in the street, what advice would you give them? Apart from obviously stop wasting your dinner money…
We asked some of our favourite Twitter friends what advice they’d give to their younger tradesman self starting out in the trade. This is what they had to say-
“If you promise to carry work out on a certain date, stick to it. Some tradesmen have a reputation for taking far too much work on and jumping from job to job, leaving customers days before returning to complete work. Always prioritise the customer & don’t delay starting work, it’ll only frustrate customers. They’ll go elsewhere & it will dampen your reputation.”
Anthony Honeyford of Creative Design (Website here) emphasises the need for communication“Communicating is the key to a smooth running job – keeping everyone in the loop prevents logistical mistakes”
Nicola Butcher Twitter page here focussed on two things. Preparation and having impeccable customer service
“Definitely picking the right college. I was offered my apprenticeship before college started, I thought that was the hard part. I went to the first college I visited and although I completed my apprenticeship there it was far from a smooth ride
One thing I wish I’d done is spend a lot of time learning how to sharpen your tools, sharp chisels will improve your work incredibly, just a shame it took me so long to learn, practice at home!
Also customer service. When starting out on your own you will make mistakes every day, that doesn’t matter if you stay professional and fix them, I managed to make a major mistake on a job 3 times in one day and finish the job at 6 pm what I should have finished at midday, I was so ashamed of myself and thought I’d ruined everything, to my surprise the customer phoned me a week later wanting another job doing and is now a regular customer!”
Craig from the East Riding College’s construction departmentTwitter page said-
“Listen, watch and never stop asking questions”
John Fowell, 30 year experienced Mechanic/ Builder/ Joiner highlighted the danger of not taking yourself too seriously-
“The main thing about being a young tradesmen is don’t take yourself too seriously; and be available to help however you can. You’ve got to be ready to make a fair few cups of tea and do a butty run or ten. Don’t let your ego get the better of you. Your seniors and colleagues will be much more respectful and helpful to you if you’re willing to learn. It’ll get you a long way”
So there we have it. Be attentive, helpful, and make sure you do your preparation.