Haste Makes Waste

Slowing down will help your team do more

One of Benjamin Franklin’s most notable quotes reads: “Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.”

Not surprisingly, those words ring as true today as they did back in the early 1700s of colonial America. In fact, our own Navy SEALS have incorporated a similar attitude when training new members: “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”

In the painting profession, there’s a big difference between doing a job quickly and rushing a job. Hurry often leads to sloppy work, which can result in costly callbacks and tarnish your reputation for delivering quality work.

For the SEALs, slow means having the patience to do things the right way. Fundamentals are practiced repeatedly, taking as much time as necessary to do it perfectly. No corners are cut and no errors tolerated. It’s about developing good habits and correct motor patterns, and over time, those learned behaviors become muscle memory. As these behaviors become instinctual, the new SEALS get faster at doing them. Eventually, they practice at half-speed, then full speed, until they’re moving into positions and making complex decisions in the blink of an eye because their practiced foundation kicks in.

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

The SEALs aren’t the only ones throughout history who have recommended slowing down for the sake of better results. The Roman emperor Augustus Caesar is credited as saying, “That which has been done well has been done quickly enough.” And movie buffs may remember that before The Karate Kid ever gets to fight in a karate tournament, Daniel must first demonstrate good form through “waxing on” and “waxing off” Mr. Miyagi’s cars.

So what does “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” look like for your crew?

  • Train your team. Focus on making sure your new team members master the fundamentals. Even your veterans could probably use some pointers. You may be able to lead these training sessions yourself, or you could make use of online training resources. PaintProTraining.com is a free online portal created by Sherwin-Williams to help train painters on everything from prep work to color basics to brush and roller essentials.
  • Prep for success. Have a plan and stick to it. Prep work can be slow, and following each step of the plan might feel like it drags out the process at first. But executing the plan will go faster as your crew gets used to it. Plus, sticking to the plan will ensure no steps ever get missed—which will mean fewer mistakes and less downtime needed to fix those mistakes.
  • Do one thing. Focus on the task at hand, not everything you have to do afterward. Don’t give in to rush. Focus on doing the thing in front of you well.
  • Get enough rest. To do your best work, you need to be at your best. Pulling long shifts regularly is only going to eat into rejuvenating rest time, making you even less efficient the next day. You’re better off working an eight-hour shift fully rested than working 12 hours exhausted.
  • Know your resources. Another good habit is making sure your team knows what’s in their toolbox and how to use it. That includes not just their physical tools, but the tools at their disposal through Sherwin-Williams’ PRO+ App. When used with a PRO+ account, the app allows team members to access color selection tools, check inventory, and request free delivery service.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver. Don’t make unrealistic promises to your customers or give them unrealistic deadlines. Instead, allow margin in your estimates. That will prevent your team from feeling rushed and allow them to do their best work. Count on your quality to wow the client. The Project Bids tool in the Sherwin-Williams PRO+ app can help you set competitive but realistic bids.

In short, encouraging your crew to slow down and focus on doing their best work may be the most productive choice you can make. A crew that’s mastered the fundamentals is a crew that will deliver top results and happy customers who will return to you for future jobs.