Saturday, November 11, 2017

Why you should be cautious when hiring a subcontractor.

When you call a company to come out and give you an estimate whether a painter, carpenter or other you typically meet someone from that company as you would expect but what if once the job starts a totally different company shows up to do your project? Plus you weren't told.

Me I would be upset, I made a connection with the person who came out to give me an estimate I had been dealing with their office the whole time and now I have a whole new company who I never met, do not know my expectations and their whole agenda is to hurry up because they need to go fast to make their money.


Why do companies use subcontractors in the first place?

  • Cheap labor
  • No liability
  • They do not do that type of work
  • No taxes paid (payroll taxes)
  • No workers compensation
Some companies this is their whole business model, there is no way to monitor quality because if they really are a subcontractor they can't have any say in the work, schedule or when and how the job is being done or they are not a true subcontractor in the first place which most likely is the case.

One other very important issue is workers compensation, guess who is on the hook if someone gets hurt and you find out yes the company you hired has it but the subcontractor doesn't carry it and should have been. You're opening yourself up to liability with your home and insurance.

If a company is going to use a subcontractor (and some may be good) it must be written in your contract. 
Watch yourself when your hiring a contractor and make them be upfront, you will see in the future this will be a key area the IRS will target and many contractors will be put out of business or at the least owe a ton of back payroll taxes.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Behind the scenes of a painting estimate

Have you ever wondered what is involved with a painting estimate?

There is more involved than just showing up at the door

Let's go over a typical estimate from start to finish.

We all get excited when the phone call comes in, the client may have searched online, got a referral or saw the painters on another job.
However they reached us we take it very seriously and pride ourselves on knowing someone will answer the phone, we return calls and emails in a timely fashion.

Someone will answer that call when it comes in and spends 10-15 minutes with you gathering information, name, address, and type of work you're looking to have done.

This is also a great time for us to ask even more questions and get a sense if we're a good fit for each other before the estimate is even scheduled, we will ask questions such as have you used a professional painter before, do you have other painting coming out to estimate this work and timeline to name a few.

Some people are taken aback by this but would you rather waste your time after someone comes out to estimate it just to find out we do not do that type of work, or the job is not our specialty or the time frames just don't match up?

After this phone call we will schedule this estimate and discuss the phone call within the office and prepare to come out, we will gather any literature needed for your project, add this to our schedules and create notifications on our end to make sure we are aware it is coming.

A few days before the estimate we will send out a few emails explaining how the estimate will go and tips on how to make the most of it, so we're already into about an hour spent on your potential estimate.

The morning of the estimate I will gather my notebook and materials and make sure I am either early or on time.

We will walk the project together, letting you explain exactly what you expect and want to make sure we can offer this. After walking through with you I will walk through again on my own measuring and planning. At this time I will know if I can offer a price on the spot or it may require more time in the office to write it up.

Let's say we needed more time, I will head back to the office, sit down and put all my measurements together into a spreadsheet, once we have all of this done I will have a firm number to send over but we have to enter all of this and write up the proposal so even more time is spent on the estimate, we are typically into 2.5 hours now spent on one estimate we may or may not win.

Now comes the tough part, we send the estimate over and typically you have four types of people, the ones who give you a yes or no right away, the ones who need time to "think" and the ones who hide and do not return calls or email.

As you can see to do just one estimate can take about three hours whether we win or lose it, now some may be less and some maybe longer. This is why it is very important the person deciding is home at the estimate to not waste any one's time


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Preparing for winter

Winter is on the way:

For the painting business, this normally means one thing a slowdown, layoffs, scrambling for work etc.

Typically after the holidays painting may be the last thing anyone is thinking about, they had family over during the holidays they are paying off bills and simply regrouping.

For the painting company they should be preparing for this all summer and fall by marketing, contacting clients.

The theme of this blog is not marketing however it is how do we determine who continues to work?
This may seem like a tough decision but the whole summer and fall is an audition for this.
We track production of their jobs, return trips to correct their work, days they called off, refusal of overtime.

All of these things play a role is deciding when things slow down who will continue to work, without having routine employee reviews that superstar painter may not know his jobs have been underperforming or he is considered difficult to work with or the office cringes when we here his or her name.

Use this time to make your team stronger, remove troublemakers and it is also a great time to find painters that may be unhappy somewhere else but would be a great fit within your company.
It is not the time to lay low and let the winter pass by. It is the best time to find new painters, develop new systems and make your business grow.

Which brand of paint to use?

So you decided to paint your home and picked out your colors only to find out there are 5-10 different paints you can use from EACH company

Whether it is Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, Behr or something else there so many choices sometimes it can seem impossible to choose not to mention each contractor has their own favorites and each store may give you different opinions

So what do you do? I am going to speak about our company solely here. When we suggest a paint to use it is after speaking to the homeowner for quite some time during their estimate, knowing what they expect and most important what is the budget for this project.

Each company makes at least one product we may use and we select based on the what the surface is, what results have we been getting from those products, there may be some jobs we use every different manufacturer on the project due to results we have gotten on other projects.

Some paints may cover better but not all and it also depends on what colors and bases are used. Some may flow better or go farther while some are better on wood while others are better on gypsum (sheetrock).

We have no set answer when someone asks "which paint should we use?" That is variable and can have many answers, it is an investigation to determine all of those factors I mentioned above.
Do your homework, read reviews from people who have actually used it, what a homeowner may use is not necessarily what a contractor may use.

One thing is for certain, don't cheap out when buying paint, spend the extra money if that top of the line paint performs for the application you need it for, it may last longer and really be less expensive in the long run.

Here are a few of our favorite paints currently. (and this changes often)

  • Cabinets: PPG Breakthrough, great adhesion, and nice finish
  • Commercial Walls: Sherwin Williams Pro Mar 200, price point
  • Residential Walls: Depends, Benjamin Moore Regal or Sherwin Williams Super Paint
  • Metal Surfaces: MAcro Epoxy from Sherwin Williams if we're speaking about commercial 
  • Ceilings: Here is one area to go cheaper, a sheen is not what your looking for here so we want something high in clay for coverage: Pro Mar 200 again flat 


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Top Emerging Company

Ryan Amato Painting has been named as a 2017 finalist for Emerging business of the year by Lehigh Valley Business
The Business of the Year awards recognizes the Greater Lehigh Valley's most dynamic businesses and business leaders who share a commitment to professional excellence, business growth, and the community.
Finalists will be recognized and the winner in each category will be announced live during an awards dinner on December 5, 2017. Finalists and winners will also be highlighted in the Business of the Year event publication that will be featured in the December 11th edition of Lehigh Valley Business.
"We are honored to again be named by Lehigh Valley Business, we cannot thank our clients and staff enough"
Ryan Amato

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

You will not ruin my day

A typical day in the life of a painting company:

A normal day in our office comes with many emotions and they are affected by the people we come across each day.

This could be a typical impatient general contractor, an awesome residential customer calling to give praise or one that is irrational and demanding but what we cannot do is let any of them change how our day goes.

Their emotions are not necessarily ours and letting them change how we act or feel should never happen.

So how do we do this? I will be honest sometimes this is tough but we stay grounded by knowing we have done our best in everything we do, appreciating what is around us whether that is a co-worker who is going above and beyond, our families or any number of things to be grateful for.

Who are the best people I come across? They are real people who appreciate honesty whether that is upsetting or not and understand the work it takes to produce a quality job and is thankful for someone helping them out.

When I come across these people I always make a note in their estimate folder so we all know this one is a gem and we do everything we can for them and more because of people like this travel together and guaranteed they have more friends and family who they can refer you to who have the same personality.

Now on the other hand if we have a difficult, unreasonable and demanding client the same may be said of their friends because if they act like this to us most likely they act like that in all aspects of their lives.

Don't take these people's actions and attitudes personal, in our office, we keep a list of them and reflect back upon them once in awhile, they don't even know they are treating people badly most of the time.

Forget about them and move on, remember the great ones and cultivate those relationships


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Why it is impossible to compare estimates.

Why it is almost impossible to compare estimates.

Comparing estimates seems to be the thing to do, we all do it, get three estimates put them side by side and look at the pricing but when I tell you how impossible that is you may think and look at it another way.

The three estimates you received, if you took those three contractors and had them in the same room at the same time they still would come back with totally different ways to do the job, maybe using different materials, different applications. different workforces and for sure different overhead. 

The most important difference and one we aim for is a totally different experience. You all have called around to contractors, how many call you back? or take forever to call back or never do?

How many keep you updated on the process, help choose colors, train their staff and have a ton of resources behind them to help make sure your job goes well even when something goes wrong?

If they do show up for the estimate how long does it take to get the estimate back to you? For us it is the same day or next.

Do they have one person dedicated to making sure your project goes well and your totally satisfied? We do.

I am asking you to forget the norm and throw away price shopping for a second.
Yes, the price is important for everyone but if it costs a bit more for the satisfaction of knowing you have no worries or responsibilities and can be assured no matter what you will be happy isn't that worth it?

If you had an issue with someone calling you back or showing up on time for your estimate what happens once the painting project starts?

You will always find someone cheaper but at what expense to your home or project?

💪👊