Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Expectations are the key ingredient

Expectations are the key ingredient when hiring a contractor or painter.

When your hiring a painting contractor letting them know your expectation for your project is very important.

Think of it this way, when you go out to dinner do you not tell the waiter or waitress exactly what you want to do you simply say I'm hungry bring food?

You would never think of doing that even for a $10 meal so why would you do this for a job that could possibly cost you thousands of dollars? It makes no sense.

Don't be afraid to let them know you expect a lot of work in prep or no you would like to save money and you're only concerned with changing colors.

Here is a video I just did explaining this.

Moving to our new location

We have been lucky enough to move to another location.
We have moved to Bethlehem,Pa to service our clients better and have more room for all of our equipment and staff.
None of this is possible without our great painters, staff, and clients.
Please check out our new location in this short video tour.

Friday, December 1, 2017

What you can expect on your painting project


Expectations are the number one reason for complaints, unhappiness and also at the same time satisfaction on any project, painting or other. 

A painting project involves much more than calling up, having an estimate and someone shows up to paint your home. many things go into preparing and knowing what to expect on your painting project.

From choosing colors, sheens, knowing the date the project will start and an estimated time of completion. We see missed or unknown expectations as the number one issue for any customer complaints and it is not always the customers or the painter's fault, there is a share of the blame.

Here are a few missed expectations:
  1. Start of the project: This missed expectation may have never been told to the estimator if you have a deadline that needs to be met it needs to be expressed. With so many projects going on many things can affect that start date from, weather (even if your job is interior) Any rain will push back exterior jobs and also pushing back all the other projects behind it. Other jobs taking longer before yours, this is out of anyone's control and will push yours back.
  2. Completion of the project: This is an unknown, there are so many variables that go into a project from paint and spackle drying, paint not covering, sickness, car trouble etc. Finish dates are variable.
  3. Prep of the surface. One of the top issues, did you explain your expectations to the estimator and did they explain what will and not be done? An old wall will not look like a new wall, have the correct expectations and you will be much happier, nothing is perfect in life
  4. The number of painters on the project. Unless we are talking about commercial painting the number of painters on one project does not necessarily mean a faster job, you can only put so many painters in one room, there is a process that needs to be followed. It amazes me each time a client will tell us we need more painters with no knowledge of the painting industry.
These are just a few of the expectations that may be missed.

Here are some tips to have a great project.
  • Be home for your estimate
  • Have everyone who will have any critique at the estimate
  • Express all of your expectations to your estimator, it may be were not a good fit for each other or we cannot deliver what you may need
  • Know that everything will not be perfect. Painting is an art and will have variables, old walls will not be new, wavy walls will not equal a clear straight cut line. 
  • Spend the money on top of the line paint and materials 
  • The lowest price may be the highest once a project is complete having to go back and fix it, change orders, additional work.
Expectations are so important on any project, think of it this way if you tell your mechanic to just go in and fix anything and they hand you a bill for a huge amount of money without speaking to you even though you said go ahead with anything, what type of argument and dissatisfaction will you have ?

Dealing with clients who are irrational

Dealing with "that" client

When I started my own business after about a few months I realized a hard lesson.
Not everyone respects the other person or has the same values as I do or our employees do.

This was a hard lesson at first and made me question many things, were our systems wrong? Did we do something or not do something we were supposed to do? Was our work just not great on some jobs? What broke down?

I went back and adjusted our systems, policies, checklists only to find we would still have some issues with only a few jobs but those issues would seem like the end of the world even though they were in the grand scheme of things small.

So what is the problem? I speak to many other businesses small and large and they all have the same issues whether they show on the outside or not. One company shared some horrible reviews and emails that are nowhere to be seen on their website or Google, I find that as a cost of business they have budgeted in dealing with these reviews and tough customers.

Their approach was to just manage the bad ones because they know their systems are tight, some customers there is no system in the world that will put a stop to the complaining.

We have a very tight system where the office will call at the start of the job, a few days in and at completion even while the painters and project manager are on site doing the same and still we have clients attempt to go directly around them to get to me. Although I care about each and every job it is just impossible for me to manage a job site especially when we have very qualified people in place to do this. When I hire someone to work around my home, I trust that they hired the correct staff to handle my project, if something would happen would follow THEIR correct chain of command, not the one I believe is right.

We recently had a client who interfered on a very delicate epoxy floor job, he felt he could manage the project, dictate to the painters how to apply and wanted to help every step of the way, all the while leaving emails and voicemails on how upsetting this was to him. There was a material issue which was a small inconvenience but one that we corrected without any question along with the manufacturer of that material. This still was not good enough and he became verbally abusive via email and phone calls and to quote "this has been the worst thing that has happened in my life"
Now if this has been the worst thing that has happened he should thank god for that. Comparing a paint issue to other serious things that could happen in someone's life makes us shake our heads.

One other issue we have is clients simply do not read their contract and I am not speaking about any fine print, we are talking about the bold scope of work, what will be done and not done. This is listed many times through the process, during a walk through before a project starts and available every step of the way.

Even when an issue may pop up and we explain this process some people, usually the same type of irrational person will push back from any of this and expect the painters to do anything they need to do regardless of how much it costs the company to do it and not charge them a dime for it.

This me attitude is the worst thing about being a business owner, we want nothing else than to give an awesome job and put a smile on our clients face, but when we meet these people who knock that smile off even before we walk through the door it brings the office, painters, and supervisors down and they want nothing more than to finish these jobs and move on. We also add these clients to our do not work for list. I should charge other companies for this list it would save a ton of time and money for them. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It costs how much to paint my room?

You want to paint your bedroom and have no idea what it may cost.

Painting costs vary greatly and there is no wonder some people think a professional painting companies prices may be high. 

When your competition is someone with no insurance, employees and working out of the back of their station wagon or car those prices are not real and will greatly be less than a professional painting company.

What goes into pricing that bedroom? Staff at the office who answers the phones returns your calls and does all of the paperwork such as billing, color selections and sends out information regarding your project. Picking up your materials at the paint store, training of the painters who work for them.
Rent and equipment to keep ahead of the ever-changing paint coatings.

Then the actual cost of the job, workers, supervisor and delivery driver. All of these costs will be reflected in the price for painting your bedroom. Sure you could hire that handyman or the other guy who is a family friend but there is no telling the risk you may be taking with your home.

Painting is a skill, passed down from generation to generation or one that is learned and taught, when something may go wrong like a paint failure will the other painter know how to handle it or will they disappear or make things worse.

A typical room above let's say is 15x15 with 9 ft ceilings. In a painters world that is 504 sq ft of wall space. Painters measure based on the wall space. If they were doing the floor or ceiling 15x15 would be the sq ft. So in paint alone assuming a mid-level paint you need two gallons to paint these walls at $40 a gallon, so that's $80 in the paint, a roller cover is about $8 and a roll of tape $6. Don't forget the plastic $10 and spackle $8. Assuming a professional company has brushes, roller handles and more your costs end here. So your total of materials is about $112 and that's before any labor is added.
We would paint these bedroom walls for about $400, so your total is around $500 to do the walls.

This includes no trim, no ceiling, you can see it takes a lot to put a room together and an estimate and then produce the project to completion. A good company will do touch ups before leaving the residence eliminating any need for a return trip. A lot goes into a project, more so than anyone thinks about and those costs must be put into the job itself or a company would go out of business in no time

Friday, November 24, 2017

What goes into a commercial paint job.

What goes into a typical large painting job

Blood sweat and tears sometimes

Commercial painting can be a cutthroat business but one that is rewarding when a project is running correctly by the general contractor, the other trades, and our own team.

Should one of those areas slip it creates a cascade of aggravation throughout the whole project, however when all is going great it's like watching a synchronized dance and it is wonderful to watch a large group of trades come together to complete a job.

Let's discuss a typical project. It all starts with a bid invite or rfp  (request for proposal)
They can come to you in many ways, from repeat customers, lists you pay for, your paint store etc.
Once you receive that it's time to determine if a project is right for your team, you should not take every project that comes your way for many reasons.

Once you go over the rfp the estimating team gets to work, there may or may not be a site visit, typically we bid off of blueprints only, never seeing a project until the day we start.
We scour over the blueprints using an estimating program that we can accurately measure all surfaces.

Once we have all of that information and numbers we send it for approval and to put a dollar value on it. We submit it wither via our proposal or an online portal for the general contractor. Some projects you may be bidding to 4-5 different contractors. It's nice to develop a relationship with one and become their preferred painter.

Once you submit your bids it may be months or even a year before you hear anything. Once you're awarded a project is where the work begins. From submittals of all paints and materials used to contracts, insurance and planning the project. It now goes to operations where they will begin putting the plan together.

Once we get a start date we mobilize all of our equipment and do a walkthrough, here is where the project is made or not. If you get a project manager onsite who cannot manage a job site you're all in big trouble. We have been on projects where all of the trades had to come together and run a project in spite of the person who should really be doing it.

As the job is going you will get feedback good and bad and at completion a punch list of all the touch-ups needed, We recommend noting every conversation, email and taking photos as you go because they will come up later on most projects. Be prepared and you may be able to have a smooth commercial painting project.

Yes we make mistakes but guess what?

"Everyone is going to make a mistake and those who tell you they are perfect are not telling you the truth" Ryan Amato

When we arrive at a job site we all have great intentions and there is nothing more the painters want to do than please their clients trust me.

Painters all share one thing in common, they love to look back at the end of a project and see a happy customer smiling. This will make any painter proud and believe me painters have and take great pride in their work.

So when there is a mistake, a spill or something simply doesn't work out this can be devastating to the pride of the painter not to mention the customer sometimes may take a small mistake and blow it way out of proportion. We understand to you this may seem like a horrible thing and the world may be crumbling.

Here is where a good company and great painters step up. They take control of the situation and bring solutions to the table and fix whatever small issue may be happening or something that is bothering a customer.

We sometimes look at each other in the office when we get frantic calls from clients screaming and yelling for an issue that will take an hour to correct. We aren't running away and a great company will correct any issue even when it isn't their fault.

So any company you hire, I always ask if they back their work, the review I want to hear or see is yes they made a mistake but guess what? They corrected it right away.

I had a black top company seal my driveway and when I came home it was sprayed all over the siding of my home, I tried everything I could to get it off with no luck. I emailed that night, didn't receive a response but when I came home the next day it was cleaned up. That is customer service and I would recommend them to anyone and certainly use them again EVEN though they made a mistake.