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Old 10-19-2016, 07:07 PM   #1
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Default A Little Help from My (Successful Painter) Friends?

On the way home from work one day I stopped off at United Paint store, picked up some brushes, rollers, drops etc. With about 3-4 years of painting experience I decided I was going to start my own paint company.

That was almost 20 years ago. It was the single best decision Iíve ever made.

I have been physically painting the whole time with a crew anywhere from 2-4 painters. I have transformed from the cheapest apartment painter on the block to high end residential. I have become a hell of a salesman; selling jobs rather than giving prices, learned a great deal in Business & Marketing and I have a very large client base that keeps coming back.

Now, close to 20 years later Iím at a crossroads again. I have decided rather than to paint until I die, I am going to QUIT PAINTING!

No, I am not folding up shop. Iím simply going to stop physically painting and further build my business and my brand. I am adding an additional crew and putting my top guys in charge of production.

My fear is keeping up quality and the reputation of my company.

If you went through this transformation and have relevant advice to offer, please do so.
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Old 10-20-2016, 10:23 AM   #2
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You'll likely find that your business will grow exponentially once you get out of the bucket. All of a sudden you'll have more time for the important aspects of your business. That being said, the fight to maintain the high level of quality is a constant battle. Don't compromise on your quality and make sure your guys understand what that level is and hold them to it.

When you are doing the estimates, marketing and accounting for your business you'll also have time to visit the jobsites and critique your guys. If they know that you will critique them they will work hard to maintain your standard
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Old 10-20-2016, 10:31 AM   #3
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Sounds very familiar. I went through a similar path, painting for others, and getting a C33 licence, and painting for about 15 years. It finally got to the point where we grew so much that I just couldn't keep painting. I spent another 15 years handling the estimating, project managing and all the administrative stuff. If it helps, I have several blog articles on my web site, , that discuss a number of aspects involved with intelligently growing your company. You can see a few on as well. If I can answer any questions for you, I would be happy to. Just email me at Lynnjprecise@gmail.com.

Wishing you good success.

Lynn Jackson

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Old 10-21-2016, 07:44 AM   #4
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Before you put the cart before the horse metaphorically speaking- add another crew and bounce between them. Add another crew and start stepping back. You have a few challenges ahead of you inthe growth curve. If you can maintain two crews and step back and forth you will find out if the crew leaders you are using can start to think for themselves. If they can produce without your presence. You will also find out if you can keep feeding enough work for them.

Assuming your growth pattern is to be more than 2 crews, you better figure out your administrative side. What you may have been able to get away with with only grossing 100-300k a year will not fly when you pass 500k to multi mollions. You need to know your costs and stay on them. Pyroll taxes wc insurance. Your going to also have to start focusing on what the best method of timekeeping looks like and above all an employee handbook. You need an exit strategy for underproducing or problem employees. A handbook gives you the ability to write up employees for violations and after 3 can terminate without fear of unemployment. Also, the more employees the higher the chance that dealing with child support payments will be a reality. Stinks that you are the one responsible for deducting the garnishments out of employees checks and paying them but thats your job too.

Not to mention, the basics such as what is your strategy for retaining employees if it slows down for a bit? One or 2 guys may be willing to stay home for a day or two once and a while, but you will loose your work force if this is a common occurance. Your aim should be to never be in that position and if you are you can forcast and tighten up the work days. (Know its comming and keep them at straigjt 8 days vs allowing OT work). Speaking of OT, are you offering it? Guess what, its not a suggestion, its a mandate that small outfits do not enforce but are required.

What else? Dont spend what you dont have, dont leverage out more than you know you can bring back in quickly. A big check doesnt mean anything anymore. Keep good books. The money becomes the companies- not yours. The bigger you grow the more it costs to keep it rolling. For sake of example, understand we are commercial drywall and paint and do a lot of large commercial and for last year multi-family. We have roughly 1.2M out at any given time. On paper we are having huge margins but its taking more and more of a buffer to keep the show going. Retainages add up and you can kiss 10% goodby for up to a year when you start swinging at larger jobs. Its not a bd thing, you just REALLY need to understand the cost of doing business.


Personally, i would say the most important thing for you right now is to see if you are mentally capable of letting go. Many times a good OMS makes for a lousy boss. You may overcontrol the job or even worse, assume that everyone working for you is slow without your presence and cheating you or underproducing.

You need to know what can truly be produced by your crews and not just believe you know based on what you believe you can do. You can be your crews boss or your companies undoing if you dont know how to manage, respect and influence your employees.

For everyone that thinks its easier on the other side, your deluded. Its tough. You need to find the right people and take care of them. As you grow you need to find the right administrative staff and make sure they share your same vusion. One year it may be easy. Im not there yet. But the things that i find difficult now i had no comprehension of earlier in my career. Growth is a crazy thing. Make wise choices as you go.
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Old 01-04-2017, 08:39 PM   #5
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Serial thread killer. Blows me away when i get completely candid and thread goes dead. I wonder if my asperations are completely out of line with the general PT crowd. I always thought it was an in it to win it more than sheer survival.

If i could impress one parting thought on this subject: free your mind and the rest will follow. Take calculated risks and step into deeper water. I can walk in the deep end of the pool now and look at walking in the ocean next. Do quality work and make your reputation be based on every job you do and raise the bar. Be a problem solver and a solution instead of working for a paycheck. Dont hire dreamers and wanderers, make your workforce look to you as a provider and a long term solution to their lively hood. Im done hiring dreamers looking for the next big thing- find the ones that buy into what you can offer them and walk to hell and back to give them stability and viability for both them and their families. I have a core employee group that will stay with me for literally as long as they can paint and a few that are still with me in other capacities now after they are older and dont paint as well any more. Dont cross lines. Dont inteingle personal and work ever but still be a caring boss in the arenas you can control. Dont make anyone try and do something that your not willing or able to do yourself. Lead by example and foster creativity along the way to seek out different ways and methodologies that may get you to the end in a potentially faster way. Teach the art of time control. Teach what it means to balance timelines on multiple different tasks to keep larger crews efficient without dead time for each and every member. Poor timeflow allows the slackers to slack and the workers to be imbittered when its not fair they are still working. Teach supervision as an art not a daycare.

For all the OMS, forgive me, this message isnt for you. For those that want to grow, there is so much more and i started my professional career and shortly joined this site and never had a true mentor other than Wolfgang to kick wisdom to me. Im hoping my words can get chewed on and applied as needed and can land on fertile soil. There is no such thing as a dead economy. Find your niche and if its too specialized spread it out. Walk in it and find what works for you. Grow as your comfortable but dont stay stagnent out of fear. Life is a gift be the best dam steward of the time you have on this earth.
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Old 01-04-2017, 08:59 PM   #6
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Serial thread killer. Blows me away when i get completely candid and thread goes dead. I wonder if my asperations are completely out of line with the general PT crowd. I always thought it was an in it to win it more than sheer survival.

If i could impress one parting thought on this subject: free your mind and the rest will follow. Take calculated risks and step into deeper water. I can walk in the deep end of the pool now and look at walking in the ocean next. Do quality work and make your reputation be based on every job you do and raise the bar. Be a problem solver and a solution instead of working for a paycheck. Dont hire dreamers and wanderers, make your workforce look to you as a provider and a long term solution to their lively hood. Im done hiring dreamers looking for the next big thing- find the ones that buy into what you can offer them and walk to hell and back to give them stability and viability for both them and their families. I have a core employee group that will stay with me for literally as long as they can paint and a few that are still with me in other capacities now after they are older and dont paint as well any more. Dont cross lines. Dont inteingle personal and work ever but still be a caring boss in the arenas you can control. Dont make anyone try and do something that your not willing or able to do yourself. Lead by example and foster creativity along the way to seek out different ways and methodologies that may get you to the end in a potentially faster way. Teach the art of time control. Teach what it means to balance timelines on multiple different tasks to keep larger crews efficient without dead time for each and every member. Poor timeflow allows the slackers to slack and the workers to be imbittered when its not fair they are still working. Teach supervision as an art not a daycare.

For all the OMS, forgive me, this message isnt for you. For those that want to grow, there is so much more and i started my professional career and shortly joined this site and never had a true mentor other than Wolfgang to kick wisdom to me. Im hoping my words can get chewed on and applied as needed and can land on fertile soil. There is no such thing as a dead economy. Find your niche and if its too specialized spread it out. Walk in it and find what works for you. Grow as your comfortable but dont stay stagnent out of fear. Life is a gift be the best dam steward of the time you have on this earth.
Great info. However, it was the tone that was hard to take. Basically you said, It's really hard to grow the business. If you decide to, prepare for tons of extremely difficult challenges.

I'm now considering closing my business.
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Old 01-04-2017, 09:10 PM   #7
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I struggle with trying to sound sincere and i feel it comes across as pride or ego. Life is hard and nothing in life is easy. You struggle through it and its what (i feel) makes a man out of you. Ive never been accostomed to having anything handed to me. Work hard but feel content in your endevors. I love what i do. It is hard. It is beautiful. I love facing the challenges as much as the successes. And no one ever talks about what out of the bucket actually looks like. Just trying to speak about what out of the bucket really entails
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Old 01-05-2017, 11:24 AM   #8
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Out of the bucket is easier than you think. Once you get out you'll wonder why you stayed in for so long. Your business should grow exponentially once you start paying attention to the important details. You'll get bids out faster, you can take the time to properly market your business. You will not be as tired to start networking through business associations. I hated going to business association meetings after a full day of painting. I was tired and my attitude sucked as a result. Now that I don't paint anymore I am usually fresh and upbeat at those same networking events.

Take the plunge.
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Old 01-20-2017, 11:45 AM   #9
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Not gonna lie that sounds like you have built one hell of a painting company. Just like a lot of others on this forum seem to have done too. I'm new in the industry and am looking for any tips you may have. Pointer for the newbie?

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Old 01-20-2017, 06:27 PM   #10
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Not gonna lie that sounds like you have built one hell of a painting company. Just like a lot of others on this forum seem to have done too. I'm new in the industry and am looking for any tips you may have.Pointer for the newbie?
Ditch the Valspar and use real paint from a real paint store, not Lowes
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