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Old 12-15-2017, 01:00 AM   #1
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Default Sonic restaurant or similar: Lessons learned?

This past summer I started my business back up after a 21-yr military hiatus and most of my 11 yr painting experience is interior residential.

So I need to get up to speed quickly if I want to jump on an opportunity - I've been asked to bid on painting a new Sonic restaurant next Spring - anyone out there have any experience painting one of these or similar in the franchise world?

Any tips on the bid & the work? Type paints, spray v. roll, crew size, lessons learned, etc...


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Old 12-15-2017, 06:24 PM   #2
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Most of these type jobs have company colors and approved vendors like S/W or B.M. and will not accept substitution's. Lot of questions on this one like, does the canopy structure paint, light pole's and base's, any high performance coatings. Crew size depends. I have done alot of these type of projects with only a helper. Stay away from any oil base paint.Schedules can be tight with lots of other trades on the job site. You have to work together, no prima donnas on these kind of jobs.
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Old 12-16-2017, 11:33 PM   #3
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Thanks kmp. Sonic's going with SW so that's good for me. Good questions, I'm not sure but I'll ask around.

I'll likely run a small crew of 3-4, but like you, I can get a lot done with just one helper.

I'm surprised to hear that about oil, I grew up in the paint business exclusively using oil for trim and exterior, but that was a while ago. Why do you suggest staying away?

I figured that about scheduling, I'm sure it can be interesting.

Thanks for the tips. Drop another line if you think of anything else.
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Old 12-17-2017, 07:47 PM   #4
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Honestly, I would avoid bidding a job like this right off the bat. If you don't have a crew, or a trained crew, don't know what type of roller to use, been out of the game for 20+ years, don't know much about water based stuff or aren't familiar with it...etc. etc.

Just might end in a disaster for you.

Not to be negative, but there is such a thing in the business world as biting off more you can chew. And yes a company can go under by having too much work, as rare as that might sound. Kinda like you CAN die from drinking too much water too soon, it is possible.

My advise would be to get in the game maybe with some residential work and then work your way up to the commercial line-up once your up and running again.

Good luck to you.
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:53 PM   #5
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If your a go getter you can bid it and make good money. If I had listened to all the slow growth advise I wouldn't be 23 doing 1+ million a year. But you will have sleepless nights and plenty of stress related headaches. Plan on not making a ton but earning thru learning the experience on this one will benefit you for the future. Once I switched from residential to commercial I will never go back. Just add 10% to the number you think you should be going in at.
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Old 02-25-2018, 08:51 AM   #6
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Commercial spaces are great to get into, for sure, especially if you meet the right people.
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Old 02-25-2018, 08:36 PM   #7
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So, you're going to find that commercial, true commercial work, is a totally different animal than residential work. You don't get to pick your paint (although you can choose your vendor if you submit a proposal to the architect, generally speaking they'll approve a different brand of paint if you can submit the specs of paints that are similar to what they have. Given that this one is initially specced out for Sherwin Williams, chances are you're going to be using Pro-Mar 200 on the walls and DTM for hollow metal door frames and exposed ceilings/miscellaneous metal like handrails.

Some of the big things I would suggest are get acquainted with 18 inch rollers if you're not already. Commercial is generally about production first and quality second (although it still has to be high quality). I would personally go with half inch microfiber rollers; they hold a ton of paint and lay down a nice, but not overly crazy texture which will hide deformities in the drywall finish, and believe me there will be drywall issues. One lesson you'll learn early is that once the drywall finishers walk off the job, the GC usually won't call them back and will expect you to handle minor repairs.

Learn to not worry about making a mess. I don't mean go hog wild, but generally speaking, you don't have to protect the floors from paint splatter unless you're spraying, and even then, they're usually not worried about it because the floor guys will skim over it anyways. And definitely learn to talk to the other trades because if you don't, they'll bury you. I can't tell you how many times I've seen GCs put up wall angle before walls were painted or even on bareblock because the painters didn't communicate with them. Trust me, you don't want to hand cut in block filler.

No offense, but something like a Sonic is small potatoes, so I would keep it to just yourself and maybe one helper. Use this as an opportunity to see how fast you are and how much it costs you to run this job so you can establish a baseline for future jobs. Plus, on commercial work, you don't get money upfront, you're responsible for all materials and wages until you submit your billing, and then it's generally a 60 day wait for payment. Be prepared for that. And at the end of the job, they can keep your retainage fees for up to a year. Commercial is lucrative, but you can't go into broke.

Final piece of advice is read your spec book and blueprints carefully and go over them with the GC. Architects are not gods and tend to mess up a lot. Keeping an eye on this can keep you from losing money and can even result in a ton of extra money. I've been to jobs where the specs didnt call for priming oil painted door frames and wanted just plain latex paint over them.` That would've been a disaster, but I caught it and made a nice pile of money because of it.

Best of luck. They're really not too hard once you've gotten your experience, but there's a ton of little things you can get snagged on.
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