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Old 10-01-2012, 07:28 AM   #21
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A friend of mine built his painting company up to 35 employees and lost money. He's now back down to a couple and happy.

I tried to grow several times and averaged 5 and 6 employees at one period of time, but always took my work to bed and woke up with it. Never made any more money either. Just gray hairs.

Too many border jumpers driving the price down these days too, and too many people willing to pay because everyone's strapped.

I started making a lot more money when I learned a few cool tips that I talk about in my painters revenue guide that you can get for free by clicking on my link below.
I have a friend that has 135 guys. He does residential jobs and his company looses over $100k per year.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:09 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by bodean614
Low bid or not if you make 30 percent doesn't really matter. Plus one shouldn't be missing things. I'm good at selling and building relationships with GCs. I help companies go to the next level without having a full time estimator and have list of references to verify. It's about getting your numbers dialed in.
Do you speak french? I could use little help, but 95% of the quote and spec are in french
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:14 PM   #23
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No sorry no French.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:47 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by premierpainter

I have a friend that has 135 guys. He does residential jobs and his company looses over $100k per year.
Yipes! Truly hard to imagine! On both levels, having 135 guys, and losing $100k per year, although honestly it could be possible to lose well over $100K with that many guys. Think of corporations that lose millions per year.

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Old 10-03-2012, 06:46 AM   #25
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Yipes! Truly hard to imagine! On both levels, having 135 guys, and losing $100k per year, although honestly it could be possible to lose well over $100K with that many guys. Think of corporations that lose millions per year.
Its crazy. He has 30 vans, 30 crews, 7 office staff, 6 salesmen, 4500 incoming calls a year.
Scheduling nightmare
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:57 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by premierpainter

Its crazy. He has 30 vans, 30 crews, 7 office staff, 6 salesmen, 4500 incoming calls a year.
Scheduling nightmare
That does sound like a nightmare especially if it's all residential.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:01 AM   #27
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Its crazy. He has 30 vans, 30 crews, 7 office staff, 6 salesmen, 4500 incoming calls a year.
Scheduling nightmare
Time to strip it down, and pick and choose the jobs. Cut the proverbial fat as they say. Easier said from the outside though. Sounds incredibly tough and frustrating.
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:14 PM   #28
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What would be the perfect size? Any studies on that?
I think 6+7 non painting employees is pretty good for a crew of 135 painters.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:37 PM   #29
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I have a friend that has 135 guys. He does residential jobs and his company looses over $100k per year.
I hope he has a high salary at least
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:36 AM   #30
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Default Control the Labor Costs - then Grow

The biggest thing that will keep you down is out of control labor expenses. If your painters are employees - you must demand they produce by setting constant expectations of what work should be done in what amount of time. I highly recommend using piece rates. On any given job you can divide it up room by room - and set the labor prices for each room. You need to have a solid estimating system to do this - pay them a percentage of the job - your labour expense should be around 35 - 40% of what you are charging. The guys who want to milk the clock will be driven away by this, or you will at least protect yourself from them losing you money. The better guys will see this as an incentive and ramp up their production. Then you just have to make sure there is proper quality control.

Only once you've learned to do this - should you attempt to expand your business. As we've seen, a massive company that cannot control its labor expenses will simply lose money. If you grow into a massive company that does control expenses - then you'll make a good living.

Once you are getting proper profits - is when you can reinvest a higher percentage of money towards marketing and really growing. Good Luck!
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:47 AM   #31
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The biggest thing that will keep you down is out of control labor expenses. If your painters are employees - you must demand they produce by setting constant expectations of what work should be done in what amount of time. I highly recommend using piece rates. On any given job you can divide it up room by room - and set the labor prices for each room. You need to have a solid estimating system to do this - pay them a percentage of the job - your labour expense should be around 35 - 40% of what you are charging. The guys who want to milk the clock will be driven away by this, or you will at least protect yourself from them losing you money. The better guys will see this as an incentive and ramp up their production. Then you just have to make sure there is proper quality control.

Only once you've learned to do this - should you attempt to expand your business. As we've seen, a massive company that cannot control its labor expenses will simply lose money. If you grow into a massive company that does control expenses - then you'll make a good living.

Once you are getting proper profits - is when you can reinvest a higher percentage of money towards marketing and really growing. Good Luck!
I think that's absolutely true, on paper anyways. I havent fugues out how to do that in a res repaint setting. Also the issues of payroll are tricky, since if you are paying per hour in quickbooks you would have to constantly be changing their hourly rate to factor in the piece work. Or just pay them cash! Quality control is key as you state. Holding crew leaders accountable for meeting their budgeted hours is the best way I've seen so far to implement this. George Z seemed to have this dialed in pretty well in previous threads. It's such an ongoing challenge to keep the aware of the job hours and then try to meet or beat those hours, and then start all over again on the next job and so on. However, without those goals and budgets it's really anyone's guess on how much you will make on a job (or not make).
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:08 AM   #32
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It's easier when you use subs - which is what I do. I have done it with employees however, and it can be done. Payroll can be done if you have an arbitrary hourly rate set for your painter and then divide it by the piece rate for labor as the theoretical hours. Where I live, piece rates are treated like commissions - the only law is that an employee must make minimum wage. If they are not doing that - then they should be let go anyway. They also need to supply and use all their own hand tools. They will wreck yours if you have to pay for it all the time.

If we have a big house to do in a short amount of time - I will divide portions of a house up and give different areas to my different crews. However I prefer if one crew of subs can do one job - easier to avoid mix-ups. You also have to make sure the guys keep business issues to themselves and not yack about it around customers - it generally looks unprofessional.

We do residential and commercial repaints with this system, and it works out pretty well most of the time - I wouldn't try it with new residential. (I avoid new residential like the plague)
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:45 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanA View Post
The biggest thing that will keep you down is out of control labor expenses. If your painters are employees - you must demand they produce by setting constant expectations of what work should be done in what amount of time. I highly recommend using piece rates. On any given job you can divide it up room by room - and set the labor prices for each room. You need to have a solid estimating system to do this - pay them a percentage of the job - your labour expense should be around 35 - 40% of what you are charging. The guys who want to milk the clock will be driven away by this, or you will at least protect yourself from them losing you money. The better guys will see this as an incentive and ramp up their production. Then you just have to make sure there is proper quality control.

Only once you've learned to do this - should you attempt to expand your business. As we've seen, a massive company that cannot control its labor expenses will simply lose money. If you grow into a massive company that does control expenses - then you'll make a good living.

Once you are getting proper profits - is when you can reinvest a higher percentage of money towards marketing and really growing. Good Luck!
sounds like a good system. i just finished a job that usually had 5 painters working hourly. trying to account for time was difficult. i hired about 10 painters,fired 5 and ended up with one near the end of the job. these guys would work casually,show up 5 minutes before the starting time or come 20 minutes after. when they show up 5 minutes before it usually takes them 1/2 hr to get set-up.they would also have excuses to take days off during the week right after hiring them. i was very busy on a lift and obviously couldn't watch them very closely. i was disappointed generally in their production rates. next time i'll give them a single building exterior with a set price. i also had various tools stolen after the dust settled. never again will I allow them to use my tools.

yeah hiring subs to do a defined task is the answer for the small painting contractor with inconsistent work. if i had steady work year round it might be tempting to have at least a few hourly painters.the subs have absolutely no loyalty to you.
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