The inPAINT Interview: Painting for HOAs
Getting on the agenda: painting for HOA’s – how meticulous planning, careful scheduling, and mindful budgeting sets the standard.
Noah Winkles was grateful that his father offered him the opportunity to manage the family painting business, New Life Painting, upon graduating from college 10 years ago. He grew up assisting his father, Chuck Winkles, on paint jobs and was eager to grow the 40-year-old business and seek new opportunities. New Life Painting focuses on residential and commercial projects, as well as projects for HOAs and property management companies in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and throughout California’s Central Coast region.
New Life Painting has been successful at building and maintaining a positive reputation in the community. Their sister company, New Life Bath & Kitchen, offers additional services such as comprehensive kitchen and bath remodeling and home restoration projects.
Q: HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH HOAS?
When I took over managing the business in 2008, the economy was in a downward spiral and our business started to shrink. I remember trying to think of ways we could find success even in the failing market. My father had experience working with HOAs, which he said was very similar to residential painting. He explained that HOA and property management companies are great to work with because residents pay their dues on time, and the companies put money aside to fund projects, then set schedules usually far in advance.
Enticed, I set some goals and began to research and reach out to several property management companies in the area. I sponsored luncheons and spoke in front of board members at community HOA meetings. I applied my knowledge of residential painting, combined with our commitment to performing high-quality work, to gain their trust.
Today, we work with four local property management companies and complete three to four major projects per year. We try to schedule these jobs between October and April, during our slower season.
Q: CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE TYPICAL BIDDING PROCESS?
Normally, we receive an email from a property manager to let us know a project is up for bid and ask if we are interested in submitting a proposal. They will provide the specs and scope of work, and we’ll prepare a bid, then ask to present at the next board meeting. If we have that opportunity, we’ll make a formal introduction, discuss how we will communicate with residents, and share the next steps.
I think this approach really sets us apart from our competition because winning a bid doesn’t always come down to price; it is often more about the customer choosing a contractor with whom they feel most comfortable.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES TO COMPLETING THE WORK?
This type of work requires a lot of communication because residents need to be aware of the job we will be performing in advance. We do this by distributing fliers one week prior to the start of the job and again two days before we begin work. We also inform residents when the job is complete. However, when it’s time to paint front doors, it can sometimes be challenging because residents must be home for us to gain access and complete the job.
In other circumstances, we’ve worked with communities that didn’t have the money to complete the job or needed to postpone the project for a few months until funds were received. We can slow a job down, based on the needs of our customer. That is sometimes just the nature of the business.
Q: ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR EQUIPMENT NEEDED?
We use all the standard painting supplies, tools and equipment that are used on residential jobs. On an HOA project, there is typically a team of five individuals consisting of a project manager, a journeyman painter, two or three highly skilled painters, and two support members that assist with setup, taping and cleanup. When we hire painters, we look for individuals who work hard, have a good attitude, and can communicate well with customers.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH COLOR SELECTION?
Color selection for a residential community or apartment building is usually determined by the HOA or property management company—or recommended by a large paint-supply company like Sherwin-Williams. If we are asked for input, we’ll reach out to a preferred color specialist who we work with in the area and offer these services to the board at no extra cost.
Q: ARE THERE ANY RED FLAGS THAT MAKE YOU CHOOSE TO AVOID TAKING ON A PROJECT?
We try to avoid accepting subcontractor jobs from general contracting companies because the payment schedule and overall entire process is not based on our terms, which can sometimes be difficult to maneuver.
Q: DO YOU CONSIDER THIS MARKET OPPORTUNITYTO BE STRONG?
There are so many HOAs in communities across the country and I believe there will always be a demand for this type of work. These organizations normally operate very well, often scheduling work every eight to 12 years, and are a strong component of our business.
Q: WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU SHARE FOR PROS WHO WANT TO GET INTO THIS BUSINESS?
It takes a lot of time and determination to generate customers and become a preferred vendor on an HOA or property management company bid list. I recommend treating their business like the highest paying customer you have. Your work and craftsmanship will shine through.
Noah Winkles is the VP of New Life Painting, a family owned business and Nolan Summit Services contractor servicing the California Central Coast, offering residential, commercial and HOA painting services. He is an active member of the Santa Maria Connect!, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the PDCA. NewLifePainting.com