9 Steps to a More Successful Painting Project
Walk into any office building … any hotel lobby, apartment complex, hospital, school or bank … and an impression is instantly formed. In most cases, that first impression is largely driven by the colors you see in the common areas, the walls, and the ceilings.
Simple enough, right?
Perhaps not. What the majority of the public doesn’t know is how much thought, research, and even science went into choosing the paint that created that visual impact.
Property managers are tasked with a plethora of behind-the-scenes decisions. What color should the interior walls be; bright or neutral? What type of business is it; a conservative bank or a sunshine-splashed day care? How much foot traffic does the project get? Will the paint hold up over time? Should you use a latex or an acrylic paint?
Success on any painting project is measured by customer satisfaction, both in the short term and down the road. While property managers want the job done efficiently and at a fair price, most painters want to ensure they get the call for the next job. Somewhere in-between you’ll find some distinct steps that will lead to happy campers all around. So, if you’re looking to have success on your next painting project, check out these nine steps.
1 QUALIFY THE JOB.
Obviously, you can’t put the cart before the horse. The likely first step is going to be the sales call or meeting with the property manager to discuss the job. “You should always respond quickly to whether or not the prospective job type fits your company’s work capacity,” explains Mark Casale, editor of Painting Pro Times e-newsletter and owner of Hingham Painting & Decorating, in Hingham, MA. “If a paint company is too busy to meet an aggressive finish date, it’s better to walk away friends than to let a customer down.” If the customer and job type are a fit, then the customer meeting is scheduled.
2 ESTABLISH CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS.
On the surface, it seems pretty cut and dry. However, the devil is in the details. The biggest project can be torpedoed by missing the smallest components of the job. “After establishing customer expectations, it is a best business practice to submit a proposal/contract with a clear scope of the work, and get a signature from the individual who will approve the invoice/job before work commences,” Casale says.
3 EVALUATE THE CONDITION AND SURFACE TYPES.
Just like every job is different, so are the possible surfaces you’ll be painting, by first determining preparation procedures, primer requirements, and the appropriate finish coats. Experts at the Paint Quality Institute suggest making a list of the surfaces you’ll be painting, such as wood, wall board, metal and paneling; note the condition they’re in, and whether they were previously painted or are a new surface. John Deegan, owner and operator of Phoenix-based DaVinci Customs, agrees. “Once determining surface and area type, research which manufacturers’ product will achieve the best results specifically for that application.”
4 CONSIDER EXPOSURE AND USE OF SPACE.
Property managers understand the factors that create wear and tear on their properties. For instance, an apartment complex with a high turnover will require a different maintenance or paint schedule than an established office complex with long-term client leases. The majority of Deegan’s customers are property managers for shopping centers, industrial centers and corporate offices. “They have a great knowledge base, and know the rules,” he says. “They understand the kind of traffic they’re going to get.”
5 CONSIDER THE CONTEXT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD OR COMPLEX BEFORE CHOOSING COLOR.
Many times, common sense dictates what colors you should be choosing for your customers, based on their business type. A banking institution might be more apt to use neutral and/or more conservative colors, while a school setting lends itself to brighter colors, pastels, etc. “If at all possible, colors should be part of the workscope document (that the customer signs),” says Casale.
6 DETERMINE APPROPRIATE APPLICATION.
Once the different surface areas have been identified, then it’s incumbent on the paint pro to determine application methods. “We look at all kinds of things in determining paint application,” Deegan says. “It really will vary from job to job.”
7 ESTABLISH A STAGING AREA.
Big jobs will require an abundance of materials, which means you need to have a large staging area to which paint and construction materials can be conveniently delivered. Regardless of the size of the project, the staging area should be determined before the job begins.
8 DETERMINE HOURS OF OPERATION.
It’s a dawn-to-dusk business for most painters. However, sometimes it’s necessary to work odd hours to ensure that the customer has the least amount of inconvenience. “In the case of a shopping center, a lot of times, we’ll work after hours,” Deegan says. “Or we’ll try to stay out of high-traffic areas at certain times during the day. But there’s always going to be some moderate inconvenience until the job is done.”
9 LINE UP SUBCONTRACTORS.
Oftentimes, there are other facets of a job going on simultaneously with the paint project, for example, plumbing or electrical subcontractors. “It usually happens more with new builds,” says Deegan. “But we’re happy to work alongside them.”