Are these 3 clauses in your contracts?

by Brian Sodoma

Financial problemsContracts can be a tough conversation for some paint pros. Smaller firms will often do business on a handshake, with the thinking that they’ll harm relationships with the formality of a contract. Others paint pros are contract sticklers who take the time to review and update clauses each year. Love or hate the subject, here are a few contract tips that could save you time and money.


Everyone has had that tough-to-please customer—the one who calls a couple times after the job is done to ask you to “just touch up a few things.” The experience usually involves plenty of blue tape on walls that will have you brushing and dabbing all afternoon, when you could be out in the field finding new work.

But you can contain this customer by including PDCA standards in your contracts. One Standard, in particular, clearly identifies how far away and at what angle from the painted wall it is appropriate to assess it. It has saved more than a few contractors from coming back repeatedly, says Andrew Amrhein, a senior business coach with Pennsylvania-based Summit Services, Inc., which serves contractors, including paint pros, of all sizes.


If a family’s favorite trinkets are on display in a china cabinet, the customer should remove those items, not you, before painting starts. Create a ‘customer responsibilities’ section in your contract that highlights details like these, says Marge Parkhurst, owner of Painting By Marge, in Colebrook, CT.

“When I started out, I only thought about my responsibilities to them, not theirs to me,” she said. “This is something I definitely learned by experience.”


If a job involves more than one trade, Amrhein advises paint pros to have a ‘free from other trades’ clause, which should also include customers vacating the premises. It’s a clause that may not go over well with some customers, the consultant admits, but he uses the issue of safety as a way to avoid conflict.

“You don’t want someone there talking to you and slowing you down. … But make it about safety. Tell them it’s about keeping all of us safe on the job,” he added.


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