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Monday, January 24, 2011

How to hire a good painter.

How can you be sure you are getting a good paint job (large or small)?

There are a lot of painting companies that run around with a lot of sub-contractors who paint for them and give them different names like "production managers" and then grade them on some type of "sign off" system where the homeowner or manager grades the painters. The claim is that this "sign off system" ensures a quality job. There is also the school of thought that only employees provide top quality work.

The truth is that only individuals provide top quality work. Work status (regarding employee or subcontractor) has nothing to do with performance. Generally a "sign off" system doesn't ensure the job will go smoothly (after all, you can give them a poor grade for the job and none the less have to pay for it).
Nor does an employee of a company ensure quality. I don't even need to expand on this point because it is simply human nature that some employees are good and some are not.

So how do you make sure you hired a good painter?
While some painters or paint companies may not agree with my style, here is how my company makes sure to do a great job on every project:
(I've broken it down into 4 points)
1. The owner of the painting company (me) is on site or at least stops in every day.
This is important because nobody cares more about the job then the owner of the company. If the painting company is so big and disconnected from the field that the job is left to employees or sub-contractors who have THEIR best interest in mind, not the companies, then they probably care more about their work schedule, their breaks, their profit (if they are a sub-contractor) then if you are getting the best job possible. So make sure the owner of the painting company is on site (at least for awhile everyday)
2. I give lots of references. We suggest our customers actually call the references and ask the questions that are relevant to their painting job. If it is a small residential job then you may want to call homeowners. If it is a big Multi-housing project then you may want to call some Multi-housing property managers we have worked for.
3. We pay our painters a bonus on a sign off system. After the job is done we ask the homeowner/builder/manager to grade our performance. It only makes sense that on larger jobs that require more painters, you pay them an incentive for better performance. Sub-contractors specifically should be paid (at least in part) on performance.
4. We give before and after pictures (on the appropriate jobs) and ask a TON of questions on the front end. If you hire a painter (weather you are a homeowner, a builder or a property manager) and you can't be on site for the project, you'll want a painter who is in contact with you a lot. Make sure they bring this up before they hire you. Some keys to look for are: Did they ask for your email, cell phone number, questions on scheduling, questions entry to the house, questions on working late, questions on potential unforeseen work. Here is the bottom line, if they were not detailed in the first meeting prior to selecting them for your painting project then the likelihood is they are not that detailed a person. You can then decide for yourself if you want a painter in your house who is not that detailed.

Call Complete Custom Painting for top quality painting jobs in the Twin Cities Area
651-336-0561 cellular

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What to do when another contractor is reponsible for a change in your schedule

Something happened to me on a commercial job site that may change the way I approach all commercial jobs.
Here is what happened: We were given a deadline for a very nice commercial project. The painting portion of the project consisted of 14 days of work. All trades had roughly 2 months 2 finish by the time I got involved. The drywall contractor was more than 2 weeks off schedule and as a result, moved me very close to the overall deadline for the project (and well past the painting deadline). Any potential reader of this article would know that you can't paint drywall that has not been taped and sanded so it is obvious that the painter can't start until the drywall is complete. Being that the drywall was completed 2 weeks late, us painters started 2 weeks late and had to work along side lots of contractors that would otherwise not be in our way. Electricians, flooring contractors, network wiring, finish carpentry, etc etc. In the original schedule we were supposed to have the place to ourselves for the period that it would take to finish. In the new scenario we had to work around multiple contractors and instead of completing individual rooms or sections we were forced to do portions of rooms and then come back to them. When it started occurring that we were working in the exact same area as a contractor who needed the area to themselves (like the concrete staining contractor) sparks started to fly. He started yelling about how this was his area and he needed it to himself and I pointed out to him that I had not had my allotted time to finish my area. It caused for a lot of confusion.
The project got done and it looks great but what a mess the scheduling became because of one contractor who got off schedule.
My old philosophy went as follows: Do your best, show up on time, be on schedule and do excellent work and if the schedule gets thrown off by someone else, the General Contractor will know that all following schedules my be backed up as a result (or you'll have to work longer/ bring more guys in order to finish on time)

That philosophy worked well until got a call from the General telling me that the Concrete Staining Contractor called him all upset about how I had put him off his schedule and was in his way. I couldn't believe that the General wasn't aware of the fact that the Drywall guys had put me off schedule by better than 2 weeks.

My point of course is that you should never assume that a General actually knows what is going on, on a job site. Point out everything. Do it in a polite, professional way. Take pictures of finished work and send a lot of completion schedule updates. Had I sent a email saying that the drywall contractor was way behind and as a result the painting portion would get started late, the General would have been prepared for the concrete staining guy's complaint and told the concrete staining guy that the area belonged to the painters.

It is not in my nature to complain or point out how someone else is screwing up on a job site. I try to mind my own business and do my work. Unfortunately, you are not always the only factor in the completion of your work on a commercial job site so be detailed, take good notes and let the general know of every single...(and I mean every single) change. It can save you a phone call.

651-336-0561 cellular