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Solve Business Problems in Half the Time

Defeat Twice as Many Problems in the Same Amount of Time!

Solutions to paint business problems these days seem to be measured in 50 and 100% increments. Sometimes, reality works in different sized chunks than “twice as many” and “half as many”.

While I love big picture thinking, when you are in the forest, you see trees. And when you can’t see your way out of the forest, the problem is the trees.

If you have been in the paint industry for very long, you know that there are problems…too numerous to list in one article. The ones that get the most attention are the ones that are right in front of us. Unfortunately, sometimes those can be the hardest ones to see.

What’s Your Problem?

What is a problem for paint contractors? Ultimately, anything that negatively impacts our ability to pay the bills, make profit and ensure security in the lives of our families and employees.

[Read a previous article by this author called “What’s Your Problem?”]

Paint business problems will come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share some common attributes as far as their impact. Let’s take a quick look at the life cycle of a problem.

The Problem with Problems…

…is that anyone can identify one, and sometimes people think that is where their responsibility ends. So, defining what a problem is in your business becomes important. What is a problem for an employee may not always fall in priority line with what is a problem for your business.

Always consider the source and the reason for their voicing of a problem. Someone bringing you a problem that genuinely inhibits operational efficiency is the best kind of messenger to have.

Hire for that aptitude.

paint business problemsIf you have people in your company who present their own daytime inconveniences as company problems – and less face it, if you are hearing about it, it’s a problem in your company – then you may be in a strong position to save yourself some time.

It is important to be a good listener and give everyone in your company your time, but it is also important for everyone in your company to know that your time is valuable and it is ultimately the resource that best secures their employment in your company.

Challenge your employees to become problem solvers. That is only learned through experience. There are no armchair problem solvers. But there are plenty attempting it.

The first thing that I’d like to do is encourage employees to come to me with a problem and a few well-thought-out solutions than just an annoying problem.

Promote Solutions

It is entirely too easy to hop on the internet with either a problem or a solution that is half baked. What is more important is to keep the focus inward, within your own company. Sure, gather info from all possible sources that you consider to be reliable, but keep a clean filter on what info to retain and how to implement it into your own company.”

If you are not sure the solution to your common paint business problems, you at least need to know what category it falls under in the business world so that you can research it and seek help. To make it simple, most field based problems for painters fall into the categories of Operations or Human Resources.

People either aren’t doing what your company needs them to do, or your company isn’t clearly defining what it needs people to do.

Either way, there are problems that need solutions, and this is a case where it definitely doesn’t matter who’s right and who’s wrong. As long as a problem festers, everyone is wrong because no one has solved it.

We win together and lose together.

Sometimes, it can be very empowering to lead people with questions. When employees come to you with company problems, ask them what they think would be a good solution. And listen. You might be half way to a solution.

Leaders Emerge

paint contractor problems

The problematic road to honesty.

The bridge between problem and solution is honesty. The most honest people in your company, and that list hopefully begins with YOU, are the ones who will take responsibility for where they themselves are a weak link.

Encourage them to also suggest ways to make operations better so that people can do their jobs the way they need to be done. Day to day operations need to be easy for everyone! No one wants to dread coming to work.

I co-taught a course recently about the importance of defining roles in paint companies. If everyone is responsible for everything, then nothing gets done. It’s simple human natures. Avoidance behavior rules.

Now, if everyone is accountable for specific things, then it is much more likely that things get done. With proper management, which is a discussion for another day.

Such a Lonely Word…

HONESTY is the biggest communication skill that is needed to ensure that everyone knows where everything stands in your company. The only thing standing between any problem and its solution is accurate information, the definition of honesty. That should be Core Value number one in any company.

Customers can smell it, and it smells good.

Keep in mind, honest solutions shouldn’t come with a “you don’t get it” attitude. Blame is not part of the game in efficient problem solving.

Be like a dentist in problem solving. Find the cavity (gap in your company), drill until the problem is removed, and apply the appropriate filling (solution) into the hole.

While it is best to do all of this with a positive, supportive, caring and encouraging approach, what matters most is that the problem gets solved. Sometimes, it simply can’t be wrapped in bacon. Honesty is the best way to address the cause of a problem, and the direct approach is inherently a time saver in your business day.

Now, tell us: What is the most recent operational problem that you have solved in your company?

 

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Scott Burt
Scott Burt owns and operates Topcoat Finishes, Inc. in Vermont, writes the monthly "From the Field" column in American Painting Contractor, and blogs prolifically at www.topcoatreview.com. Google
Scott Burt
Scott Burt
Scott Burt

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  1. Eric says:

    Very helpful article. Thank you for your thoughts in this area. Problems and problem solving is a huge key to a successful business.

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