There is nothing worse than a commercial painting project going sideways. Typically commercial projects are on the larger scale, so the money can be good but these jobs can go south if you’re not attentive and thorough.
Here are 7 tips to make a commercial project successful and be profitable:
1. Bid the job with correct amount of hours. I know this sounds obvious, but contractors have been know to send out bids without checking their work twice. Multiple visits to the job site and double checking your work is key to correctly bidding the job.
2. Accepting the job. Now this ties in with number one. Let’s say you go out, bid the job, win the job, and you didn’t double check your work and you realize that you missed some key parts of the job. You don’t have to take the job, in fact it might be wise to not take it if you know you’re going to lose money. What I would recommend is to go back and tell the customer or contractor about your mistake and hope they will let you resubmit with the correct bid. If they hold you to it, you don’t have to accept.
3. Walk the job with your employees. Always go out with your field manager, foreman, or lead painter to walk the job. It gets everyone on the same page. You can also put your heads together and come up with the best game plan. We’ve had some clients say, “doors are included” when they were not and the job lead believed the client and did some free work. By walking the job with your team, you’ll save time and help avoid any confusion.
4. Planning, planning, planning. Just like number three, get everyone on the same page and formulate a game plan for the project. Sometimes an employee will have one particular plan but might not see the big picture. Realize that sometimes it takes a week or two on a big commercial job to get in a good groove.
5. Good management. This is important because jobs can get away from us. If it gets too away, we will lose money and time. If you have jobs broken down by task, by building, or sections, you can job cost throughout the job to make sure that you are still doing well for the customer and by the company. If we have a HOA painting project with multiple buildings, we job cost every building. We see the lowest profits on the first building, and like I said before, when the crew gets into a groove, and we’re working more efficiently we’ll save more time
6. Watch your material cost. Materials should be 15-20% of each job and commercial projects are no different. We have materials included in our price and how much will be used. It’s up to the management team to always keep track of how much is ordered and how much money is being spent on the job. If you meet within those material cost and labor hours, everyone will be happy.
7. Keep track and sign off change orders and always communicate! We don’t have a lot of change orders and love to stay away from them. We pride ourselves on bidding the job correctly the first time. But, if you power wash, and find dry rot, stop the job, show the customer a change order, replace the wood, and move on.
We had a job a few years ago where we were painting an exterior of a grocery store and the white wasn’t covering the old color in two coats. We showed the customer, called out the paint rep., kept everyone in the loop, and the paint company covered the cost of material for an additional coat and the customer paid for the labor.
Sometimes these big jobs can look daunting but if you follow these steps I will almost guarantee success.