Is it really possible to create systems for a Painting Company?
This is a common topic in Painter’s Discussion Boards. Could you run it along the lines of a “franchise prototype” as described by Michael E. Berger in the The E-Myth Revisited? Most of us are proud trades people that produce amazing paint jobs. How is it even remotely possible to do this, with “McDonald’s” type assembly line production systems?
To be fair to Berger, what he suggested was standardizing procedures, creating systems and then hiring people that are capable to run these systems. The skill level he suggested was relative to the occupation and business someone is running. Not everything had to be run exactly like a McDonald’s. Systems could be created to manage a legal firm or a medical practice:
“Obviously, if yours is a legal firm, you must have attorneys. If yours is a medical firm, you must have physicians. But you don’t need to hire brilliant attorneys or brilliant physicians. You need to create the very best system through which good attorneys and good physicians can be leveraged to produce exquisite results.”
It works for Doctors, why not Painters?
We are involved daily with the routine of painting, the prep and the colours. In the morning it’s all about the paint store and the materials. After work there are phone calls to make and estimates to do. We don’t always pay much attention to what is really involved in running a business. In a way it is like “we can’t see the forest from the trees”.
When Ecopainting was a member of Summit, one of the things we learned, was that there are three distinct departments within a company: Sales, Administration and Production. As painters, it seems outrageous that we can replicate our amazing painting skill and teach it to any newcomer. However silly that may sound, the reality is actually quite different. Painting is only one activity of only one department.
In Sales, so many activities can become procedures and systems. A lot of industries are doing this for years and they are doing it well. We use things like qualification forms, proposal packages, we have follow-up procedures, even use CRM programs. All these handy tools and many more, are systems. Systems that help us do a better job when selling paint jobs.
In Administration, things are even more organized. Filing systems, accounting programs, employment and human resources procedures, payroll and time keeping, these are all individual systems. Turning all these activities into administration systems is not that difficult. It has been done by many companies before, including painting contractors.
Systems for Production.
Painters come from different backgrounds. Some have completed a formal apprenticeship, some are self taught or learned from a family member. How to hold a paint brush, dip a roller or use a pole sander may be difficult to teach, but it is possible. Some basic examples of systems that can be created to improve production:
- Setting up and cleaning up an interior painting job.
- Setting up a shop at the job-site.
- Ladder and other safety procedures.
- Masking and customer property protection.
- Following up PDCA standards of the most common activities.
- A walk through before and after a job.
- Washroom use policies.
- Waste disposal and recycling procedures.
A painter can roll from the right to the left, or left to right. Individual preferences and experience is valuable and should be encouraged. Everything else in sales, admin and production can be a system.
I’ll be sharing some of the systems I use in my company in future posts, leave a comment below and tell me what systems you use.