Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Systems for a Painting Company?


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.

systemsPainters 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.

13 thoughts on “Systems for a Painting Company?

  1. George,

    This is a great topic, and to be honest I have have just in the last six months gotten around to reading the e myth. I know systems are a huge part of getting things to boost efficient every possible way to run your business, but that isn’t what I took from the book.

    The systems are great, and to really prevent costly down time from not having everything your employees need you really must insure the basics. Ensuring tools, skilled employees and materials are there on the job for the task of the day are paramount I am of the same mind set there are plenty of ways to paint a wall, and if you have a skilled painter there why retrain them just to fit the way you do things.

    Our systems are key in making sure painters know their task, and have everything they need to do that task. Daily check lists before they leave our office. Others are basic painting principles that every quality contractor should be doing. I like to keep it simple.

  2. Systems are a great thing but can be difficult to stay focused on them if you wear all the hats and are a 1-3 man company . Having a office staff whether one person or more and a supervisor can make things easier to keep systems in place. The challenge for a smaller company can be more difficult but just as benificial if not more. All the successful company’s I’ve been around the last 30 plus years use systems for all aspects of the business. Great article George .

  3. Nice George! Systems are the only way to stop the bottleneck of everything going through the business owner. If everything is running through you then YOU ARE the system! This is a great way to burn-out and hold your business back from growth.
    From marketing, to sales, to employee relations.
    Imagine Panera Bread without systems. They produce a high quality product consistently.

  4. Great article George.

    I come from a marketing and admin background so systems have always been a big part of my day. I was surprised to discover how few systems there were in our production end. As we grow, putting those in place AND FOLLOWING THEM has been a huge part of strategy and the biggest change in our company.

    We have everything from customer meeting and walk through checklists, colour schedules, scope of work sheets, tool box meetings and time sheet systems in place. It seems like a lot but that organization happening beforehand is what makes our jobs run smoothly.

  5. Thanks for the nice comments. Sometimes by calling things systems, or every time the big “E” book is mentioned, some of us get defensive and think this can never happen in a Painting Business. Our business is actually a simple business, or at least it is much better to think of it like that. Instead of calling things systems, we can call them “a bunch of lists and checklists” for most of our everyday activities.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this delightful topic of discussion George! As with most things in life organization is important for efficiency. I have also found this to be true in the company I currently work for. We have a few checklists we use for things such as spraying a house or power washing. There are just so many things you can forget. It truly helps! I think Heidi brings up some very good checklists that we could use. Your blog is exceptional! Keep up the good work!

  7. I’m trying to establish some field systems – like a pre-job walk checklist that goes over all the required products, processes and areas under contract; as well as an interm-job checklist that my project manager can use to check on cleanliness, safety, standards, etc. Does anyone have checklists they’ve developed and use on your jobsites?

  8. HI is there a specific system or software management that helps track and manage all aspects of the business from the initial call to the follow up to booking the jobs and estimates etc? We are a painting company based in Canada and looking for the best way to organized everything and follow the best system!

    1. Hi Kat,
      There are several, BaseCamp is one, really depends on your needs. I would encourage you to check out, Steve and his gang just did a webinar on it. If you are looking for ways to organize your business, they do a great job!

  9. I’m sitting at the desk on a Saturday (sick nonetheless) trying to pound out processes for Marketing, Sales and Production. One quick search for help and here I am.

    Great article, George! Being a fairly new business owner I’m learning quickly that processes make things easier. We’ve had a few turnovers in our production crew this year and it always makes it rough to have to be on-site and making sure the “new guy” has a clue. You can take a lot of that kind of work out of the way with processes.

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