How to Grow Your Painting Business, Part 2: Free Your Time

March 2nd, 2015 | Eric Barstow | Painting Business Articles, Videos | No Comments

Hi my name is Eric Barstow, I’m the co-owner of Painter Choice and founder Painting Business Pro. And this is the second video and a series of six videos teaching you how to step by step grow your painting business and increase your income because that’s why you’re watching this video.

So in the first video, we just kind of outline what we’re going to be talking about and in this video, we’re going to talking about freeing up your time because if you want to grow your business you need to spend more time getting more sales, getting more customers, which is marketing and sales efforts. In order to put more time into marketing and sales, we need to put less time into production, we need to free some of that time up. So that’s what this video is really about, is how do we set up a production system that set up in a way that doesn’t require a lot of time from us as the business owner. So there’s really two ways to do that, we can use employees or we can use subcontractors and we want to talk in this video about how do we get from point A to point B. Point A is how we are running our business now, it might look something like waking up in the morning, going to the paint store, we’re waiting on the paint store for 45 minutes for our paints, we head over to the job site, we get the job site started, we get the crew going for the day and then we may be get an appointment with a customer we run over to, the crew calls, they need more paint, we head back to the paint store or maybe they need tape or coffee, get back to paint store, pick that up, drop it back at the job site and then maybe we have to run over, meet another customer for something and then we got to head back to the job site again to help the crew finished for the day. When you get back to the job site, the crew is behind schedule, we’ve got to get this job done because another customer is expecting us tomorrow. So you start painting, you’re helping them paint, the day ends, the crew goes home, you talk with the customer for a little bit, you collect the final check and then you go home and then you’ve got to do some of your administrative stuff that you weren’t able to do. Maybe you got to do payroll or maybe you got to cut checks or maybe you got to look at your books or whatever. And there’s this kind of you know repetitive process of constantly being run by your business rather than running your business. You know people, I see a lot of painting business owners constantly reacting and just spending all this time in the production process and there’s a few things that, a few items that we really want to eliminate from this whole process.

So the first thing we want to eliminate is we want to eliminate trips to the paint store. So if we eliminate trip to the paint store, imagine how much free time you would already have just right there. I mean the paint store trips you know is like an hour a day you know at least, we can easily save you like five to ten hours a week and that’s one of the easiest things to delegate. You can ask your foremen or whoever is your crew leader, you can ask them to start going to paint store, give them a very small raise like 25 or 50 cents an hour or if it’s one of your subcontractors, you can just asked them to do that now, you can just set that expectation and just ask them to do that and tell them to do that.

So that’s a really easy task to delegate that will instantly free up five to ten hours of your time and five to ten hours of your time, is significant. When we put five to ten hours of time into marketing or sales, we can generate another one to two jobs per week which is five to ten hours, so that’s a really easy one to delegate. The next thing that we want to get rid of is we want to stop going to job sites. So the reason why we want to stop going to job sites and in this is a tough one for people because we’re really attached to going to the job site and checking up and we really want to make sure that a good quality product is delivered and everything, however we also should be hiring people who are competent enough to paint a house without our supervision, like these are human beings who if they are good enough to paint on your crew, they should be good enough to talk to your customer, they should be good enough to show up on time, they should be good enough to show up and pick up the pain at the paint store, they should be good enough at these things and if they’ve been working for you for more than a couple of weeks and they’re still not good enough with those things, that’s a failure of training. So we want to eliminate job site visits where you know maybe at first just start going just at the beginning of the day and the end of the day. Commit to not going during the day and then once you get comfortable with that, then start going just in the mornings and once you get comfortable with that, just start going on the first day of the job and the last day of the job. Once you’re comfortable with that, just go on the first day of the job and then once you’re comfortable with that, ask your crew just to run the jobs for you. I mean you could wean them off like that; five or six steps and you could stop doing job sites visits.
The next thing that we want to get rid of is doing test patches. So test patches, this can be delegated a couple of different ways that I’ve done it before. You can have your customers actually pick out their colors and we just gave our customers a code that they can use at the paint store to get free quotes, so they go out and pick out their own colors. So that’s one way we can do it, another way is you could pay your sales, one of your sales rep, you could pay them like 2% per job that they pick the colors with, you could also hire a color consultant, like 2% of the job and they can go do all that kind of stuff and we’re talking about you know a $10 to$ 20 an hour wage is what we can hire someone to do that job for us. And if you’re trying to grow your business and do more revenue and more income, I imagine you’re trying to make more than $15 to $20 an hour. So any role that we can hire someone for $15 an hour to do, is worth doing, so we want to eliminate test patches that’s one of the next things that you can eliminate and then the big one, you got stop painting.

If you’re painting on job sites, you’re just doing it wrong. So I mean imagine if you’re just paying five hours a week, like one day a week you paint for half a day, that’s five hours but in five hours how many estimates could you go and do, maybe three estimates with customers and if you can do three estimates that week and you can pick up an extra job, that $2,500 and your profit margins is $500 on that job, you’re making 500 bucks in five hours, that’s a $100 an hour relative to $15 an hour painting. If you’ve got five extra hours, please, please, please, do not go and spend it painting, spend it doing marketing and sales activities. So this is the last thing that I would say to really eliminate. So these are some the easiest things for you to start delegating right away.

So now we want to talk about the difference, some of the other fundamental things to setting up a really good production system. We want talk about how to do with employees and how to do with subcontractors. Okay, so now that we have, we have kind of a general idea, we need to stop spending so much time in production and as we transition out of doing stuff in production; we transition into doing stuff in marketing and sales because marketing and sales requires your business. One other thing that you will need to do as well, when you transition out of production into sales and marketing, when you start getting more and more jobs, you’re going to need more crews, so some of this time you freed up by not going to paint store, by not painting, no job site visits, no test patches, when you stop doing those things, that frees up a great deal time, part of that time you’ll need to hire a new crews or new contractors, part of the time will be for and then the rest will be for marketing and sales to keep growing the business.

So we want to talk about how do we set up this kind of production system and there’s about five steps that I’m going to go through. So the first thing is we need to align whether we are reason subs or we are reason employees, we need to align our goals, we need to align our incentives and when I say that, I mean me as the business owner needs to be aligned with the painter, the crew and the best way to do that, is to pay them a set amount on the job, don’t pay people hourly, the problem with employees when you pay them hourly, like they don’t have an incentive to get the job done quickly. So if you’re using subs, if you’re using subcontractors, agree on the price of the job before you begin and that way you guys are both aligned, you both want to get the job completed as quickly as possible, as profitably as possible. If you have employees, paid them a set amount per job, so if this job, if you’re looking at a house and you know this job is about a fifty hour job, pay them for fifty hours even if they finish in forty or even if they finish it in sixty. The reason we do that is because now our incentives are aligned, so now when one of your painters is working slowly and they’re getting this job done like fifty hours and they are working slow and you know how you can speed them up, when you give them advice that’s going to save them ten hours on that job, they’re going to actually take it because they know they can make more money per hour because you guys are aligned now.

Okay now that you’re aligned, the next important thing is you have to start to delegate these responsibilities. The most important responsibility to delegate are the ones we just talk about, paint store, painting, job site visits and test patches, we want to delegate all those things. So begin to delegate those responsibilities to your crew, if you’re subcontracting, the easiest way to delegate is just expectations upfront, just let them know that like they’re going to buy the materials, they’ll know that they have to go to the paint store. The first couple jobs you check in on them but you shouldn’t have to check on good subcontractor, so you shouldn’t have to be able to do much job sites visits, you shouldn’t ever repainting with a subcontractor, so subcontracting is a really good route to go because a lot of these things are going to be already handled. With employees, if it’s a new employee you can just set the expectation early, that they go to the job site or they go to the paint store, you don’t stop by the job site, you know you can just set those expectations early or if you already have employees and you’re trying to transition out of doing all those things, just give them a little bit more incentive, like a little bit more money and a little bit more responsibility and you can start to kind of give some of these task away and the right employee will be excited about making more money, having more responsibility and taking on more task for you.
Okay so now that we have our incentives aligned with our painters and we’ve delegated a number of those tasks and now we’ve got actually wean them off, and the way that we wean them off of needing us, is threefold, one, is through training. So now that we’re aligned and they have more responsibilities, they want our training, so now we can effectively begin to train them on how to make the material runs for the day, how do they talk to the customer within the day, how do they even collect the final check? You know we can start to train them on those things and as we’re training them on these things and given them new responsibility, we’re also giving them an incentive, a financial incentive and the right employees will thrive with more responsibility. So you should really – as you give these task away, let them know that you’re really putting trust in them, people want to take on more responsibility, so that’s kind of the third step. So we align, we delegate, we wean off.
Now we’re at this point, we’ve got incentives aligned, we delegated all the tasks and we kind of wean them off where they don’t rely on you anymore like they’re empowered employees, they like their job, they know their job, they know what to do, they’re capable in their job, and their being compensated well for their job. They also have a feeling of like having more responsibility that you gifted to them which really is a gift to give that responsibility to people, they want it.

So now we’ve done this, the place we should be now is just doing phone work. So now that we’re just doing phone work, what that looks like is once the job gets booked, there is a lot of things that need to happen until the job gets started. If we’ve done these first three steps correctly, then your crew whether its employees or subcontractor, it does matter, either way once the job is started, if we’ve done these three things well, once the job is started, they should be pretty responsible to take care of that all the way through, you shouldn’t even have to go to the job, by the time we’ve gotten to here. So now all that will be left is doing the phone work and so that’s kind of like the fourth phases is where all we’re doing is once a job gets booked, we’re calling the customer, we’re scheduling, we’re working out colors, everything is over the phone, preparing the job and scheduling the job, so that’s kind of step four. And now we’re at this point, you can manage like a great deal of revenue probably $10 – $15,000 a week, you know we’re talking about half a million dollar business, $700,000 business, you can manage that in a few hours a day of phone work and so it’s still not taking up, production is not taking up an enormous amount of your time but as you keep working on marketing and sales, more and more production, even this phone work will start to add up to a significant chunk of time and when that happens, when you’re spending a great deal time on production but this is the only thing you’re doing any more, that’s when it’s time to hire a production manager.

Okay so now you got a production manager, so these are the steps that you go from working all day long, crazy days reacting to everything that happens, spending most of your time at the paint store, on job sites or doing test patches or painting yourself, that’s what your spending your time doing, to now we align incentives and we start to delegate one task at a time, start small. You know some people’s biggest concern is like your painting because you need that money, so don’t stop painting then if you need the money, start by just delegating like the paint store visit in the morning, that will free up an hour or two every morning and then that hour or two, you could go you know paint a little bit earlier, you can get some of your administrative stuff done that you’re going to do later in the day but do in the morning, that frees up time in the afternoon. Start small and that’s okay, so we start to delegate, slowly delegate more, delegate more, delegate more and now that we’ve delegated all those task, then we need to slowly like train our employees and give them that responsible and that trust that we believe in them to take this on and we start to wean them off so they’re actually fully responsible for their job site now. They’re also making a lot more money and they feel like it’s really theirs, you know they’re not just a peon, they are not just cog and machine but this starts to become their job.

And then we’re just doing phone work and then we’ve got a production manager and once this production manager is taking up all this phone work, we should only be having to meet with our production manager you know once a day, a quick phone call or maybe at the beginning of the week, however you want to set it up but at this point you should be in a position where your only job now is to drive marketing and sales and that’s what we’re going to start to get to in the next videos. Is okay, so we’ve got all this free time, what do we start to put into that free time so that we can start to see this business grow? So I’ll see you in the next video.

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