Painting Pro Times, the source for paint professionals!

How does one demonstrate that their company is better than the next? And don’t parrot the usual, “we have better quality, service and price”…And “service” includes we are faster. Those three responses are shallow, old and stale. Many customers’ eyes glaze over and they stop listening. It is better to have an authentic elevator speech that directly benefits the client’s project needs. Price should not be included in the three minute promotion. Meanwhile, the competition creates a “get the project” contest.

In general, the opposition’s strategy is to submit a lower/lowest price and if a GC/CM is involved, the project award process may deteriorate into a low bid auction. If the bottom feeder price tactic looks like a Halloween-clown driven merry-go-round, it may be time to upgrade customers. The best practice to deflect the low ball, hanging-on by a thread competition is to improve your company’s operation from the bottom up. There is a process: it is developing and implementing systems/policies that serve customers and employees for the long term.

This is a business based model that engages associates from the beginning, rather than a strong-willed, owner is the boss operation. Think your outfit is different or this stuff somehow does not apply? Here is a simple test: who makes the daily (and/or weekly) decisions? And it is very important to consider, unless you work alone (small) company size does not dictate leadership/company culture or business success. Constant growth and lots of trucks does not equal a fair and reasonable, consistent profit, a fulfilling career and a balanced life.

One simple company improvement is to refine the proposal submission process and work only by a professional, written and signed instrument (contract). Do NOT blindly sign any GC/CM documents. Rather, always dictate payment terms, work hours and days, scope and most important list qualifications of the work scope and specifically what is NOT included.

We have an excellent article that may share some more contract insight read Stay Ahead of the Contractual Curve. As a most important heads up, there is a now a “standard” clause in the GC/CM to Owner document that stipulates GC payment in 15 days. Maybe it is time to get out of the finance business and work with people that pay their bills timely? Also, a savvy operator knows that there are no “standard” clauses; anything that is not fair and reasonable should without hesitation get the strike-through treatment.

We have visited company differentiation previously: Estimating Secrets; Estimating Strategy Hamburgers or Steaks?; Bidding Wars; Effective Marketing for Tradesmen; Can Anything Be Done About Bid Shopping? Since it is always relevant, PPT will again.

As a professional craftsman, do you know what constitutes a smart paint/coating? The answer may or may not involve the word nano. Maybe there should be a warm up question? What purpose does paint finish serve? The straightforward response starts with: paint and coatings are decorative and substrate protective. The protective properties may serve a function such as slip resistant; flame retardant; abrasive tolerant and so on. A smart paint may be classified as having another utility that is independent of decorative and protective.

We have an interesting read about a specialized smart coating: New Clean Air Paint. This is certainly not the first smart paint and the unique utility design will become more common place as technological advances allow new formulations. In the future, we may have to change the very definition/purpose of paint. Customer preference or health condition (allergies or possibly sickness) may dictate the type of material applied. Without a doubt, the next generation of coatings will go beyond the standard definition that has been around since Noah brushed pitch on the Ark.

An essential part of professional application is product knowledge, understanding specifications and the expertise to identify common paint/coating failures. In this issue of PPT’s Technical Talk, we have another Bob Cusumano excerpt: Failure X Ten. The article describes a major coating failure where four separate contracting companies painted a total of ten new school expansions. The exterior coating on every project peeled (10 different buildings). What was the common problem?

Remember that PPT was one of the first to sound the alarm about the craftsmen shortage. Today is just beginning, as gray and white hairs retire, the skill shortage will outpace the manpower crisis. What does that mean – skill vs. manpower?  Not only will companies dedicate more time and money to recruit, the pool of trained professionals will shrink to an all-time low. Excellent craftsmen will mostly be replaced with ham & eggers. The situation has the potential to morph into a warm body brigade. It is not good, urgent action is required by many!

In the News…although the skill crisis may be about the worst in America, the shortage is being felt in most developed economies. In the United Kingdom, AkzoNobel opened a new Dulux Academy that promises to recruit and train the next generation of professionals. Similar programs, sponsored by manufacturers and others, will unfold in the states.

Benjamin Moore has unveiled a new white board material: Notable Dry Erase Paint. It is available in traditional white, as well as a clear which makes any colored surface notable. “Today’s work spaces have evolved to empower creativity and collaboration more than ever before and Notable Dry Erase Paint was specifically developed to meet the growing demands of the modern workplace,” said Mary Louise Rubin, Benjamin Moore Senior Brand Manager.

It looks like Dunn-Edwards is in the green, at least in the 2018 color of the year department. The Green Hour according to Sara McLean, Dunn-Edwards’ color expert and stylist, is a darker shade of gray blue-green, which embodies the timeless sense of mystery and creative revelry from turn-of-the-century Paris. The company will donate 10% of Green Hour color sales to a charity group that brings together artists and communities for neighborhood beautification.

The Sherwin-Williams Company introduced Oceanside as their 2018 color of the year. Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, stated, “It is a tremendously versatile color, and harmonizes with other diverse color groups.” Reportedly, Oceanside is a collision of rich blue with jewel-toned green that bridges together a harmonious balance of blues and greens that can be found in what’s old and new.

Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas, calls for Commonsense Immigration Reform. He stated, “NAHB believes that any comprehensive reform should protect our nation’s borders; include a new, market-based visa program that would fill labor gaps to ensure that the nation has a workforce that is sufficient to meet its housing construction and restoration needs; and provide a workable employment verification system. A successful guest worker program will help alleviate the current labor shortage in the residential construction sector, quicken the rebuilding efforts in Texas and support the overall economic growth of this nation.”

The NAHB (and PPT) advocate change – we must…pursue immigration policies that complement ongoing vocational training efforts and help fill labor gaps to ensure that the nation has a workforce that can meet its housing construction (and professional paint and coating application) needs.

What does your company/workmanship demonstrate? Faster, cheaper and better are one-dimensional terms that do not focus on professional skill and well run business operations. Running with that crowd is herd mentality. Plus, it lacks innovation, challenge and quite often becomes a workplace unappreciative of individual merit and people.

The old adage of choosing one thing to be great at is applicable here…some outfits may manage two, but in the long term no craft-based business survives trying to master three. The least expensive performing the fastest, while attempting top quality leads to struggle, frustration and eventually closed doors. Being truly great at one thing distinguishes a company from the pack.

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Thanks for reading Painting Pro Times!

Mark Casale, Editor

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