— By Chris Murphy —
Planning your successful painting program.
As we begin the next season of reimage, repainting and rebranding, many facility managers will be using all their creativity to find the “magic” to maximizing budgets and facilities’ upkeep. That’s no easy task, and the answer isn’t as simple as deferring more maintenance or finding cheaper pricing. But there are tools that can minimize the challenges and ensure that your desired painting programs can move forward without breaking the bank. Utilizing a contractor who is already familiar and versed in multi-site facility repainting programs is a good start and when coupled with the below considerations, your painting program will be more mastered than “magical.”
A Partner with a Plan
Before sending out that RFP/RFQ, be sure that you’re sending it to a group of painting contractors with proven experience. That experience isn’t limited to just those who are familiar with the type of scopes that your bidding, but also those who have an established method to their approach — namely, a nationwide network, intentional investment in capability and quality, and just the right amount of pushback. Yes, pushback!
- A nationwide network: Painting contractors who have been established nationally in this industry for more than 20 years have done so by building solid relationships. But strategically, these relationships are not just limited to fellow contractors, but rather with various owners, painting companies and independent industry experts like BECI and KTA-Tator. Hiring a contractor with these relationships ensures that your painting program has the best inputs with perspectives that mean real impact.
- Intentional investment in capability and quality: For those bidding your nationwide painting program, look at where they have made investments as a business. Are they putting investment into processes and procedures that maximize capability and efficiency? This can be the difference in how successful your painting program can work over both the near term and the long haul.
- Pushback: If this word doesn’t conjure up a little discomfort, then it’s not helping. While you do need a “partner,” you don’t need a “yes man.” Having your painting contractor comfortable enough to challenge status quo will make a big difference in your program’s success. You want to encourage some of this to ensure that your painting contractors can bring options to the table.
Paints and Specialty Coatings
Paint technology and specialty coatings have evolved over the last few decades, and especially over the last few years. The EPA’s aggressive guidelines geared toward reducing the environmental impact of paint products means that new technologies and materials have been developed to address these requirements. However, there are times when the newest, greatest and most environmentally-friendly products may not match your economic or logistical needs. Taking the time to talk to paint suppliers and an experienced painting contractor will greatly increase your knowledge and understanding of the best products that make the most sense for your project. The key here is real world knowledge balanced against an expert opinion. Sometimes the two don’t go hand in hand and while a premium product may produce a desired cycle time, the application cost is prohibitive. That means that your painting contractor needs to be helping you create a scope that balances both simultaneously. A thorough understanding of the paint products to be used and the painting process should be the baseline for writing a scope of work.
Meeting / Exceeding Expectations
While paint and processes have changed dramatically over the past few years, the greatest variable with any project is the contractor you select. The only way to minimize your chances of a low quality, unpleasant and costly experience is to pre-qualify your potential contractors. It is tempting to allow an unqualified contractor to bid a project, but a low-price estimate could end up costing your company more than the highest bid, especially if you have to pay for a job to be redone. In addition to any potential cost issues, choosing the wrong contractor can create a poor customer experience for your clients including inconsistent end product or business disruptions. Require contractors to address their insurance coverage, financial stability, safety record and references. Ask probing questions and do some research to make sure that what you are paying for is what you will receive. There is a saying that is shared by many services providers:
“There are three criteria from which you can choose: good, fast and cheap — but you may only pick two!”
— Chris Murphy is director of corporate account business development at Harrison Contracting Company, Inc. (HCC), a commercial painting and facility maintenance contracting company headquartered in Villa Rica, Georgia, with divisional offices in Florida and Texas. HCC provides repainting/reimaging and facility maintenance services nationwide, and new construction painting across the southeastern U.S. At HCC, red is more than the company color, it’s culture. RED stands for Reliable, Experienced and Diligent. Contact the author at [email protected].