Operations + Field Management Advice for Painting Contractors


Hey. it’s Brandon Lewis of the APPC here. I’ve been on the phone with lots of APPC members. Winter is our busiest time of year, and we always bring a lot of people into our family after and during the Painting Profits Summit. There was a unifying theme, as I was on the phone yesterday with five new members back to back to back and it was this. Field operations are ruining their lives. Okay? Here’s what I mean. There are people that I’m speaking with on the phone, owners who have crews of three, six, and nine painters, no more, whose entire day is consumed by continually and constantly starting jobs, stopping jobs, checking on progress, collecting payments, orienting crew leaders, giving verbal instructions. It is a madhouse of running paint, picking up ladders, all kinds of things, and it is remarkably unproductive.

Let me give you a goal for your painting business, and it is this. You should be able to run field operations exclusively from your desk. There is no reason to start a job. There’s no reason to check in on a job. There is no reason to do anything if you will provide and empower your crew leaders to do all of it with the paperwork, processes, and tools that they need. When you begin a job, your job as the owner, and if you’re playing the role of operations manager because of the size of your company, is to order the paint, stage the job, bring your crews to the shop or wherever you’re going to begin the process, and to have a job packet with a clear written scope of work, labor hour tracking form, equipment checklist, dual column sign off sheet, addendum sheet, problem solving sheet, a daily, and a end of job and begin of job checklist. If you have the proper documentation in a job file, you should be able to give that documentation to a crew leader.

They should leave. Bring the project in on budget, report their hours and progress daily. Collect a check from the client, along with a video testimonial and reviews, customer satisfaction survey, and bring back the check to you without you ever meeting the client. Without you ever stepping foot on the job. Now, you may say, “Well, what if I want to go look at a job?” If you want to go look at a job, that’s great, but if you build your entire operational system around the necessity and need to check on every job every day, your ability to scale your business and to increase your crews without working 60 hours a week is very minimal. Now, if you are working in the field as a one man band, let me give you one additional piece of advice.

Begin the process of creating this documentation and these processes now, so that when you hire your first helper, and then your second helper, and then one of those gets promoted to crew leader, now you can hand off the process to the crew leader and run your other crew. Okay? He runs that one. You run yours. The first thing you have to learn about field operations is you must replace your personal time and effort, and your leadership, with processes, paperwork, tools, and empowerment. So, if you are continually and constantly checking on jobs, stop. Ask yourself why you’re having to do it, and develop a process or a tool that eliminates the need to do so. I’m Brandon Lewis with Painters Weekly and Painters Academy. I hope you have a fantastic, productive week at your desk, not in the field. Take care.