inPAINT THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS
Exterior Paints: Five Pros’ Top Picks
MAY 2 017
How and where to find talent Background checks and drug tests
Making the most of your online image
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[ CUTTING IN ]
“ Today, knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.” —PETER DRUCKER, CONSULTANT
Amanda Haar ART DIRECTORS
Kathryn Heeder Hocker Martha MacGregor
hile at the recent PDCA EXPO, I was reminded of the quote above. It lead me to conclude that there’s only one way to describe the event: Powerful. It was powerful in that there was so much information made available, so many great ideas and solutions exchanged, and so many connections made. It’s hard to imagine—scratch that—it’s impossible to imagine any attendee coming away without at least one solid, well-informed idea for improving the way they run their business and their life. While the event featured plenty of learning sessions, some of the best ideas didn’t emerge from the podium. Many came from the impromptu moments when pros, sitting elbow to elbow at meals, breaks, and possibly over a beer or two, shared their experiences and ideas. It’s precisely this spirit of sharing that we strive to recreate in every issue of inPAINT. Whether tapping veteran pros to talk about their preferred exterior paint, or asking them to share their secrets to success, our goal is to impart the information and inspiration needed to get you to the next level. I also hope you’ll share any ideas you have for articles or topics you would like to see featured here. You truly have the power to make this publication its most informative and useful. Just tell us how. Cheers!
Cindy Puskar CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Stephanie Conner Stacey Freed Debra Gelbart Jake Poinier Meghann Finn Sepulveda Brian Sodoma Lauren Stakutis Jim Williams SOCIAL MEDIA
Jillian McAdams PUBLISHED BY
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Amanda Haar Managing Editor, inPAINT editor@inPAINTmag.com
inPAINT Editorial Advisory Board 0 Affronti, Operations Manager/Field Supervisor, Affronti Property Solutions, LLC 0 Christine DaSilva, Manager of Administrative Operations, The Larkin Painting Company, Inc. 0 Cliff Hockley, President, Principal Broker CCIM, CPM, Bluestone & Hockley Real Estate Services 0 Mike Kelly, VP & General Manager, Crestwood Painting 0 Mary Kay Liston, President, Five Star Painting
0 Scott Lollar, Director of Operations, Catchlight Painting 0 Tom Lopatosky, Founder & President, LOPCO Contracting 0 Jim Norman, Owner, Norman Construction 0 Art Snarzyk, Owner, InnerView Advisors, Inc. 0 Emma Souder, AIA, GGP, GGA, Principal and Owner, Red Iron Architects
©2017 REM Publishing Group LLC All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of content in any manner without written permission by the publisher is strictly prohibited. Opinions expressed in signed columns and articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Publisher assumes no liability for any damages or loss of any kind that might arise from the use, misuse or inability to use the materials or information contained in this publication. All material and information appearing in this publication is distributed and transmitted ‘as is,’ without warranties of any kind, either express or implied, and is subject to the terms and conditions stated in this disclaimer.
May 2017 | inPAINT
inPAINT® May 2017
16 Getting to Know You
Background checks and drug screenings
20 When Less is More: Where and when to use economy coatings
24 What Paint Stores of All Sizes Offer Pros
28 Pro Picks
Pros talk exterior paint
32 The inPAINT Interview Professional painter
InPAINT’s archive from past issues
DEPARTMENTS 6 The News
12 Work Smart
Industry ins and outs
Hire-ology: keys to finding good help
8 Ask a Pro
36 Tools of the Trade
What are some driving forces behind color choices for an architect?
What’s in today’s professional toolbox?
The what, where and when of the industry’s leading events
38 Upcoming Events
A fast look at the forces at work in our industry
11 Trend in Focus Reputation matters: making the most of your online image
inPAINT | May 2017
39 Bottom Line Stop playing marketing roulette with your money
Photo Courtesy of Titan
34 Article Index
Trusted to build dreams.
Chip Gaines Home Renovation Expert
Professionals, like Chip Gaines, depend on the repeat business that comes from doing things the right way. No half-measures. No cutting corners. And that means insisting on KILZ Products. A family of surface coating solutions trusted by professionals for over 40 years. Learn more at KILZ.com.
[ THE NEWS ] Thermoelectric Paint Generates Electricity From Any Heat Source T Researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science
and Technology, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, and the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute together have developed a thermoelectric paint that can generate electricity from waste heat. Made with bismuth telluride, the paint is applied to a surface and then heated at high temperatures for 10 minutes, which increases its density and makes it more efficient at converting heat energy into electricity. Tests show that the paint is more efficient than any other ink- or paste-based thermoelectric material to date. According to the researchers, it should one day be possible to convert heat to electricity by simply painting the external surfaces of buildings, homes, cars and ships to help power onboard electronics of the latter.
Artist Strives to Give Bees a Chance T Matt Willey is an artist on a mission. Through his talent and with a lot of paint,
he aims to raise awareness about the declining population of honeybees by painting 50,000 bees in a series of public murals across America. Why 50,000? According to his web site, that number represents the population of bees in a healthy hive. So far, Matt has painted more than 1,600 bees and anticipates it will take 15 to 20 years to complete the project. “But time is not important to me on this project,” he says. “The whole idea is to slow down, paint bees, and talk to anyone and everyone about bees and what is happening with them.” Matt paints all the bees himself using Modern Masters Theme Paint, and he invites community members to paint the flowers featured on the murals. Each mural is then coated with Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish. TheGoodOfTheHive.com
One Painter’s Trash … T Spray painting can be messy business. This was especially true in car factories
when cars were still sprayed by hand. Overspray dripped from the cars and accumulated in thick layers beneath them. As the car paint cured in ovens, so did the layers of overspray. When workers cleaned the painting stations, the paint broke apart, revealing a beautiful and colored material now referred to as Detroit Agate or Fordite. Today, jewelry and objects made from the materials are sold online, serving as proof that one painter’s trash is another man’s treasure—and potential revenue stream. Fordite.com
Anti-Solar Paint Offers Positive Results T Researchers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in China have developed a paint that lowers the temperature
of painted surfaces exposed to sun. X-Cool Paints contain tiny reflective particles that bounce near-infrared light away from the surface. Laboratory tests show the paint reduced interior temperatures by 41° F and reduced energy usage of a 6,458-sq-ft office space by 15%. Currently marketed solely in China by Green Material Innovation Pte Ltd, X-Cool Paints are nontoxic, fire retardant, and don’t require primer before being applied to concrete. gmi.sg/services/xcoolpaint 6
inPAINT | May 2017
POOF! Your iPhone is a Level T Not that you’d ever be caught without
the proper tool, but did you know your iPhone can actually serve as a level? Just open the free compass app and swipe left. When held horizontally on, say, a counter, it will be in ‘bubble’ mode. And when held vertically, it will give you plumb functionality. When you’ve achieved ° 0 on either the vertical or horizontal, the screen will light up green.
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May 2017 | inPAINT
[ ASK A PRO ]
What are some driving forces behind color choices for an architect?
When EMMA SOUDER, AIA, GGP, GGA, principal and owner of Red Iron Architects, was five, she knew she wanted to be an architect. “I used to draw floor plans and play with Legos,” she says. Fast-forward to the present and Souder—after receiving a masters in architecture from The Catholic University of America and working with a large firm—is now with Red Iron Architects in Charleston, SC. The firm works on educational, government, commercial and residential projects, offering architecture, interior design services and space programming, facility studies, and construction administration. 8
inPAINT | May 2017
A lot of what drives color choice has to do with the type of project we’re working on. For example, we do a lot of work for K-12 schools and colleges. We’re often asked to paint using a school’s colors, so the project is personalized. In commercial settings, companys often want to use their logo colors. Also in those settings, as well senior living or memory care facilities, color is chosen as a way-finding mechanism. In lower grades, clients often choose a primary color like yellow as an accent along a wall to ensure that children can get back to their classroom by following the yellow line. Color can also be used to create ambiance. In high schools and higher education, they’re looking for a more subdued palette and often focus on secondary colors and jewel tones to create a calm atmosphere. If a school wants students to focus in a particular area, such as a SMART Board hanging on the teaching wall, we’ll choose a bright color to grab their attention. But we stay clear of red. It induces appetite and you often see it in restaurants, but it may also increase agitation, so we don’t use it in schools. Existing features and room function Sometimes clients have cabinetry or furniture that will remain in the space, so we choose colors that work with those features. The same goes for artwork. You don’t want to take away from the aesthetic view of the art, so we may choose a color that does not compete with the art, such as white. Especially in residential, a room’s function can indicate whether the walls should be painted in light or dark colors. A bedroom can go pretty dark, as
opposed to the living room, which most people want to feel light. We ask clients to show us inspiration photos from Houzz.com when they’re choosing colors. If it seems like a bad choice, we suggest trying it on a 3' x 3' area on the wall to see if it’s something they think they can live with for the next 10 years. Sometimes we’ll ask a contractor to paint a sample panel for clients to put up in their home so they can see how the color reacts in different light and at different times of day. Exterior choices We’ve noticed people are personalizing a little more; there’s a trend toward more individuality, especially in tract neighborhoods where all the houses are so similar. People are choosing to paint their front doors bright yellow or aqua, for instance. I also see that people are painting window mullions in a dark color and keeping their trim white. They’re adding color for a quick change that won’t break the bank. In some regions, people choose an exterior color because of the weather. I live in a hot and humid climate, where a dark-colored house will absorb heat. Here, there are a lot of white homes with white trim and galvanized metal roofs to reflect the heat. Color influencers Popular colors are influenced by our experiences … travel, the colors we see at local farmers’ markets, and even in textiles. When selecting colors for a client, it’s important to recognize and reflect those influences and preferences.
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[ TRENDS ]
Doing Better by OSHA While the top three most frequently cited OSHA violations for 2016 remained the same from 2015, there was at least some improvement in the number of citations issued in those categories.
Top To-Do Projects According to the 2016 Piper Jaffray Home Improvement Outlook Survey, painting continues to be the top to-do project: 38% of the survey respondents indicated they intend to undertake a painting project in the next 12 months. Installing flooring came in second at 32%.
What’s Next for Remodelers According to a survey conducted in October 2016 by The Farnsworth Group, 204 remodelers cited the following top rising revenue sources.
FROM LUXURIOUS TO ‘HYGGE’ Held earlier this year, the PPG Paints 8th Annual Global Color Conference drew 26 color experts from six countries to choose color trends for 2018. Here are two distinct palettes they predict will be popping up in residential colorscapes next year: DECO GLAM
HYGGE ENCHANTING EGGPLANT
TOP NEW REVENUE SOURCES FOR REMODELERS: AGING IN PLACE
Hygge is a trending Danish term that roughly translates to ‘cozy.’ Soft colors are key to the understated elegance of this trend.
Darkened colors and blackened hues contribute to the luxurious vibe of Deco Glam.
The Reviews Are In
When asked what factors potential customers pay attention to most when judging a local business based on its online reviews, respondents to a BrightLocal survey indicated:
OVERALL STAR RATING
SENTIMENT OF REVIEWS
RECENCY OF REVIEWS
QUANTITY OF REVIEWS
LENGTH/DETAIL OF REVIEWS
IF BUSINESS HAS RESPONDED TO REVIEWS
SOURCE: BrightLocal.com, Local Consumer Review Survey 2016
[ TREND IN FOCUS ]
Making the most of your online image If there’s anyone that understands the power of online reviews, it’s the folks at Yelp.com Emily Washcovick, a manager of local business outreach at Yelp.com, says that 78% of consumers turn to online review sites when choosing a local business. Look beyond the stars According to Washcovick, review sites have evolved dramatically over the past few years from being a place to praise or complain about businesses, to offering real revenue-driving opportunities for businesses. While local business owners need to pay attention to posted reviews, she says, “It’s also important to make sure information about your business’ site is complete and accurate. And if you haven’t claimed your business on Yelp, you need to do that so you can connect with customers where they are—online.” Washcovick also suggests that pros take advantage of web site tools such as Yelp’s free request-a-quote tool, which allows for direct messaging between customers and professionals. “The number of messages being sent to businesses in the professional services category—which includes painters—has increased by 25 times since we launched this feature two years ago,” she says. She adds that posting photos of your work is a proven way to win attention. “A business with 1 to 5 reviews and 10 photos gets 200% more user views to their listing than others with the same star rating and number of reviews, but with no photos.” Control your controllables According to Jiyan Wei, founder of BuildZoom.com, a contractor-customer matchmaking site, “You never know what’s going to set a person off. We regularly get reviews from people who have never met a contractor but want to post how they got cut off in traffic by one of the company’s trucks. That may speak to someone’s inability to drive but it says nothing about their ability to do their job. At BuildZoom,
those reviews never make it to the screen. Our goal is to stay focused on feedback relevant to the contractor’s professionalism and quality of work.” Given that you can’t control what people respond to or how, Wei advises that contractors take control of their ‘controllables.’ “The first thing most people do when looking for a contractor is go to Google,” he says. “The top half of that first page is what really matters. Less than 10% of people ever go to page 2 of a search. So don’t obsess about a bad star rating or a review on page 2. Focus on the impression the first 5 or 6 listings are making.”
A LIFETIME OF
“A business with 1 to 5 reviews and 10 photos gets 200% more user views to their listing than others with the same star rating and number of reviews, but with no photos.” —EMILY WASHCOVICK, YELP Wei advises all contractors to Google themselves and see what impression those top listings make. “If you’re not happy with what you see, fix it. First and foremost, if you haven’t already claimed your business on Google My Business, BuildZoom or Yelp, do it. Today. Next, if you don’t have a presence on Twitter or Facebook, get one. The postings that you create will push other items down, or even off the first page.” Responding with respect Inevitably, not everybody is going to show you the love online. While it’s tempting (okay, very tempting) to fire off your own zinger about the person posting, that’s not really in your best interest. What you should do is respond on the platform where the comment was made and apologize—not for whatever they say you did or didn’t do, but for how they feel. Avoid being defensive in any way but do request an opportunity to connect privately and try to make things right. Remember: your next potential customer is watching.
Find out more at
May 2017 | inPAINT
[ WORK SMART ]
HOW AND WHERE TO FIND THE BEST TALENT
BY BRIAN SODOMA HE SHORTAGE OF QUALIFIED, DEPENDABLE TRADESMEN in the U.S. is not a new story, but it is still a concerning one for many contractors. While many workforce-related headlines point to a need for computer scientists, engineers and health
care workers, the National Association of Home Builders reported in 2016 that there are roughly 200,000 unfilled construction jobs in the U.S., up 81% in the past two years.
inPAINT | May 2017
An aging skilled-trade workforce, coupled with fewer younger workers opting for the trades isn’t helping matters. Some experts predict a prolonged skilled-labor drought. In fact, economic research firm The Conference Board forecasts 15 years of labor shortages for the U.S. economy. Painting professionals, however, do have opportunities to find good help. inPAINT spoke with business consultants and pros in the trenches to gain some valuable insights into how to find A-caliber talent—even in a tough labor market. The search starts in the mirror It’s not what business owners want to hear, but the biggest barrier to finding top talent could very well be ownership, explains Tom Reber, founder of MOTORhard.com, a business coaching enterprise for contractors that focuses on helping owners make more money using less time by maximizing resources. “You’ve got to start by looking in the mirror,” Reber said of the hiring process. “You have to look at who you are and ask what type of vision you’re going to create for your company. That’s your starting point.” Informing the team of your vision and goals allows individuals to better understand their roles in the big picture and the growth options available. The problem can also lie in an owner’s poor perspective on the labor pool. If that contractor is better able to harness a company vision and set achievable goals to grow the enterprise, Reber is convinced labor problems can be quickly solved. “I believe the number one fix for the labor issue in the trades is making more money,” he said. “If you can make more money, you can also invest in your people.” Reber encourages clients to look at labor as a tool to grow revenue, rather than an expense. “If you only have a three-man team, you have to look 20 years down the road and ask where you want to be. You’re not going to retire with only a three-man team. You simply don’t have enough billable hours,” he added.
Hire early, too. Many contractors wait until they are buried in work before adding staff, says business consultant Art Snarzyk, founder and owner of InnerView Advisors, Inc. Snarzyk is a former paint-business owner, now specializing in helping contractors find top talent. Creating a great team before finding a lot of business can be a motivator for growing your business, he adds. “When you hire good people, you don’t want to lose them. Some business owners will actually grow the business just to keep guys,” Snarzyk said. Dalton Tomlinson, founder of Supreme Painting in Ft. Worth, TX, has adopted an employee-first mind-set. He isn’t afraid to hire, even if business may be light at the time a good prospect comes along.
DIAL DOWN THE
Tom Reber encourages clients to look at labor as a tool to grow revenue, rather than an expense. “I am always looking for an all-star. I worry about getting the work second. If I have an all-star, I can easily get the work for them,” he said. Training, ‘name tag jobs’ More contractors are learning that training someone new to the trade may be a short-term detriment that could pay longterm dividends. “I’d rather train people how to paint that are of really good character than hire prima donnas who can paint now,” Reber said. Dave Kyle, general manager of Trademasters Service Corp., operating in the DC-Virginia area, is in the HVAC business, but his approach to hiring those new to the trade definitely applies to painting contractors as well. Kyle looks to the service industry—a local big-box retail outlet, restaurants, tire shops and other service-oriented professions—for top, trainable talent.
Find out more at
May 2017 | inPAINT
“Look for talent in ‘name tag jobs.’ Find the ones with a great attitude and an affinity for service, and give them a chance to become a highly skilled professional,” he said. Kyle also says painting contractors have something to give—an opportunity for the millions of Americans who are working in very low-skill, low-pay service-industry jobs. Learning a trade like painting could open them up to earning a far better wage. “One tool you have in your toolbox is opportunity,” he said. “You can take them from semi-skilled to highly skilled fairly quickly.” Kyle even recommends talking to counselors at local high schools. Some students who may not excel academically could be hard workers, eager to earn money now. John Neubert of Neubert Painting in Ohio, is not afraid to hire unskilled employees. In fact, his company thrives on it. He sends notices to guidance departments at high schools. He even buys mailing lists of high
“Look for talent in ‘name tag jobs.’
Find the ones with a great attitude and an affinity for service, and give them a chance to become a highly skilled professional.” —DAVE KYLE, TRADEMASTERS SERVICE CORP.
THEY SAID IT:
GO-TO SPOTS FOR TOP TALENT Every pro has a go-to source for finding the right talent. These pros shared where they like to look—and even some of their dead-end roads: “Indeed.com is where I get the largest number of candidates, but most are not suitable. So, I have an application on my web site that uses Google Forms. We also use Craigslist with a well-written ad and we use the same Google Form to get their info.” Dalton Tomlinson Supreme Painting, Ft. Worth, TX
“I always look to my team and ask them who they know of good character and habits that either know how to paint or have a ‘learner’s attitude.’” John Peek Peek Brothers Painting, San Diego, CA
inPAINT | May 2017
“We have found that our video, which plays during the previews at our local movie theaters, has worked very well. Our billboard above the busiest paint stores in town has also produced some great hires.” Josh Abramson ALLBRiGHT 1-800 PAINTING, San Fernando Valley, CA
“We post direct to Craigslist. We use Indeed.com, but Craigslist seems to be where the talent we’re going after is hanging out. We have a list of questions and criteria we use and those questions feed right into our web site.” Kelly Edwards Orange Elephant Painting & Restoration, Raleigh, NC
“We utilize current employee referrals and offer a referral bonus. We also post to social media, and use supplier referrals and online job boards Indeed.com and Craigslist. We have a Google Form with certain required interview questions that is loaded on the site.”
“The most frequent source of new hires is personal referrals from our existing team. If our employee is willing to put their name on the line for their friend or family member, that speaks volumes about their belief in the person. Another source we use is our local union apprentice program. We know they are receiving proper training.”
Ron Ramsden, Ramsden Painting, Methuen, MA
Steve Hester Hester Painting & Decorating, Skokie, IL
school seniors and college freshmen in the zip codes within 30 minutes of his warehouse. He uses the list to send out mailings to hire seasonal help for the high volume of exterior work he sees in the summer. This seasonal staff has won 13 Angie’s List ‘Super Service’ awards. While Neubert admits that his hiring system is a bit unconventional, he notes that, “Our core competency is how we train high-grade-point-average, college-bound high school seniors to become excellent exterior paint professionals.” Neubert has a year-round, full-time staff of interior painters that have remained loyal to his company. But when he does need to hire for this team, he isn’t afraid to open his wallet. “We paid a $4,000 bonus to one of our painters to find the last guy hired two years ago,” he added. As more contractors look for referrals from current staff, Snarzyk says painting contractors should expect to pay signing and referral bonuses going forward. Get the ad right Snarzyk also says, “Quality ads will attract quality people.” Craigslist is a great medium but, too often, he sees vague ads that give too little information about the position, company and work environment. Snarzyk says painting contractors are usually looking to fill three basic types of positions: an apprentice, a mid-level worker, or a foreman. First and foremost, employers need to be clear about which position they’re hiring for. The ad should clearly explain the duties for the position and talk about the types of people the employee will work alongside. “Be clear about what your company needs and the kind of individuals who are going to thrive there,” he added. One sticking point Snarzyk often sees comes with a business owner understanding the types of personalities needed for each position. An apprentice who is driven to learn or a mid-level painter who does quality work, for example, may not need the social or interpersonal skills of a foreman or crew leader who deals more directly with customers, Snarzyk explained.
For a foreman or crew leader position, emphasize the type of clientele the person will work with while multitasking and tending to customer service issues.
SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: - Is it primarily residential work or is it high-production commercial work? - Will the employee be overseen by experienced, encouraging mentors? - What direct skills are needed? Is the position more about rolling and brushing or are customer service skills needed?
SQUEEZE MORE OUT OF YOUR
For apprentices and mid-level employees, he adds, the focus of the ad can be on the type of skill needed; for example, if drywall repair skills are needed, or if little experience is required, or maybe that the right attitude about learning is what’s needed. Snarzyk also says painting contractors have an opportunity to use the ad to sell the profession to apprentices. For this type of employee, a contractor can highlight why painting is a great career (no cubicles, variety of jobs every day/week, train/learn and increase pay quickly). “We have to become both attraction machines and training machines,” Snarzyk added. Be forthright about pay, too, and avoid lines like, ‘pay commensurate with experience,’ he recommends. It’s a waste of time to vet someone only to find he or she has different pay expectations. “The goal of the ad is complete transparency,” he said. “When the ad is transparent then people have the option to self-select or de-select. I’ve yet to hear a good reason for not including pay in the ad.” Find out more at
May 2017 | inPAINT
all applicants. Finally, you can’t use criminal history as an absolute bar to employment: You need to consider the nature of the job, the nature of the offense, and the time that has elapsed since the offense.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU:
Background Checks and Drug Screenings
inding the right employees can be a challenge— and laws, rules and regulations make the process even more complex. Pre-hire background checks and drug testing are highly regulated areas, with oversight from federal agencies such as the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), not to mention what’s required by your local, county and state governments.
BY JAKE POINIER
inPAINT | May 2017
Navigating the rules requires a balance between keeping your customers’ homes and businesses safe while adhering to the laws designed to protect workers. “It’s tough for any employer,” says Ryan Howard, VP of VeriFirst Background Screening. “If you don’t do background checks, then you’re subject to problems of negligent hiring or bad publicity. But if you do them, you open yourself to scrutiny of government agencies.” From the outset, it’s essential to understand the government perspective. In the case of the EEOC, their mission is to prevent what’s known as disparate treatment: You can’t treat a similar criminal history differently for applicants of different races, national origins, or other protected classes. Second, if you’re requesting background checks, you need to do so for
Given the complexities and ever-changing human resources landscape, many painting enterprises choose to enlist the assistance of companies that specialize in background checks. Such specialized firms can help you set up different packages for specific job tasks, whether driving company vehicles and painting or accounting and administration. Depending on the position, the process may include criminal and driving records, a sex offender check, address history, verification of prior employment or education, and drug testing. “If you do it yourself, you can easily cross into the realm of where it would be regulated under the law,” says Dawn Standerwick, VP of strategic growth for Employment Screening Resources. She suggests using a firm that’s a member of or accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. “Those firms benefit from updates and information from the association and stay abreast of changes within the legislative and regulatory landscape.” Even if you’re outsourcing the background check tasks, however, you have the responsibility of following the correct procedures on these issues: - Consent. If using a background screening firm, before performing any background check, you need to get consent from the job candidate or employee. Be aware of a couple of potential pitfalls here: It is not legal to have a check box at the bottom of your job application that says, “I hereby give my permission to have a background check conducted.” Similarly, it’s illegal in many jurisdictions to ask on an application if someone has ever been convicted of a crime or has been arrested. “In some localities, you may have specific posting requirements or additional required disclosures—and in some areas, you can’t inquire into criminal history until further in the process or until after a conditional job offer has been made,” says Standerwick. “There are legal and regulatory complexities that most smaller employers may not be aware of. There’s no shame in asking for assistance.” - Consistency. As mentioned above, the EEOC wants to ensure that all prospective employees are treated equally. “A lot of the time, paint contractors hire friends or family,” says Sarah Moyer, a customer support representative at VeriFirst who previously worked in the painting business. “Even if it’s your brother, you need to let him know you’re going to run a check on him, and get a signed consent form. Make sure you’re hiring with the same guidelines for everyone, whether you know them or not.” Screenings should also be associated with specific job duties. A painter doesn’t need a driving-record check
unless they’re driving a company van, for example. Finally, if you have a contract to repaint some offices in a federal office building, for example, individuals on the job would be subject to federal government screening requirements. - Pre-adverse and adverse notification. When a background check comes back with negative items, that’s not sufficient to deny a person a position. You need to make a judgment as to whether any offenses are recent and pertinent to the job—or old, irrelevant or minor. “In addition to consent issues, this is the second area where companies get sued,” says Standerwick. “You have to notify the person that you intend not to hire them based on considerations in their background in whole or in part.” The first step —DAWN STANDERWICK, EMPLOYMENT SCREENING RESOURCES prior to taking any adverse action is to let them view a copy of the report and give them a reasonable amount of time, usually seven days, to dispute information they believe to be inaccurate. There is additional information that must be provided to the applicant at that time. If they don’t dispute the document, you must send out a final adverse action notice, stating that you didn’t hire them and considered the background check in your decision. (Note that while it is an employer responsibility under the law, this task can be outsourced; many background screening companies will manage that process.) - Confidentiality. When someone consents to a background check, the information is only for your company and not anyone else. For independent contractors, some background-check companies may set up consent forms that give permission to release the same results to several different companies. “It makes it easier for the
“ There are legal and regulatory complexities that most smaller employers may not be aware of.”
THE STRAIGHT DOPE
Now that marijuana has been decriminalized or authorized for medical use in a number of states, using it as part of a drug test has become considerably trickier. “Colorado is the easiest example, because the standard five-panel drug test is no longer applicable,” says Howard. “We’re still legally allowed to offer it, but you’re putting an employer in an awkward position if someone’s test comes back positive for marijuana. Since it stays in 18
inPAINT | May 2017
person, so they don’t have to go through three separate checks,” says Howard. - Record keeping. According to basic federal rules, the results of completed background and drug screening reports should be kept one year beyond the Fair Credit Reporting Act statute of limitations, which is a total of six years. If there’s an ongoing investigation, charge, or court case, you need to keep it for the duration.
DRUG SCREENINGS At first glance, drug screenings would seem to be a black-and-white issue in the gray world of background checks. Either someone uses drugs or they don’t, right? Not so fast. There are a few areas that require particular caution, including the national trend toward legalizing medical and recreational marijuana use (bottom of page.) First, you need to be cautious about handling false positives. As a safeguard, VeriFirst has its drug-testing physicians reach out to an applicant before releasing results to the client. That gives someone a chance to explain they’re taking a legal prescription, not abusing a narcotic, before it becomes an issue with an employer. Drug testing can also have implications with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA generally prohibits employers from asking about any medical conditions or disabilities that an applicant may have. Here’s where things get a little dicey: You can ask about a person’s current illegal use of drugs, but asking about past drug use potentially violates the ADA, which protects those with a history of addiction who are not currently using drugs. If someone tests positive for the use of illegal drugs, that’s not protected medical information covered by the ADA. In the case of a positive test that’s found to be a result of a prescription medication, however, then it’s protected information—and must be kept separate and confidential from potential employers and anyone else. -
For more on the dos and don’ts of employment checks: EEOC.gov/employers
your system for a while, it’s not proof they were smoking on the job.” Standerwick notes that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Her company is watching the case law closely—particularly since she is based in Colorado. “While there’s a law on the books based on action from cigarette companies who were trying to make sure employers couldn’t discriminate against smokers by making it illegal to base decisions on activities employees engage in outside of working hours, that argument has not translated as viable to marijuana use in court actions,”
she says. There has been some related litigation surrounding marijuana use but, to date, those arguments have not stood up. If company policy includes no positive marijuana test, you’re on pretty sure ground with that policy at the moment. Howard sees a trend toward employers removing marijuana from their searches, even in jurisdictions where it remains illegal. In the long term, he believes testing will include expanded scrutiny of prescription drug abuse as well as the standard focus on drugs such as ecstasy, heroin and cocaine.
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WHEN LESS IS MORE
EXPERTS TALK ECONOMY COATINGS: WHEN AND WHERE TO USE THEM―AND WHY
We all understand how critical it is to maintain your professional reputation, and using an economy coating might seem counter-productive to that objective.
BY JIM WILLIAMS
After all, explained Debbie Zimmer, director of the Paint Quality Institute (PQI), these are typically a lower-quality, inexpensive paint that doesn’t provide quite the performance or application benefits one might see with a top-of-the-line product. “Economy coatings often contain lower-quality raw materials or ingredients,” Zimmer said. And when it comes to the makeup of paint, Zimmer is uniquely qualified to comment. PQI is the education arm of Dow Coating Materials, which is part of The Dow Chemical Company. “We don’t make paint, but instead invent, develop and manufacture raw materials
that go into a paint can. We are the world’s largest supplier to the paint and coatings industry.” All are not equal As Zimmer can attest, coatings pretty much always fail the duck test: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Not so when it comes to economy coatings. “Often, an economy product will not apply as smoothly or quickly as a quality paint, which can impact the professional painter’s labor cost,” Zimmer said. “The paint may drip and sag during application and, especially with an exterior job, may peel, chip and flake—or exhibit poor fade resistance very quickly,” she said. “In addition, the finished job may not have the appearance or performance attributes that the home or building owner expects. This can certainly create issues for the painter in callbacks, complaints, etc.” However, as Zimmer notes, there are some widely acceptable uses. “Economy products have their place. They are often used in apartment complexes, college dorms, etc., where people move in and out often. Also, many tract home builders spec or encourage their use in new construction because they know the new homeowners plan to paint after moving in, either by hiring a contractor or as a DIY project.”
“Every product has a purpose when you’re dealing with a large number of rental units.” —ROBERT HAHN, EMPIRE REAL ESTATE MANAGEMENT, LLC
inPAINT | May 2017
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Robert Hahn agrees. He sees many practical applications for economy coatings. As a property manager with Latham, NY-based Empire Real Estate Management, LLC, he manages more than 550 properties. “Every product has a purpose when you’re dealing with a large number of rental units,” Hahn said. “From an economics standpoint, economy paints are a good way to go. Some rental units have a high turnover rate and, of course, we like to give every tenant a fresh coat of paint when they move in. However, if our painters are using a higher-end paint, we would be wasting a lot of money. When you have a unit that is frequently
“ I think economy coatings can be a great fit in the professional painter’s portfolio … The professional must use discretion in their application and usage.” —ERIC STALTER, ROCK SOLID PAINTING CO., LLC turned over, you don’t want to be constantly covering up highgrade paint.” On the flip side, Hahn has seen instances when an economy coating has been used and something of a higher grade should have been applied instead. “Unfortunately, that happens in this business. You may have a tenant who is very clean, respectable, and takes very good care of their apartment, but they have a paint job that just doesn’t hold up over time. Having to go in and repaint the unit while the tenant still lives there is a very large hassle for them. Making their life harder is something we do not strive to do.” Common sense application Like Hahn, Eric Stalter feels economy coatings make good business sense under the right circumstances. “I think economy coatings can be a great fit in the professional painter’s portfolio,” said Stalter, who owns Rock Solid Painting Co., LLC, in Mogadore, OH. “I believe economy coatings sometimes become the standard ‘go-to’ rather than another option in the pro’s arsenal. The professional must use discretion in their application and usage. They have their proper time, place, application and usage.” 22
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For his company, Stalter has found that economy paints can work well for investment or ‘flip’ properties, closets, low-traffic areas, and homes that are going onto the real estate market. Also, for new homes, apartments and price-sensitive customers, he said. “Ultimately, you need to communicate with your customers and ask questions in order to find the proper and acceptable coating fit,” Stalter said. “What are their expectations? What are their needs? And what is their pricing threshold?” Economy coatings are especially useful for adding a fresh, clean feel when used in homes entering the real estate market, in new homes, or apartments, Stalter said. “These coatings can last for a while and, more than likely, will be covered again when the next owner purchases the property and adds their own decorative touches,” he said. “These coatings can have a shorter duration due to overall lack of scrubability, washability, and a tendency to burnish and scuff easier. As a general statement, they tend not to hold up over an extended amount of time.” Stalter said he’s seen where economy coatings have been used in the wrong areas; when a premium paint should have been used instead. “An example that is often seen is using economy coatings in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. We feel that premium products will hold up better to moisture, humidity, and heavy foot traffic, and their performance is superior to economy coatings.” Perception vs reality Professional painters have an obligation to educate their customers on the differences, both pros and cons, of what they are getting. “One thing the general public would probably find surprising is that unless you really know your stuff, the average tenant walking into a room probably would not be able to tell if it was a high-grade paint or an economy coating,” Hahn said. For Hahn, he’s learned to ask questions about what works best. “For advice on which paint will give me a long-lasting application, I talk to painters in the field and ask them what they prefer; what works better for them, and what they like and dislike,” he said. “I am lucky enough to know a paint rep from Glidden/PPG Paints; I ask her questions several times a month about paint, new products, preparation and application.” As a paint pro, Stalter says his company strives to set itself part from other painting companies. And one of the ways he does that is by changing perceptions. “I feel that the general public assumes that professional painters always use economy paints,” Stalter said. “For us, this doesn’t hold true. We pick and choose the battles in which we send in economy coatings for projects. They have their place in our profession, as another tool in the chest.” -
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THE PAINT STORE EXPERIENCE BIG BOXES. INDEPENDENT STORES. MANUFACTURER STORES.
It doesn’t matter if you’re painting a powder room or all 100 floors of a high-rise, no job gets started before the paint and supplies are purchased. And while most paint stores—brand manufacturers, independents, and big boxes—carry the basics, many pros prefer to give their business to just one type. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why: MANUFACTURED SOLUTIONS A number of manufacturers, including PPG Paints, Rodda Paint, Sherwin-Williams, Dunn-Edwards Paints, and Kelly Moore Paints, operate their own stores across the U.S.; a few even have locations abroad. According to Jeff Winter, VP of marketing for Sherwin-Williams, the advantage of company-owned stores is that, “We not only manufacture the product, but it’s sold and serviced by Sherwin-Williams employees both inside and outside the store. This gives us complete quality control over the customer experience from start to finish.” Similarly, PPG stores are staffed by company employees who have a strong understanding of the full range of products. In 2015, all 600 PPG stores were rebranded to enhance the in-store customer experience and, according to senior marketing manager for PPG Paint stores Tracy Pease, “In 2017, PPG Paints stores will host a series of monthly 24
inPAINT | May 2017
in-store product demonstrations and events around new-product launches and core product lines. The trainings will include corresponding monthly special promotions tied to the featured product.”
THE POSITIVES OF INDEPENDENT PAINT STORES According to LeAnn Day, executive director of the Paint & Decorating Retailers Association, “Where independents really stand out from big-box stores is in the knowledge and expertise they hold and the turnkey solutions they offer.” She notes that many independent stores are staffed by people whose families have been in the business for generations and really understand the challenges facing pros. “They’re not only going to be able to steer you toward the correct coating for a particular substrate on your job, they’re also going to have a solid understanding of the best type of applicator, primer or sealant to use on the project. And, they’ll have it in stock; often before it’s available anywhere else.” Day adds that paint-store inventories are solely focused around helping pros get the job done right. “You’re not going to find second-tier tapes or coatings on their shelves. They recognize that your time is money and that using the right tools is key to making sure your time isn’t wasted trying to undo the damage or problem that a lesser-grade product created.”
BIG-BOX BUY-IN It’s well known that both The Home Depot and Lowe’s have invested heavily in the pro market. Both companies offer discount programs that cover products and sundries. They also tout their expansive, beyond-paint product offerings; free jobsite delivery, credit services, pro desks, and extended hours. And, both have instituted service programs targeted specifically at professionals. The Home Depot’s efforts are aimed at helping pros better manage projects. “Most professionals are in business because they’re great at their trade; however, many lack the time or man power to stay organized,” says Jud Walford, The Home Depot pro paint merchant. The company’s new Pro Paint 2.0 system promises to help on that front by inventorying colors by project for five years. In addition, using the customer portal called Pro Xtra, all purchases can be exported into formats that accommodate most accounting software, and can be tracked for up to two years—which can save time when it comes to repaints. Lowe’s, too, is sensitive to the beyond-the-product needs of the professional. According to company spokesman Matt Michaels, “All of our store locations have a ‘ProServices’ team dedicated to helping contractors grow their businesses and achieve their long-term goals, while also saving them time and money. Our ProServices associates can even meet pro painters at their job sites, offices or facilities to help with their business needs.”
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WHERE PROS GO We talked with five pros across the country about where their shopping loyalty lies and why. Here’s what they had to say:
PROS VALUE PERSONAL SERVICE AND PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE.
Photos Courtesy of: Benjamin Moore (top) Sherwin-Williams (left)
800-553-9053 www.mitm.com May 2017 | inPAINT
PRIORITY SERVICE AND COMPETITIVE PRICING ARE KEY TO LONG-STANDING STORE-PRO RELATIONSHIPS.
Photo Courtesy of PPG Paints
Matt Jansen, Matt the Painter: Sherwin-Williams For Matt Jansen, owner of Matt the Painter in Billings, MT, his choice to shop principally at a local Sherwin-Williams, as well as an independent store, is a matter of convenience and confidence. “For me, the ease of doing business with SherwinWilliams is a big plus,” he says. “We can get in and out really fast with our charge account. Plus, when they see us come in, they treat us like a priority because of the volume we buy. We don’t stand around waiting and wasting time.” Jansen also appreciates the expertise of the store staff as well as the local Sherwin-Williams reps. “My confidence in the advice I get from them is much higher than it would be in a big-box setting. They’re able to get to the bottom of technical questions about different products and issues. They also have a broad selection of coatings that go well beyond basic primers and architectural coatings.” Another bonus of working with Sherwin-Williams is the fact that Jansen’s local rep often refers him for potential work. He adds, “My rep has a good sense of my company’s strengths and, when he hears someone has a project that’s a fit, he’ll add our name to the mix.” The one service Jansen turns to the local independent store for is color consulting. “The thing I love about The Paint Center is that they have a color-consult designer who, for a nominal fee, will come out on site and make color recommendations,” he says. “This frees me up to focus on the work I do well, and gives customers confidence about their color selections.”
Marilyn Russell, Decor Craft Inc.: PPG Paints Marilyn Russell and her husband started their first commercial painting company in Houston, TX in 1974 and immediately began a relationship with the local PPG Paints store. While lots of things in their business have changed since then, their loyalty to PPG has not. “We love working with PPG for many reasons, but mostly for the family like relationships we have with our PPG sales representatives,” says Russell. “They know our job numbers and the paint we’re using on buildings better than we do, and are always willing to visit job sites to spec appropriate products and understand what we’re trying to accomplish. They always go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure we’re serviced. We work as one big family, and PPG truly goes the extra mile for us.” John Russell, Diversified Painting Contractors, LLC: Independent Paint Store A long-standing relationship is one of the primary reasons John Russell of Diversified Painting in Belleville, NJ chooses to work with Ricciardi Brothers. “I’ve been doing business with them for 25 years and the service is outstanding,” he says. “I’ll call them while on my way to the store and, by the time I get there, what I need will be sitting on the counter. I’m also a big fan of Benjamin Moore paints. The quality is there and it’s consistent,” he says. Plus, he can tap his local rep when he has a coatings question. “We do commercial painting and sometimes run into projects that require industrial coatings. I can call the store and my rep will reach out in a few hours, or even come to the job site, to make a recommendation. That saves me a lot of time and headaches,” he says.
Like most pros, time is a big concern for Russell. “It’s the primary reason I don’t shop big boxes. The quality of the coatings has improved in recent years but the buying experience is just not efficient. I go in and there’s one guy mixing paint with five people in front of me. Then I’ve got to go and wait in a different line to checkout. I simply can’t take an hour every time I need to buy a gallon of paint.” Mandi Trapka, Pretty Handy Mandy: The Home Depot For Mandi Trapka of Pretty Handy Mandy in Indian Rocks Beach, FL, the decision is largely driven by product choice. “I get laughed at a lot by other pros but I’m telling you, for product quality and color options, Behr and The Home Depot is the way to go,” she says. Trapka likes the fact that all the Behr paints she uses have the primer built in. “I don’t have to jump to a higher-grade, more-expensive paint-and-primer product, as I have to do with other lines. Same for low- or zero-VOC. I’m not paying extra to get that feature.” Trapka also likes that The Home Depot has 18 colorants, while other paint stores only offer 12 to 14. “They have the formulas for every brand and every color, and can reproduce them in the paint that I want.” On the service side, Trapka admits that she likes the fact that she, “feels like a celebrity” when she walks in the store. “They all know my name and they treat me great.” While she doesn’t always take advantage of The Home Depot’s free delivery, she said it was a huge time-saver on a seven-house project that required 300 gallons. “It showed up on time, the order was correct, and we were able to get started right away.” Trapka adds that while she sometimes has to hit other paint stores to get better-quality applicators, The Home Depot has many of the supplies needed for repairs that come with some of the jobs. Jeff Sadler, ATD Painting: Lowe’s Jeff Sadler’s relationship with the Fort Worth Lowe’s began five years ago when the store reached out to offer him some special pricing. “The number was such that I thought I could be happy with so I decided to give it a try,” says Sadler. “Five years later, I’m still going there for two reasons. First, their pricing is such that I no longer have to use contractor-grade products to get the pricing I need. At paint stores, there was no way I could afford top-grade stuff but here, it’s all I buy. Not only does it make my jobs go faster, it’s something I’ve been able to sell as a differentiator to my customers—and charge a bit more for it.” The second reason Sadler stays with Lowe’s is service. “Once they got used to me and understood
my needs, I got better service than I did from any other paint store or big box,” he says. “I’m able to call orders in ahead, special order products including elastomerics and industrial-grade oils. Plus, my Valspar rep is as knowledgeable and helpful as any rep I’ve ever worked with in the past.” Sadler also enjoys a strong relationship with the Lowe’s store team. “I have an annual meeting with the store manager and the paint manager. Plus, I have the store manager’s direct line to call if there is ever a problem. I’ve only called once and it was fixed immediately.” -
THERE’S MORE TO CHOOSING A PAINT STORE THAN JUST THE PRODUCTS THEY CARRY.
Writer Debra Gelbart contributed to this article.
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PRO PICKS: FIVE PROS WEIGH IN ON THEIR TOP EXTERIOR PAINTS BY STEPHANIE CONNER
1 CHRISTIAN MILITELLO:
HOMEOWNERS TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR HOMES, and when they hire you for an exterior painting job, they’re looking for a painter who understands that—and uses high-quality products. Exterior paints need to stand up to the elements; resist mildew and dirt; retain color; and last for years without blistering, flaking and peeling. We asked five pros about their favorite exteriors paints. Here’s what they had to say:
OUR PROS: 1 CHRISTIAN MILITELLO
Militello Painting & Powerwashing, LLC MilitelloPainting.com
inPAINT | May 2017
2 KURT DWYER Burnett 1-800 PAINTING BurnettPainting.com
3 RYAN MUNN
Greenleaf Painters, LLC GreenLeafPainters.com
Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex is the go-to paint for Christian Militello, owner of Militello Painting & Powerwashing, outside of Philadelphia. With more than 15 years in business, Militello does mostly residential work with some small commercial projects in the mix. “I like the Emerald,” he says, “because it’s self-priming.” While painters might commonly use an oil-based primer before painting, that’s not necessary with this paint, Militello says. “The Emerald has extreme adhesive properties,” he says, noting that the paint’s cross-linking technology creates an extreme bond for exceptional durability and coverage. It’s a higher-end product, he acknowledges, but it’s worth the spend. The Emerald resists blistering, peeling, fading and dirt, and contains antimicrobial agents to help prevent mold and mildew. Plus, because you typically won’t need a primer, you won’t spend time doing that extra coat, Militello notes. But, he advises, be sure to let the paint to dry for 24 hours between coats. “Following the directions on the can and giving proper dry time,” he says, “is what’s going to give the product the best chance to do what it says it can do.”
4 JOHN PEEK
Peek Brothers Painting PeekBrothersPainting.com
5 NICK SLAVIK
Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co. NickSlavik.com
Stay informed with inPAINT Teach to Fish eBlast “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This wise adage served as inspiration for a new type of communication that offers industry professionals education and instruction they can learn by—and build on. Each month, we’ll present an industry-specific question and invite one manufacturer and two professionals to share their advice, giving you the benefit of a well-rounded conversation and multiple recommendations on the topic. Look for its debut this spring, and prepare to sharpen your skills.
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KURT DWYER BELIEVES THAT AN EXTERIOR PAINT JOB SHOULD LAST UPWARD OF EIGHT TO 10 YEARS.
2 KURT DWYER:
When they lived in Massachusetts, Kurt Dwyer and Jenn McSharry, owners of Burnett 1-800 Painting, were introduced to Benjamin Moore. “In the northeast, Benjamin Moore is really big in the residential market,” Dwyer says. When they moved their family and business to Venice, FL, the husbandand-wife team remained loyal to their exterior paint of choice, the Benjamin Moore Regal Select line. “It’s easy to work with,” he says. “And as far as performance, you always know what you’re going to get. We’ve never had any issues.” The colors are great, he adds, and it spreads nicely. “Our painters like to use it because of its quality,” he says. “It’s a good, good product.” The paint boasts a durable finish resistant to fading, cracking and peeling. Its mildew-resistant properties are appealing in humid Florida, and while the low temperature application no longer matters as much to Dwyer’s team, it gives painters in cooler climates an extended painting season. Dwyer, whose company focuses on providing outstanding customer service, believes that an exterior paint job should last upward of eight to 10 years.
inPAINT | May 2017
Photos Courtesy of Sherwin-Williams (left), Titan (right)
3 RYAN MUNN:
With about 90% of their work in residential, Greenleaf Painters uses both Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams exterior paints, says Ryan Munn, operations manager for the Lawrenceville, NJ-based company. “There’s no single solution for everyone’s needs,” he says. “It depends on the application.” The project parameters and the client’s preference and budget will ultimately help determine Greenleaf’s exterior paint selection. The Greenleaf team frequently does work on older, historical homes. Munn says, “We need something that’s going to be durable and stand up to the elements here in the Northeast.” Benjamin Moore MoorGard Low Lustre Finish is a definite go-to, Munn says. “We use that for siding and even trim work,” he says. And their MoorGlo Soft Gloss Finish, he adds, is great for trim and accents. “These products have some sheen, they’re durable, and mildew resistant,” he says. “The higher sheen will help repel water and prevent staining, versus a flat paint.” Going with Benjamin Moore, he notes, means spending a little extra money, but the quality of the paint is well worth it. A third option for Greenleaf, Munn says, is SherwinWilliams SuperPaint Exterior Acrylic Latex. “It’s a pretty versatile paint,” he says. “And the quality is up there—we’ve gotten great results. It’s resistant to cracking, fading and peeling.”
“No matter what the substrate is, a betterquality paint just lasts longer.
NICK SLAVIK: With 24 years as a painter and 10 years in business, Nick
Slavik of Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co., spends six months of the year inside and six months outside, due to the weather in New Prague, MN. A lot of his exterior work is residential repaint. And for those jobs, he opts for Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Paint about 90% of the time, he says. “I finish all of my exteriors by hand with a brush, and Aura’s consistency is better,” Slavik notes. “Plus, it has a little better open time.” He prefers the low lustre finish. “I found it holds color better,” he says. The product also boasts fade resistance, low temperature application, durability, mildew resistance, as well resistance to cracking, peeling, blistering and dirt. “I’ve used every single paint I can get my hands on,” Slavik says. “And this is a very good general, all-purpose paint.”
—JOHN PEEK, PEEK BROTHERS PAINTING
4 JOHN PEEK:
Since 1981, Peek Brothers Painting has been painting Southern California residences (and a few churches and schools along the way too). In the process, owner John Peek has zeroed in on two favorite exterior paints: Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior Acrylic Latex (satin sheen) and Dunn-Edwards EVERSHIELD Exterior Paint (eggshell or velvet sheen). “Both are very, very high-quality paints,” he says. “I go back to homes 10 to 15 years later, and they look like we just did them. There’s definitely a difference.” Peek notes that even with SoCal’s heavy sun exposure, the paints keep their sheen; and with their good adhesion, aren’t going to peel and crack like lower-quality paints. Even when most painters might opt for a flat, Peek prefers more sheen. The smoother surface, he notes, is less likely to attract any organics that might cling to the surface and is more likely to resist mildew, as well. The Duration and EVERSHIELD are higher-end paints, he says, that are worth the money, regardless of the surface. “No matter what the substrate is,” he says, “a better-quality paint just lasts longer.”
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May 2017 | inPAINT
THE inPAINT INTERVIEW PROFESSIONAL PAINTER
YEARS IN THE MAKING:
How one painting pro found his niche A FOCUS ON RESIDENTIAL REPAINTING AND EXCEEDING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS The path to success wasn’t always easy for Dalton Tomlinson, professional painter and owner of Supreme Painting, based in Fort Worth, TX. His experience, which spans more than 30 years, had its fair share of challenges and setbacks—along with opportunities for growth—which ultimately landed him where he is today. His steadfast commitment to maintaining a strong reputation was built on honesty, integrity, reliability, professionalism, and customer satisfaction.
BY MEGHANN FINN SEPULVEDA
How did you get started in the painting industry? A: It was 1983 and I was 21 years old. My best friend and I began working for a local paint contractor on various tract home subdivisions for Gemcraft Homes. After only six months, we decided to venture out on our own and went into business together as partners. We were busy—often working 16 hours a day—painting interior and exterior homes for another local home builder in the area. After two and a half years, we amicably parted ways and in 1985, just one month before my wife and I welcomed our first child, I started Supreme Painting.
What challenges did you face? A: In the beginning, I was a contractor for a small housing division, but also had a part-time job at night to maintain our household because the work was so unpredictable. Early on, I was so busy that I could
inPAINT | May 2017
hire 27 guys for a job, but over the years, that number dwindled down and I would only need two. I was dealing with the tough economy, and business was slow for several months. Eventually, things got better. In 1989, I stopped painting tract homes and began working on custom homes, which is where I learned how to paint and stain cabinetry. Several years later, I realized that to be competitive, I needed to start phasing out new work and focus more on stable residential repaint jobs. It took me eight years to finally get there. How did you develop your business plan? A: I discovered that when you focus solely on residential jobs, you don’t need as many customers as you do a more steady flow of business. I wanted to build up my clientele, so I launched my first web site in 2003 by first hiring someone to help me develop the content, which highlighted my experience. I also marketed our seven-year extended warranty on all painting finishes, which is typically only offered for two to three years in this industry. It not only helped me ensure a job well done but gave confidence to my customers about the quality of our work. I set goals that included hiring 10 painters so we could work more efficiently and so I could eventually focus on providing estimates, growing the business, and ‘getting out of the bucket.’ I signed up for DYB Coach’s business-building courses, and also received complimentary access to their members-only Facebook Group to learn one-on-one tips and advice from industry experts, and connect with painting contractors across the country. Eventually, I also became a business coach, which has given me the opportunity to share my personal experiences and provide guidance to other painters. Over the years, my business plan has shifted and evolved to what it is today. I currently employ an all-star
MAKING THE MOST OF HAPPY CUSTOMERS On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to refer us to friends and neighbors?
team of six professional painters and a project foreman who oversees each site. We are actively hiring a replacement salesperson—a role that was once filled—to give project updates and manage customer relationships. I finally traded in my painters’ whites for business attire. What qualities do you look for in a painter? A: When I moved over to residential jobs, I quickly realized I needed a different type of painter, specifically someone who was neat, clean, trustworthy, and respectful of personal belongings—plus, had the ability to interact with homeowners. All team members must be able to effectively communicate with our customers. I consider myself very picky when it comes to hiring employees. For me, character is the most important thing. I can teach someone how to paint, but I can’t teach someone good character. Hiring still proves to be challenging; I think it is the hardest part of this business.
How do you land referrals? A: We believe our process is different than others.’ After I visit a home to review the scope of work, I can then go to my truck, write up the estimate using an online application, print it out, and give it to the customer before I leave. We also provide all customers with a daily progress report with details of the work that has been completed, and a schedule for the following day. And we maintain a clean-up checklist. After each job is complete, we ask our customer if he/she would be willing to participate in a small survey by answering three short questions. Because our customers are usually very happy with the job, the answer is mostly yes. Consequently, I have seen an increase in scheduling jobs, even in January and February, which are traditionally the hardest months to fill. First, we ask how he/she found us, because this gives us insight if the job was the result of a referral, a repeat customer, or someone who used an online search engine. Second, we ask if we did everything we said we would. Third, we ask the customer to rate us on a scale of 1 to 10 how likely they are to refer us to friends and neighbors.
“ I would say a 10, definitely.” —STACY AND JASON IN BURLESON, TX
t’s one thing to hear a painter promise 100% satisfaction but it’s an entirely different thing to hear past customers say that promise was met. As part of their ongoing marketing efforts, Supreme Painting asks customers to be filmed for a brief interview at the close of their job. Completed videos are featured prominently on the company’s web site for prospective customers to view. Tomlinson currently maintains about 40 video testimonials on his web site and estimates that they’ve been viewed more than 200 times. “Most people look for someone they know and may watch one or two of them. But, I believe that when you have that many videos available, it speaks to the fact that you’re trustworthy.” Tomlinson says he does not ask customers to sign release waivers and keeps the videos up permanently unless someone asks to have theirs removed.
We also make customer testimonial videos, which are uploaded to YouTube and are featured on our company web site and Facebook page. This has proven to be an effective marketing tool that helps elicit referrals. I believe that building trust is the key to achieving a successful business. I also feel strongly about being engaged in the community and giving back. I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club, and am also a proud member of the Painting & Decorating Contractors of America. -
Supreme Painting’s Dalton Tomlinson works to make every customer a customer for life. Today, he focuses on residential work, and serves as a business coach to other professional painters. SupremePainting.com
May 2017 | inPAINT
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS AUG/SEP 2015
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | JUN/JUL 2015
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS OCT/NOV 2015
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS DEC 2015/JAN 2016
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | FEB/MAR 2016
IN PRAISE OF SPRAYERS The rigs pros love most and why
Pro Tips for Quick Turns
The Hows and Whys of Bonding Primer What the Healthy Housing Market Means for You
Pros talk about their go-to trim brushes
Ready to Grow? Tips for taking your business to the next level Making Sense of Masonry Coatings
EXTERIORS Proven approaches for challenging surfaces
Pimp Your Ride: Organize your truck in style
Colorful Business Using color to make the most of architecture
LET US SPRAY Finding the right pressure washer
Pros on Primers Who’s using what where Healthy Homes How to capitalize on consumer demand
There’s more to being a professional painter than just painting. To help you navigate all that running a business demands, inPAINT magazine features articles related to every aspect of your business, both in the office and on the job site. Evolve and grow with each new issue.
Visit the article archive at: inpaintmag.com/past-issues
THE BUSINESS SIDE Articles ranging from marketing to contracts, estimating to billing, taxes to color trends, and more Attracting and keeping good employees Oct/Nov 2016, page 38 Background checks and drug screenings May 2017, page 16 Benefits of befriending your competition Feb/Mar 2016, page 32 Boomers a boon to contractors/remodelers Feb/Mar 2016, page 9 Business training choices Jun/Jul 2015, page 42 Calculating your own pay Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 42
inPAINT | May 2017
WHAT’S TRENDING IN VANS FOR THE TRADES
Building Green +
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | APR/MAY 2016
The Tower at PNC Plaza
How to handle nonpaying customers
Caulk this way
When does owning a lift make sense?
What pros are using for concrete and masonry
What property managers want from paint contractors
Pro picks for exterior paints
Tackling water and smoke damage—and mold
Winning work in the education market
Tips for tackling the ‘fifth wall’
Capitalizing on the healthy-home trend Oct/Nov 2015, page 12 Charging for estimates Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 10 City rebuilds ‘green’ after disaster Feb/Mar 2016, page 30 Color consulting: an emerging value-add opportunity Oct/Nov 2016, page 20 Consequences of bad hiring practices Aug/Sep 2015, page 42 Continuing education for pros Aug/Sep 2016, page 20 Contract clauses you should know about Jun/Jul 2016, page 34 Driving forces behind color choices for architects May 2017, page 14 Equipment leasing 101 Mar/Apr 2017, page 10 Estimate follow-up time frame Jun/Jul 2015, page 8 Estimating uneven surfaces Apr/May 2016, page 12 Fail-proof your business plan Mar/Apr 2017, page 38 Finding a healthy bottom line in the health care market Jun/Jul 2016, page 30 Getting in with property managers Feb/Mar 2016, page 12 Getting work in the off-season Aug/Sep 2016, page 10 Going from hands-on to hands-off Dec 2016/Jan 2017, page 10 Guide customers to smart paint choices Dec 2016/Jan 2017, page 14 Handling non-paying customers Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 12 Handling seasonal downsizing Oct/Nov 2015, page 8 Healthy housing market good for paint pros Jun/Jul 2015, page 7 Home-improvement market good for pros Aug/Sep 2015, page 7 How and when to grow your business Aug/Sep 2015, page 12 How and where to find the best talent May 2017, page 10 How color trends are created Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 20 How new overtime rules affect business owners Jun/Jul 2016, page 15 How one painting pro found his niche May 2017 page 32 How paint manufacturers market to pros Apr/May 2016, page 22
inPAINT THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | JUN/JUL 2016
SURVEY RESULTS ARE IN! Find out which brands your peers prefer!
WINNING WORK IN THE
Health Care Market + Pro picks for sprayers
Tips for coating exterior stucco Contract clauses that save the day
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | AUG/SEP 2016
Think Outside the Cube Coatings for Office Spaces
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | OCT/NOV 2016
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS | DEC 2016/JAN 2017
MAKING THE CASE FOR
COLORS THAT SELL Guiding customers
THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS
Go Big: KEYS TO WINNING COMMERCIAL WORK
PROS TALK STAINS THAT PERFORM
Pros talk power sanders
Going from hands-on to hands-off
Improving workplace safety
Creating a culture of safety
Upfitting your work vehicle
CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR PROS
Making color consulting count
Pro picks for pressure washers
The ins and outs of leasing equipment
Independent paint stores earn your business Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 9 Inside the customer experience Mar/Apr 2017, page 14 Keeping good employees long term Jun/Jul 2016, page 40 Making the most of your online image May 2017, page 9 Managing a multicultural crew Feb/Mar 2016, page 38 Market choices for pros starting out Feb/Mar 2016, page 10 Maximizing architectural impact Oct/Nov 2015, page 16 Online lead-generation services benefit pros Aug/Sep 2016, page 26 Owning vs renting lifts Apr/May 2016, page 14 Pitching to an HOA Feb/Mar 2016, page 42 Planning for the future you want Oct/Nov 2016, page 12 Porch: connecting homeowners to pros Oct/Nov 2015, page 28 Pro sets price and payment terms Aug/Sep 2015, page 8 Pros’ most-valued manufacturer perks Feb/Mar 2016, page 24 Recruit like you market Apr/May 2016, page 46 Smart business structures Aug/Sep 2016, page 12 Stop playing marketing roulette with your money May 2017, page 46 Succeed as an HR department of one Aug/Sep 2016, page 42 The inPAINT online survey results Jun/Jul 2016, page 8 The labor shortage and what to do about it Apr/May 2016, page 42 The lucrative education market Feb/Mar 2016, page 16 The paint store experience May 2017, page 24 The rising interest in roof options Oct/Nov 2015, page 7 Tiered-service pricing Oct/Nov 2016, page 10 Track your digital marketing efforts Aug/Sep 2016, page 46 Train apprentices for new talent Apr/May 2016, page 11 Using images to attract customers Jun/Jul 2015, page 32 Wallcoverings make a comeback Aug/Sep 2016, page 9
M AY 2 017
to make smart paint decisions
Are they worth it?
T H E M AG AZI N E FO R PRO FES S I O N ALS | MAR/APR 2017
The inPAINT Product Guide Coatings & Applicators
Where customers are finding contractors Oct/Nov 2016, page 9 Win new business through construction contractors Apr/May 2016, page 34 Winning commercial work Mar/Apr 2017, page 28 Winning more work from existing customers Jun/Jul 2016, page 46 Year-end tax strategies Oct/Nov 2015, page 46
AT THE JOB SITE Articles on new and recommended products, equipment and work vehicles— plus prep, safety, and a lot more 15 tips for tough exterior surfaces Oct/Nov 2015, page 24 2016 attention-getting coatings Mar/Apr 2017, page 18 Bonding primers: how, why and what to use where Jun/Jul 2015, page 20 Caulk: the latest technology Feb/Mar 2016, page 20 Closing a job successfully Dec 2016/Jan 2017, page 8 Coatings for office spaces Aug/Sep 2016, page 16 Common interior prep mistakes Aug/Sep 2015, page 28 Crime prevention Jun/Jul 2015, page 10 Deck refinishing tips Oct/Nov 2015, page 30 Developing a culture of safety Dec 2016/Jan 2017, page 39 Economy coatings: when, where and why May 2017, page 20 Finding the right pressure washer Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 24 Handling yard work when painting Mar/Apr 2017, page 12 How to mitigate OSHA citations Jun/Jul 2016, page 16 Improve workplace safety through technology Oct/Nov 2016, page 30 Masonry coatings: successful waterproofing Aug/Sep 2015, page 24 Multifamily renovation projects Mar/Apr 2017, page 32 Paint manufacturers are going green Feb/Mar 2016, page 28 Pros on their favorite pressure washers Dec 2016/Jan 2017, page 18
Inside the customer experience
Exterior Paints: Five Pros’ Top Picks
How and where to find talent
Background checks and drug tests Making the most of your online image
Pros on their favorite primers Oct/Nov 2015, page 20 Pros on their favorite products Aug/Sep 2015, page 20 Pros on their go-to exterior paints Apr/May 2016, page 30 Pros on their go-to exterior stains Aug/Sep 2016, page 34 Pros on their go-to trim brushes Aug/Sep 2015, page 16 Pros on their sprayers of choice Jun/Jul 2015, page 14 Pros on their top exterior paints May 2017, page 28 Pros talk adhesives Mar/Apr 2017, page 24 Pros talk power sanders Oct/Nov 2016, page 26 Pros talk spray guns Jun/Jul 2016, page 18 Pros’ most-trusted concrete and masonry products Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 16 Quick turns: Streamlining the turn process Jun/Jul 2015, page 18 The inPAINT Product Guide: coatings & applicators Dec 2016/Jan 2017, page 23 Tips for coating exterior stucco Jun/Jul 2016, page 22 Tips on painting ceilings Apr/May 2016, page 26 Transformative films & finishes Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 28 Underappreciated applicators: rollers & brushes Aug/Sep 2016, page 30 Upfitting your work vehicle Mar/Apr 2017, page 30 Using paint to create luxurious baths Mar/Apr 2017, page 9 Vehicle organizational accessories Aug/Sep 2015, page 30 Water- & smoke-damage restoration Dec 2015/Jan 2016, page 30 What to do before paint is chosen Jun/Jul 2015, page 24 What’s new in interior surface prep Jun/Jul 2016, page 26 What’s new in prep tools Mar/Apr 2017, page 20 What’s trending in work vans Apr/May 2016, page 18 Why savvy pros choose premium paint Oct/Nov 2016, page 16 Wood-finishing solutions Jun/Jul 2015, page 28 May 2017 | inPAINT
[ TOOLS OF THE TRADE ]
inPAINT | May 2017
in today’s professional toolbox? TR1 High Efficiency Airless™ Tip Dial down the pressure with Titan’s TR1 High Efficiency Airless Tip. HEA’s revolutionary tip technology atomizes coatings at a 1000 psi, which decreases overspray up to 55% while maintaining the same production speed. The TR1 HEA tip also has two times the life of a standard reversible tip and decreases wear and tear on pumps. Find out more: TitanTool.com/TR1HEA
ScotchBlue™ PLATINUM Painter’s Tape Get quicker, easier tape application and removal compared to 3M paper-backed masking tapes. Advanced technology lets you tear the tape at a 90-degree straight edge for fast corner prep. Durable poly material helps stop paint seepage for ultra sharp paint lines. It’s easy to apply and adjust, with excellent conformability and 14-day clean removal with no surface damage. Now you can pull off tape in one piece with no tearing or slivering, saving you time. ScotchBlue.com/PLATINUM
ADVERTISER INDEX 3M 3m.com Pages 2 & 7
GRACO Graco.com Pages 23 & 40
Mi-T-M CORPORATION MiTM.com Page 25
SHERWIN-WILLIAMS Sherwin-Williams.com Page 17
FESTOOL FestoolProducts.com Page 21
MASTERCHEM INDUSTRIES Kilz.com Page 5
PPG PAINTS PPGPaints.com Page 19
SHURTECH (FROGTAPE) FrogTape.com Page 27
TITAN Titan-US.com Pages 9, 11, 13 & 15
May 2017 | inPAINT
[ UPCOMING EVENTS ]
WHAT, WHERE & WHEN M AY 1
16–20: 2017 Society of Decorative Painters’ International Conference & Expo, Daytona Beach, FL decorativepainters.org 7
J UN E 2
24–27: BOMA 2017 International Conference & Expo, Nashville, TN bomaconvention.org
27 & 28: SEBC, Kissimmee, FL sebcshow.com
28 & 29: PDCA AST Residential Forum, Cleveland, OH pdcaresidentialforum.org
July 31–Aug 3: NPMA National Education Seminar, Phoenix, AZ npmaconferences.org/nes
SE PTEMBER 6
13–15: CONSTRUCT, Providence, RI constructshow.com
20–22: PDCA Commercial Forum, Banff, Alberta, Canada pdcacommercialforum.org
BOMA 2017 International Conference & Expo NASHVILLE, TN, JUNE 24–27
Presented by BOMA International and BUILDINGS, this four-day conference provides the opportunity to see the latest in products and services and learn from industry leaders. More than 800 vendors will participate in the Expo, which will feature both a Green Pavilion and a Technology Pavilion, showcasing the latest advances in those areas. Free admission to the Expo (only) is available to qualified property and facility professionals.
To learn more or to register, visit BomaConvention.org 38
inPAINT | May 2017
Stop Playing Marketing Roulette with Your Money HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU SAID, “Everyone is my ideal customer”? Frankly, I hear it all the time. The truth is that it’s very easy to randomly spend your hard-earned money on a variety of different marketing strategies that don’t work, and then simply write off all marketing as a waste. The good news is that there is a more strategic approach to spending your marketing dollars. It all comes down to spending the necessary time researching your marketplace, and getting clear about who you want to target, how to reach them and, ultimately, gaining responses that lead to bottom-line business growth. Let’s get clear The most important activity of any business owner is to first clearly identify the best type of customers for your product or service, and then focus all marketing, advertising and sales efforts on those target customers. You want to get really specific in understanding both the quantitative and qualitative characteristics that define your ideal target before you start your research. For example, your ideal customer could be a two-income family who owns a million-dollar property in Boston, and is looking for an established, trusted, quality painter. Go face-to-face The best source of information about a market or ideal customer generally comes from the market itself. One of the best ways to gather market information is to conduct a face-to-face market survey with current customers and members of your potential target markets. I recommend you begin by contacting 10 to 15 current customers who are enthusiastic endorsers of you and your company. Let them know that you have appreciated working with them and ask if they have time for a 30-minute get-together so you can ask them a few questions about their experience to gain insight into how to better serve them—and other customers—in the future. Be specific with your questions. Yes and no answers simply don’t reveal enough to be helpful. Here are some of the questions your survey should include: - What are the top three concerns you have when hiring a painting company?
[ BOTTOM LINE ]
- As a homeowner, what are your biggest concerns
(i.e., home safety, needed repairs, property value, etc.)? - Are there other trade or design individuals that you rely on and trust to do work on your house (e.g., electrical or general contractor, plumber, etc.)? - Do you belong to any community groups? - Are there any community events that you value that I should consider participating in, or sponsoring? - What local retail or food establishments do you frequent? - What publications, both online and off-line, do you read or subscribe to? - Are there topics of interest you’d like to read about in our newsletter? - If we were to host a customer-appreciation event, what day of week, time, and type of event would you prefer to attend? - Which social media platforms or groups do you participate in? - What are your hobbies or interests? - What is the best time of day to contact you? What mode of communication do you prefer? - What, specifically, did you like about working with our company? - Is there anything we can do to better serve customers like you? Be sure to send a thank you note to everyone you survey along with a gift card that aligns with a hobby, interest, or retail store they frequent. Put the results to work An in-depth survey can provide the kind of insight needed to determine the best means to reach your market. You’ll learn which newspapers and magazines your customers read, what they want to hear about in your newsletter, what their top concerns are, and what other trade professionals they rely on that you should consider forming alliance relationships with. A good survey will also provide you with a better understanding of the unique needs, concerns and interests of your ideal customer that can then be incorporated into your marketing materials. Ultimately, well-conducted research will eliminate some of the ‘chance’ from your marketing plan and help ensure your efforts hit the right target.
LAUREN STAKUTIS is the owner of Strategic Adrenaline in Boston, MA. With 20 years of experience, she consults with both residential and commercial painting business owners, as well as design and trade professionals who are looking to define or redefine their business and marketing strategies for optimum growth. Her services include improving operational efficiency, developing growth and training programs, sales training, strategic marketing, communications, client engagement, recruiting and branding. StrategicAdrenaline.com firstname.lastname@example.org
May 2017 | inPAINT
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The Magazine for Professionals