The Path to Professionalism: A Step-By-Step Guide from the PCA

This article is the first of a new four-part series from Pintor Pro and the Painting Contractors Association (PCA) designed to help you understand and prepare for the challenges of business growth.

The foundation

Professionalization is the step-by-step procedure for laying a solid business foundation to ensure your painting company’s long-term success, profitability and your quality of life.

We’ll start with the basics – finding customers, production standards, building systems and making money. Continue reading to discover how to transform your technical painting skills into a profitable and successful business.

Getting started

Congratulations – you have just started (or are about to start) your business! To ensure success, get systematic! Pilots use systems checklists so their planes don’t crash – you can do the same, so your business doesn’t crash.

To ensure success, you need a business operating system, including:

  • job descriptions for your painters so they know what is expected of them
  • clearly written estimates that detail what you plan to paint and what you plan NOT to paint
  • hours available for your painters to use to complete the project
  • a simple contract for your customers to sign – be sure to reference the PCA Industry Standards in your contracts and make sure your painters know them inside and out – the Standards will save you money and headaches.
  • a marketing/social media strategy to increase your visibility, brand your company and attract new business
  • an excellent relationship with your Sherwin-Williams sales rep

Finally, don’t forget proper insurance coverage. Life happens and despite your best intentions, something unpleasant may happen one day. Proper coverage will save your business and bank account and help you sleep at night.

Professionalizing your business will make you stand out from the crowd, help you sell jobs at a more profitable margin and delight your customers.

PRO TIP: Sherwin-Williams offers easy-to-use customizable sales and marketing tools for contractors with a PRO+ account.

Life’s lessons to remember

  • Problems happen – don’t take them personally! Instead see each headache as an opportunity to improve your systems
    – communication, training, etc. Five-star Google reviews are great but the feedback that comes from the picky customer is actually more worthwhile, so lean in, own it and improve your company. This attitude will help you grow.
  • “Trust the data.” Measure your productivity and profitability on EVERY project – share these numbers with your team – the wins AND the losses. Your painters need to know if they are meeting goals and making the company money!
  • Hiring experts to support the expansion of your painting company can allow you to manage your business more efficiently by reducing the amount of time you spend spreading yourself thin. There are 24 hours in a day, no matter how hard you work, so don’t become a bookkeeper or HR specialist, and don’t design your own website. Focus on managing your company and use the “who, not how” principle to grow your team.
  • “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Guess what? Your painters will leave you, even if they love you – life changes, illness, etc. Always be hiring. Even if you are perfectly content keeping your business the size it is, continue to refine everything you do to maximize productivity and profitability – more profit means better benefits for you, your team, more opportunities to train and educate your team at trade events like PCA EXPO, and it also means you can retain your top talent.
  • Take advantage of all Sherwin-Williams and resources available to help you improve your business knowledge. Join a coaching group, share your experience with industry professionals in a trade association specifically designed to meet your needs.

This story was published in the Spring 2022 issue of Pintor Pro magazine. Written by Nigel Costolloe, Executive Director, and Katie Jacome, Marketing Manager of the Painting Contractors Association (PCA), a trade organization dedicated to the success of painting contractors by maintaining industry standards, providing best in-class education, and building a community of like-minded peers. Read more articles on how to build your painting business in the Pintor Pro magazine archive.