“Spring wasn’t good. Half what we billed last spring, probably less. Now? We’re busy, and my crew is working long days. But I’m trying to make up what we lost in spring and maybe get work that is a little bigger than what we normally take on. We need to increase our revenue by year’s end. A new sprayer? Now? Doesn’t seem to make sense…”
Does that sound like you?
Or maybe you have built your business out of your work van, and now are looking for an opportunity to upgrade that van, add a crew that works alongside you, and raise your business to the next level. That opportunity might be the fast-food place on the corner that is looking for repaint bids. You’ve heard they own half a dozen other franchises that might need repainting as well. But how will you get your foot in the door?
If that sounds familiar, the challenge for you and similar contractors is to seize the opportunity to increase efficiency and turn added time and profit into a growth engine, according to a couple of industry specialists. It’s well known that labor is the biggest expense on any project, and using it more efficiently offers that unique opportunity for growth. And on many projects, spraying paint will reduce the labor and time needed to complete the job.
“When we’re in the field, working one-on-one with contractors, we talk in terms of the sprayer being a labor-saving device,” says Graco Sales Director Brandon Barth. “That will resonate. There may be some, ‘Gosh, I don’t want to spend this, it’s too expensive.’ But the reality may be that they really can’t afford not to buy one.
“Even without the pressure of COVID, jobs are backed up. PROs are going to want to finish as many jobs as they can between now and the end of the year. There’s no question on many jobs that if they use a sprayer, they’ll be exponentially more productive than just brushing and rolling.”
Kristin McNamara, Sherwin-Williams Director of Marketing for Associated Products and Equipment, agrees.
“Spring was challenging for many PROs, and recouping revenue before the end of the year is a priority,” says McNamara. “So they are at a crossroads — work more hours, work differently, or take on different types of work. A new sprayer gives the residential repainter, for example, the opportunity to schedule more house exteriors per week or even to competitively bid for small retail or commercial jobs. One piece of equipment provides a lot of new options.”
Cost is typically the first hurdle for a contractor to clear in a sprayer purchase consideration. Barth suggests it be viewed in a larger return-on-investment equation.
“Our goal is to sell the end user the right sprayer, where the return on investment, in terms of labor savings, is realized on the first job, or possibly the first two jobs.”
Adds McNamara, “Let’s look loosely at the numbers. You can get an entry level pump for $1200. Let’s say you do interest-free financing and pay $300 a month — or less — for four months. Then let’s say you add in an additional three projects per month. If you make at least $100 profit on those added projects — which should be easy — you’ll have covered your payment. And after four months, that extra profit will be going to your bottom line. And chances are, you are going to take on more than three extra jobs and/or make more than $100 profit on those extra jobs each month, so that’s even more cash you’ll be bringing in for your business.
“This is a very loose estimate, of course, but when a contractor starts digging into the numbers specific to their business, I think they’ll find similar benefits.”
Connecting the contractor with the right sprayer is a matter of identifying what work the contractor is doing, but also what work they hope to take on. A Graco NOVA 390 PC Electric Airless Sprayer or Titan 410 may make sense for a residential repainter looking to get on and off jobs faster but may not offer enough productivity for a painter expanding into commercial work. A larger pump like the Titan Impact 1040 or the Graco Ultimate MX 1095 would be better suited for larger jobs where multiple guns would be a benefit. And new opportunities – like the growth in sanitizing public spaces like pool decks and retail centers – may be easy to add on to property maintenance jobs with a sprayer designed for sanitizing, like the Graco SaniSpray.
Graco has also created a series of videos that address the basics of airless spraying for those who are less experienced in the use of sprayers. And several of the takeaways are important for end users looking to maximize their efficiency, according to Barth.
“When talking about using a sprayer more efficiently you’re really talking about a couple things,” he says. “The right tip ensures end users are being efficient in their application but not wasting paint. The recommended tip size is generally found with the usage and safety information for a specific paint. Once a tip starts to wear, you can’t really see it, but you’re applying more paint to the surface than you need to. Productivity starts to go down because the width of the fan pattern starts to collapse.
“It can get a little complex. But once an end user has a sprayer, they usually figure it out pretty quick.”
“That’s really the next phase,” notes McNamara. “You’ve added a sprayer, but are you maximizing its use, and using it as effectively as you should? Getting better at spraying is an important part of achieving that maximum efficiency and profitability.”
When to consider an upgrade is the next consideration for many end users, and Barth says that’s a path he’s seen well-traveled among painting contractors, whether it’s the addition of multiple smaller sprayers or a larger sprayer to increase paint-per-minute application rates. But the first step to sprayer ownership remains the most important one, according to McNamara.
“Our PROs are entrepreneurs and growing — both in size and profit — is compelling to them,” she says. “When they look at ways they can achieve growth, a sprayer can make a lot of sense. Once they get up to speed, it’s that opportunity to complete jobs faster, but also maybe take on those jobs they can’t competitively bid currently. A year later, they’ve added profit to their bottom line and diversified their business – all from adding a sprayer.”
For our full range of spray equipment pressure washers and accessories, visit our 2020-2021 Sherwin-Williams Equipment Reference Guide.