Is it time to grow your painting business? Is it time to trim costs and right-size? Or is it time to keep both hands on the wheel, and continue to forge ahead at the current size of your company?
There are neither simple nor objectively right answers to the above questions, as any solution is custom to your needs. And executing solutions, whether to grow or right-size, is never easy. But we’ve gathered ideas, considerations and questions you should ask yourself — your answers to them could help inform your decisions on how to steer your company into its future.
- Do you like to paint? Of course you do, or you wouldn’t be in the painting business. Just keep in mind that a decision to grow your business will likely reduce the time you spend with a brush or roller in your hand enjoying jobsite camaraderie, and may increase the time you spend on business management matters.
- Are you a perfectionist? The more time you spend on the necessary tasks of managing a growing company, the less time you’ll be able to spend onsite, ensuring quality control. If you’re passing on the skills you’ve perfected over the years, you’ll help ensure that quality standards will be maintained, even if you’re spending less time at the jobsite. Additional skill development for the team members of growth-minded contractors can be found among the course offerings at Paint Pro Training.
- Do you have the right people to grow? Without a doubt, you’ll need to delegate and empower employees in order to free up your time to manage should you choose a path toward growth. Look closely at those you already have on board. Best case: the people who can enable your business growth are already on your team, have earned your trust, offer a diverse and mixed skill set, and are ready to grow and take on new responsibilities themselves. This doesn’t mean you can’t find capable people outside your organization, but vet them thoroughly. You’ll be putting significant responsibility in their hands. Conversely, in the case of weak performers who are producing most of your problems, consider whether a case of “addition by subtraction” might best serve your company.
- Is your current capacity the only factor limiting your workload and inhibiting your growth? Look at demand indicators. Are you legitimately losing business due to the fact that you’re booked solid and your schedule requires you to bid jobs months out, while your competition can start work almost immediately? Look objectively at your feedback, referrals and social media chatter if you have, for example, an active Facebook presence. Does it suggest a demand is there for your services beyond that which you are able to serve?
- Do other markets offer growth opportunities? There’s something to be said for staying with your core competencies, but do opportunities exist to perform related additional services, sometimes even to the same customer base? For example, that restaurant or office space you painted might have a need for regular sanitizing services these days. Or perhaps you can complement your commercial offerings to the company for which you performed a front office repaint with light industrial coatings work or floor applications in their warehouse. It’s typically advisable not to stray too far from your core competencies. But building on those competencies, provided the skill sets are similar, teachable, and your crews are coachable, could offer new, sustainable growth opportunities.
- How well do you manage stress? For some, a trip to the gym after work makes all the workday stresses disappear, but for others, staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m. and worrying about business is a matter of routine. Grow your business and you could be growing your stressors, so be sure you have healthy means of dealing with them. Conversely, downsizing your business could downsize your stressors. It’s a choice worth considering if it results in a healthier you.
- How can third parties contribute? Even a one-person shop can maximize efficiency as well as realize significant tax savings by turning accounting or bookkeeping over to a pro, not to mention freeing you up to focus your resources on your business. Direct mail, marketing and advertising are also tasks that could be outsourced, allowing you to focus on the things you do best. Sherwin-Williams can provide an assist in addition to outsourcing certain tasks with tools such as Project Bids, Customizable Marketing Materials, online account management, online ordering, purchase history, and more, all with your Sherwin-Williams PRO account.
- Is additional guidance available? So much of running a business is trial by fire, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s no shame in talking things over with someone who has already traveled the path you may be traveling. Consult a small business coach to help talk you through further considerations about how and when to adjust the size of your operation. Consider joining a professional association locally, or an industry association such as the Painting Contractors Association (PCA), which offers members forums such as “Ask-a-Peer” as well as other networking opportunities to help guide your decision-making.
- Should you offer apprenticeships? Sherwin-Williams is increasing its partnership with PCA in more ways than one. The PCA Apprenticeship Program will help further train the next generation of contractors and provide a clear, standardized and approachable training program that contractors can use to develop staff personnel at zero cost. It’s a great way to grow the capabilities of your business. Learn more at pcapainted.org/apprenticeship.
Whether or not growth is in your future, no approach will be right for everyone. But addressing the questions and considerations involved can help you make the best decision for your painting business.