Corona Virus and Painting – 5 Things to Ignore and 18 Warning Signs

Hey, painting contractors are asking me if they should be worried about this coronavirus and I’m not very worried about it and I don’t think you should be either. Wash your hands, stay away from China, you’re going to be just fine. We’re all going to be just fine.

Things that are outside of your locus of control you should not worry about, but I’ve got a list here of five things that you also don’t need to worry about, and then I got a list of 18 things that should keep you up at night, that should make you break out into a cold sweat. And this is after doing 1067 hour long business assessments. I’m going to tell you exactly what painting contractors should worry about and what they shouldn’t. Are you ready? Here we go.

5 Things Painting Contractors Don’t Have to Worry About

The no worry list. Your competitors. You can’t do anything about them. Licensed, unlicensed, illegal, legal, cheap, broke, rich, can’t do anything about them. Don’t worry about it.

What people tell you, your process has to be. Most painting contractors have picked like an arbitrary process out of the air. They heard at the paint store, were told about a GC, they think it’s luck engraved on their tombstone, not so.

The government. You don’t run it, give a little money, maybe volunteer, maybe vote and that’s all you can do.

Your unique local market. Oh, my markets full of cheap people. My market is full of rich people. My market’s full of this type of contractor. Not true. I’ve worked with 430 some odd painting contractors in six different countries of all shapes and sizes. Your market is hardly any different from anybody else’s. Don’t hang on that as an excuse because it’s just not true.

Your hard luck story. Okay. Everybody’s got a hard luck story. 90% of people do not care about your problems. The other 10% are glad you’ve got them. So don’t worry about your problems, don’t tell people about them. Just try to go through your life and maybe fix them.

Okay? Those are the five big things you don’t need to worry about. Let’s talk about things that you do need to worry about. Here are 18 of them, and these are things that if they won’t ruin your business, they’ve probably already ruined it and have maybe even ruined it for several decades. If you’ve got some of these, now’s the time to worry. Okay? So if you’ve got a pen and a piece of toilet paper, take it out, we’re going to get some notes here. Okay? Things you should worry about.

18 Things Painting Contractors Should Worry About

Number one. Crappy attitudes, especially yours. Rich painters and poor painters have the same amount of hours in the week. Same problem, same labor force, same opportunities. If you’ve got a bad attitude or if you’re surrounded by people with bad attitudes, can’t get it done attitudes, worry about that.

Being lazy or indecisive. Don’t wait 20, 30 years to fix something that you know is a problem. Fix it today. Don’t be lazy about it. Once you know you’ve got fix it and you’ve got a solution that’s 80% decent, go do that thing. Okay? Don’t take forever.

Not communicating or marketing to your past clients. This is just dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. So we find all these people that actually pay us money. Where do we spend all our money? Talking to people that don’t know us from Adam’s house cat. You know, your repeat customers have large transactions. Net new ones have small ones. They close at 60-70% and that net new closes at 30. Their price sensitive on the net new side. They’re not price sensitive on the repeat side. Where we spend all our money? Net new. Where do we not spend any money? Repeat. If you haven’t talked to your clients in a consistent way, on a monthly basis, through multiple mediums, you’re an idiot. Worry about that.

Pathetic, persuasive or unpersuasive sales processes. Okay? I’ve been drinking a little bit. So pathetic unpersuasive sales processes. If you’ve got to show up, pet the dog, email a PDF estimate, maybe hand them a business card, maybe follow up a couple of times and you know, move on. That sucks. It’s terrible. It’s why your closing rates are awful. Or your processes are cheap. Worry about that. Start biting your fingernails about that.

Failing to do daily job costing. What you do for a living is that you buy labor wholesale and you sell it retail at a profit. If you don’t track how many labor hours are sold, and if you don’t track how many are used and you don’t know how much money you’re making, worry about that.

Not knowing production rates, pay rates or labor rates. Three most important rates. If you’re guessing your projects, if you don’t know what you pay a painter on average, if you don’t know what your charge rate is on average, if you don’t know if you’re getting it, that’ll ruin your business. Worry about that.

No recruitment and hiring systems. You kind of got to have humans to run a painting business. And if you spent $500 last year and two or three hours and then you just posted an ad on Craigslist and maybe asked your guys if they knew anybody and then threw up your hands and said oh, you just can’t find good help. Worry about that. That something to worry about.

Doing new construction work. That’s garbage. I’ll put all the buildings out there and you want to pick the one that takes the highest cost of administration with the lowest margins, the most headaches and the slowest pay. If you abdicate your marketing sales and operating responsibilities to a GC, you’re going to pay a price. It’s going to be zero equity and low income. Be frighteningly worried about that.

Spending money on net new marketing without tracking. Nothing wrong with net new marketing, spend it wherever you want to, but you better have a dedicated URL and a phone number so you can tell what your cost of lead and cost of sale is.

Failing to go after commercial repaints. They’re all over the place. Yeah, that’s a little harder than some of the other stuff, but you should be going after it. It’s hard to get rich painting grandma’s bedroom. You can do it, but man, it sure is nice to have a couple of good paydays.

Not time blocking. If you are an owner, and if I look at your calendar for the next three, four weeks and there’s nothing on there to go after new business, there’s nothing on there for self improvement, there’s nothing on there for trying to discover new ways to market, to sell, to recruit, and yet there are places on there to run paint, to start jobs, to do estimates. If you spend your whole life oriented around things that don’t improve your business and then try to cram in a little business improvement whenever you’re not busy, that ain’t going to work. Worry about that.

Getting in personal and business debt. Yeah, worry about that. If you’re still in debt after about a couple of years in a painting business, you’re doing it all wrong. No need to get into debt. You don’t need any debt. This is a cashflow business. Stay away from that stuff. It’ll ruin your life.

Eating too much and not exercising. Worry about that. Not only does it make you feel bad, you’re going to not have the energy to work. You’re not going to have the clarity of mind to work. You’re not going to be around for your grandkids, as long as they would like to see you. Worry about that.

Treating your employees lot garbage. Sometimes I talk to people over the phone or in person, I can tell they hate their employees in the first five minutes I speak with them. Imagine what a delight you are to work with for 40 hours a week. That’s why they’re leaving. That’s why you’re having hiring and management issues.

Forgetting your family and friends while working like a slave. That’s kind of a problem. Can’t do that. If your personal life’s in shambles, your business life will probably be in shambles.

Not having training, systems or tools in place for your employees in the field. If you just show up and verbally, blah, blah, blah, a few things and then walk away and get all mad when they don’t do the perfect job and come in on budget, whose fault is that? Your fault. Not their fault.

Investing zero time in getting serious about the business side of your business. The day that you decided to become a painting contractor and a business owner, you quit becoming a painter. That’s not your role anymore. And if you spend three, four years learning how to be a good painter, but you spent zero time learning how to do business functions and yet your business is failing, well, I wonder damned why? Should be pretty simple.

And then finally, failing to set personal goals. Kind of hard to get to where you want to get if you’ve never written down on paper where you want to go or how you’re going to get there.


Now listen, I know that we’ve got lots of Corona in the news. I’ve got lots of Corona here and it’s working hours. I’m going to drink it, but we ain’t got to worry about that. We can’t control that. We can’t do anything about that. So what you and I need to do is focus on what we can focus on. And if any of the things on that list of 18 are a who, are a problem, are undealt with, take this coronavirus epidemic, now pandemic, and figure out how you can take that worry and direct it toward things that matter and then constructively do something about it.

Now, if you need help with any of that, I’ve been doing that with painting contractors, hundreds and hundreds of them, for years now. Pick up the phone, send me an email, I’d be happy to do it and maybe we can even have a beer or a Corona together while we do it. Take care of guys. Don’t worry about all this stuff in the news. You just focus on you, your business, your family. You’ll be just fine. Later guys.

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