Stressed About Being “Behind Schedule?” Don’t Be…


Yesterday, one of my APPC members was really down on himself – in my opinion, unnecessarily so.

He was worried about how far out he was booking jobs. He was worried about all the estimates he had to give.

“How am I going to make these clients happy since we are so far booked out? When can I find the time to run all these bids?,” he said.

I could tell he felt like he was letting people down. It really stressed him out.

Are you dealing with this now in your company?

Are you pushed to the limit trying to get all the work done?

Is it impacting your personal life?


If so, let me give you some advice…


Take a breath.


There is more to life than your painting business.

That said, let me give you some advice on what to do.

1 – How Much Labor Capacity Do You Have Anyway?

The truth is this: There is a limited amount of painters that you are going to put into the field this year. It might be 5 it might be 15. I don’t know what your numbers are when the dust settles.

For example, if you have 10 painters you can only process about 400 labor hours of work per week. So, in a way, it doesn’t matter financially to you if you’re two weeks out or two years.

It makes ZERO difference for your income. ZERO.

Get to a crew size you are comfortable with and let that be that.

2 – Tell Your Clients the Truth Up Front

“Before I come out to give you an estimate, I want to let you know that I’m X weeks out. I know that’s a long time to wait, but we are in the middle of a labor shortage as you well know. I could refer you to another painter, but all the ones I know and trust are as far out as me – most are further out because they have smaller crews.”

“Are you ok with this?”

3 – STOP Estimating “Whenever” the Client Can See You

In your painting business, you do the same things over, and over, and over again.

When you take your days and sprinkle things throughout them that are not similar, it causes chaos in your calendar. It creates unneeded stress and zaps your productivity.

If you start your morning with an estimate, then run some paint, then switch to some office work, then go for another estimate and then do a commercial sales call… you are not doing any of it well or efficiently.

Set the specific days and times you will do estimates.

If a client can’t make that work, don’t see them.

Simply tell them the truth.

“Mr. Customer, I try my best to make sure we do quality work. Part of that quality comes from my focus and oversight on operations. In order to do that well, I have to limit the days and times I do estimates.”

“Otherwise, I would be taking my attention away from my clients who I am currently doing work for in a way that would hurt the customer experience. I hope you can understand that.”

“Can we look at a date that’s a little further out for you on a Tuesday or Thursday? If not, I get it. We may just not be a good fit.”

4 – Make Sure Your Estimates Are Accurate – And Your Jobs Are Profitable

For some reason, and maybe it’s the struggle we all went through getting enough work to pay the bills when we started our painting companies, we can get really focused on being busy… but ignore making money.

We can get really focused on serving the clients and the painters, but fail to serve ourselves and our families along the way.

I think this is the condition that results from being a painter, crew leader and then an owner.

As a painter and crew leader, the only thing that matters is doing the job and then moving on to the next one as fast as you can.

That is not at all what matters when you are an owner.

If you are not using production rates, calculate them and use them. Without this, all your estimates will vary so widely you’ll either lose half your profits or overcharge the client – which often results in losing the job entirely.

Also, without production rates that give you accurate labor hour budgets, you can’t – in good conscience – hold your painters accountable. If it’s just a guess, you can’t hold them to it.

Daily labor hour reporting and job costing from crew members and operations managers is essential. This is as important as watching the road ahead when you drive.

Without it, you’ll never hit your 50% gross profit goals on projects.

If you don’t hit the 50% gross profit goal, you’ll never hit your 30% cash-flow-to-owner goal.

To close out on this…

Don’t get freaked out about having more work than you can handle.

Just do what you can do as you can do it.

Make sure your operations are efficient, low-stress and profitable.

Then, and only then, should you even worry about recruitment.

Recruitment without good operations and management systems just makes the problem worse.

Control your schedule. Control your profits.

Do your best.

Go home.

Forget about work.

Live your life.

Now… Go get ‘em!

Have a GREAT weekend!

Brandon Lewis
Painting Business Coach
Founder, The Academy for Professional Painting Contractors

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