You’ve done your research, gone through the business cards from your local paint store, looked at websites and Face Book pages, checked with neighbors, and have scheduled times for three paint contractors to come look at your project. Here are some helpful hints, and some things to take note of, to make the estimate be more productive for you.
- Were they on time? If running late, did they at least call? Were they early? This is actually a potential sign to watch for also. What is the perfect time to be at the appointment? Right at the appointed time, of course.
- When they rang the doorbell, how did they do it? Seriously. Did they give a ring and start peeking in the sidelights like a creeper? It happens. I’ve found the best way to let the customer know you are there is to ring the bell, and step back a few steps so you’re not crowding the door; it allows you to be invited in, as opposed to coming off as rude. It’s the little things.
- How is their appearance? There is room for variance here. Is their vehicle branded with a logo? A logo means they are, at the very least, serious about their company. Tattoos? I was in conversation with some other paint contractors about this subject with potentially hiring employees. Use your own judgement on this, I would just warn you, that if they have a tear drop tattoo on their cheek, or love-hate tattooed on their knuckles, beware. Ha!
Down To Business: Explaining Your Project
- Do they hear you? Are you speaking the same language? You have specific needs that you would like to happen with each part of the project; express them, do not assume that the contractor can read your mind. You don’t do this everyday, so, you might have concerns as to what will happen once the job starts, bring them up! This makes it easy for everyone during the painting process, and, the payment process.
- Do they seem excited, or interested in your project? If they aren’t excited when they are trying to win your business, they won’t get any better if awarded the job!
- As you describe your project, does the contractor give you indications that what you are wanting is attainable? Are they offering suggestions to collaborate with you? Your plans that you have thought up, whether it be time, product, etc., might not be possible, is the contractor coming up with good suggestions to accommodate you?
- Now that they understand the project, ask the contractor to give an overview of the job, to make absolute sure you are clear on the details.
- Don’t share prices between potential contractors, ESPECIALLY if one asks for competitors numbers. They are supposed to be the expert, let them figure the job. If you want to wrangle with them once you have all of your estimates in, that is one thing, but give each contractor time to figure his own price.
- Some painting contractors will disagree with me on this one, but, depending on the size of the job, allow a day to get back to you with pricing. Smaller jobs, like a couple rooms, or a simple exterior, can be figured on the spot, but the more complex the job, the more serious time needs to be allowed to be able to digest the whole scope of work. One work day should be sufficient.
Questions that you should ask:
- Are you insured? Can I have a copy of Insurance? If the answer is no, they are not a candidate, meeting is over. Period.
- Do you have employees, or do you use subcontractors to perform the work? If subcontractors, can I have their proof of insurance? Note: If a company uses subcontractors, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. For some reason, this is looked down upon. Typically, “subs”, are paid only when the job is completed, and a walk through inspection has been done. What this means is on Friday during the job, around 2:00 pm, painters are working because they want paid! Because of the way human nature is, an employee, rather, with not much integrity, could slow down and not get much done on a Friday. I wish it wasn’t the case, but, we’ve all witnessed it.
- Will you stay on my job until completion? Unless the job is on the exterior where weather is a factor, the answer should be, “Yes”. There are a lot of contractors that work a day or two, then go to the next one so that they can have cash flow, terrible math! They might have added cash flow, but now there is a pissed off customer that is going to rightfully inspect every square inch of their project, and take note of what time they got there, how many breaks, how long lunch was, and the list goes on and on, very bad business practice.
- Do you clean up the work space everyday, or at the end of the job?
- Will you dispose of rotted exterior trim and siding, or is that my responsibility?
- When does your workday start and end?
- What materials will you be putting on my project? This is where you should do homework beforehand and specify what products you would like. Side note: due to contrary belief, Consumer Reports is not a good source for paint products. Visit a painters forum online, check with paint stores, etc… I use only one certain brand of paint, but that doesn’t mean that the competitors don’t offer the same quality, Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, PPG, Glidden, all have good quality paint products, I just stick with one because of the relationship that I have maintained with my paint provider through the years.
Remember this if nothing else: this is your project, money, and time as the customer, you are needing to find the right company to make your vision, a reality.