Building a business of any type is difficult. Market conditions and competition make it a challenge to succeed in even the best environments. Add in that once you’ve booked the business you also have to perform the service itself and it can seem like handling administrative tasks, driving sales, and actually performing the work are each full-time jobs in and of themselves. If you have any hope of actually having the time to handle more than one full-time job on your own, you have to make time management a priority.
At some point, your paint business may grow to have dedicated sales people, office personnel, and project managers, but at the moment, you are likely wearing many hats and doing many different jobs. As a result, your time is more precious then ever and wasting it is not an option if you are to succeed long term. Here are five tips for making the most of your time when it comes to selling paint services.
- Consolidate appointments: In many cases, painters will look for the next available gap in their schedule when it comes time to go on-site and bid a job. A potential client calls and asks for a bid, the painter thinks of when they can break free to make the visit, and an appointment is set. But what’s the rush? So long as you don’t make the potential client wait more than a day or two, you are unlikely to lose the business to someone who bid the job quicker than you did. Instead, pick one or two days a week to handle all site visits for potential clients. Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning are both good times to schedule all site visits. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting gas and precious time by racing all over town and bidding on jobs at a moment’s notice.
- Consolidate jobs: Schedule management is a problem not just for painters, but for a wide range of service professionals. Some clients may have an urgent need, but many will understand if you need to wait a few days to start their job. If you have multiple jobs in the same area that won’t fit into a standard, full day, make sure and pay attention to when you schedule the work. Putting jobs in nearby geographies saves fuel cost and reduces the time you are behind the wheel, which could be better spent wielding a paint brush.
- Consolidate financial tasks: So many tasks and processes related to bookkeeping and collections can actually be made simpler. If you are using a quality bookkeeping program like Quickbooks or Peachtree, take the time to automate common tasks like emailing invoices and statements to clients. Furthermore, look into having an online payment portal on both your website and on each invoice to allow clients to pay you electronically. Driving to pick up a check or waiting by the mailbox for a check in the mail are both wastes of time. Furthermore, your bank may well have a system that allows business owners to deposit checks remotely without having to make a trip to a local branch. Investing a little time now to set up shortcuts for time-consuming tasks will more than pay for itself over the long term. Think of it this way: if you can reduce the time you spend driving to the bank, going inside for a deposit, and driving back to the office to one hour per week from two hours per week, you will gain more than ONE WEEK of productive work time during the year. That’s time enough for two or three more small jobs!
- Consolidate shopping trips: If you are able to plan your jobs in advance and set a schedule for the week, then you should know what materials you need for the week’s work well ahead of time. Make one trip to the paint store for rollers, paint, drop cloths, and any other tools and materials you need. Racing back and forth between a job site and the paint or hardware store because you need another brush or gallon of paint isn’t just extra cost, it’s wasted time.
- Consolidate administrative activities: As tough as it can be to ignore a ringing phone or an inbox with unanswered messages, try and remember that your productivity is enhanced with focus and decreased with distraction. Set aside specific times in the day to return phone messages and reply to emails. Once again, some potential clients may have an urgent need, but the vast majority will understand if they don’t hear from you immediately. Their need for urgency isn’t more important then your need for organization and efficiency. Scheduling three thirty minute blocks throughout the day for phone and email correspondence is a great way to avoid getting pulled away from actual work.
If you were to keep track of how you spend your time each week, you would no doubt be shocked at how many minutes or hours are wasted. That’s not to say that you should be going “pedal to the metal” all day, every day. But leaking time on tasks, errands, and work that can be handled more efficiently can seriously effect your bottom line. More available time means more time to perform paying jobs. Less money spent on fuel or materials means a healthier bottom line. The time savings add up and turn into the kind of money that will move your business from barely getting by to wildly profitable. Incorporating the tips above should get you going in the right direction. Click here to learn more paint business tips and ideas for increasing paint business profits!