Business Management, Estimating, Etc.
Chart your course to avoid obstacles during economic downturns.
by Len Hijuelos
that the painting business is cyclical — a feast or a famine. I suspect that to a degree it is true. What surprises me is that so many contractors do so little to alleviate that situation or to exercise some degree of control. It appears that while the smaller companies are the ones most impacted, they are also the ones that do the least about it.
There is little, if anything, that the painting contractor can do about economic downturns or other factors that adversely affect our industry. There are, however, a few simple things that can be done to help your business. One key factor, in my mind, is knowing what one’s work load is at any given time and thereby knowing what the manpower and financial impacts will be. In our company, we use a fairly simple chart on which we post the job, the expected duration and the expected manpower requirements.
This does several things for us. As previously noted, we can anticipate manpower, supervision, equipment and financial requirements. It also enables us to chart the high points and the low points, that is, when we have our optimum work load, and when we need additional work. This, in effect, dictates our bidding schedule.
At those times when we have reached our optimum capacity, we will not bid projects that fall into that time frame, but rather focus on those time frames where the chart indicates we need additional work. We have found that to undertake too much work at any one time is usually counterproductive and overextends our resources. On the flip side, if we don’t try to fill in the low spots, we run the risk of losing valued employees, particularly supervision types, having equipment sitting idle, and having ongoing overhead costs.
There is no rocket science involved here. In fact, I’ve found that the simplest chart I can devise works best for me, just something that at a glance shows me the peaks and valleys.
If you have a specific question or problem area you would like to see discussed, contact Len Hijuelos at P.O. Box 2585, Gretna, LA 70054 or e-mail.