What to Look for in a Commercial Painting Contractor

April 1, 2013

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Repainting your industrial facility is a huge job and a significant financial outlay. There are a number of factors to be considered when it becomes necessary to restore your facility’s painted surfaces. You should always utilize a bidding process, but it is also important to remember that the lowest bid isn’t always the most cost effective. There are other factors to consider. Will the job be completed on time? Will they work with you to create a painting schedule that minimizes down time? Are quality materials are being used? What about preparation of the surfaces? Will that be done properly? What will they do to protect non-painted areas? These are just a few of the questions that must be asked before entering into any contractual agreement. Paying attention to the following five areas will help ensure you hire the best industrial painting company for your facility needs. 

Do they have a good reputation?

How do you know? Ask for references, and then actually call them. In addition to getting their standard reference list, ask for the last five jobs they have done. When you call the references, ask them the questions that most concern you. Ask specific questions. Don’t just ask, “Were you satisfied?” Instead ask, “What most impressed you about their work?” Or “Did they adhere to the work schedule you had discussed?” Check with the Better Business Bureau. Explore the internet feedback on them, but do so with a grain of salt. Look for patterns, not just one poor review. If you have contacts in your area with similar facilities, check with them; they may have input on the contractor you are considering.

What is their experience?

Don’t simply ask how long they have been in business, although that is an important consideration. Equally important is how much experience they have with your particular needs. If you have a predominantly steel structure, a house painter who has been in business for 25 years but only painted one steel structure is not the contractor you want for your job. Educate yourself on the different types of coatings available and ask the contractor which they would recommend for your situation. Ask them specifically how often they have used that type of coating. Experience is valuable; experience in your specific area of need is invaluable.

How well do they communicate?

Pay attention to your initial contact and ongoing communications with the company. Do they respond promptly? Do they actually answer the questions you ask? Do they listen to you and your desires? A company that is well run will communicate constantly, via whatever channel (phone, email, text) you need them to. They will keep you in the loop without your having to follow up constantly, or ask more than once for what you need. Make sure they are honest and realistic about what they can and cannot do. Far better to hear “It will be two days before I can get there,” than to have to reschedule at the last minute. If you can’t talk to them when you need to about what you need to, they are not the right contractor for you.

What about their manpower and qualifications?

A one man shop has its advantages. For a large facility, it has significant disadvantages. Find out if the contractor has the manpower to do your job in a timely manner, without having to move so fast the job quality suffers. Do they have long term employees or do they just use temps? Be sure and ask how long the employees being used on your job have been with the company. This is important for two reasons. First, it will show if the workers being used have the experience needed for your job. And equally important, longevity in employees says good things about the company and its management. Ask if the company has any special certifications or industry recognition. Are they bonded? What kind of insurance do they carry? Do they have the proper licenses?

How competitive is their price?

The bidding process is important. You want to get a quality job for a reasonable price. Don’t simply go for the lowest price. Sometimes the best company will give you the lowest price. Sometimes they can’t, because to do a job right costs more than simply doing a job. If you like a contractor, but their price is higher than others, ask them to explain why that might be the case. If they simply ‘bad mouth’ the other companies or speak in generalities, then you might not want to choose them. If, on the other hand, they carefully explain the nature of their costs, you may discover that they are doing things the others are leaving out. Or their materials are of better quality. This means their work will last longer and be more cost effective in the long run.

Before you sign any contract, make sure you have done your homework. Know exactly what the contractor will be doing, what materials will be used and so forth. Quality commercial painting contractors will provide you with a contract that is specific and comprehensive. Read it carefully before you sign it. That way you will be able to watch craftsman do what they do best without worrying about the bottom line.

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