In this series of interviews, called Industry Insiders, we talk with business owners from various industries to get some insight into their respective fields. Jon Ray is the owner of PaintGreen, a house painting company in San Diego, California.
What do you think are the most important things homeowners should consider before hiring a house painter?
First, is the painter licensed, bonded, and insured? If not, the homeowner is taking a big risk. (I recently wrote an article on this topic for MySanDiego.org.) Second, how strong is the painter’s reputation for doing quality work? You can gauge reputation by looking at multiple online review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google. Third, how clear is the contract? Vague, simple contracts can lead to big problems once work has started. Precise, thorough contracts make it clear what exactly is included and excluded, what products are to be used, and show that the painter knows how to avoid problems by communicating well.
What is the most challenging part of owning a residential painting company?
Finding solid, reliable, motivated workers takes a lot of time and effort. I can teach someone how to paint, but I can’t teach them how to arrive on time, treat others well, and care about what they do. It’s taken me 13 years of running PaintGreen to find the crews I have now, and I do all I can to make sure they are happy and well taken care of. I’ve learned that taking good care of my painters makes them want to take good care of our clients.
What do you wish homeowners would understand about the house painting industry?
There is a wide variety of quality and pricing when it comes to San Diego house painters. Never go cheap unless you’re prepared to deal with disappointment. Quality-oriented painters will not be the cheapest up front, but will ultimately save you money and headache by delivering quality service and a paint job that lasts longer.
What type of training do good, professional house painters receive?
Typically, painters start as helpers by doing the masking, cleanup, and easier jobs. After demonstrating mastery of the basics, they are taught the finer skills like cutting, texture matching, and spraying. Painters with a high level of skill and good charisma can become crew leaders who manage entire jobs. Crew leaders can become production managers, estimators, and eventually become General Managers. Some even take the leap to open their own businesses. The vast majority of training is on-the-job, with higher skilled painters teaching what they know to the newer painters.
Can homeowners really expect a better end result when they hire a professional painter, vs doing the job themselves?
Homeowners should never even consider painting the exterior of their house themselves. Exterior painting protects the structure from the weather. If done improperly, it can lead to expensive repairs and having to redo all the work. You wouldn’t write your own will because it’s too important and easy to mess up. Same with exterior painting.
Interior painting is easy to try, but hard to master. Anyone can buy the tools and paint and give it a go, but they are usually disappointed with the final results and are almost always surprised that it takes them a really long time. Professionals can get a sharp, polished job done in a quarter of the time it would take the average amateur.
What types of things set your painting company apart from others in the industry?
PaintGreen has been in business 14 years and we’ve painted several thousand homes. We’ve come across just about every challenge there is when painting a house. We have systems in place to ensure thorough communication (like our highly detailed bids), proper job execution (job jackets communicate all the details of the job to our crews), quality control (regular job inspections and a 5-year warranty), and a high service standard (crews are bonused based on client feedback). All of this working together has resulted in PaintGreen becoming one of the highest and most reviewed paint contractors in San Diego.