Keep it Simple

Many painting contractors express great resistance to developing systems for their business. One of the most common reasons I hear is that painting is too complex. There are too many variables involved and a painter must assess those variables to determine the proper course of action.

It is certainly true that there are many variables involved in painting a house. But this is not an argument against systems; it actually demonstrates the value of systems.

To illustrate, let us consider a typical exterior painting job performed by my company. The job consists of preparing and painting fascia, soffit, siding, doors, and windows. There is some minimal peeling on a few fascia boards, and several pieces of rotting siding that need to be replaced.

I strongly suspect that you could identify the steps required to prepare and paint this house, even with my minimal description. And I also strongly suspect that the order of your steps would be very similar to mine: Clean; scrape and sand the loose paint; replace the damaged wood; spot prime; caulk; paint. Further, I suspect that the steps for completing each of these tasks would also be similar. Why is this?

Even with all of the complexity involved in painting a house, there are certain tasks that must be performed in a certain order. (There may be some options, such as replacing damaged wood before scraping and sanding.) If we don’t complete these tasks, or do them in an improper order, we will not get the desired results.

You might think, “But every job is different. It isn’t as easy as A, B, C. Often, once we start the job we have to re-evaluate and modify our approach.” While this last is true, it doesn’t refute my point.

The process of re-evaluating requires certain steps. The process of identifying the specific conditions of the job requires certain steps. The process of deciding the best course of action requires certain steps. Indeed, everything associated with the job requires certain steps.

To a young child, learning to tie his shoes is a very complicated endeavor. He must learn specific steps and then master the physical skills involved. When he does this, what was once a complex process becomes quite easy. The same is true of painting a house.

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