A recent poll by American Painting Contractor magazine asked painting contractors about their biggest business challenges.  This is the last of three blogs addressing the most reported challenges.

In the painting contractor business, time is money – and unscheduled time is lost money.

Running a business takes money. So does paying your employees – including yourself! When you’re short of work, each empty hour on the work calendar is a missed opportunity to pay for each of those things.  Light schedules can also lead to other problems. If your employees aren’t satisfied with the number of hours you’re providing them, they’ll find another employer who can provide more.

All of these stressors can lead painting contractors who are short of work to swing into full sales and marketing mode – cutting prices, increasing advertising and saying yes to more types of jobs. But while packing an upcoming month with work might offset the financial losses of a slow month, it also causes problems of its own. Boom-and-bust work cycles put you and your employees on a roller coaster of money worries and physically exhausting 60 hour weeks.

So a balanced schedule is important. But how do you navigate through customers schedules, unexpected employee absences and seasonal changes in demand to get a well-rounded weekly calendar of work?  It’s no wonder that painting contractors with more than one or two teams often employ an office staff member who spends most of their time juggling the scheduling needs of customers, employees and the business itself.

Are there other ways to spread your work out?  Unfortunately, nothing is going to completely get rid of scheduling challenges.  But there are ways to improve them. Here are three things you can do to make schedules work out better for everyone.

Tips to Build a Better Work Schedule

Use Calendar Software

The most avoidable scheduling challenge is the scheduling mix-up.  If you and your customers sometimes have a different memory of what time you agreed on, a new process may save some future headaches. Calendar software like Google Calendar or Calendly will allow you put an appointment on your calendar and to send “invitations” to customers via email for that exact same time.

Right after agreeing with a customer on a time add the job to your calendar and send an invitation to the customer as well.  You’ll get a notice if they accept the invitation and you’ll know both of you have the same time on your calendar.  Another bonus – calendar software will also notify you if you try to schedule two customers at the same time, helping you avoid a last-minute customer apology and scheduling shuffle.

Implement Off-Season Discounts

If you’ve ever rented a house for a vacation you’ve probably noticed that the prices can vary dramatically depending on the season when you’re visiting.  For instance, if you’re looking to stay on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan, you can probably get a significant discount in January.  You’ll also need to plan pretty carefully, because the ferries stop running when the waterways freeze over.

Painting has a peak season too.  And if your schedule starts reaching a point when you feel pretty comfortable that it’s going to fill up during peak season, it might be a good time to start offering a fall or winter discount for new customers who aren’t in a hurry.  You might not make quite as much profit on the job in the fall or winter, but you’ll avoid a lot of stress in the spring and summer.  And you’ll also be happy to already have jobs on the calendar for months when work is harder to come by.

Alert Your Team to Busy Weeks

Review your calendar regularly and make sure to give employees as much notice as possible when you’re facing a busy week (or month).  If employees only have a week’s notice, they might not be able to move other obligations quickly enough to provide the extra hours you need.  If you already know that next month’s schedule is looking crowded (and you don’t expect that to change) letting employees know a month early gives them extra time to prepare for a heavy workload and the extra pay that comes with it.

To learn how ProPainter Websites can help your painting contracting business bring in more customers, call us at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com.