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COVID-19; the situation for contractors

18 March, 2020

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The news on Covid-19 is changing rapidly, and painting companies, as well as most every business in America, are faced with tough decisions and challenges. Business owners are working to make sure their employees and customers stay safe and to make sure they can weather some severe interruptions in service during this time.

As a business owner, your employees, family, and clients will likely remember how you demonstrated your leadership skills and stood by them during trying times. It’s important to remain calm and make informed decisions regarding not only physical health and safety, but financial health as well.

Maintaining Health on the Job

Here are some basic hygiene guidelines, including some from a blog post published by Nolan Consulting Group with some suggestions as to how to proceed with public health in mind. For the complete Nolan article visit Most importantly, it’s urgent that your employees take this situation seriously and adjust behavior.

  1. Wash hands, don’t touch faces, limit touching anything, and wash hands. Washing hands is the single biggest deterrent (outside of quarantine) to the spread of the coronavirus.
  2. Remind your Employees to wash their hands. 
  3. Temporarily suspend all crew leader meetings or conduct them virtually.
  4. Suspend handshakes.
  5. Solidify your crews, limit their movement between groups.
  6. If anyone is sick, they should be staying home. Keep up to date with new regulations surrounding paid time off policies. See our resources page for more info. 

Cash Flow Considerations

Cash flow may also be an issue. As businesses are slowing down or coming to a stop, Morgan Ray from Bookkeepers for Painters, has some thoughts on looking for new jobs and handling your finances if things slow down, which she shared with us in a recent Paint Radio Podcast:

  1. Approach businesses that are closed. No one is there, so they might as well get it done now. It avoids the regular interruption of having painting done during occupancy and you might even be able to work out a discount or payment plan.
  2. It's time to hit those receiveables. You've done the work, now it's time to collect.
  3. Check on deposits. If you are doing estimates and scheduling work out, now is a time to ask for deposits - 15%-20% is industry standard.
  4. If work is being delayed because of the customer's cash flow, consider working out a payment plan. As she said in her recent blog on the topic: "Remember: demand is going to come back, and you don't want to push everything back, then struggle to meet the production need! Better to have cash in the pipeline, than a glut of leads that could go somewhere else if you aren't there quick enough."
  5. Look at Credit Cards or Lines of Credit. If payroll is a concern, a Line of Credit will allow you to have the money available without paying interest until you use it. 

Help with N95 Shortage

Due to a shortage of N95 masks, the White House has asked the trades to donate masks to local health care facilities and refrain from ordering more so as not to aggravate the shortage. The statement from the Vice President’s office reads as follows:

"We would make one specific request, and that is we would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders of those industrial masks. Because of what the president asked to be included in legislation moving through the Congress today, those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for health care workers to be protected from a respiratory disease.

"We are asking construction companies that our president knows very well from his background. We are asking them to donate their N95 masks to their local hospitals and also forgo making additional orders."

Reports from Contractors

As of Wednesday March 18, contractors have seen various degrees of business interruptions. Some have mentioned no change at this point, other have mentioned that that leads are dwindling but the company is still busy with previously booked work. Others are reporting estimate cancellations, and one has said the job to paint on a college campus was delayed as the university has closed up.

Another painter commented that while it’s still business as usual, the crisis is getting too hard to ignore, and the crew is getting nervous. Another contractor reports they keep building occupants away from the work area so as to limit exposure. Others are only doing exterior projects to stay out of clients’ homes, and some homeowners have postponed interior work, stating they don’t want anyone else inside.

One painter predicted that as homeowners and business are losing their source of income, they’ll be cancelling contracts with painters because they need to hang on to their cash. Another reported he’d just lost 13 weeks of work for a crew of four. “I’m scrambling to keep guys working,” he said.

Cindy Howard of Decorative & Faux Finishes, Sugar Land, TX, shared an idea to counter a business slowdown, suggesting that this is a good time to offer discounted prices to retail locations, schools, designer store fronts, restaurants, etc. that are seeing less to no clientele coming into their business. “Sell your work with a spin,” she says. “Say, ‘While people are staying closer to home, why not freshen up your space? I can offer cost of products plus labor without mark up for the next couple of weeks. I have .[..dates...]. available.’ Don't be doom and gloom. Be a solution.”


Please contact us with any questions or concerns at and we will do our best to address them in a future article.

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