Comparing Boston Commercial Painting Companies

Chapter 3

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Chapter 3: How to compare Commercial Painting Contractors

Assuming you’ve done your homework and have two or three Commercial Paint Companies you’re considering, here’s how to make sure they give you a quote that will make the winning painting bid easier to award.

Develop an RFP (Request for Proposal).

Block of text that says "Commercial Painting RFP Template"
Click above to download a free Commercial Painting RFP template in Microsoft Word.

Step-by-step instructions on how to develop an RFP are here.

Price Quotes from Commercial Painting Companies:

Make sure the specifications you give each Commercial Painting Company to bid on are EXACTLY the same.

This is important because if one Boston Commercial Painting Company assumes one coat of paint and another Commercial Painter assumes two coats of paint, you will not be able to compare bids accurately. Commercial Painting reps can help you devise a set of specifications, so you have the same specs to give to all bidders.

But what if the specifications change in the middle of the bidding process?

This happens all the time – Here’s the best way to proceed:  Have the Boston Commercial Painting Companies bid on the original specifications and ADD the new specifications as an option to the work they bid on separately.

Never give a Commercial Painter a “peek” at the other company’s pricing

It’s important that the Commercial Painting estimators show you their quotes and services unaided by any help from you.

Do share your budget and timeline with the commercial painter.

By understanding your complete budget, the painting project can be quoted using lifts, paint spray guns, and paint products that can save you money while still delivering a quality paint job.

Remember, you are still in the interviewing stage, and you’re looking for them to produce a quote within a reasonable timeframe (up to 3 business days is average and “reasonable”). The bidding phase often foreshadows what it will be like to work with the Boston Commercial Painting Company once the project is awarded, so carefully pay attention to the painting company’s behavior at this stage.

It’s also common for the Commercial Painting estimator to reach out to you to clarify the scope of painting work or ask other project-related questions. The estimator’s extra attention shows they are doing their best to get the quote right and accurate – a good sign!

8 Questions to ask a commercial painter you’re considering.

Comparing Boston Commercial Painters
(Click on this graphic to download or print these questions as a PDF)

Some things to talk about with your Boston Commercial Painting Company before you hire them:

1. In the quoting stage, ensure all the following information is written in a formal quote.

What’s included in the painting quote?

Have them include everything they’re bidding on in writing. The more writing and photos they include in the quote, the better you will avoid misunderstandings later.  Be sure the details are specific and include brand names and grades of paint coatings. To clarify, a paint “coating” is just fancy lingo for a paint “type” (like exterior paint, direct-to-metal paint and interior paint etc.).

What’s excluded from the painting quote?

Have them spell out these “excluded” items in writing to clarify what’s not included in their bid.  For example, if window trim is not painted, it should be spelled out as “excluded” on the quote.

When will the Commercial Painting Company start the project, and how long will it take to finish?

The length of time a commercial painting job takes is usually proportional to the number of painters on the crew.  For exteriors, wet weather can prolong a painting project because exteriors cannot be painted in the rain or even when the substrate is damp.  To clarify, the definition of “substrate” is what’s being painted (i.e., drywall, clapboards, vinyl, metal)

Ask the Commercial Painting Contractor to include pictures or videos in the painting quote so the scope of the work they are bidding on is very clear.

For larger projects, how will the project will be “staged?”

You want to understand how the Commercial Painting company plans to organize your project in smaller “steps.”  This is important if you need to fit in painting around other trades like electricians and plumbers or your business’ workflow.  If some work occurs at night or on the weekend, you need that spelled out on the quote too.

• What exact paint and coatings will the Commercial Painting Contractor use to complete each part of the project?

This might mean different types of paint for different parts of the project. For example, a different paint type would be specified for metal pipes or a fire escape than wooden window sills.

2. Do you have a color consultant on staff to help me choose colors?

Help with paint colors is important if you use colors that need to match a corporate logo. At the very least, you want to choose a color scheme that coordinates with your current furnishings so you don’t have to replace desks and office furniture because they clash with the new paint color. Ask if your commercial painting contractor can provide computer renderings of different color schemes before painting begins so you can envision the space or exterior.

3. What specialized paint coatings do you recommend for my Commercial Painting Project?

For paint coatings, you need to see specific paints that show deep knowledge of different coatings and applications.  For example, scuff-resistant paint helps in high-traffic areas, low-VOC paints don’t have a strong smell which is ideal for restaurants, child care centers, and offices, and anti-microbial paints keep germs at bay years after they’re applied.

4. Can your company handle carpentry and fixing rotted wood before they paint, or do you need to find a separate carpenter?

This is especially important because Boston-area wooden exteriors tend to have wood rot due to the wet, harsh New England climate.  Look for a company like CertaPro Painters with one-stop shopping with carpenters on staff to make the whole process easier for you.

5. Can you paint during off-hours (weekends and nights)?

If your business needs to stay open during business hours, make sure your Boston Commercial Painting Company can provide painting on nights and weekends so your business can stay open. For example, it’s often more convenient to paint common areas at night in an assisted living community, so meals and activities can run as scheduled.  At CertaPro Painters, off-hour painting is completed at no additional charge.

6. When does your billing department invoice the deposit, progress payments, and final payments?  What payment terms are you expecting (On completion, Net 15, Net 30?)

7. What kind of warranty do you offer? Is it written? Is anything excluded from the warranty?

8. Can I get references from three of your Clients who have done similar projects?

Also, ask for a reference from one customer who has had you return to complete warranty work. This will give you a sense of how easy it is to initiate the commercial painting company’s warranty if necessary.

9. Can you help me communicate with my employees, tenants, and residents about when the painting, power washing, and carpentry will happen so they are informed?

10. Can I see a copy of your insurance and painting and contracting licenses in Massachusetts?

You will want to be sure everything is current, so you’re protected.

Comparing Invoicing and payment terms:

workersSome Commercial Painting Contractors will have unique payment terms. Check upfront about the payment terms so there are no surprises when you are asked to pay “upon completion.”

In general, you will likely be asked to pay as follows:

-25% deposit upon signing the contract with the Boston Commercial Painting Company

-50% progress payment when the project is about 60% complete.

-25% final payment when the punch list is finished and the job is signed off and completed.

If you need to invoice several tenants or homeowners for the work, now is the time to tell the Boston Commercial Painting Company that the billing needs to be split between several individuals or tenants.

Now that you’ve got the basics of what to ask your Boston Commercial Painting Company, in the next chapter, we’ll dive into some tips, tricks, and freebies you might be able to score for a commercial painting project just by asking!

Go to Chapter 4: Special and “secret” Services a Commercial Painter (may) Offer 

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