Applicator or Professional Trades Person?

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Applicator or Professional Trades Person?

Post by daniel.wurm » Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:53 am

Many manufacturers have introduced 'accreditation' or 'certification' schemes in the last few years. What are the benefits of these programs, and do they really help your business?

I have been speaking to many contractors about this the last few months, and there is no doubt that some manufacturer certification schemes have brought great benefit to their members. Some manufacturers have actively providing education for contractors, because of the vacuum that has often existed. Many contractors in these schemes reported that they recieved regular leads. However, others reported getting almost none. This would be disappointing if you had actually paid to join.

Many painters are also complaining that they were told that the program would be limited to only the best contractors, only to find that the manufacturer handed out the accreditations to any painter who wanted it.

And herein lies the problem; should painters pay manufacturers to advertise for them? Definitely not. This risks making us simply 'applicators'. Most painters would be horrified to find out that their supplier often views them as just another 'applicator', and that some manufacturer's accreditation and certification schemes allow unqualified contractors to join.

I work as a professional trainer for the painting industry, but operate my own painting business to maintain my industry currency, and when training gets quiet. When I am assessing painters who want to get licensed, I am surprised by how many are 'accredited' or 'certified' without being qualified. Many of these painters also didn't realise that manufacturer accreditations are not recognised by the government. It must be disappointing for them to find out that they paid money for a certificate that isn't recognised.

As painting contractors, let us never forget that without us, manufacturers would not survive. As their main customers, we actually should have control over our industry. The materials we use should not be dictated to us by manufacturers. As qualified trades people and craftsman, we should be respected by the public and our suppliers for what we are; highly trained and skilled technicians, with in-depth knowledge of the process of painting and decorating. We should be in the drivers seat.

Qualified painters spend an average of four years studying and learning their trade. By the time they are finished they receive a recognised qualification in painting and decorating. This is what we should be proud of; our trade! Instead of running to the paint rep for help every time we have a problem, we should have the ability to solve our own problems. Instead of quickly blaming the manufacturer for any difficulties we experience, we should be able to identify and solve most problems ourselves.

Taking control over our own industry gives us independance, and more power when negotiating with manufacturers or suppliers. I would like to see more contractors being proud of their trade, rather than being proud of being a manufacturer's 'applicator'. In the past, the painting trade was a proud profession. It has been watered down because of a lack of quality education. The road back will be difficult, but I'm proud to say that the Painters Institute is taking the lead in improving the quality of training for our industry.

As a painting contractor, I am proud of being 'qualified'. I promote this to my clients. I take the time to explain that quality paint work applied by a trained painter and decorator will last longer. I also explain that my staff and I have been trained to work safely, protecting the health of the buildings occupants by handling lead and asbestos to Australian Standards. I take the time to identify my client's needs. Are there children in the house that could be exposed to toxic fumes or lead paint? Is it a busy commercial building where zero-VOC paints should be used? Could they save money on cooling cost by using heat-reflective coatings on the exterior? My clients respect and value my professional advice and opinions. In most cases they either never get another quote, or accept my quote which is often higher than my competitors.

I do not allow manufacturer's advertising on my vehicles. Why should I give them free advertising? I want to be able to choose the products that are best for my client, and for myself. I take pride in keeping myself up-to-date, and keeping one step ahead of the sales reps. I actively use and promote the 'Qualified Painters' logo on my business cards, web-site and brochures.

Does this mean that we should not keep good relationships with suppliers? No. Performing high quality work means that the supplier will have more confidence that their product will be applied correctly. Maintaining good relationships with your sales rep and supplier is mutually beneficial. But never forget that in this relationship, you are the customer, and 'the customer is always right!'

So what about the future of manufacturer certification schemes? Well, it would be great if they at least made being a qualified painter the minimum requirement.Doing so would not only help the industry, it would also help their members.

For more information on marketing a painting business, see ... keting.htm


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