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I am always looking for methods and opportunities to become more efficient in regards to how I go about my painting business. The painting work I do is by far interior residential repaints. High quality brush and roller work. My priority is efficiency without affecting quality.

Over time I have noticed that myself and the crew are taking too long gathering tools etc from the van each day. I don't want to imply it's the crew but rather my set up. I think this is something I can improve and make more efficient. Currently my van is set up where you have to grab up runners, brushes, rollers, pots and pans etc and carry in what we need. Everything sits on racks and shelves in my van.

On larger jobs we set up a "base camp" in the home and work out of that room. That is not a problem. What I am referring to are the smaller get in and get out jobs.

My thoughts are to have "Ready To Go" boxes, in each box (something like the Stanley Fat Max roll around tool box) enough runners, brushes, pots, rollers, hand tools, basic patching / prep tools, tape, etc etc to get started on a room or two. I could set up additional Ready To Go boxes for when multiple jobs are going on.
Additional items would still need to be carried in such as vacuum, lights and larger drops when painting ceilings.
At the start of the work day the crew grab a box and get started working in a more timely fashion.

I know I am just a small operation. My business goal is to add another employee in 2015 and hopefully two. I think it never hurts to learn ways to improve efficiency.

I appreciate any thoughts on such an arrangement. One concern I have is spending too much of my time restocking the boxes after tools have been washed and cleaned so they are ready for the next day. Your comments are appreciated.
Martin.
 

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On little jobs with more than one guy I find it is best to lay out duties to each guy. So if you have three guys the first guy could immediately grab 1 TARP and one brush and go straight to painting. The second guy could also do the same thing just a different task. While those 2 are working the last guy could bring in the rest of the supplies.
 

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I have a large Home Depot heavy duty storage container filled with all my hand painting gear, plus runners and maybe a light weight tarp or two. As for spending the time to put your stuff in after cleaning, it needs to be done anyway.

You either carry everything back out to the truck and put it on shelves, or just toss it in the box. Maybe smaller boxes for bedrooms, garages, etc.
 

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On little jobs with more than one guy I find it is best to lay out duties to each guy. So if you have three guys the first guy could immediately grab 1 TARP and one brush and go straight to painting. The second guy could also do the same thing just a different task. While those 2 are working the last guy could bring in the rest of the supplies.
Solid gold advice, on a job site of any size.
 

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I do this, even going solo. I want to make as few trips as possible to and from the truck - that means, large, lightweight containers that I can easily carry in and out of a house. I've considered using a dolly, which would take even less time in and out - I really should be doing it. Getting tools out and putting tools away won't kill your productivity, it walking around and looking for what you need that's a big waste.

I'll keep all my prep stuff together in a container, including caulk, caulk gun, spackle, sanding pads, straight slot screwdriver etc.

Masking tape / paper / applicator, drop cloths, painter's plastic are in another container.

You get the idea. Each phase has it's own container.

Lights, ladders, etc just go by themselves. I'm pretty sure I can improve on how I do this, as well - this is where a dolly and custom box could be very very handy.
 

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Here's an example of an exception. I'll rebuild wooden windows, and I also reglaze windows in place. I have a fairly small tackle box I use for reglazing windows, which includes some long bits for removing storm window frames, glazing points, different scrapers and tools for taking out the old putty, etc. It's set up for working off a ladder.
 

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Before I went to a box trailer, I kept almost every common tool we would need in four big rolling fat Max boxes.

It would take us about 2 minutes to basically move the entire contents of the van from the van itself into a house (there are three of us). Those boxes were organized and sorted in a way that made sense for the work we were doing.

Thirty trips to the van were replaced with thirty tiny trips to the front door or wherever we were working.

Now that I have a trailer and everything is out on shelves, I still keep an empty box like that in the back for quickly hauling all the tiny stuff up the driveway if we can't back in, or upstairs if we're working a second or third story apartment.
 

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I drive a pickup, so I don't have room to keep the painting tools with me all the time. A "Ready to Go" box would be awesome. And I've tried many times to make one. But it never works out quite to my satisfaction.

I always get hit with a bunch of surprises. Oh, I have to wash that down first. Oh, the brush doesn't fit back there. Oh, that furniture is too heavy. Oh, that's gonna take more than a little spackle. Oh, they removed all the light fixtures. Oh, something is screwed up with this roller frame. Oh, this is bleeding through. Oh, they have a dog. Oh, this caulk is frozen. Oh, I don't get a signal here. Oh, they didn't shake this at the paint store. Oh, that lid wasn't on tight. Oh, another contractor is working here. Oh, that's higher than I thought. Oh, that piece of trim is not nailed on. Oh, these outlets don't work. Oh, her friend wants a business card. Too often, the solution involves a trip to the truck.

Maybe my box just isn't big enough. I think onmywayup might be on the right track with FOUR boxes! It's just painting. It doesn't seem like your should need that much. But, yeah, you kinda do.
 

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This has been working for us well this winter. I have had your same problem on and off for 20 years and this is what works best for us.

Exterior small 6x8 trailers with racks. Each has all the tools needed and the ladders needed on them. Also each has a 440 and a 2 gun spray rig. We just shuffle the oil spray rig, 36', 40', and big pic as needed. Trailer is stocked after and during job with consumables.

Interior I have switched to 2 rolling boxes. One for all hand tools, caulk guns knives screwdrivers brushes etc. the other is all consumables. The beauty of this is in the winter I only bring in ONE BOX into my house between jobs. For drop cloths we fold and stack them in a laundry basket which makes them easy to grab and can carry 2 rooms worth.

All other big stuff we shuffle poles, vac etc. for small jobs the 2 boxes is perfect for 2-3 guys.
 

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+1 on phase type storage

I use milk crates. First milkcrate holds tape, caulk tubes & gun, rags. I consider this my non tool bin.

2nd crate holds cordless drill, 5 in 1's, multiple flathead & phillips screwdrivers (because you ALWAYS misplace 1 & I aint wasting a half hour looking), pliers (channelocks, etc...) & catspaw and hammer.

Next is "paint tools". What I do here is take the wooster 18" big ben tray, place a metal 9" pan inside it, tray liners inside that, then my rollers & brushes in that tray. In the other half of the tray I put my sleeves & spinner cleaner thingy. Also 2 handy pails & a 6 foot roller pole.

Then its my ladder, radio, platform, LED lights, & roll up extension chord.

Everyone has a different system. Me, I can loadout in 2 shopping carts & cover every scenario possible.

It helps to have a container for each aspect instead of one large universal box. The bigger the box the deeper whatever tool you need will be buried. At least, thats always my luck...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I appreciate all the comments and suggestions, this has really got me thinking. The way I am set up currently leaves room for improvement.
 

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I don't know if you can apply this to painting but one thing that I do for low voltage when I am doing structured wiring in apartment units I always have a method and an order by which I do things so that there is more "doing" and less thinking involved.

So when we enter an apartment unit, we always start with the first device on the left. It doesn't matter if that first device is in the kitchen or the bedroom. We start at the left most jack on the wall and work clockwise until we get to the main panel and out the door. That way if the first guy finishes, he can see where the other 2 guys are and leap-frog ahead of them so that every time someone finishes trimming out a wall jack, they know what to do next.

Granted not every situation is perfect but the object of the game is to keep going no matter what. So let's say we get to a jack where the wire was cut too short- We make up a plate for it, put one screw in the box and come back to it later.

On one hand it may seem inefficient to "double-back" but once the crew gets into a rhythm, they are more productive without interruption because they don't have to spend time trying to figure out the best way to perform the task..

So I am guessing that this is the deal with your painting crew. You get your rollers, brushes, paint, etc. and once you get in the door, you realize that you also need that 3/4" brush because the window trim is right up against the side wall. The best way to be more productive is to do everything that you possibly can with that first run of tools and then come back to do all of the "special" stuff.

You'll be surprised at how much time you saved from doubling back vs. attempting to get everything "perfect" before you started the project.
 

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Here's an article from the American Painting Contractor magazine.

It's all about planning.

We mostly deal with industrial work, but prior to starting a job, we'll spend an entire day in our shop, organizing all the equipment and material estimated for the job. And then we organize it further, based on what material and equipment we're anticipating to use each day, based on the estimated schedule. Almost always, the schedule will change, due to unforeseen situations, but because of our planning and preparing, we're able to adapt quickly and still come under budget for the job.
 

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Are you the same Ohio Painter who makes tons of You Tube videos?

Also, I use the Stanley box for most of my painting tools. I need another now as I have more than what fits in one box
 

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jb4211 said:
Are you the same Ohio Painter who makes tons of You Tube videos? Also, I use the Stanley box for most of my painting tools. I need another now as I have more than what fits in one box
There is an Idaho painter. Is there an Ohio painter too?
 
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