This article is about paint. It’s also about the need to create systems to streamline your business. Yes, both of those are boring subjects, but they are important topics to address while trying to systematize your investing business to the point where you can manage several rehabs at one time, or even just manage a single rehab while trying to work a full-time job.
Let me tell you a story about my first two rehab projects…
During those rehabs, I spent about three straight days driving between my two rehab projects and a couple different paint stores (Home Depot, Duron, Sherwin Williams). Originally, my thought was that I would pick a single paint color, use it for every house, and I’d never have to think about paint again. As usual, I was naive. The problem is, when I got down to the details, I realized that one SKU of paint doesn’t go very far.
While a flat paint in a neutral color will get you about 75% through a house, a lot goes into that other 25%. For example, if you’ll be changing wall colors or need to cover stains or odors, you’ll want a primer. For really bad odors/stains, you may want an oil-based primer like Killz. Plus, that flat neutral (i.e., non-white) paint won’t be good for ceilings, trim, or cabinets, each of which require a separate color and/or type of paint. And that flat paint won’t be good for kitchens and bathrooms, where you generally want a semi-gloss. It won’t be good for the exterior, where you will want an exterior paint in multiple colors to cover the siding, the trim and the shutters. And don’t forget about the basements — concrete and cinder block will generally require something a little different than sheet-rock, both in color and paint type. Oh, and don’t forget about the stain needed for any wood surfaces, such as decks.
So, as you can see, what started out as, “Pick a color and go with it,” ended up as, “Let’s put together a list of 12 different paint SKUs, of which at least 8 are probably needed on any given house.”
A lot of flippers will got through this process over-and-over on each flip — driving to different paint stores, deciding on colors, finishes, etc, and trying to keep all the info straight in their head. But a smart flipper will do this only once. They will use this opportunity to systematize their business so that all the effort they spend picking out paint they’ll never have to repeat.
Here is what I did after those three days of running around picking paint:
First, I decided that I needed to consolidate all my paint purchasing at a single brand; in my case, I chose Duron, because I was able to get a discount on all their Prokote labeled paint. Next, I created a list of every type of paint I might ever need to use in/on one of my houses. This includes all the interior needs, exterior needs, basement needs, wood stains, concrete stains, etc. For each need, I’ve picked one SKU and one color, and where it makes sense, the colors are the same (for example, the primer colors always match the finish colors). The next step was to create a new account at Duron so that when my contractors need paint, they could drive to the paint store, give the account number and the quantities to the guy behind the desk, and the store can do the rest.
While it was a pain in the butt to do this the first time around (it literally took three days), I never had to be involved in the process of picking paint again; these days, my contractors have my paint list, and they take care of purchasing and picking up the paint for each rehab we do. That three days on the first project has saved me hundreds of hours on my subsequent projects, and will save me hundreds of hours in the future as well.
If you can have to have this exact same mindset for each of the thousands of details that are required to flip a house, you are well on your well to some serious flipping profits!