Soon after he was awarded a Walmart contract Christian Parker, owner of Parker Line Striping, realized he could no longer be the guy in the field applying paint. “I had to change hats and be the guy who talks to people, makes cold calls, and does the bidding,” he says. “I used to wear two hats but switched to only one and that’s when the business really started to grow.”
Parker says the change was difficult for him because he’d always done the striping and he considers himself “pretty much a perfectionist. I thought no one could paint as well as I could and I had trouble giving that up. I wanted every job to look right, to look perfect, and that takes a lot of trust in your crews that they can do that, but I eventually developed that trust.”
But he admits that wasn’t easy. Parker says he used to follow behind his crews to evaluate the work they did. “I showed them all how I wanted them to do it and then I checked up on them, following behind their jobs to see that their work was what I expected and what I would want to see if I was a customer.”
Parker does require that crews take pictures of their work and bring them in so he can see what the work looks like and so he can point out problems. “We tell them where to take pictures on each job they do, have them identify the parking lot jobs because after a while the parking lots can all look the same. Every crew has a digital camera with them and everyone takes pictures. Back then we did it for quality control but nowadays a lot of customers want before and after photos so we just take them as a matter of course.”
“My employees now can paint circles around me and have become excellent workers. I’ve got guys who have been with me for 10 years and they’re good at making a parking lot look great,” Parker says. “The systems I put in place have carried through and are still used today.”
Here are 9 more “never fail” tips Parker Line Striping relies on to maintain efficiency, job quality, and good customer relations:
- Stripe in centerline of chalk marks. “If lines are 9 feet apart we paint 9 feet on the center and we paint right on top of tick marker with 2 inches of paint on each side,” Parker says. “We do that mainly because we don’t want our guys to paint on the wrong side of the line. That’s never an issue because we paint dead center.”
- Use window sash chain. “It’s a flat piece of chain you can pull 300-400feet and more and lay it flat,” he says. “The wind doesn’t affect it and you can tick through it. It’s foolproof.”
- Double coat all new layouts because of new asphalt is very absorbant.
- Return all customer calls within 24 hours.
- Know who to contact. “We are constantly taking names and numbers of people at each location so we can get in touch with one or more people when we need to,” Parker says. “It’s for accountability on our end so if any issue we know who to contact.”
- Call every store in advance. The Parker Team calls multiple times before the crew ever gets to a jobsite.
- Educate first, sell second. “It is our goal to show them the difference so they understand what they are paying for,” Parker says. “Anyone can spray your parking lot black, but we ask, ‘Do you know how much material is needed for two coats on your 30,000-square-foot parking lot?’ We always educate first and make sure we are apple to apples with the competition. We usually end up as the successful bidder because we share this information and explain it instead of just trying to make a quick sale.”
- Never speak badly about the competition.
- Call the customer contact to let him or her know when the job is finished.
To read more about Parker Line Striping and its success striping commercial properties in 20 East Coast states read “Truckin’ with an East Coast Striper” in the June/July issue of Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction.