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The Pros And Cons Of Being A Sub-contractor

When getting started in the painting business you might have to do some things that one day you will grow out of.  For No Drip Painting, that was working as a painting sub for a larger painting company.  In the beginning, finding work can be your biggest obstacle, but you can utilize a more established company to help you keep a consistent flow of work.

Sub Contractor

There are pros and cons of being a subcontractor and this article will explore both.

Pro’s of Sub-Contracting

Work Flow

– Often in the painting business the winters can be a slower time for painters.  This idea becomes especially true if a good portion of your business is exterior work.  At No Drip Painting, we have been able to utilize a much larger painting company to keep us busy in the winter months.

Learn New Skills

The company we often partner with has been able to expose us to an entirely new skill set.  This partner company takes on large commercial and industrial work, whereas, we perform small commercial and residential work.  We have had the opportunity to receive lift training, operate lifts, spray large warehouse exteriors, apply epoxy coatings, and much more. These skills, no matter how different from our typical work, are crucial in becoming more skilled and knowledgeable in the industry.


As mentioned before, aerial lift training is one huge plus to our subcontracting partnership. With more resources, scheduling ability and access, No Drip Painting has gotten upwards of ten painters lift trained through our partner company.  This can be an expensive cost and may not always be feasible for companies of our size.


This partnership has given me first hand experience and knowledge on project management, leadership, employee management, sub-contractor relationships, new hire training and business numbers.  Undoubtedly, this connection has been a valuable asset to my company as we grow.

With the good sometimes comes the bad.  Sometimes these bad things don’t appear initiation. They may not surface until you start to grow.

Con’s of Sub-Contracting


You will notice the amount you are being paid for the work you are completing doesn’t match up to your normal profit margins.  In the beginning, you tend to over look this or might not even be aware that you are only making a fraction of what you could make if you were working directly with the GC.  Generally, when you are working as a sub to the sub you are making an hourly rate for each of your painters.  There will come a point where you realize you’ve just painted the exterior of a 50,000 square foot building for $4,000. It stings a bit!


Like with any business – communication is key!  There are times that my painters are given direction and the project manager did not keep me in the loop.  There have been a handful of times that the company we are doing work for schedules my team and forgets to notify me. As you can imagine this causes issues when I’ve already scheduled them for a project. Managing communication, relationships, and schedules can be quite tricky.

Is Sub-Contracting Right or Wrong?

There is no right or wrong decision (necessarily) when you decide if your company should take on sub-contracting work.  The key, however, is to constantly be analyzing the benefits and challenges and always know if it fits within the vision you have coming for your business.


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