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How to Subcontract Painting Jobs and Take on More Work

March 18, 2022 6 min. read
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When you’ve just started a painting business, it can be hard to pay your staff competitively and keep your business profitable at the same time. Learn how to subcontract painting jobs so you always have the right amount of painters—and so you can take on more work with fewer overhead costs.

We’ll explain the differences between subcontractors and employees, the benefits of subcontracting, and how to find painting subcontractors for hire.

What is a painting subcontractor?

painting subcontractor is a person or company that you hire to complete specific painting jobs. Instead of paying them an hourly wage or salary, like an employee, you pay a subcontractor a fixed rate for the job.

Many painting subcontractors work for multiple clients or companies. They set their own schedules, decide what work to accept or refuse, and typically pay for their own supplies.

READ MORE: Painting equipment list: 50 must-have tools for professional painters

Painting subcontractors vs employees

painting employee is a member of your team that works with you for multiple jobs. You pay them a painter’s salary or wage that reflects their hours, regardless of the amount of work they do—plus health benefits, paid vacation, and sick time.

Meanwhile, you only pay subcontractors for specific jobs they’ve done, and they aren’t entitled to receive health benefits or paid time from you. When you subcontract another company’s team to complete a job, their employers are responsible for offering non-wage compensation.

While it can be great to have employees you can rely on for the long term, subcontractors are great for one-off jobs. They can bring their own tools, get to work quickly, and support short-term projects during busy seasons.

READ MORE: Subcontractors vs employees: a complete overview

1. Create a job posting

Write a job posting calling for individual subcontractors. List the qualifications and experience you’re looking for, and describe the work you need your subcontractor to do.

Keep in mind that good painting subcontractors are entrepreneurial, flexible, and able to balance quality work with quick turnaround times. On top of those qualities, look for subcontractors who can:

  • Accept jobs of all sizes––not just big-ticket projects
  • Provide their own supplies, like paint brushes, paint, ladders, and other tools
  • Do the job expertly without training
  • Work well with your clients and share your customer service values

Once you make a painter job description, share it everywhere you can, including:

  • Indeed, Monster, and other job board websites
  • Online marketplaces like Kijiji, Craigslist, and Oodle
  • Your Facebook business page
  • Facebook groups
  • Your website
  • Community bulletin boards
  • Job fairs and trade shows

Here’s an example of how to write a job posting for a painting subcontractor:

2. Network with professional painters

Talk to other contractors you know, industry contacts, previous colleagues, and anyone else you’ve met who would know professional painters. The more people you know in the industry, the more likely you’ll hear about potential subcontractors.

You can also join Facebook groups where painters in your area network and share job opportunities. To increase your odds, join other groups for trades and home service professionals—you might find painters looking for work there, too.

Pro Tip: Connect with painters and other home service pros in the Jobber Entrepreneurship Group on Facebook.

3. Get your subcontracting agreement signed

Make sure you have all your painting subcontractors sign a subcontracting agreement. This is a legally binding contract that outlines how you and your subcontractor will work together, and who is responsible for what.

This agreement protects your company if the subcontractor doesn’t meet your obligations, and vice versa. Your state might have specific requirements for painting subcontractor agreements, but you should always include:

  • Contact details for you and the subcontractor
  • Scope of work and duration
  • Payment terms
  • Any applicable insurance and license details
  • What to do in the event of a legal dispute

Pro Tip: Avoid writing a subcontracting agreement on your own or using templates you find online. Ask your lawyer to help you write a contract that protects everyone involved.

4. Be ready to pay your subcontractors

Most painting business owners pay their subcontractors 50–60% of the total cost of the job. Your subcontractor will use this to cover the cost of paint, brushes, and other supplies for the job.

This amount seems like a lot, but paying a subcontractor will still cost you less than the wages, benefits, and other overhead costs associated with hiring an employee. It’s important to pay subcontractors competitively—they look for the most profitable work they can get.

Keep in mind: if you pay a subcontractor more than $600 in a year, you need to provide a 1099 form for the tax year. A good payroll service can help with this. Subcontractors pay their own taxes for employment, social security, and medicare.

SALARY GUIDE: Find out how much to pay your painters in every U.S. state

What are the benefits of subcontracting painters?

Subcontracting painters can ease some of the challenges of running a small business. Here are some reasons you should hire subcontractors:

  1. Help balance seasonal fluctuations. Hiring more employees when your business gets busy means you might be overstaffed during months when there’s less work. When you hire subcontractors for specific jobs, you only pay for the staff you need.
  2. Cut business expenses. Since most subcontractors supply their own equipment, you’ll spend less on materials for new jobs. This gives you more flexibility to invest in your business’s growth.
  3. Win more painting contracts. Subcontractors tend to work faster since they’re not paid by the hour. Getting your projects done faster will help you take on more painting contracts and improve your business’s cash flow.

READ MORE: How to get painting contracts

Grow your business with painting subcontractors

Hiring painting subcontractors is a great way to make your business more efficient and profitable.

Knowing how to subcontract painting jobs will open up your schedule to take on more contracts, help you deal with seasonal changes, and give you more financial freedom than employees.

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