I started as a painting contractor in Denver about 20 years ago. Walls by Design has always refined our systems and policies to ensure client satisfaction and improve the work we do. About 7 years ago I was helping my friend move, we took the last load out of the moving truck, and stood in the empty truck. I thought… this is exactly what we need… BUT, I didn’t want to buy a $30,000 box truck. So, I went out and found the cheapest 20′ trailer I find as a test and it WORKED!! Trailers have revolutionized our cabinet painting process, this is part of the reason we’re able to paint so many kitchens per week!
What are the benefits to using a trailer over a van? The disadvantages?
Advantages Cost is the biggest advantage. Trailers don’t break down. There is minimal maintenance on them. They are also a great billboard for our company. They are cheaper to insure, and don’t require gas, or to be driven. AND lower liability. We only have ONE person that moves the trailers, so one person exposing us to liability vs. 12 or 14. This is one of the many ways we can keep our prices competitive and offer more for our clients.
Disadvantages: They can get stolen. This happened to us once. But now we have a pretty fool-proof system of locking them up, and we don’t leave valuable things inside them. Also, some customers can get demanding about us moving them the minute we complete their project. We try to let them know it could take a day or two to get it moved. Since we only have one person moving trailers, we try to coordinate the most efficient routes for when projects end and start.
Is there a benefit for a painting contractor to use a van compared to a trailer?
I’ll admit for the average painting contractor it is easier to just put a guy in a van. Managing trailers takes planning and a system. Who will move it? How will you pull it? Luckily we have a built a reliable system in the office and procedure to handle how this works.
Who moves the trailers and how does that work?
We have Bob, our logistics manager; he moves all of our trailers. He is also responsible for removing trash from them from job sites, and replenishing the supplies upon request from the guys. We got lucky finding him, he helps maintain all our trailers and vehicles properly as well.
What’s different about our cabinet and walls trailers?
The cabinet trailers we utilize are at least 18 ft. long and designed inside to work in. Our painting trailers are 10’ or smaller, and are just for moving and storing equipment. Tim the tradesmen, our trim carpenter, moves his own tools and supplies in his truck because it’s easier for him.
What happens if we can’t park a trailer somewhere?
If it is a cabinet project, then we have the ability to do the project at our office, still in a trailer…actually our first trailer. If it is a wall/trim painting project, we simply deliver equipment, and then our logistics manager returns at the end to pick it all back up. More hassle, and a little more cost for our customer.
Do clients have to worry about a mess around where the trailer is parked?
No, our team will put drop cloths outside of trailers they are working on to avoid any mess on permanent surfaces like driveways or sidewalks.
Whenever you have this many moving parts, something is bound to go wrong. Funniest thing that ever happened to me, was years ago when we were doing flooring. I had a 20’ trailer, and we had loaded a pallet of hardwood in the back…all the way in the back. I was driving on I70, and the hitch came off because the weight in the back was too heavy, and the tongue of the trailer poked into my tailgate. We were stuck on I-70 for an hour while I waited for my then partner to come with his bigger truck to help. No one was hurt, but boy did I back up i70! Something can always go wrong when moving trailers.