Brisbane business Applied and Decorative Painting won the CSQ Award for Employer Commitment to Training (up to $20m turnover). We spoke to owner Gary Wilson to find out how streamlining systems helped his business to expand during a time when industry was struggling.

Gary started his career working in the family painting business at just 18 years old. Then he decided to train as a chef, and learnt what it means to work under pressure.

“Chef’s are very good at timing, they operate with a constant sense of urgency, you have to co-ordinate ovens and work as a team to get meals out the door. I learnt the importance of team work from my chefing days.”
“After a few years chefing I left and set up my own painting business, Applied and Decorative Painting, because the industry seemed to offer a better option for me and my family.”

“Initially I started with just a couple of staff and I was working on the tools. Then the GFC hit and at that point I decided to step off the tools to focus on securing work. As a result, the business expanded dramatically, we grew to a team of 12-15 and we’ve been steadily increasing ever since.”

“Now we have 22 painters and carpenters, four office staff and a virtual assistant in the Philippines, we’ve found it’s very cost effective outsourcing work that can be done remotely.”

“We set up a cloud-based system for our CRM (customer relationship management) using software called Capsule. Deputy our Satellite rostering system means our guys can use their mobile phones to sign on when they get to site, and clock out at the end of the day with the click of a button. It saves time and eliminates misunderstandings because everyone is clear about where and when they’re needed. I used to dread Sunday afternoons, trying to co-ordinate everyone, but now it’s easy.”

“We use Dropbox for sharing work documents with staff and clients, and I always say a picture is worth 2000 words so we use lots of photos and images to help clients visualise their projects. All our staff have emails linked to their phones so if any issues arise on site they can be quickly rectified.”

“We use an online quote system called Quote Roller which makes it easier to write quotes, and contracts can be accessed by clients and staff on any computer or mobile device. We can look up quotes on site straight away.”

“All these systems mean we communicate more effectively and we can track all our numbers and issues to see where we can make improvements.”

“We did a branding workshop last year and realised that our brand was an important part of being able to move forward as a business. Your brand is more than just a logo, it’s what your business represents and how you present to your clients, it’s the essence of your business.”

“We value our alliances in the construction industry and we work closely with other builders, carpenters, plumbers and electricians to help our clients achieve the best outcomes.”

“We are a family business and we tell our team that family always comes first. We have a great retention rate and we value training because we want all our staff to succeed.”