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Collecting Your Cash: Why Some Painting Contractors Struggle and How to Overcome It

In the painting contractor world, it is not uncommon to hear complaints about clients not paying for completed work. Many contractors scratch their heads, wondering why they are not getting paid for the services they provided. In this article, we will explore three key reasons why contractors struggle with payments and offer solutions to ensure they always get paid for their work.

Clear Scope of Work

One of the primary reasons contractors face payment issues is the lack of a clear scope of work. A clear scope of work outlines what will and will not be done, including details about the materials used, the number of coats applied, and any excluded surfaces. This information should be clearly stated in the contract, and both parties should review and discuss it in a pre-job meeting.

To avoid misunderstandings and ensure a smooth project, also address potential issues that could arise and how they will be handled. For example, if the wood starts to crumble while scraping, there should be a plan in place for addressing this problem with the client.

Clear Payment Terms

Another essential aspect of ensuring timely payment is having clear payment terms in the contract. These terms should outline when and how the client will pay the contractor. Both parties should honor these terms and remind each other of them throughout the project.

For example, if a deposit is required before starting the job, the contractor should not begin work without receiving it. Additionally, the contractor should remind the client of the final payment due date and plan a walkthrough to address any issues before collecting the final payment.

Handling Additional Work

Contractors often struggle with payments when clients request additional work without clear agreements in place. This can lead to disputes over unexpected invoices and unmet expectations. To avoid this issue, follow the "stop, drop, and roll" method:

  • Stop: Pause the work when a client requests additional tasks.

  • Drop: Put down your tools and focus on the conversation.

  • Roll: Assume the role of protector for your company and bank account. Use a change order form to document the new work and associated costs, and have the client sign it.

By following this process, contractors can avoid misunderstandings and ensure they are paid for any additional work requested by the client.


Payment issues in the contracting business often stem from the contractor's actions. By setting clear expectations with a well-defined scope of work, honoring payment terms, and handling additional work requests properly, contractors can greatly reduce payment problems. Additionally, delivering a fantastic client experience and charging enough money for the job will ensure clients feel good about paying for the services provided.

By addressing these issues and focusing on delivering exceptional service, contractors can eliminate most payment problems and enjoy a more successful, profitable business.

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