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New Digital Frontier for Painting Contractors

When you hear the words “digital disruption,” you may think of Netflix, Apple, Uber, or another innovative global brand. Digital disruption is a common phrase used to describe the way in which technology is continuing to impact, improve, and simplify our day-to-day activities.

Global brands are becoming more technology driven because their customers are demanding easy-to-use, reliable, digital solutions that will help meet their individual needs quickly and efficiently. In the past decade, for example, countless consumers have traded in their Blockbuster cards for Netflix subscriptions, which allow users to stream video content effortlessly and instantly rather than running to a brick and mortar store to rent a new movie.

As a second example, many consumers today also have retired their old home thermostats, replacing them with Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Using advanced algorithms, these devices help save on home energy costs, work easily with other home automation products such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, and connect seamlessly with a homeowner’s smartphone. These are just two minor examples of how industries have adapted with the times in order to meet the evolving digital needs of their customers.

Traditional Industries Are Evolving

It’s not just Silicon Valley companies that are creating digital solutions to meet customer demands. Traditional trade industries also have taken steps to incorporate technology into their business models to keep up with an increasingly digitally savvy world.

Take the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) industry, for example. In recent years, as HVAC customers became more tech savvy, the industry saw a need to create artificial intelligence (AI) and software platforms to better address customer demands. Using cutting-edge software, facility managers can now accurately monitor their energy usage, and they are provided maintenance insights that can reduce the need for costly upkeep requests. HVAC technicians also benefit from the technology. In fact, according to a 2017 survey conducted by KRC Research and commissioned by Verizon Telematics, 92 percent of HVAC technicians said their productivity increased because of mobile technology. Using simple apps on their smartphones, they can now access incremental jobs more easily, and they can communicate with and invoice their customers more effectively.

Today, industry experts believe the paints and coatings industry is on the cusp of its own digital disruption, as it begins to introduce digital platforms to meet the needs of large, national customers.

But how exactly will national customers, such as hotels, benefit from a more digital paint industry? And similarly, why should coatings contractors adopt digital tools into their business?

The hospitality, restaurant, and retail industries require intelligent digital processes to schedule and manage routine facility coatings projects. Facility managers in these industries are faced with a long list of responsibilities to keep their locations looking fresh, updated, and on-brand to create a positive experience for patrons. Coatings are one of the primary solutions to address this need.

Traditionally, it would fall on a facility manager’s shoulders to research, vet, and hire a reputable coatings contractor. He or she would then juggle multiple work orders, manage quotes and scheduling, and purchase coatings products that adhere to brand guidelines — all while trying to stay within the intended budget.

This antiquated process has proven to be ineffective, costing national businesses time, money, and effort. When facility managers lean on intelligent digital platforms to hire trusted paint contractors, schedule jobs, and manage projects end-to-end, they are able to achieve the intended results with fewer headaches.

Similarly, those in the national hospitality, restaurant, and retail industries want to acquire more advanced digital painting platforms that offer transparent project estimates; visibility into project information; flexible scheduling options; and regular project status updates, among other features. These features free up customers’ time, enabling them to deploy their resources on other pressing facility needs that will improve the overall customer experience and, as a result, generate additional revenue. Contractors who offer technological tools will be deemed invaluable partners.

Professional coatings contractors also want to leverage technology to make smarter business decisions. They are searching for unique opportunities to secure additional well-paying jobs while also sharpening their competitive edge, boosting revenue, and growing their national customer portfolio.

In recent surveys, painters across the country have said they are looking for ways to take on incremental projects. They also want to reduce time spent on administrative activities, such as estimating and bidding for jobs.

Tech Momentum

Experts such as Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School, confirm the need for industries to embrace digital business models, now more than ever.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, entitled “Discovery-Driven Digital Transformation,” McGrath noted that businesses should work their way toward a digital transformation by continually finding opportunities to digitize problematic processes in their core operations. McGrath further explained that businesses must ask themselves how they can use data and digital capabilities to introduce new value to their customers and meet their evolving needs.

Time has repeatedly proven that industries that embrace new business methods to keep pace with changing customer demands will live to serve yet another generation. Industries that are slower to transform will soon be forgotten.

In conclusion, digital platforms will continue to grow, optimize, and sustain the paint industry as both facility managers and contractors recognize the importance of utilizing digital processes to coordinate and manage unique painting needs. As digital platforms continue to emerge, it will become increasingly important for professional coatings contractors to offer future-forward tools to enhance the customer experience and position themselves at the forefront of the digital age.

About the Author

Divya Thadani is general manager for PPG Services. PPG Services is a digitally enabled service platform that makes it easier for businesses with multiple facilities to identify and connect with established professional painters, then manage and schedule general painting maintenance projects. PPG Services is intended for businesses with multiple locations across a national footprint, such as property managers for large retail, office, and hospitality chains, and third-party facility management companies. Thadani joined PPG in 2017 and earned her bachelor of arts degree in mathematics and international relations from the College of Wooster and her M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Management at Dartmouth. For more information, contact: PPG Services,

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