First Impressions: I should have known there was going to be trouble ahead when the branch manager for College Works Painting, was a day late for our first meeting at my home in March. College Works Painting (and Student Works Painting owned and operated under parent National Services Group) recruits college students to essentially run franchises in towns across the country. These students are responsible for hiring workers and making sales of their painting services to businesses and residents in their area.
This initial meeting was supposed to be an introduction, presentation of the work College Works Painting does, and a 2 hour walk-around followed by presentation of an estimate/quote to paint my house. The branch manager assured me that she would have a 2-week intensive training and I wouldn't be required to make a final payment until I was completely satisfied with the results.
A couple days after this first meeting the branch manager called to see if I was ready to sign a contract for the job because the summer was booking up quickly with jobs. I felt pressured into making my decision hastily, but having worked my way through college and paying my own tuition and expenses, I appreciated young people willing to work hard. A week later I signed a contract to have the body of the house painted (no doors or window trim), and I asked to have the work done in late July because we were expecting a new baby in the last part of June and a vacation planned the first of August.
Poor Communication: In April a College Works Painting sign was placed in my front yard. I never heard from College Works Painting again until early July when the branch manager said she'd like to start the job. I explained we agreed that work would start in late July. The next 2 months were a series of missed and late appointments. The branch manager never came to the house at times scheduled, often arriving an hour late or not at all. I frequently left work early to be home on time for scheduled meetings only to wait an hour or more, and sometimes no one would come at all.
At the first meeting just before work was to begin in late July the branch manager, my wife, and I discussed what color to paint the house. There was a semi-transparent stain already on the cedar clapboard siding. The branch manager recommended using a solid color acrylic stain because it would last longer than a semi-transparent. She said she would come the next day to put a small test patch on an inconspicuous area of the house to show what the color would look like. No one came the next day.
Test Patch: 3 days later the test patch was applied while we were away for the weekend. The inconspicuous area where College Works chose to do the test patch was 3 feet by 1 foot right next to the front door. The solid color stain looked like a dark brown patch of paint and didn't look at all like a stain. Due to the location of the test patch, we couldn't now opt to use a semi-transparent stain as was currently on the house because the dark brown patch would be an obvious blemish and eye-sore.
Our only option now was to have the entire house painted. College Works Painting agreed and said it would change the cost, an increase of $1300 above the original quote. I knew it would take more work and materials to paint instead of stain, and despite not having the option to stain the house anymore, we agreed and selected a light green color for the body of the house. Still no doors or window trim would be painted.
Work Begins: On August 1, a worker came to the house to begin the prep work taping and covering the windows and doors with plastic. The worker finished covering about half the windows, enclosing the windows on the living room, kitchen, dining room, and porch. I called the branch manager that morning to discuss her plans and when the job would be finished. College Works Painting didn't call back. The following day no one came to the house and the branch manager didn't return my call until that night.
No one came back to the house to finish the prep work for a week. This was August and we were baking inside the house because the windows were covered with plastic. On August 6 College Works Painting returned my phone calls which I had been placing twice a day for four days to find out what was happening and when the house would be painted. The branch manager said she would have the house finished in two days. I explained that we were going away for a vacation the next day and she should have the house done in plenty of time before we return seven days later.
On August 13 we returned from vacation and found one worker at the house applying the first coat of paint. All the windows were still covered over two weeks later. The branch manager promised the job would take no more than four days when we signed the contract. The painter got about half the house painted with a first coat of paint, but couldn't continue because the sprayer was malfunctioning, and there was no ladder left for him to reach the second floor. That night I noticed that College Works Painting was not using a primer, a critical error because they were painting a light color over a dark stain and because cedar siding is known to stain paint over time as tannic acids bleed out of the wood and through the paint.
The next two days no more work was done on the house, and the branch manager did not return my phone calls. I was forced to call the College Works Painting headquarters and voice my complaints. On August 16 the branch manager called me and said she would have the first coat and the entire second coat finished by the end of the day. This seemed unbelievable, but I was happy to see such a flourish of work being done after such a long wait and so much frustration. We scheduled a walk-around to review the work at 6:30 that evening.
That evening I got home and saw a disaster. The paint was streaked and splotchy around the entire house. There was paint splatter on the driveway, plants, and brick patio all around the house. There were several spots on the house that still showed the original brown color, and every door and window frame had been dripped on or sprayed with paint. The branch manager arrived 30 minutes late at 7:00, and the first thing she said when she saw the house was, "This looks terrible." We walked around the house and I pointed at all the touch-ups needed and paint damage to the patio and landscape.
She said College Works would be back the next day to fix the touch-ups, but the streaked and splotchy paint was the result of conditions of the wood siding that she could not have foreseen, and I would have to pay for another coat of paint if I wanted it fixed. I stated that I had contracted College Works Painting to paint my house. At no time, and nowhere in the quotation or contract was there a specification for 2 coats of paint only.
No one came the next day as promised to fix the problems, but the branch manager came that night and said I would need to pay another $800 to fix the streaked and splotchy paint with another coat of paint. I explained again the contract was to paint the house to my complete satisfaction, not to apply 2 coats of paint.
College Works said they would not do anymore work on the house, not even correct the damages to the landscaping, window trim, and doors, until I made a payment, contradicting our original contract to pay when the job was finished. At this point the branch manager told me she didn't think I would ever pay. I explained that we have a contract to which we are both bound and that I would pay but not until the job is finished as written in the contract written by College Works Painting.
College Works never came back to finish the job after this, and I incurred approximately $1500 in expenses and time to repair the damages to doors, window trim, landscape and patios caused by College Works painters.
During the following 2 months the paint on the house began to be stained by the tannic acids bleeding from the cedar siding through the latex paint. I spoke with 5 different experienced professional painters and they all said that any experienced painter would have known that to prevent this from happening with cedar wood siding, a stain blocking primer needed to be used first followed by the latex paint. College Works Painting did not use a primer, instead they only applied 2 coats of latex paint.
The House Still Looks Bad: Eventually College Works Painting took me to small claims court to force a payment from me despite admitting on the claim that they had not finished the job. The settlement awarded me reimbursement of the $1500 in materials and time I had put into repairing many of the damages caused by College Works Painting, and College Works was required to return to my house to remove the stains on the paint, then prime, and repaint the areas of cedar bleeding. They were also required to apply more paint where "lap-lines" showed from paint application (the streaks).
The problems with splotchy paint appearance are still not resolved, but having had enough frustration I let College Works Painting finish the work by correcting the cedar bleeding problems that we could see. I paid the balance due for the job minus the $1500 owed to me for my expenses, and learned my lesson about hiring unprofessional workers. Time will tell if the cedar bleeding will be a problem in areas that weren't repainted, and I will repaint the areas showing streaks on my own to insure it is done right and put this behind me.
Final Warning: My final warning and words of wisdom gained through this experience are that if you want unprofessional results, hire unprofessional painters. I did, and that's what I got. I recommend hiring only experienced, professional painters when the time comes to improve or maintain the exterior appearance of what is likely the biggest investment you have. There are probably some college kids who can do a good job painting houses, but it's not a risk worth taking without seeing their previous work.
BELLEVUE/SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- Painted houses in college, so I know the GIG! Contracted just the trim. Expected students, got untrained but honest Salvadorian laborers. Where's the boss? When your guys don't know the work, the boss HAS TO BE THERE to get it right! Contracted for "Best" Sherwin Williams paint. Arrived with cheapest, no scrapping tools, sandpaper or ladders to reach peak. Painting is all about prep!! Right? Because they had the wrong paint, I then discovered "Best" was below SW average, so I paid even more to upgrade my upgrade to actual second best.
Told boss mad I discovered issue by the Salvadorians. Painted trim hanging over 8 -12 pitch roof. Ever heard of ladders, and how do you get the bottom edge or backside? They never planned on backside. Really? Called corporate who said. "Booked for rest of season" and, "If it flakes we guarantee our work." But you did ** work! So my house was about half prep'd in cheap paint, no prep work, and generally bad workmanship. I'd rather I handed them money and they didn't do anything.
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- I started working for this company in 2008 and 09. It was not easy in any way. It was actually one of the hardest things I had ever done mentally as it transformed my view on how the world works. Most people go through life without doing anything truly challenging and this internship was my number 1 career enabling move. The ability to start a business and provide the livelihood for other citizens through gainful employment will give you a leg up over any other applicant for any other business.
My advice to homeowners is: Make sure you understand that the majority of interns are doing this for the experience and are fully dedicated to the finest quality finished product. This being said you need to personally judge the character of the Branch manager that comes to your home to make sure that is the type of person you wish to work with.
My advice to the painter is: The branch manager you work for truly cares about the employees making money. The pay structure is identical to a Car Mechanic pay structure which is a great way to determine how much you get paid. If you need additional training to perfect your painting skills the branch manager/district manager/VP will get you ALL the necessary tools for you to make the money you want to make. Ask for help if you need it!
My advice to the Branch Manager is: This is a great experience and your experience entirely depends on your organization and your willingness to ask for help when you need it from the district manager/VP. The key to this business is communication!
TUCSON, ARIZONA -- I am writing because I am terribly disappointed and angry. We met the representatives for College Works Painting at the SAHBA Home Show in Tucson, Arizona in April, 2010. The young men were friendly, and personable, so we gave your name for them to contact us re: possibly getting our house painted. ** and ** came to our house for an interview, and they were pleasant, and seemed knowledgeable, gave us a spiel about how they wanted the customers to be happy, while working to learn the management skills they would need over time to run their own businesses. We felt that it would be nice to get experience, while getting our home looking better.
We reviewed the contract, made selections, and decided to sign (my husband signed) and we gave him a down payment check, with plans made for the work to start in early June. On June 6, ** delivered some of the equipment, and they were to start work on Monday the 8th, at 6:00 AM. That morning, 2 young men showed up as scheduled, ready to work--but they had no information about the job to be done, colors to be used, etc. They started the prep, and within an hour, they were out of supplies, so they called ** for more. He did not show up for over 2 hours with 1 5 gallon can of paint.
That was gone very quickly, and the workers were told that they had to get the job done so they could go get another one started. With no caulk, preparation was not being done, as Anthony had gone all the way to Ina for a tube of caulk. We live in Southwest Tucson. One of the workers finally got frustrated and started painting without the wall being prepared. The wind was blowing hard that day, and the sprayer did not have a regulator on it, thus, creating "gobs" of overspray everywhere. My husband caught it later.
The second day, only one worker came, and he was only going to paint the Fascia, but we showed him the sloppy work, so he started doing everything that he needed to do to make things better. Unfortunately, the metal screen door on the east side of the house which had been painted, looked horrible, had great big globs of paint and the holes on the screen were sealed. The house door has big streaks of pain, and we will have to paint it over. The contract stipulated that drop cloths would be used, none were. There is overspray all over our decking, and flooring, and paint strippings from scraping are allover as well. There are cigarette butts all over the yard.
** saw the shoddy work, and he came by twice that day, wanting the remainder of his payment, but my husband would not give it to him until the job was completed, as stipulated on the contract. When he showed ** the doors with the overspray, and paint globed screens, he spoke to his manager, and they took $50.00 off the priceWhoop de do. It is going to take more than that to remove and repaint the screen doors, as well as the house doors.
In reality, my husband accepted the deal only because he was not feeling well, was burning up with fever, and could hardly function. I was at work, came home to find the mess. My complaint is that the management, those above **, ** as the student intern, have no consideration for doing what they claim, and the contract protects them really well. Money is the object, and the work was not worth what was done--10 gallons of paint, and 1 gallon of another color is worth much less than the amount of money that we will have to spend to "fix" the mess.
If I had read these reviews, we would never have contracted with them, and they certainly will not get any referrals from us. Even if the Student Interns are getting experience, the method through which they are getting it is unscrupulous, and totally a scam! Please, if you are considering using this company, DON'T. They have no conscience, and consideration for homeowners who work hard to save for payment, and end up getting lousy service.
We did not complain to the company because after reading reviews, we figured we would have to end up paying more fees, which would have only angered us moreso we figure if others can read about our and other's experiences, we gain more from it. Thank you for posting.
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA -- Our house, last painted in 2003, went through an insulation project in August 2011. Numerous holes with grey cement filling appeared all over the external walls. We were, however, not thinking of painting as the last one was done in less than 10 years ago. In March, 2013, however, the situation attracted the attention of ** of College Works Painting. He initiated contact with us. His enthusiasm and sincerity convinced us that it was time to seriously consider painting all the walls. An agreement was then signed in March, 2013. At our request, the work was completed in June.
It was done within a week. Two painters were assigned to work full time painting while ** usually came twice a day to check on them, apart from the initial cleaning of all the walls done totally by him. Overall, my wife and I found ** easy to work with. He was very accommodating to our requests. There were, however, left behind a number of small corners or parts here and there that needed touch-ups. We suspect that the painters might not have been equipped with finer tools like smaller brushes. They might also need closer monitoring. Probably the real test will be the heat of the upcoming summer sun and the dampness of the winter rains. We'll see.
To assign stars, we would say 4.
FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA -- I recently had the exterior of my house painted by College Works Painting. My crew was led by **. They did an excellent job and met every expectation that we agreed to before the work started. The two most important things to me were that they were extremely detailed when walking the house before the work began and that they did everything that they promised, and did it on time.
They keep the work area organized and put everything away at night and walked the property with me. They also implemented safety measures while working on the roof. All the surfaces were prepped properly before painting and any minor issues that I identified were fixed without question. I would obviously recommend ** and his crew to anyone in the Flagstaff area that is looking for quality, reliable house painting.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -- This is a very frustrating and hard program yet life changing. You will not learn more about people, business, and about yourself with any other internship. DON'T do this for the money. Do it to learn, grow and launch yourself 10 years ahead of your peers. I wouldn't recommend this to people that aren't willing to sacrifice a lot in order to get the most out of this. Working 80+ hours a week may be normal for some people during the summer as it was for me.
If you are competitive and are willing to do what it takes to get to your goal this program will surely test you. I believe this is definitely not for everyone and most people that fail prove it every year. Everyone's experience is always different from the next person because you will work with a different district manager and your personality, strengths, and weaknesses are not the same as the manager in the next city over.
I learned a lot but worked ridiculously hard for it. No regrets. There are some clients that don't get good service and complain... it's not the company it's you for not caring about your house enough to constantly check progress and on you for hiring the contractor. You hire the manager not college works.
PEORIA, ILLINOIS -- I was recruited while an engineering student at the University of Illinois. After five selective and informative interviews I was hired by the president after shaking hands.
The warnings I had received about the necessary commitment and time demand proved to be well placed. Many people told me I couldn't do it. However, part of this internship is training in management of your own time. I was trained and tested in accomplishing more than I ever thought possible. I had a full semester of engineering courses, initiated into an honor society and maintained a 3.7 GPA during the spring semester. (You can always handle more than you think.) During the semester I also drove home on the weekends, marketing and selling painting jobs. My record sales in one weekend was right around $15,000, if I recall correctly.
In this internship, hard work pays off. I started the internship believing the abstract principle that hard work pays off. I ended the internship with this principle experimentally confirmed. The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment was overwhelming and gave me a new fire for success. I profited over $27,000 and still had time to fly to Oregon and relax for 10 days before school started back up. My district manager was helpful in motivating me throughout the year and keeping me positive. This internship was the experience of a lifetime and sold me in an interview for a world renowned company the next summer.
But don't do it if you aren't going to fully commit and make the most out of it. Be prepared to both work hard and enjoy the payroll Friday events.
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA -- I was incredibly skeptical about College Works when I was first approached about doing the program. I think any right-thinking college student would be. College Works recruits very aggressively. 19-year-olds aren't used to being recruited for an internship, especially one that is supposedly ranked so high and pays so well (Almost $10,000 they say the average intern makes). That is what got me a little uneasy. As great as I thought I was right out of high school, why would such an outstanding opportunity be recruiting ME? What college freshmen don't realize is that ll great companies recruit.
That's what you do if you want the best employees. And what I later found out, is that this isn't your typical internship where you do garbage work 12 hours a day, and leave the summer saying you got to "hang out" with a bunch of business people. You earn the money you make. Not everyone make $10,000. In fact, I know a lot of people who didn't. But I also know they didn't work as hard as I did.
I have to say, this internship is TOUGH. It tested me more than I had ever been before. In high school I played 3 sports, graduated with honors and was in clubs and all that jazz. I held a part-time job the summer after my senior year. I busted my butt to prepare myself for college. College Works brought new meaning to the term responsibility. I thought football practice and English homework in the same night was tough in HS. Then I was introduced to communicating with clients, scheduling sales appointments, creating marketing plans, sourcing and screening potential employees AND 17 credit hours worth of homework each night.
Not to mention, maintaining some sort of a social life as a college freshman. I gave up about half of the weekends during the spring semester of my freshman year to work on my business, on top of what I mentioned above. My friends thought I was crazy. At times, so did I.
I was relieved to get my finals out of the way so I could focus more on my business. It sounds odd, but with all the responsibilities I had, my life actually got MORE organized. It felt like I was in high school again, when I did everything, and I did everything well. It was tough balancing it all at first, but after a while I got used to it, and really started to get into it. So by the time I reached the summer, I was excited for what was ahead. Up to that point, I had really only learned how to source leads for my business and sell paint jobs.
It was starting to get a little monotonous, although the prospect of growing my business larger and larger was strangely addicting. Maybe it was the competitive nature of it. Maybe it was the idea of constantly striving to improve. Maybe it was a combination of both. Either way, I was starting to enjoy what I did.
Once I got out of school, I was slightly overwhelmed with even more responsibility. On top of continuing to grow my business, I now had to interview painters, schedule design consultations with clients, get my equipment together, and start planning out my production schedule. Once I did all that, then it was time to actually fulfill the promises I had made to all these people who had entrusted me to beautify their most valuable assets. I spent time training and managing my painters. Yes, I said training.
College Works helped me with this. Painting really isn't that hard. It just takes a sort of blue-collar mentality and a little attention to detail. I had to make sure my painters were up to par. If a painter was bad, I fired him/her and found another one. It wasn't hard to find people looking to make some money. I also had to manage my business's profitability. This means budgeting labor and material costs on each project, and making sure we stayed within those budgets. I was in charge of customer service and processing payroll every 2 weeks so my painters could get paid.
Looking back on it, I can't believe I was given so much responsibility at 19 years old. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. After a while it got easier, just like the spring. I found some good painters, figured the whole profitability thing out, and eventually my business wasn't as dependent on me. I still worked, but nothing crazy. I had time to do other things that a normal college kid does in the summer. I had a ton of help the whole way. I had a district manager who helped me at each step.
I had meetings with her 3-4 times/week from start to finish. She worked very hard to make sure I knew how to be successful. Rarely did she ever do anything FOR me, but she was always there for advice (even if I immaturely ignored it sometimes). I appreciated that.
By the end of the summer I couldn't believe everything I had accomplished. I ran a $60,000 business. I had 15 different employees work for me. I sourced over 150 leads, executed over 70 sales appointments, and completed 20 projects, all the while maintaining customer satisfaction, painter safety, and profitability. There were other people who did a lot better. They ran bigger businesses, made more money, etc. There were others who didn't do as well as I did. Some of these people took longer to figure it out. Most didn't work as hard as I did. Now, College Works is the only thing job interviewers want to talk about.
No one with College Works ever lied to me. They told me that if I worked hard, I would experience more and gain more than anyone else my age. So I gave it my all, and that is exactly what happened.
I was looking for a summer job in my town (which has a very limited seasonal job market), so when I got hired on to College Works Painting (CWP) as a painter I was really excited. I really like manual labor, and painting is a new skill that would be fun to learn. But the unprofessionalism of my employer made the job lose its fun really quickly.
First off, there was really poor communication between the employer and the employees. When I got hired, the employer asked me if I "would be okay doing a little marketing here and there? It's a good way to get some money before you actually start painting." I said sure. To be honest, I don't really care what I'm doing as long as I am getting paid.
But, it turns out, I wasn't getting paid, and the marketing wasn't optional. I had to market for four hours every week with no actual reimbursement beyond a measly commission. Now, this of course is legal (they don't have to pay for work if your total pay at normalizes to at least minimum wage), and you can require people to market if you want. But neither of these factors (the lack of pay and the requirement of marketing) were not communicated to me upon hiring.
But more importantly, the company (as one might expect from something run by college students) is really unprofessional. We had to attend this training to learn how to paint. We had to drive to the next town over (it's about two hours away) for the training. We were supposed to be there at 7 am, but we (being driven by our employer) didn't show until 8:15. Yet even the district managers weren't there yet, and nobody cared that we were an hour and fifteen minutes late.
The training consisted of us helping paint one house. There were about twenty five painters from all over the region, but one ladder, one paint gun, one paint brush, and about three rolls of masking tape. So those of us not lucky enough to have one of the few supplies were subjected to being yelled at by the supervisor running the training for standing around doing nothing.
The training was bad in other ways, too. I was lucky enough to be on a team with somebody who had painted before, and spent a lot of time pointing out the mistakes to me and, before he was criticized by him, to the supervisor. For example, people would place plastic drop cloths over shrubs so they don't get all painted on, but you're supposed to leave at least one side open so the shrub can "breath". That was never mentioned, so all the shrubs ended up completely covered for hours in the hot sun. They're probably dead now.
I quit after the training. Yet, Oregon labor laws required that I be paid for my training within five days of quitting. I waited two weeks, and still hadn't gotten paid. So I called my supervisor. She didn't answer, and didn't return my message. I called her again a few days later. This time she replied, and told me she would bring my money that day. It turns out she had thrown away my paper work before even entering it to the "system", so she would just have to pay me a flat rate, an estimate of how much I should have been paid. It's been a week now, and even though I've called her a number of times, I still haven't gotten paid.
If you're a college kid looking for some summer work, don't apply at College Works Painting. You'll end up frustrated at the unprofessionalism of your supervisor and the lack of communication in general, and if you quit you'll probably end up having your wages stolen from you.