DALLAS, TEXAS -- Everything about this program challenges what students are used to doing. In my college career, this program has been the most beneficial learning experience that I went through. The skill sets you develop throughout the internship such as: how to manage people older than you, how to sell a product (and every profession you will pursue in your future requires selling at some level), and how to manage multiple responsibilities at the same time, are things that you cannot learn in a classroom.
The internship is not easy, and not for quitters, if you have the will power to last to the end of the internship though, then you are truly a winner and your future rewards make the entire thing worth it. I personally struggled through the program and did more things wrong than right and every day that I went to work in the business gave me a new reason to quit. Now, as a recent graduate from Texas A&M with a degree in engineering, because of having that internship on my resume I am getting picked for full time positions that I would otherwise have been excluded from.
When I am asked questions in interviews, I am always able to use my experience with College Works as a positive answer to behavior based questions. And the leaders of the division that I was a part of still serve as mentors to me and help me make good decisions for my life. The difficulties of the internship ended at the end of the summer, but even now, 3 years later I am still reaping the benefits of it.
I would strongly recommend that anyone who is looking for a challenge and to separate themselves from the mass of status quo college students. At the end of the program you will be able to say that it was the most difficult and most beneficial thing that you have ever done and your only regret will be that you did not have one more month to hit your goals.
For potential interns, painters, or home owners looking into College Works Painting, please be sure to review the information I'm about to provide. To painters:
Interns really do not know the full scope of what they are getting into; if they have no painting experience prior, just know they paint one house before they are on their own. So the training they give you, though a district manager is there on your first day to "train", is only what they are told, so again it is basic. They are all about the sales, one thing I've learned is they are told to do anything to get the sale, and will because it means more money for them. The pay works like this for painters, I'll try to explain this well but briefly before I go into why this sounds good, but you get screwed.
Each job is allotted a certain number of hours for work, we'll assume only one painter is working to make this explanation easier, as each contract and price is based on the hours allotted for the work needed. If the intern decides all of the prepping and painting will take 50 hours, it means that based on your salary you will make a specific amount for the job even though you have an hourly rate. So if you make $8/hour, for a 50 hour job you will make $400 if it takes you 10 hours, or if it takes you 100 hours.
To sell this to painters, they will tell you that you can "beat the budget" so by working only 40 hours on a job budgeted for 50 hours, it's really like you're making $10/hour. Now you know how the pay works for a painter. Here's the problem. An intern is given a sheet that tells them how to budget the hours for the contract, and that amount of budgeted hours is what the painters are told, giving them an idea of how fast they would need to work to at least make the hourly wage they are given.
But the info the interns have does not take into account things such as: difficulty, ladder movements, amount of scrapping/prepping and unforeseen problems such as working on a roof, landscapes being in the way (flowers, bushes, trees, etc.). The reason this is a problem is that they will budget (if I remember correctly, if not it is still an example) 200 square feet of spray for one hour. So if there are bushes, and you must drop sheet it, work around it, and make 10 ladder movements to do that 200 sq ft, you are then going to take a lot more than an hour. Not to mention the fact you will be slow because you're just learning to spray.
To keep this short, there are many, many ways that it will take you longer to do something than the hours budgeted for it. And obviously over the course of a job, this means you are very likely to exceed the budgeted hours, and therefore make much less per hour than your given wage. Your first day or two will make you think you will kill every budget, because they make sure that the first house is the easiest, simple, and able to be finished within no more than two days.
Also, managers are likely to cut the amount of hours given, leaving money for themselves to pocket. What I mean is, if the total hours budgeted for the job is really 80, they may tell you that it's budgeted for 75, or some amount lower than 80 and give themselves a higher profit.
Finally, another aspect that costs you time and force you to go over budget are the unforeseen issues. Interns will put anything in the contract that the homeowners want, meaning whatever the client says they want painted, the intern will put that in the contract. They do this for obvious reasons. If they say they can paint everything except the third story dormer, the client is much less likely to do business with them since they cannot provide the service needed. The problem with this is that the intern does not realize how difficult some things are, what needs to be done to get it painted, or how long this part of the house will take.
So if it is a third story dormer, they will budget it for an hour because that is what the sheet tells them, that it takes one hour to do a dormer. So if the dormer needs a 40-foot ladder, and requires multiple ladder movements, a roller with an extension (and remember you are just learning), etc. These are all tasks that will take extra time but was never budgeted into the hours, and the painters then go over budget and make less per hour.
Another problem involves the materials. Painters are given two brushes, and if they get ruined, the painters are then supposed to pay for the new ones. The problem is even if you are very conscious about making sure brushes are kept clean, due to long days and having so many other things to worry about, you will go through brushes very quickly.
Painters are also supposed to work four days per week, ten hours per day. The company wants you to work five of those days the first week of the bi-weekly pay scale, and the other three the next week. So you technically work 50 hours one week, but are not compensated for overtime because of the incentive-pay system. Plus, if you end up working over 80 hours in the two week incentive-pay system, an intern can just move those extra hours onto the next scheduled bi-weekly pay period, again you are not compensated for overtime pay you rightly earned.
Also, interns are told that for every hour a painter works, they make an addition forty cents ($.40) and are paid in one check at the end of the summer when painting is finished (well you would actually get the check once the interns accounts are closed, so it would be more like late fall). Basically, it's a bonus check you would receive. The problem is, they do not have to give you this "bonus", and even if they do tell you, they are able to keep it because they can say that a bonus was not earned. It's basically a loophole, so if you do become a painter, make sure to inquire about this.
The final information for painters I have regards when you are paid. Two painters did not receive their first check for over six weeks. The problem was that of the company and not the intern, which shows how unreliable they actually are in terms of running a business correctly. One painter did not receive their final paycheck until January, even though their last week was in August. The company is notified frequently, and the intern and painter are told that things are resolved and they will get their check, but often this happens for weeks, and as you can see also happens for months.
This goes for interns as well, College Works likes to hold your money for whatever reason, and I have seen it too many times to not think its intentional or a sign of malpractice. Also, remember that jobs are budgeted for so many hours and you are always working with at least one other painter, remember that if the other painter is very slow and unskilled, no matter how quick and productive you are they will waste hours and cost you time and money.
One last thing, remember that interns are looking out for their own best interest. They can promise many things but usually do not follow through or are unable to do so. This is partially caused by their "boss", the district manager, who will do the same thing in promising those things but not following through. This is one of the biggest problems with the company, they use top-down management, and each tier is told something that more often than not does not happen or is a complete lie. I have read many reviews online about College Works being a "pyramid scheme", and while I don't see as being one exactly, it definitely follows the formula and the results back this.
Clients invest money but usually have their start date pushed back, the amount of estimated time for the service elongated, and the final product involving extra time for fixing bad work and cleaning up materials. All resulting in giving a lot of time as well as money that results in a weak return on investment; Painters invest their time and are screwed (by losing pay) through the budget system and lack of experience/knowledge of interns; Interns must invest $1,250 for their "kit" and book $10,000 worth of work before they can even start, as well as give a lot of time for the training, marketing, and sales.
All of which results in not receiving compensation until the cost for the kit is deducted from their personal revenue (and remember their start date can be pushed back due to the $10,000 booking total to begin production), which means you will most likely not see a dime until end of May at the earliest but most likely in June, while you will have by then put in hundreds of hours and a lot of money for travel and other expenses. So as you can see, College Works is not by definition a pyramid scheme, but it sure as hell follows the same formula.
To interns: While some of the prior information will be helpful, I'll give you some information that should you should be aware of, and provide examples if needed. First off, I would like to say this can be a great resume builder, it can help you with experience and knowledge in terms of sales, as well as learning how to paint a house, handle clients, manage workers (as well as training, hiring, etc.), and earn money.
But the earning money part is very rare, while you can, when it is all said and done make a profit, the chances are you will spend more during the course of your work on extra materials, gas, phone bill, eating out, etc. So keep that in mind, as I'll continue to the problems you will face.
The main problem you will find comes from your hired painters. Finding quick learners, hard workers, and dedicated employees is very difficult. One intern I was told about had his painters quit on him near the end of the summer, which is the worst part, considering the work he needed to finish. The best advice is to not lie to those you want to hire, make sure they understand the difficulties you face and deal with, and make sure they fully understand the budgeting system. This is the biggest issue, and I would estimate at least 90% of interns have at least one painter quit, but usually one painter quitting results in a snowball effect, so be very careful in regards to hiring.
The best way to help your painters is to paint! Your district manager will tell you to never do this; they will be completely against it and say you should be doing scheduling, making phone calls, marketing, etc. But as long as you have a decent amount of work booked, try as best you can to help, and here is why. For one, it looks good, it shows you want your painters to succeed and are doing what you can to make them beat the budget.
Remember, your hours do not count for the house, you do not get paid for the time you spend painting. But, if your help saves them four to five hours, they might then make budget and be paid accordingly. This makes them happy, shows your hard work and honesty, and also creates a level of commitment. This is the best advice I can give, the problem is in the other interns I have worked with or been told about, none help paint.
Your "job" is to book work and finish jobs, but remember: this will only work if you have painters who can get the jobs done and do them well! The painters need to be happy and motivated, and the motivation is supposed to be in beating budgets. As I have stated and really stress is that beating budgets is difficult and these painters will work long hours in the hot sun, so near the end of these days they will obviously work slower.
So if they are not beating budgets, you need to do everything you can to get them to where they need to be, to be happy and not quit. If this means adding a few hours to the budget so they get their hourly wage, do it. If it means buying them drinks to show you care and want them to be able to endure the heat better, then you should do it. In terms of clients, you need to actually care about them and their home. You cannot put on your sales pitch and big words, because frankly, as a beginner in the painting business you will often end up biting your tongue.
One big problem you may face is houses that require different work than just painting, such as a house that you contract simply for prepping and no painting. One good example is a job I was involved in that cost just under a grand, and required taking the "loose" paint off of wooded shingles, not cedar shakes but close, they had small indents in the wood throughout making regular scrapping nearly impossible. This was budgeted for 12 hours I believe, and the guy was unhappy with the process the first day, and said it required a heated gun (I don't recall the official name, it's sort of like a blow dryer, using heat to extract the loose paint).
The job ended up taking almost 40 hours. Here's the problem, unless you are willing to take a loss financially on the job, which I doubt you would, you will not get the job done, have an unhappy client and a lot more to deal with. So you understand how problems like this can arise even on a regular job site, where things take extensively longer than budgeted. This again comes down to if you are willing to add hours to the budget, but remember it is stuff like this you are not fully knowledgeable of from the training and information you are given.
So these problems can happen with any job, making the likelihood of disgruntled painters, who feel they are then being cheated more likely to quit. As you can see, the problems you will face always comes back to the fear of painters quitting, forcing you to lose time and waste time finding new help, training them, and then you face the same issue. You get the point I'm sure, so beware of this if you want to be an intern.
Another problem is not knowing how paint will look on a house, depending on the siding, as well as the shade used and the coats applied (including or not a coat of primer). One house I managed a job site for had cedar shakes, and wanted one coat of a light color. The problems started shortly after spraying began, because only one coat of a light shade on cedar shakes causes it to look very blotchy, meaning there is no cohesiveness to the single coat applied. The homeowner refused to have us spray the house, even though this was the best way in terms of speed, and would only allow us to hand paint it with a brush or roller.
The house was budgeted originally for (I believe) less than 20 hours, since this intern just used the equation given for an hour budget per every 200 square feet of the house. The house was re-budgeted to 39 hours (for the painters, not the actual contract) by a district manager to compensate for the lack of hours in the original assessment. Long story short it ended up taking 90 hours to paint. The client refused to buy a second coat, which I cannot blame them since they were obviously not informed one coat of spray would look sloppy, so it resulted in taking three times as long and the district manager paying out of pocket for extra compensation.
As you can see this is another great example of how you will face problems because of your lack of knowledge about different siding, how paints and colors cover, as well as not knowing if they wanted one coat it would need to be hand painted and therefore make the budgeted hours much higher. As an intern, in situations like these you need to add to the hours and pay the painters accordingly, since no one will work three times the amount of hours budgeted and made 1/3 of their hourly wage.
So it's either have your painters quit or pay out of pocket, obviously both are terrible options but this is what you deal with if you are an intern. Again, this reiterates the theme of what College Works provides: a system where you are set up to fail. The final piece of information I will give involves everything I know about how you are paid, what you can make, and how your district managers can screw you out of your hard earned money.
One job I know about involved a house that had been contracted for over a year, but do to difficulties and it being extremely underbid, the project was given to someone with extra pay incentive. Long story short, due to a problem on the job site (that was easily resolved and dealt with nothing regarding the actual work done) the person who was given the job had it taken away from them by their district manager. Not only was the person screwed because they had the job taken from them, they also had pay the wages of the workers.
So, not only did they earn nothing, they lost several hundred dollars for compensating the workers instead of the person who took over the job. Not only is this bad practice, there was nothing the person could do to stop it. This just goes to show you that those above you the system can take jobs from you; they also have great reason to do so. They can make money off of your sale, your work, and have you pay for the hours already put into the job.
Side note: The reason it was under-budgeted is something you, and potential homeowners looking to use college works should note. Some (not all) interns and district managers who leave the company, are offered the option to bid out houses and get contracts at the end of the summer/fall to be painted the following summer. They are compensated $20 for every contract, plus 1% of the contract when it is completed. Since they are leaving the company, they do not care about the problems of the job; they just want to book work to make their money quickly, plus the 1% when the job is completed (meaning they will under-budget the best they can to get contracts).
The problem for interns or even district managers is that these jobs are very likely to be extremely underbid, causing you to lose money. For homeowners, you may face the problem of having to pay more for additions to the contract, or have to deal with a lawyer to make sure the contract is carried out (I have witnessed this more than once). And for painters, well I guess you can see the problems as well, like I stated earlier, you may be painting a house that is budgeted for a lot less hours then it will take and may cause you to waste time and earn less than your hourly wage.
This practice is one of the major problems with College Works, and shows that they are focused on their income and not to teach and prepare interns. They use people who are skilled in sales to get contracts, knowing that these contracts will be underbid (I use the term "knowing" because they must realize the incentive given to those who book work, along with them not having to deal with any problems of the job is clear. It is not something they are unaware of because this issue is brought up when interns are given these jobs), and because they know this they are screwing clients and interns alike.
For interns, you can see from the previous example how a job was taken away, and this can happen for any job you have, for a simple reason like not doing something correctly or using the wrong materials (many of which can happen because you are ignorant, by no fault of your own, on aspects of the job). While I understand reasons a job is taken away is due to circumstances that are technically against the rules of the company. But, in your quest to make budget and get things done you are often forced to find the easy way, and in doing so put yourself, your time, and your money at risk.
One thing I will add, simply because it is something you would not know (or should not be told) unless you stay with the company and become a district manager, involves the house you are trained on. The house you learn how to paint is a prime example of how the company works; the painters (you and the other new interns) are not compensated for your work. As in, you do not receive a check for the hours you work seems wrong doesn't it? They do this in such a way to not even make you think about getting paid, as this is simple part of the training process, yet you are painting someone's house and they are obviously paying for these services.
So your district manager is making their 4% (like they do for all of the jobs completed by interns), an additional 15% (the percentage you as an intern would make on a job-which is standard and does not include extra money you'd make from using less than what the client paid for in terms of what was budgeted, meaning the difference in materials and labor hours-whether hours you skimmed from the beginning or skimmed because they beat budget), and they also make whatever percentage the labor hours budgeted came to because they are not paying you for your work!
Ironically, this in itself is a "benefit" to get former interns who they deem fit to stay another year and become a district manager.
To Potential Clients (Homeowners): While everything I have written previously are examples of the problems with the company, how they operate, and how the interns and painters are given a great opportunity on paper but are most likely set up to fail, the work itself is not always bad and you are not definitely getting yourself into a bad situation.
As a hard worker and dedicated employee, I saw many homes that turned out wonderful. Many times this involved painting an entire house, and when finished, looked absolutely amazing. This refers to the end product though, meaning the problems mentioned prior and including what I will mention in the following passages, are still issues with the process. I did not want to discredit the fact that the finished product can be amazing, because it can be, but is very rare in terms of not having to deal with or face problems throughout the process.
One benefit to hiring college works is actually the inexperience and practices they have, that if you are lucky, can allow you to get what should be expensive for the work needed, done for much less. If you have read this entire passage, the two previously examples of jobs I have mentioned are prime examples of how clients received a job done that should have cost at least double what they paid. Another example which I have yet to mention was one of the first jobs for an intern, involving a wooden fence. It ended up costing the homeowners $1,300 (roughly) but was under-budgeted for both materials and hours just so they would get the contract.
This was their district manager's advice, and in the end they worked on it for over a day to not have the painters go over budget and cost themselves more money. I'm not sure how much the job would have cost if it were done by other professionals, but in terms of what it should have cost in their contract to what they paid, they saved a few hundred dollars. I'm not sure if that is a risk you are willing to take, but through my experience, you should always get at least three estimates.
Here are some tips when dealing with the interns attempting to sell you a job: 1. Do not let the discount for signing the day off fool you, interns will usually just add what the discount would take off to the price, meaning you will not really save anything. I think the discount is 5 or 10 percent, and I am not saying this always happens, but I am pretty sure the district managers will tell them this trick, and if not they are likely to figure it out for themselves.
They are taught during their making of the contract to get you off topic and talk about your dog, family, or things of that nature to seem more caring. While this is nice for you, and a great sales tactic, it is to make you feel more comfortable with them. They do this during the walk around when they see a playhouse, a doghouse, stuff like that. So now you know, just remember this is what they are taught to do; this is not them being themselves.
Another sales tactic they use and you should be aware of, is that after you complete the walk around outside and tell them everything you want done, they will ask to use your bathroom. This is so you and your spouse (or whoever is with you) can talk about everything and give you a few minutes alone to feel more comfortable. Again, it's nothing bad; just understand this is all strategy to get the sale.
MAKE SURE to always know the extent of the problems with your home and the siding, dormers, windows, etc. If the wood is extremely bad, it might need to be replaced, and getting it painted is a waste of money. Usually this is only in some spots, not the whole house, but when you see the final product and looks awful it may be due to the quality of the wood (or whatever the siding is) and not the paint or job done. This can save you time and money, but will also help you if the intern eventually tells you that a different product is needed, and more needs to be done, adding more to your contract and costing you more.
You are often told that your house, the siding, or whatever needs to be power washed before it can be painted. While this is most often true (sometimes I power washed for hours siding was so bad, and others it was only bad in one spot), you will be paying a hell of a lot of money for something you can do yourself, In fact, what is budgeted for power washing is usually more than it would cost you to buy a power washer and do it yourself. That's just a tip, while it's obviously easier they do it, remember it is very expensive just to have water sprayed on your home.
Interns will usually try to up-sell you after the painting has already started. This usually refers to painting something you did not originally want, or adding decorative paint to certain aspects of your home, it really depends. Just know this will often be priced higher than it would have had you suggested it prior to the bidding of the contract.
Be aware of the fact that the materials will stay on your property! This has happened multiple times involving homeowners complaining about materials being left on site after the job was finished. Interns are supposed to have vehicles that can carry ladders, but they are not always available, so if the painters do not have vehicles able to remove power washers, ladders, or other materials, they will sit on your property until they are picked up. I do not think is as big a problem as it has been with my experience, but it happened at almost every site I have been to (over 40 jobs).
Also, if materials are left on your grass it will often kill it, and at sites that take weeks to finish can really be a problem. So if you plan to have your whole house painted, make sure you have a place they can keep the materials to prevent this. If you do not have a spot, then make sure it is in the contract that they will be removed each day from the site.
This is what they will say to give you peace of mind, and it may make sense, but do think this is realistic? It depends on how you answer that question, but at the very least, keep this in mind when they mention it. I know of many cases that painters put only one coat of paint when clients paid for two, times where painters begin the second coat before the first is totally dry, instances where scraping paint off (prepping) was done minimally and to compensate the coat(s) of paint were just put on thicker, and so on and so forth.
What makes it worse is, you cannot really blame painters or interns, the system if set up for them to fail in most cases and this is the only way they can earn what they deserve. With that said, right or wrong, fair or foul, it happens and you are now aware.
Finally, one thing that College Works does that I really respect is that they paint some houses at the end of the summer for those who are financially unfortunate. This is done by the interns and district managers (ironically enough this good deed is done with leftover paint that is mixed together, which I find somewhat unsettling). Even still, it is a very positive thing they do for communities and a great thing for interns to experience. I wanted to make sure I mentioned that, to end this on a positive note since this is something that you should hopefully remember if nothing else from this review.
In conclusion, I hope I was able to shed light on the realities of College Works Painting. After working for them for several years, I felt my knowledge of the company and their practices was strong enough to be able to help those who would need or want this information. Please note that all jobs I have written about were those in which I was involved in some way and were not secondhand accounts. While I have witnessed and experienced many negative things in my tenure, I have also gained many skills in terms of painting, sales, management and many other things.
While at times I was very upset with what was happening, or with what the company was doing to me and others, looking back I am happy to have worked for them. My resume is much stronger because of College Works, but at the same time, my circumstances were unique. Even though I did not succeed in terms of making a deserved and respectable income, I succeeded on a personal level, while so many others failed. My motives during my tenure were also much different, and the position I was put in did not allow me to quit, for reason that include my own morals, work ethic, dedication and commitment.
I did not allow myself to write this while I was still employed by College Works. I felt I was able only now to write this without bias since I have been away from the company long enough. At the very least, I hope all who see this enjoyed the read.
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.
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.