How do you define finish performance in the first place? Is it a measure of how fast you can lay down a great finish? Is it a test of durability? A certain degree of customer satisfaction? Or is it more like an equation that weighs time, cost and effort against expectations, objectives and lasting results? In any case, a great performance always requires preparation. You have to know what you’re up against in order to achieve any desired finish. The perfection you seek in performance will be determined by how much you discover and prepare in the beginning. I’ve heard that the best performers have secrets; let’s look at a couple here.
SECRET 1: PERFORMANCE = STANDARDS
What’s performance if it is not measured against a standard?
There’s no shortage of very scientific paint and coating studies and standards. ASTM, for example, is the recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards. They offer valuations of various paints and coatings. In fact, every large paint and coating manufacturer worth its salt uses standards to measure every promise of performance they make.
Though technical, what ASTM ultimately delivers are merely “Guides”: Guidelines for specifying and evaluating the physical and chemical properties of various paints and coatings and more guidelines for the proper methods of applying these finishes. These standards help provide an important measure of performance so that manufacturers, distributors, finishers and end-users alike may attain the finish they desire.
Ultimately, standards help us to set expectations. Would you ever promise “great performance” from a finish if you had no idea how or where the product would be used? Without standards there’s simply no measure, no way to insure success.
SECRET 2: PERFORMANCE IS LIMITED
Most products today have a predetermined lifespan. Every fabrication, every bearing, every finish is carefully designed and tested to “perform” for a limited length of time.
Shopping for a vacuum cleaner recently, I complained about my failing 10-year-old $800+ vacuum cleaner. The owner of A-1 Vacuum told me to be grateful instead, adding that the major brands now speak openly in trade magazines about a three-to-four year lifespan standard currently designed into consumer vacuum cleaners.
Manufacturers determine how short a lifespan the market will tolerate for a certain product and a trend starts in motion. That’s the bottom line. We exist in a disposable economy. Replacement makes the world go round. Therefore, performance, at least in the case of consumer hard goods, is a moving target. Of course there’s excess in overshooting a target. You want to know the limits. It’s to your advantage.
IKEA entrepreneur Ingvar Kamprad set out with a mission to “create a better everyday life for the many people.” And since 1943 the company has focused on democratizing luxury by offering well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that “as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
IKEA is a high (financial) performer. They don’t overinvest in product performance. While they are more about style than substance, they have perfected their business model. Operationally, their flat-pack approach gives them supply chain efficiency and speed. Their 330-plus stores are strategically placed in urban areas targeting young homeowners. With a constant push for global expansion bolstered by strong loyalty, their success is likely to continue as long as they can convince people to discard the old, and refurnish their lives. IKEA consistently meets or exceeds expectations because they have set limited performance standards which insure their success.
PERFORMANCE MAY VARY
Each coating job is specific. No two customers are alike. Yet you need to promise the highest standard of product performance—whatever that is—from your facility floor to years later in the field. And if that’s not enough you’ve got to get it in, get it dry and get it out, all while controlling the effects VOCs.
Ask your distributor to provide advice on coatings that perform given your very specific challenges. Talk to them about your objectives as well as your customer’s expectations. Accessa understands the standards of performance you depend upon. They know well that performance may vary job-to-job, customer-to-customer and year-to-year.
Accessa will typically look at these eight measures of performance:
- Ease of use by the customer
- Durability required
- Environmental impact
- Appearance to be achieved
- Feel/texture to be achieved
- Coverage characteristics
- Uniformity of coating
- Customer’s inventory and budget expectations
Great performers know their audience and their limits so they can play to expectations.
When it comes to finishing, the difference between a large established manufacturer and a small fledgling shop is often the standards by which they operate—and the performance by which they are able to comply. Raise your standards, insure your success, ask your distributor for coatings that perform.
I welcome your comments, questions or more discussion.