Continental Painting Eliminates Paper T&M Tag Chaos

This leading Specialty Contractor has experienced fewer disputes, a significant reduction in COR processing time, and a higher ROI for each project since adopting Clearstory.


The Carbon Copy Time and Material Tag Challenge 

T&M Tags had finally driven Matthew Royed to the edge. Simultaneous projects with extreme scheduling had the subs sequenced too tightly. One job had repeated drywall issues (including major trade damage), and a big percentage of what had both been promising opportunities was spiraling into seemingly endless extra work. 

“We ended up putting 8 coats of paint on the wall at one of the jobs and easily used T&M Tags for a third of the work,” says Royed, the vice president for Cerritos, CA-based Continental Painting, Inc. the Southern California commercial painting business started by Royed’s father Jack in the late 1970s. 

In the decades since, spreadsheets and smartphones failed to make T&M Tag and COR processing an easy task at Continental: crew members were writing up stacks of paper Tickets, sometimes backdated days after work was finished, often illegible or incomplete, and barely supported by text and email photos that were in no way tagged to the ticket they were paired with.

“Obviously it’s just a severe headache with all of this stuff,” says Royed, who describes a weekly gauntlet of sorting tickets, hunting down material receipts, locating photos, matching everything to GC-specific RFI numbers, and combining it all into PDFs backed by an excel spreadsheet. “It was horrible. I looked like a madman with Time Tickets strewn all over the floor. Then I’d double check and proofread all of the work, only to get scrutinized by the Project Manager on details and accuracy.” 

Under normal circumstances, the Continental team tends to work projects where invoices pay anywhere from 60 to 90 to 120 days out. With T&M Tags and subsequent COR approvals adding additional layers of delay, the company was starting to float its own operating cash across the COR payment gap, sometimes bankrolling jobs beyond 200 days, and still losing another $30K to $50K a year on disputes. 



Matt R headshot

“It was horrible. I looked like a madman with time Tickets strewn all over the floor. Then I’d double check and proofread all of the work, only to get scrutinized by the project manager on details and accuracy.”

Matthew Royed

Vice President, Continental Painting, Inc.

Enter Clearstory

By the beginning of 2022, Royed had enough, and decided to adopt Clearstory (formerly Extracker) software as a solution enabling the Continental team and their General Contractors to align in real-time on changes to contracted work. “I was looking to untangle this weekly hairball,” Royed says. “Time Tickets are a double-edged sword. They are challenging, stressful, and a pain. On one hand I don’t want to do it, on the other hand, it's our money, and I have to do it to get paid.”

Not just the only Change Order Communication Tool available, Clearstory promised powerful workflows using digital T&M Tags, COR templates, and a cloud based COR log to help speed Change Order processing by up to 70 percent. Most importantly, Clearstory consolidated all of the various mismatched paper trails and untagged Time Tickets and photos into a single, clean, straightforward delivery mechanism for sending CORs to Project Managers and GCs. 

“It didn’t even take 10 minutes for me to do that with Clearstory, compared to four hours or more to process CORs the old way,” Royed says. “The Project Manager automatically had all of the titles, Tickets, photos, materials used in the field and organized into a PDF and labeled, and I didn’t have to do any of it. Everything is so buttoned up and ready to go that I can get it off my plate in minutes, and the project manager is able to approve our CORs so much faster.”

But one of the biggest ringing endorsements for Clearstory has been from veteran crewmembers, some of whom don’t even like to use email. On a recent contract with a large private college in Orange County, the most old-school foreman at Continental is leveraging Clearstory to secure payment on 90 percent of the project’s tickets, practically eliminating the Change Order gap on payments.


Complete Transparency and Faster ROI

"Before Clearstory, we were lucky to get 70 percent of our Tickets paid, and I can see us hitting 100 percent when we close this particular job, which is a pretty good return on investment," says Royed, who adds that, as Vice President, he's relishing the ability to have real-time visibility and documentation related to CORs in process. "I can look and see which Tickets have been addressed, which ones have been turned into Change Orders versus which ones have not, and it's all maintained in the log," he says. 


Added Value for All Stakeholders

GC Project Managers are taking notice, too, and are less likely to question or scrutinize Continental T&M Tickets and CORs that are so well organized, resulting in fewer disputes and higher levels of team confidence in the field. “The impression is that we’ve got this figured out, and the GC project managers want to take us to their next job and to their other General Contractors, and all the sudden, hey, we have a new customer.”

For other Specialty Contractors still mired in the downward spiral of manual T&M Tags and CORs, Royed says the switch to Clearstory has helped turn him from that mad man into the people pleaser that works best for his approach to business success.

“I think a lot of Subcontractors in this position can relate to the challenge of T&M Tickets, and I can commiserate,” he says. “I can only say how much better Clearstory has made things for myself, the project manager, and the General Contractor, how seamless it has all become to keep everything organized in nice, neat, packages that are easy to share, unpack, and process.”


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