At one point or another, every house needs a fresh coat of paint. It can modernize a space, open up a home, or even help sell a property. Where there’s a need for paint, there’s a demand for a high-quality painting company. This is where you come in.
In the following sections, we’ll tell you how to run a painting business. Whether you already have one or you’re looking to get started from scratch, you’ll find useful information in this guide. We’ll cover potential areas of specialization, the equipment you’ll need, and some general tips for success.
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What does a painting business do?
There are two different types of painting businesses. One does all the work themselves. They’ll find a customer, sell their services, paint the property, and get paid.
The other type coordinates a group of subcontracted painters. If you choose this business model, you’re looking for customers, selling your services, assigning sub-contracted painters to the project, getting paid, and then paying the painters.
In either case, you’ll be working directly with your customers. Your customers could be residential homeowners looking to update their houses. You could also end up working on a commercial apartment complex that needs a painter for new construction, renovations, or repairs.
Finding your target market
Your target market depends on what services you’re offering. For residential painters, you’re looking for anyone who owns or rents a home. When people get bored of their current wall colors, you can jump in and spice things up.
In commercial painting, your target demographic is almost wholly up to you. It’s a matter of making phone calls to businesses in the area and explaining what you can do for them.
Once you find your ideal market, focus on attracting their attention. Convert them into customers by showcasing your abilities and understanding their needs.
Things you need to run a painting business
If you’re just starting out, there are a few things you’ll need ahead of time.
- A website: This is the bread and butter of your painting business. A good website will strengthen your online presence, increase your views, and help you connect with more potential customers.
- A name, logo, and business plan: This section is all about legitimizing your business. Your name and logo should be representative of your company, catchy, and easy to remember. Your business plan outlines what you plan on doing and how your business will be structured.
- Insurance, certifications, and a business license: This section protects you and reassures potential clients of your professionalism.
- Experience: If you plan on painting yourself, experience is one of the most important things you can have. It might be a good idea to work for a general painting company and learn the ropes and how the business operates before starting on your own.
How to run a painting business
Now it’s time to talk specifics. These tips will outline how to run a successful painting business so your passion can turn into your career.
Focus on what makes you special
Part of your business plan should be outlining what makes your operation special. You might focus on offering high-quality, low-cost, or expedited painting services.
Whatever niche you pick, make sure you focus on it. Your marketing and brand should revolve around this trait. Think of La Colombe Coffee, for example. Their claim to fame is that they sell high-quality, specialty coffee for premium prices. Their whole business is built around it.
When you focus on one area, quality control is much easier to achieve. Even if you plan to expand your offerings later, it’s best to start with something you know you can do well.
Maintain a high-quality website
You want to make sure you’re keeping up with your website. Companies make the mistake of setting up their site and then forgetting about it.
If you maintain a high-quality website, you can get a constant stream of new customers. If you’re a residential painter, finding clients is a big deal. As you know, many people are just looking for help with one-off projects.
You need to be looking for new clients constantly. To attract visitors to your website, you might consider starting a blog that talks about all things painting. This will establish your reputation as an industry expert and create goodwill with potential clients.
When you paint on your own, you’re on the hook for equipment costs and the job’s quality. However, you can avoid this hurdle by outsourcing the actual painting to subcontractors. This is the alternative to painting yourself.
It’s not uncommon to find subcontractors that will work for about 50% of what the customer would pay you. When you hire subcontractors, you’re acting as the middleman. The customer deals with you, and you coordinate which painters are going to which projects.
If you’re subcontracting, be sure to get some money upfront from the customer. We suggest asking for a 25% payment before painting begins. This will cover the cost of paint and any deposits that your contractors require.
As you get more experience quoting projects, you’ll get a better sense of your margins and learn how to make sure all of your expenses are covered.
Do you need painting equipment?
If you’re subcontracting, you don’t need painting equipment. If you’re doing the work yourself, you’ll likely be facing a bill for thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
While you’re at it, you should also consider buying a professional van to transport your equipment around.
Revisit your pricing quarterly
When you’re first starting, your pricing might be all over the place. It’s hard to know how much to charge a customer before getting experience in the industry.
During your first year or two, you should revisit your pricing every month. This means sitting down, looking at the figures, and seeing if your pricing is fair.
After the second year, you can start looking at pricing on a quarterly basis. See what your competitors are charging and understand how you compare in the market. Charging less will make customers more excited about your services, but it will eat up your margins quickly.
This doesn’t mean that you need to change your prices every quarter. You just need to evaluate whether your numbers are where you want them and consider changing your pricing structure if they aren’t.
Look for referrals
One of the best ways to keep your business afloat is through referrals. Running a referral program means asking your clients to refer their friends and family.
You might incentivize this process by offering:
- Gift cards
- Special savings through your company
- A free add-on
Be sure to only give incentives to people whose referred party spends money through your company. Word of mouth travels fast when you do a great job. Focus on creating a good experience for your customers and doing your best at each project site.
Expanding your business
When the demand is too high for you to meet, it might be time to expand. This might mean bringing on more employees, opening a second location, or hiring another project coordinator.
This is a great problem to have, and it can mean much more money in your pocket in the long run. That said, it’s unwise to force an expansion if demand doesn’t exceed your current bandwidth.
Continue growing your painting business
Now you know the fundamentals of how to run a painting business. If you want to unlock even more earning potential, check out our online marketing guide The Download.