House painting is a $37 billion per year industry. But starting a house painting business can be relatively inexpensive — in some cases just $500. So it’s an option entrepreneurs with he aptitude should consider.
How to Start a Painting Business
Brandon Lewis is the founder of The Academy for Professional Painting Contractors, an online resource for re-paint contractors, and the publisher behind Painter’s Weekly. He recently spoke with Small Business Trends via email to offer some tips and helpful insights for entrepreneurs looking to get into the home painting business. Here are some essential steps to take.
Register Your Company
The exact type of registration you might need for your business can vary by state. So it’s a good idea to check in with your government’s website or some local trade organizations to learn exactly what is required. From there, you might also purchase insurance, a domain and hosting for your business website.
Invest in Equipment
Aside from that, the only real startup costs your business should have would be equipment. You’ll likely need ladders, drop cloths, brushes, rollers, sprayers, masks and potentially vehicles with your company’s logo to get you to different jobs.
Find Worthy Partners
When it comes to actually finding customers, Lewis recommends finding the other businesses in your area most influential with your target customers.
He explains, “It’s important for you to make a top 100 list of influencers in your community for referral and lead generation. You might consider targeting top-performing realtors, commercial property managers and other B2B service companies like roofers, gutter installers and flooring installers. Limit your list to 100 and live with them through mail, email, text, social media and in-person visits or networking. Keep a tough-minded buy-or- die philosophy.”
Create Your Talking Points
You’ll also need to think about what your marketing materials and sales pitches should feature in terms of content. Why should a new customer choose your business over the other options available?
Lewis says, “Build out a diagnostic sales process that focuses on educating the client about how your painting business is different than the typical painting contractor. Warranties, guarantees, client reviews and painter screening processes should be front-and-center in your messaging so the client can understand how they are reducing risk and getting more value when selecting your company.”
Follow Up with Prospects
But getting new customers isn’t as simple as just sharing a sales pitch one time through some relevant influencers. You have to follow up and stay in fairly consistent contact.
Lewis says, “Use strong pre-positioning, presenting, post-positioning, and follow-up tactics that mirror the concerns of the client and the sales cycle. Remember, painting services are expensive and it can often take a client months to make a purchasing decision. Hang in there.”
Set Clear Rates
When it comes to your rates, Lewis says you need to determine three key factors up front: production rates, pay rates and charge rates. Production rates would be how long it takes the average painter to paint any given surface. Pay rates would be what you pay your employees. And charge rates are what you actually charge a client for an hour of labor.
Lewis adds, “When you estimate a project, your only job is to measure the square footage, linear footage, and number of the surfaces or objects you are painting. After that, it’s just a 4th grade math problem. Never eye-ball an estimate. Always use your rates and formulas.”
Study the Business Concepts
Additionally, Lewis adds many house painters are drawn more to the painting side of their business rather than the actual business aspects like bookkeeping and marketing. But it’s a good idea to have a firm grasp of these concepts as well.
Lewis says, “Most business painting company owners are technicians who hastily entered the world of entrepreneurship. Few have ever taken the time to be a serious student of the business end of their business. I urge all owners to take a season in their careers to devote themselves to the study of marketing, sales, operations and management. When you do this for a short, intense period of time, it pays dividends for life!”
Build a Portfolio
As you work with clients, it can also be beneficial to photograph and chronicle your work so you have examples to share with future clients and prospects. This can show the quality of your work along with proving you have a large number of satisfied customers.
Stay in Touch with Customers
Once you have worked with a number of customers, don’t trust those customers will keep coming back to you for all of their painting needs.
Lewis explains, “By far, the biggest mistake I see painting contractors make is abandoning and neglecting clients after the sale. This causes cost of sale to go through the roof and dooms the contractor to unpredictable feast-and- famine cycles. When I work with a painting contractor who is stalled in sales and profitability, most often this is the chief reason for their failures.”
Invest in Marketing
You can also invest in some online marketing activities like email newsletters, retargeting ads and local SEO to attract customers, both new and old.
Lewis says, “For established contractors, I’d recommend customer reactivation campaigns to past clients and making use of mailed and emailed monthly newsletters for retention. Local SEO marketing can also be effective depending on your market and how much you are willing to invest.”