5 Ways to Ruin Your Paint Business: Common Pitfalls for Professional Painters Reply

There are literally hundreds of things you can do to grow your paint business. Unfortunately, there are just as many pitfalls and challenges that can make owning a paint business feel impossible. With so many things requiring your attention every day, it’s common to lose sight of the little things that can help you remain successful over the long term as a professional painter. Every day is an opportunity to grow and promote your business and the difference between success and failure often turns on the smallest and sometimes most seemingly insignificant detail.

An interior painter paints a ceiling

Interior house painting is a great niche to work in.
Image courtesy of RC Paint.

Here are five ways that paint professionals often inhibit the success of their own paint business, both now and over the long term:

  1. Put all your eggs in one basket.  My friend Jaime had one of the most successful commercial paint businesses I had ever encountered. He primarily worked for a single property management company in Dallas whenever they had a property that needed to be repainted. For example, he once spent weeks repainting the interior of each unit of a large apartment complex. Jaime enjoyed the pace of working with the property management company. They didn’t look over his shoulder all the time or monitor his every move; he came and painted when he wanted and so long as the jobs were completed in a reasonable amount of time, everyone was happy. As a result, Jaime quit booking other jobs with other clients and focused all his energy on the property management company. When the company was purchased by a large enterprise from Houston that had an in-house staff of painters and handymen, Jaime’s services were no longer needed. Since he didn’t spend time cultivating new business and working with other clients, Jaime was out of business in nearly an instant. He now works on someone else’s paint crew, full of regret that he didn’t keep a base of clients along the way.
  2. Ignore Complaints.  Happy customers can lead to lots of referrals and continued work, which is key to being successful for a long time. The opposite, however, is an even stronger force. Unhappy clients and customers are likely to tell friends, family, and the internet of their bad experience with you. From leaving negative reviews on social media to not paying their bill, unhappy customers can damage your business significantly. If a client is unhappy, you must immediately address the situation. The early stages of dealing with an unhappy customer can actually be an opportunity to deliver the kind of outstanding service that makes them a customer for life. But ignoring problems and complaints is a near-certain way to establish a bad reputation, both in the real world and online.
  3. Don’t pay your vendors.  This requires little explanation except to point out that unpaid vendors and workers create a hole that is much harder to crawl out of then you can possibly imagine. If you don’t have the resources (paint, payroll) to perform the next job, then you have little chance of making enough money to pay for the last job. And leveraging credit and goodwill will only get you so far; eventually all bills come due and have to be paid. Furthermore, shaking a reputation as a bad customer or bad employer is a difficult task indeed.
  4. Compromise on quality.  Compromising on quality just a little today invariably leads to compromising a lot tomorrow. It may seem harmless to cut a corner that you don’t think anyone will notice, but the bedrock of any successful paint business is high quality work. Not doing the best job you can every time means that you are giving the competition a chance to beat you on the quality of your work. If your competitors are doing higher-quality work than you are, you will never win business away from them.
  5. Be inflexible.  The professional paint sector is not immune to new technology. From industrial paint robotics, to acrylic paints, to additives, there are many more tools available to the professional painter compared to even a few years ago. While it can be tempting to see this new technology as a threat to the status quo, enterprising paint professionals are learning how to leverage these new tools and technologies in to their service offerings. Paint sprayers that allow you to paint quickly without sacrificing quality may be different than the roller you are used to, but if you plan on succeeding well into the future, you should embrace new tools available to you.
paint sprayer in action

Wise painters change with the times.
Image courtesy of APE Painting.

While the information above is certainly meant to be useful, it is far from a comprehensive list of all the the things threatening your long term success. There are a variety of variables both in and out of your control that can make owning and operating a successful paint business a challenge. My advice is to focus on the things that you CAN control, like the items above. If you work hard to do a good job, take care of your clients, and respect your vendors and employees, you are likely to find success much easier to come by both now and in the future. Click here to learn more about what you can do to increase your chance of success when owning a paint business!

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