“There’s a treasury agent on the phone?”
“I said, ‘there is a treasury agent on the phone.’ He’d like to speak with the owner of the business.”
Heath was startled and confused by what his assistant was telling him. What on earth did a treasury agent want with him this morning? He picked up the receiver.
“Good morning Mr. Young…” The voice on the other end of the line was blunt and direct. “I’d like to speak to you about a few members of your paint crew.”
Heath’s stomach dropped. This could be trouble of the worst kind for both him and his paint business.
Owning and operating a paint business can be especially fun and rewarding. Unlike professions where most work is done behind a desk, being a professional painter means meeting different people and applying your craft in new and interesting ways on a daily basis. However, as with any business, there are risks to owning a paint business that threaten to undo the hard work you’ve put in and the organization you have dedicated yourself to build. It isn’t enough to pay your bills and do great work. Your paint business is vulnerable to the same challenges of other businesses and, as with other businesses, your long-term success depends on how you handle the part of your job that doesn’t have anything to do with painting.
Here are five risks facing your paint business.
- Employee misclassification. As with any service business, making sure your employees are properly classified (W2 vs. 1099) and legally documented to work for you is of great importance. Not having every “t” crossed and “i” dotted with regard to worker documentation, classification, and withholdings can result in the type of fiasco – both legally and financially – that can not only put you out of business but can also find you in court facing serious consequences. We suggest utilizing the services of a CPA to help with properly identifying and classifying workers to prevent any potential problems.
- Worker injury and property damage. Professional painters often use ladders and scaffolding or are exposed to toxic chemicals. Professional painting is hard work! With that kind of work comes the risk of injury or illness in the normal course of a workday. Is your company prepared to handle workers compensation claims? Do you have insurance in the event of an accident involving one of your painters while working? What about insurance for accidental damage to the property of your clients? The best solution is to consult with an commercial insurance broker who should be able to educate you on what types of coverage are appropriate for your business.
- Negative feedback. Many small service businesses don’t maintain a presence on the internet. This is a mistake. The internet is an ongoing conversation that includes discussions between people who have used your services and people who are considering doing so. If you aren’t at least monitoring the conversation, much less participating in it, then you are allowing other people to determine your reputation unchecked. (Click here to see our guide to maintaining and managing an online presence.)
- Uncontrollable Business Interruption. If your primary business is painting exterior or outside surfaces, what happens to your business when it rains for days on end? What if it’s so cold your paint won’t properly adhere to the substrate? How much business do you stand to lose? Can you weather the storm financially? Do you have to pay your crew even when they aren’t working? If not, do you risk them leaving for another job opportunity? One solution is to offer a variety of paint services so that when one is “out of season” (like exterior paintwork in the winter) you have other services that keep your team busy.
If you own and operate a paint business (or any service business for that matter), you are likely to encounter a number of hazards and threats over time. Some can be planned for, while others will have to be addressed when they happen. That said, being aware of the most common pitfalls paint businesses experience should afford you the opportunity to proactively address them before a problem emerges. In the end, your goal is to deliver great paint work to your clients. Don’t let easily-addressable threats keep you from that mission. To learn more about owning and operating a successful paint business, click here!