Why Start a

Painting Business

and How to Get Started

Why Start A Painting Business?

The house painting industry earns over $38 billion annually. According to Google Trends, the search term, “painters near me”, is at a all time high at over 40,000 search queries each month. So there is plenty of room to start your own painting business and make lots of profits.

how to start a painting business
how to start a painting business

Want to Know How to Start a Painting Business?

Starting a painting company is relatively simple. It takes hard work and dedication but the upfront cost is minimal. Helping property owners re-create their space is fulfilling and profitable. Some of the benefits you can experience when you start your own painting business include:

 

  • You can start as a part-time business

  • It’s rather inexpensive to start-up

  • Earn profit immediately

  • Franchising opportunities

Article Overview

1. Initial Set-Up- What is the minimum needed to start

2. Finding Clients- Free and simple ways to get your first clients

3. Estimate- Appearance, Calculating and Closing

4. Profit- Rates and Costs

 
 

1. INITIAL SET-UP

This is just the basics, remember to earn over a million dollars a year with your painting business there are a lot more intricate moving parts. Applying for a Painting License and Forming an LLC would be in your best interest. In most states, a license is not necessary, but it looks good to have one. You will need an LLC formation once you start growing. 

 

Starting up a painting business is simple. Assuming you already have a vehicle, there are 4 main steps to starting a painting business.

This may be the hardest part of starting a painting business.  Most business owners struggle trying to think of a good Painting Company Name. Try to go with your gut instinct. Here are some tips on how to select a good name for your painting business.

 

  • Don’t include your first name

  • Make it easy to pronounce

  • Choose something easy to spell

  • Make sure there is a domain name available

  • Try to keep it short

  • Don’t use the words “inc.” unless you're incorporated

After you have you name established you may want to look into creating a logo. A Painting Companies Logo is important to the overall professionalism of a business. Try to think of a successful Company who doesn't have a logo..they all do.

Register Your Painting Business

Google the secretary of your state and apply for business registration. This takes about 15 minutes and costs under $100 depending on which state.

Purchase General Liability Insurance

Get coverage for up to a million dollars with Painters Insurance. This is a must for your painting business. Typically costing between $50-$100 per month it’s well worth it.

Equipment and Tools

If you don’t already have the basic equipment and tools needed for painting it's a good idea to go to a paint store or home depot. We won't list larger, more expensive equipment like an Airless Paint Sprayer and Power Washer. Hopefully, you are sub-contracting the painting jobs so you really shouldn’t need much when it comes to painting tools. Besides small items like rags, plastic, tape, and hooks, these will be all you need to get started right away:

 

  • Brushes- Purdy and Wooster are great brands, I wouldn’t recommend buying the economy brushes. There are angled sash and flat brushes. Some are made for oil some latex and some both. If you want to know more about brushes check out this article:

  • 5 in 1 Tool- By far I have always used this tool the most,  From scraping walls and removing paint can lids I keep this in my back pocket 90% of the job. The one with the metal butt handle is my favorite.

  • Roller Frames- For now you can get away with using a 9’’ frame for jobs but as you grow you will want multiple frames and sizes. My favorite has always been 18”.

  • Roller Covers- Go with the ¼ and ½ inch nap roller sleeves for now until you learn where and when to use different nap sizes.

  • Extension Poles- If you are the one doing the painting you may want to invest in this tool. Your back can take a toll over time.

  • Ladders- One of the more expensive tools when first starting out but necessary. Try craigslist for used ladders. You will need a 4ft step ladder at the minimum and it would be ideal to have an articulating ladder like the little giant.

  • Caulk, Caulk Gun, and Mud- You will need to fill gaps, cracks, and repair drywall imperfections here and there.

  • Drop Cloths- Another must have. Protecting clients property from getting paint on them is crucial to running a good painting business.

  • Basic Hand Tools- You will need to remove switch plate covers, prepare drywall, and cut plastic so you will need basic hand tools for your painting business. A hammer, razor blade, drywall knives, and pan, etc. Having a screw gun handy is always a plus but you won’t need it at first.

  • Painter Tape- Use painters tape to mask off surfaces where you want to protect. There's a lot to be done with quality painters tape.

  • Tape Measure- You will most use this for estimates but they come in handy for so much more.

-That's all there is to start a painting business! You're ready to start finding clients and making profits.

Remember, I’m showing you how to start a painting business, not how to spend thousands of dollars on painting equipment. If you want to earn the big bucks you will need expensive equipment like airless paint sprayers, huge extension ladders and more. 

 

Go The Extra Mile:

 

There's is a lot of ways to acquire new leads for your painting company. If you want to know How to Get Painting Contracts here are some easy and free ways to find clients when starting a painting business.

Word of Mouth

Friends, and family will often be your first customers or if not at least they probably know someone who needs painting services.  Offer deal and post them to your social networks. Ask your relatives to ask around at work or pass your card around. Post your business cards up at your local paint stores and ask them to refer you if anyone inquires about a professional painter. This has a snowball effect as long as you take 100% care of each and every client they will tell their friends and family.

Door to Door

This is the cheapest and easiest way to generate leads. It may be nerve-racking at first but you will get used to it. If you knock on 100 doors a day and 5% of them become leads, you will most likely close at least 1 of the 5 estimates.  Knock on doors whose homes have a visible need for painting. Knock on the door and have your print or notepad ready. When the homeowner answers the door be polite and confident, have your pen to the notepad and say something along the lines of, “hi, our painting company is in your area and we noticed your trim paint is peeling and cracking, would you like a free painting estimate?” If the homeowner is interested you can give them an estimate right on the spot or schedule a day and time to come back for the sale.  You can also knock on doors whose homes appear as they don’t need any painting. Let the homeowner know that your painting company is in the area, and you wanted to provide them with some information about your services. Be prepared, some homeowners may get rather rude with you. This is something you will just have to take with a grain of salt. Good Luck!

Create Flyers

Hang flyers in common public areas. Post on job boards. Again, offer a big discount for extra appeal. When I started in the 90’s it was ok to place folded flyers on cars in giant parking lots.  Check with your local city guidelines and or parking lot owners.

 

-Paid advertising is a good option to boost your lead acquisition. There is pay per lead companies who will give you leads for a fee. There are EDDM services through the USPS. With the right sales funnel and advertisements, a painting business can thrive in this market. If you really want to know how to start a painting business then you will need to understand marketing.

 

Before making a profit with a new painting business, we need to learn how to properly estimate painting jobs, write contracts, and close jobs. Mostly, you will gain estimate knowledge and experience with time, but the first few estimates may be tough. Giving low-ball prices will give you a reputation for being cheap, and bidding too high will cost you lots of leads.

 

This sales process is really what makes or breaks your painting business.  It must be sculpted, fine-tuned and revised often. Remember, it’s not the price that sells the painting job its the sales process. There is a lot of in-between details about the sales process for selling paint jobs, if you want to know more about the estimating process check out our article: Estimating a Paint Job in 5 Simple Steps.  

 

 

Bidding paint jobs is an easy 4 step process:

 

  • Appearance

  • Measuring and notes

  • Proposals

  • Closing

Appearance

This is important. DO NOT show up to your painting estimate wearing your painting whites. The first thing potential prospects will notice is the way you present yourself.  Wear a company polo shirt with dress pants and nice shoes. Here’s a trick. Most painting contractors waltz into someones home not even thinking about wearing shoe covers. I never go into a home without them. The homeowner will take note of this and assume your painting work will be just as respectful. Well worth the effort.

Measuring and Note Taking

Using a tape measure if you need it or not, will impress the prospect and gives them confidence that you have a system to determine your prices.  No one likes the guy who just stares at a job and throws a number on the back of a business card. Carry a clipboard with a notepad and write down everything the prospect mentions and all your areas and measurements. 

 

What do I measure?

 

  • Square Footage- Either room by room or the exterior perimeter, depending on what your bidding on. From this number, you can calculate the surface area or the ceiling and walls.

  • Linear Length- For the interior, measure the length of the window and door trim, crown molding, chair railing, handrails, baseboards, etc.  For the exterior, measure the length of fascias and soffits as well as the trim work.

  • Count- Find out how many doors need to be painted. Some doors are flat and easy, others have panels, some have really nice pitcher handles, and some have side lights with lots of glass.  This can also be a garage door which sometimes is just as easy to paint as an intricate man door. Count other areas that can’t be measured like, shadow boxes, wainscoting, stair treads, and risers, etc. Then we figure how long it would take to paint these areas and multiply by how many there are.

  • Paint Amount- A gallon of paint will cover about 250-350 sq.ft. or surface space depending on the material and product.  Applying 2 coats, a 100 sq.ft. the ceiling would use almost a gallon of paint. The walls would be the linear length of the room x the height. 40’x8’ is 320sq.ft. so we would need 2 gallons to be confident we’ll have enough. Typically the trim paint is a semi-gloss or satin and is the least amount of paint needed unless the whole house is wainscoting or trim.  Usually, 1 gallon is all you need for most interior paint jobs. If the home does have wainscoting or paneling that needs trim paint then get a few gallons. The good thing about semi-gloss and satin paints is we usually don’t tint them so they can be returned if needed.

Proposals

Also referred to as contracts, bids, and estimates, a properly written proposal is key to selling a paint job. The very best thing you can do to up your chances of selling the job is to write your proposal on-site.  Most of your competition will be sending them an email a few days later or write the price on the back of a business card. We also bring a professional folder with our logo printed on the front. The inside contents include all of our legality paperwork, testimonials from happy clients, reviews, pictures, warranty package and so much more.  This one aspect alone is responsible for 85% of all my sales.

 

Having a well thought out, easy to read proposal template is a good way to speed up the process.  Possibly drive around with a portable printer to print your proposals on the spot. This will really impress your prospect, as no other painting business will be doing this.

 

You will need to know have your Production Rate established before writing out a professional proposal.

Also, for interior estimating you should already know how to paint a room.

Closing

It’s all about gaining your prospects trust. Sitting down with and trying to convince them why your painting business is superior to your competitors, and then showing them the numbers is quite nerve-racking. This is where you present your proposal to them and make sure you took careful care of their needs and wants. This is where I ask my prospects if they have received any other quotes for the project. Even if your price is higher than your competitors there a great chance you can still get the job if your presentation was superior. If your prospect needs time to “think”, offer them a discount right on the spot to sign with you that day. If the prospects decide to wait or wants more estimates to be sure to follow up with them daily until you get your answer.

 

4. PROFIT

The profit comes with raising your rates to cover overhead, materials, and to hire quality painters for your painting company. This is known as markup. The markup includes your insurance, warranty fund, profit margin, and any staff that you bring on. It also includes marketing and sales costs. The larger your painting business grows, the more you need to markup your jobs.

 

Here’s what you need to know about profit for now:

 

  • Production Rate

  • Labor Rate

  • Material Cost

  • Job Cost

Production Rate

The production rate is the ratio of the number of services produced and the time spent producing them. So figure out how long it takes you and your crew to paint. Do this per item, per sq.ft., and per linear ft. See how long it takes you to prep a room or clean-up at the end of each day. Put a lot of thought and energy into this and re-evaluate your business production rates quarterly.

Labor Rate

A labor rate is a rate charged to customers for services performed by company employees.  The average pay rate for painters is $20/hr could be less for helpers and more for crew leaders but this is average. Where to find good employees?

 

That's another huge topic in this industry. Read more about finding good painting employees here:

Material Cost

If you sign up with your local paint store you can get great discounts on paint. They even provide sales reps who will gladly visit your job sites and estimate how much paint you will need and which product is best for your application. Price varies on paint store, paint Finally, add everything together plus your markup. Don’t forget to calculate for gas, taxes, lunches and whatever is needed to produce the desired outcome. The lower you can get your paint and labor, the higher your profit margin will be. Not including training systems to speed up production and other tactics to double, triple and even 10x your painting business output., paint sheen and quantity, so talk with your rep and get a print out of the prices. The material cost is the number of gallons you plan to use multiplied by the cost per gallon of the paint that you are using.

Job Cost

Finally, add everything together plus your markup. Don’t forget to calculate for gas, taxes, lunches and whatever is needed to produce the desired outcome. The lower you can get your paint and labor, the higher your profit margin will be. Not including training systems to speed up production and other tactics to double, triple and even 10x your painting business output.

Example: 1- 10’ x10’ x 8’ empty room. 2 days to paint with 1 painter. 4 gallons of paint.

 

  • Labor Rate- $400

  • Material Cost- $100 ($25/gal.)

  • Markup- $150 (30%) -shoot for 50% once established

  • Job Cost- $650

 

(Labor + Material + Markup = Job Cost)

Growing Your Painting Business:

Conclusion

There are a lot more information and details that go into running a successful painting business. The painting industry is a non-saturated, profitable market, with an inexpensive barrier to entry. This article only summarized the process. We have articles that can teach you tips, tricks and how to’s.

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