There will always be a house or building that needs a fresh coat of paint and homeowners that are looking for a talented painter who can either do specialty work on outdoor trim or put a new spin on a room's color scheme.
The good news about starting a painting business is that there will be no shortage of work. If you’re good and you seek out the right work, some painters make up to $1 million a year in more affluent areas. It’s easy to get started. There are minimal startup costs. And, there’s a lot of work out in the sunshine for outdoor painters. Also, to some extent, you have creative freedom to help someone’s living area look unique and beautiful.
There are drawbacks, however.
Painting can be very physical work, and some of the work may be seasonal, so you’ll have to be healthy and flexible. You’ll be exposed to potentially harmful chemicals and fumes, and you have to learn to differentiate yourself if you want to create a niche that customers will pay top dollar for.
Lastly, you’ll need to learn how to market yourself as the best painting company among a sea of competitors who are after the same customers. With a little bit of creativity and hard work, it’s easy to come up with marketing ideas for your painting business and compete successfully with the big guys.
The painting business is one of those businesses that, even in today’s world of digital marketing, still can do well from the old-fashioned art of knocking on someone’s front door and asking if a paint job is needed. Walk around any neighborhood in the country and you’ll find at least one house that could use a fresh coat of paint – call them a stationary painting ad. Most of those houses have an owner that has thought at least once about either doing the job themselves or looking into calling a painter.
The great thing about door-to-door marketing is that it’s a marketing idea for your painting business that you can do at your own pace on your own time. Also, you can hand-pick which neighborhoods you’d like to target. It doesn’t take much more than having a conversation with a homeowner, or perhaps handing them a business card or flyer.
You’ve already seen their house, so you can give them a quick idea of what work you could do to their home as well as a quick estimate; in many cases they may give you a contract on the spot if they like what they hear. If you’ve done work in the neighborhood, ask them to go have a look or ask that homeowner to give you a recommendation.
Word travels fast among homeowners in a neighborhood. If one of your customers is happy with the job you’ve done, chances are they’ll give you a verbal painting ad next time their buddy needs a painter. The idea is to make it easy for people to give you referrals. There are many painters out there who are unreliable or don’t communicate well – by not returning phone calls or giving no way to keep in touch.
You want to be known as the best painting company in the area.
Again, always have a large stack of business cards available, because the idea is to give those cards out to people who may be willing to refer your work.
You never want a situation where a customer knows a great painter, but “can’t remember his name.” At the very least you want the person to be able to give your name and phone number.
If you’ve got a website or social media account, even better.
Remember the days when you were a college student looking for work? Now is the time to pay it forward and give college kids their first break in the working world. If they know how to paint, ask them to work for you. Even better, if they are personable and know how to spread the word about your business, let them do that work for you.
Most young kids out there are looking for ways to make a quick buck, especially during summer break. Why not hire them to be your painting ads – to take those flyers and brochures you’ve got printed, and leave them on front doors? There are many potential customers in the parking lots of shopping centers, and bulletin boards all over town.
A well-traveled young man or young lady can leave your mark all over town.
You can also try having them put up lawn signs in neighborhoods in the area (ask for permission first) or sticking a magnetic sign on their personal vehicle for an instant moving painting ad.
If they are savvy with social media, there’s nothing like hiring a young mind to be creative about the way your business is marketed on the internet. Have them write regular posts about your business and the special discounts you are offering. Take some pictures of jobs that you’re working on and post them to Instagram, and watch as all of their friends spread the word about the best painting company on the internet.
Most cities and suburban areas are going through a building boom, which means there is a major need for painters to make those new buildings look great. Ask local builders if they are looking for painting contractors – some of them may hire you on the spot, or they can drop your name and card with the new homeowners who move into the houses they build.
If you’re really savvy and have a good reputation, you can build a network of contractors who will hire you as a partner for your painting service. Every new home needs a paint job, and most builders have a team of contractors they work with to get interior, exterior and trim jobs done while their buildings are going up so they can hit the market as soon as possible.
In this digital age, there is no excuse for not having a website. In fact, you run the risk of looking unprofessional if you don’t have one. Most people will do a Google search if they are looking for a painter. If your name doesn’t pop up, chances are you won’t be getting that job.
Websites are very inexpensive and easy to create on your own – try GoDaddy, Wix or Squarespace to get yours started. These website creators walk you through the entire process of building your site, uploading pictures and giving you opportunities to market using digital ads and social media.
Make sure customers can find you by putting your website address on all your marketing materials.
While you’re setting up that website, sign up for accounts on as many social media platforms as you or your newly-hired marketing assistants can find.
Facebook and Instagram are must-haves, as these are sites almost everyone has an account with. As such, they are great marketing platforms for your painting business. These are sites that are very easy to update and visual-rich, which makes it easy for you to post and share pictures and video of the work you do. It's also easy for happy customers to give you a recommendation.