Did you know that the US painting industry generates $37 billion a year? The industry consists of 263,000 businesses employing 427,000 contractors.
As you can see, the average painting business makes $140,000 in revenue annually and employs 1.6 people.
With a frenzied real estate market, many entrepreneurs are interested in how they can profit from the enormous demand in the construction and home services industries.
So, is painting a good business? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a painting company?
Are there franchises that can make it easier to get started? You might know the answer to that last question, but do you know the top painting franchises, and what sets them apart?
For the entrepreneur who wants to go solo, what are the steps necessary to build a successful painting business from scratch?
Let’s dive into this exciting industry!
Is Painting a Good Business?
A painting business is ideal for an entrepreneur who wants to minimize startup capital, while still building a business with high demand and comfortable profit margins.
The profits from a well-run painting business will vastly outperform the income you could get from painting yourself. For this reason, you’ll maximize the return on your time by focusing on management.
Qualifications to Start a Painting Business
As the owner of a painting business, you’ll benefit enormously if you have management experience and a solid grasp of business fundamentals like cash flow.
If you have experience with lead generation, that’s a huge plus. However, because there are so many established and well documented systems for generating painting leads, you don’t necessarily need to have experience in marketing.
Some entrepreneurs worry that they won’t be able to effectively grow and lead a crew of contractors. If you identify with this, focus on hiring an experienced painter who’s interested in hiring and managing a team. By simply ensuring that the person you hire takes the time to learn how to manage effectively, you can turn a good painter into a great painting manager.
What If I’m Not Able to Hire Employees?
If you don’t yet have the resources to hire staff, you can create your own job as a painter by starting your own company.
The best way to learn the trade is to work under an established company, at least for a year. From here, you may get promoted, or you may decide to strike out on your own.
If you’re planning to work as a painter inside your own business, you’ll need to become an expert on types of paint, painting materials, painting tools, and painting techniques, not to mention sales and customer service. It’s usually easier to learn these best practices by working within another company before you go independent.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Painting Business
The construction industry is one of the strongest parts of the US economy. Each year, more than 7 million workers create an astonishing $1.3 trillion in real estate value!
Of course, every construction project needs paint. And that brings us to the first key advantages to running a paint business.
Pros of Owning a Painting Business
Most people start a business so they can run a profitable company where they can control their time and income. For many, the painting industry fits that bill, thanks to the following business characteristics.
- Healthy profit margins: Scale Bloom undertook a study of painting businesses. They found that a typical job sale price is $2,800. They also found that many painting businesses earn over $2 million in annual revenue with a healthy 13% profit margin. Run the numbers and you’ll see that if you can join this group of modestly successful painting ventures, you as the owner can net $280,000 in annual profit.
- Consistent work: There are many types of painting jobs including industrial, commercial, residential, and construction jobs. Many successful painting companies take on a mix of jobs to ensure consistent work and profit.
- Growing market size: Steady growth in construction throughout the US has increased demand for commercial and construction painters.
- Available labor force: While painting is physically demanding, painting jobs provide a living wage for workers with median pay of $45,000/year. That’s pretty good for a job that doesn’t require any formal education. Whether in a competitive or strong labor market, you can usually find workers ready to learn the trade and get to work.
- Low start-up costs: Starting up a painting business may cost you as little as $2,000. For the most part, you can get started once you purchase the right supplies and equipment, get a contractors license, set up a painting lead generation website, and begin advertising with Google Ads or YouTube Ads.
- Easy to learn operations: You need to learn how to do prep work, what materials to use, and how to make your customers happy. Fortunately, a franchise can help you train your team, even if you don’t know anything about painting yourself.
- Surmountable competition: Check out the Google reviews for painters in your area. Really. Type in “local painter” and click on the first search result. Do the top results have shining 5-star reviews? Many painting businesses aren’t good at showing up on time or replying to client questions, let alone delivering outstanding service. Many don’t have streamlined marketing or efficient processes. With the right systems, you can stand out in your area.
Cons of Owning a Painting Business
Depending on your startup resources, owning a painting company can help you achieve financial freedom or at least gain control over the time and location where you work.
Working on your own terms usually comes at the cost of hard work, risk, and responsibility. The painting industry is no exception. Whether you see these costs as cons or not, you should definitely consider three essential factors.
- Effort required: Starting a painting business can require a month of full-time effort to choose a name, location, and speciality; buy materials and tools; market your services; get your first clients; hire contractors; and optimize your systems and processes.
- Failure rate: As in any business, there’s a chance of losing your invested capital. Fortunately, as mentioned, painting businesses usually have low startup costs.
- Management responsibilities: You are responsible for your employees’ work quality, salary, and safety. You’re also responsible for setting appropriate expectations and perfecting your operations to ensure your clients are satisfied. Translation: If you own and operate a painting business, you can expect calls, emails, updates, and more, even after you “leave work” at 5:00. (Then again, you can hire someone to manage operations for you.)
You could consider these limitations. … Or, you could see them as opportunities!
Remember, each of these concerns is actually a barrier to entry for new competition. Some people just don’t want to work, take risks, or accept responsibilities. Thus, each of these barriers to entry fortifies your business and your personal economic security.
Franchises for Painting Businesses
No matter how smoothly your business may eventually run, you still need to set up the right systems, get your branding right, and thread the needle to run consistently profitable marketing campaigns.
At a modest cost, franchises can help you with all of this. A franchise will provide you with training manuals, resources and support so you can run your business mostly on autopilot.
Not surprisingly, there are a number of good franchises to choose from.
Before we discuss, please note:
In order for me to help you (my service is free) please do not fill out any contact info on these painting resources or other websites. Doing so will prohibit me from helping you determine which company matches up for you.
With that out of the way, the top franchises for painting companies are:
- CertaPro Painters – Known for their iconic yellow trucks and yellow shirts, CertaPro says their franchise is “not about picking up a paintbrush – it’s about running a professionally managed business.”
- 360 Painting – One advantage to 360 Painting is that you can receive ongoing referrals from other businesses that are part of the Premium Service Brands network.
- Fresh Coat – Fresh Coat trains your employees on a range of services including staining, power washing, and prep work, along with interior and exterior painting for homes and businesses.
- Color World Housepainting – Like Fresh Coat, Color World Housepainting offers a range of services to pad your bottom line and smooth out your quarterly earnings. These include gutter washing, carpentry and drywall repair, staining, and even holiday light installation.
- Wow 1 Day Painting – As the name suggests, this franchise emphasizes speediness – specifically a 1-day turnaround. Busy people will pay for convenience, so this advantage can set you apart in a crowded market.
- America’s Color Consultants – With a $10,000 franchise fee and initial costs under $40,000, this franchise has one of the lowest upfront costs.
- Klappenberger & Son Painting – This franchise encompasses handyman services including remodeling and electrical work. The franchise also offers to train your employees for 6 weeks on essential tasks like bookkeeping, customer relationship management, and customer service.
- Lime Painting – This franchise focuses on the luxury market. In the right geographic area, this can be fantastic for your profit margins. The franchise also gives you a competitive advantage by utilizing technology like virtual reality consultations.
- Painter1 – Each franchisee owns a portion of this company, an arrangement that sets it apart from other franchises. Painter1 focuses on painting services for the luxury residential market.
- Protect Painters – Part of the Neighborly brand network, Protect Painters sells interior and exterior painting services to residential customers.
- Five Star Painting – Also part of the Neighborly network, Five Star Painting offers both residential and commercial painting services.
There are a lot of franchise options here, and I’m happy to share my thoughts and recommendations with candidates who are interested in the painting industry. To talk about this, please feel welcome to schedule a free appointment on my calendar below.
(Again, if you’d like help choosing a franchise, please just avoid filling out any contact info on other websites, as this would prohibit me from helping you.)
Painting Franchise Costs
The cost for starting a painting franchise ranges from $10,000 to $200,000. Costs will depend on the franchise you select, the location you choose, and the equipment you need to buy.
Your upfront costs for starting a painting franchise business include:
- Your franchise fee (usually $50,000)
- Your startup costs (usually $100,000)
- Your royalties (usually 6% or 7% of your revenue)
- Your marketing fee (usually 2% or 3% of revenue)
The types of services you offer will determine your franchising fees and startup costs.
Choosing a Painting Franchise
It’s best to consult with a franchising expert to narrow your choices. There are a number of factors you should consider that may not immediately stand out to you when you browse the internet.
After you meet with a couple franchises, pause to speak to franchisees. Ideally, you should talk to four or five franchisees within each franchise on your shortlist. Ask them questions to ascertain how much they’re making in the franchise, and whether they’re happy with the support they receive from the franchise.
Why Work with a Painting Franchise?
Simple! Painting franchises allow entrepreneurs to start a successful business with minimal risk using established best practices. Rather than “reinventing the wheel”, with a franchise, you duplicate a model that has consistently worked in similar markets.
A franchise will help you get going faster by supplying you with training, brand recognition, reliable processes, and effective marketing.
20 Steps to Start a Painting Business from Scratch
Do you plan to hire an operations manager? Manage a team independently? Or work as a one-person company?
Whatever you choose, starting a painting business doesn’t require years of experience. In fact, you can learn the basics from YouTube.
Still, starting any business can require years of work fine-tuning the details. You can always fast-forward through the learning process by working with an established franchise – which is easily my preference.
However, for those who would rather start completely independently, here’s a checklist to help you get started!
1. Choose your clientele and business location.
You’ll need to decide whether to focus on residential jobs or commercial work. Your business can ultimately encompass both, but in the beginning you’ll want to specialize.
With residential painting, you’ll constantly work with new clients. Therefore, it’s critical to master a system for generating leads and harvesting online reviews.
With commercial work, you’ll likely work with the same clients over and over. This makes it easier to get new work, so lead generation won’t be as big of a concern. On the other hand, commercial jobs can be more complex. On top of that, you may have to wait 30 to 90 days to get paid.
It’s essential that you choose a location where you’ll be successful. Start by making sure there’s definitely room for you to provide superior service compared to other painting businesses in your location. Review your competitors’ marketing materials, websites and online reviews.
If your area is saturated, consider another location.
2. Choose a business name.
If you don’t want to work with a franchise, you can design your own branding beginning with your business name.
Choose a name that is short and easy to remember. Visit Google Domains to search for a quality domain. By reviewing available domains as you choose your business name, you’ll be able to pick a name that has a good accompanying domain available.
3. Register an email address.
As soon as you decide on a website domain, purchase it so you don’t lose it.
The next step is to register an email address. A single address from Google Workspaces typically costs $6/month. If you plan to hand your business over to a manager, consider setting up an address like info@[YourPaintingBusinessName].com.
4. Register your LLC.
Next, incorporate your business with your local government. In most cases you’ll want to register as an LLC to minimize fees. Typically you’ll need to pay $50 to $500 annually to maintain your LLC, depending on your state.
5. Start a business bank account.
If you’re in the US, apply for an EIN from the IRS.
Once that’s out of the way, head to your bank to set up a business checking account. It’s important to set up a bank account for your business that is separate from your personal account as soon as possible to avoid commingling.
Many banks offer free business accounts, especially if you maintain a minimum balance of $500. If your bank doesn’t, check with a local credit union so you can avoid monthly fees.
If you plan to hire employees, make sure to have at least three months of payroll in the bank. This way, you can definitely pay your employees even if your clients take a long time to pay.
6. Get an office and licensing.
In many cases, you’ll be able to run your business from your home office and garage. If you’d like, you can rent a P.O. Box for business mail.
Some states require contractor licenses. Refer to this handy guide by Next Insurance to see what requirements exist in your state.
7. Launch your website.
It’s now time to purchase web hosting, commission a logo, and build your website. Your site needs to communicate who you are and what you do. A simple Home page, About page, and Contact page will be a good start.
You can even include a project estimation tool so that customers can get a rough estimate by simply plugging in the dimensions of the space they need painted.
8. Build landing pages.
After someone clicks on an ad, they should be directed to a landing page – a webpage that describes the specific service featured in the ad. It’s best to build a customized landing page for each service you offer so that your messaging can directly speak to each type of customer.
You might start with two landing pages, one each for:
- residential interior painting, and
- residential exterior painting.
As you grow your business, you can add more landing pages to advertise your services for commercial clients, kitchen painting, and so on.
Make sure to include contact forms on each landing page. This way, customers can request estimates and email you questions with as little effort as possible.
9. Set up online ads.
Your customers are more likely to search Google when they need painting services, rather than visit Facebook or a social network. So in most cases you’ll want to focus on Google Ads.
10. Get Google Guaranteed.
11. Set up appointment scheduling software.
12. Implement quoting and invoicing software.
You’ll need a way to quote jobs, share quotes with clients, get contract signatures, and send invoices. You can request a free walkthrough of mHelpDesk’s software. You can also explore other options like Jobber or Estimate Rocket.
Digital payments systems like Square offer a great alternative to traditional invoicing. With mobile card readers, you can let clients insert their credit cards immediately after you finish each job. This is especially useful for residential jobs. Happily, many painters also report that they have fewer requests for touch-ups when using instant payment systems.
13. Prepare communications.
You’ll want to prepare messages to send your customers at each stage of their experience with your company. Prepare separate messages that you’ll send:
- after a customer requests a quote,
- after you give a customer a quote,
- just before the customer’s appointment,
- after you complete the job and you’re sending your invoice, and
- when you follow up to ask for a review.
14. Finalize your pricing.
You need to avoid undercharging so that you can get a good return on your investment. You also need to avoid overcharging so that you can win a good percentage of jobs that you bid.
To set your pricing, benchmark against your competitors. This way, you can choose an appropriate price for your market.
15. Get appropriate insurance.
You’ll want to buy general liability insurance designed for painting professionals from a company like Progressive or NEXT. If you plan to hire employees, you’ll also want to get worker’s compensation insurance.
Most painting businesses pay $1,000 to $3,000 annually for insurance.
16. Purchase materials.
To be ready for your first appointment, you’ll need vehicles, paint rollers, brushes, ladders, trays and drop sheets. To avoid overspending, start with just the essential tools. Then acquire more tools when you need them for subsequent jobs.
17. Automate your payments, bookkeeping and tax prep.
Next, hire a bookkeeper and accountant. You can hire locally or look into a company that specializes in accounting for painters. There are a few specialists like this, including the aptly named company, Bookkeeping for Painters.
18. Build your online presence.
You’ll secure a competitive advantage if you can attract leads without advertising. This requires an investment of time and energy into blogging, SEO, and social media.
You can start blogging by answering frequently asked questions in the painting field. Each blog post should answer one question. As you write, imagine the distinct customer you’re writing for. Make sure you also follow SEO best practices so that your pages can gain visibility in Google search results.
Choose one or two social media channels. You can choose from YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or even Tik Tok. You’ll gain the most traction if you focus on just a couple channels, rather than dispersing your time among a lot of networks. No matter where you decide to build your audience, focus on providing your customers with interesting content and helpful resources.
19. Nail your branding.
You don’t want a painter to show up for a job looking like they just came off the street. A common solution is to print t-shirts for each of your team members. Typically you’ll want to supply a team member with 5 shirts, one for each day of the week. You may need to replace these shirts every 3-6 months, depending on how long the material lasts.
Once your crew is outfitted with branded shirts, hire a local photographer to snap pictures of your team at work. You can your new company photos on your Google Business Profile, website, blog posts, and social media.
20. Scale your business.
You may decide to look for bigger jobs, so that you can add more value by organizing work that would be difficult for a solo painter to handle.
Monitor your numbers for each job, or assign a manager to do this. By keeping track of your inflows and outflows for each job, you’ll be able to optimize your bids, and avoid underbidding.
Assign responsibilities to people for each of your business processes. For example, assign someone to follow up with leads, someone to organize crews for each painting job, and someone to handle client communication.
In the beginning, your first employee might be accountable for all of these activities. (That overworked person might even be you!)
As you build your reputation, you’ll likely either promote your first employee to manager, or seek a new person to fill a management role at your company. This manager will be responsible for growing your team, including making hiring and firing decisions.
An excellent book on scaling a business so that it can run without you is Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited.
Painting is an excellent business opportunity in most American cities. It’s a cash flow business with comfortable profit margins and consistent work.
Thanks to low startup costs, painting businesses are accessible to almost any entrepreneur.
At the same time, painters need to get many aspects of their business just right to be truly successful. For this reason, there are meaningful barriers to entry and opportunities for you to gain a foothold over your competitors.
Most people who visit Learn2Franchise are interested in a turnkey solution – a franchise that will unlock years of profit growth without the hassles that come with starting a brand new business.
I like to tell clients, I am your franchise consultant.
I can help you kick off your first franchise business, or your second or third. If you’re interested in a painting franchise, I know the ins and outs of this market. And, if you’re a qualified candidate, I can get you meetings with the top franchises in the industry.
There’s no time like the present to earn your financial freedom with income streams you own and control. If you’re ready to take charge of your future, email me at email@example.com or give me a call at 801-874-3009. I offer a limited number of no-cost consultations each month to help executives and entrepreneurs just like you.