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Old 01-04-2010, 01:05 PM   #1
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Hey all. I would first like to say thanks for all the outstanding material presented in this forum. I have had a lot of my questions answered and have seen what not to post, too! Let me give you a little background on me:

I am a husband (10 years), dad to an awesome 4 year old (and one on the way in May ’10), volunteer hospice chaplain, and an active duty Air Force member stationed in Minot, North Dakota (YES – it gets very cold here!). I have been in the “owning” stages of businesses since 2006 and have really only started businesses that I enjoyed doing and that I was good at. My most successful business is a web design company dedicated to churches and other non-profits. I do it because I enjoy it, not because I am trying to get rich (obviously…targeting churches & non-profits won’t get you rich).

I have been painting for almost 14 years, never for money…just helping out friends, family, and others in addition to a plethora of Air Force facilities/structures. I have received a great deal of experience in the Air Force painting buildings (interior & exterior), 1+ million gallon fuel tanks, and piping. So, what am I doing here trying to start a business while I already have a full-time job working for Uncle Sam? The answer to that question is quite simple: I won’t be in the Air Force forever (retire eligible in 6 years)! I want to start a business doing something I enjoy (painting) now, while I still have a good, STEADY paycheck every two weeks. The initial marketing strategy I plan on using is the same I used with my web design company – direct mail. I will use post cards first, followed by a written note by me a few weeks later. I will then follow-up with a second post card. I will be targeting mainly residential but will also solicit work from the local apartment complexes around town. Before I do all this, however, I will get the website up and running and submit it to search engines and may even consider a PPC campaign to start. This marketing strategy worked very well with my other business, but now I am targeting a different consumer so it will be a bit different, although the concept will be the same.

Like I said before, I’m not here to get rich but I certainly want to charge fair rates (NOT soliciting pricing advice here…I’ve already got my rates decided upon!) and want to be able to hire a few good painters down the road to help with the (hopefully) increase in workload and when I inevitably have to deploy. Initially, I will be the lone “weekend warrior,” painting interiors (it’s currently 7° and snowing in Minot), and will alter my marketing campaign as the spring and summer comes to solicit for some exterior jobs, too.

Thanks for this opportunity to learn from the best. I look forward to reading everything I can in this forum!
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:27 PM   #2
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Everything sounds doable for you except for two notable exceptions that can kill a business.. "not wanting to get rich" and "charging a fair price". I never knew what the latter meant? I hear it often from southern contractors. I think of a fair price as one that puts my kids through private school and offers value to the homeowner (ie the job is completed to their satisfaction). A customer's financial situation or desire for a lower price or something they consider fair has no bearing on my pricing. It can't. People would "fair price" me into poverty.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:11 PM   #3
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Sorry, I think I may have misstated my post regarding “fair rates.” What I meant by the fair rates remark is that I want to charge rates commensurate for my business. In other words, I’m not going to be the “lowballer” contractor but rather the one that ensures my customers are satisfied with my work while not sacrificing my cash flow for operating expenses.

Now let me touch my “not wanting to get rich” remark. Don’t get me wrong, I am out to make money…as much as I can. My business plan has projections of $175K (gross) by year three. In my mind, that is not getting rich, especially since by year three I hope to have at least 3, hopefully 5, part- and/or full-time employees. I am starting this venture to make money – bottom line; but I am also under the realization that it will take a while to get there. Would I pass up an opportunity to make hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars painting? Of course not. I want to be successful but I won’t sacrifice quality for quantity. I’m relatively certain that I’ve priced my services well enough to be a successful and profit making company. To make this post slightly longer, I was referring to right “now”…I’m not looking to get rich – especially since I will be working by myself and on the weekends only. I was basically stating the obvious out loud – that making lots of money takes time, work, dedication, and perseverance – not something that happens overnight. Maybe I should have just said that my mindset is to make a lot of money, as much as I can, but I am not treating this opportunity as a “get rich quick scheme.”
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:23 PM   #4
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Cool. I appreciate you taking the time to make the clarification. I'm more sensitive to it because it hear it used often and more in the context of how I mentioned it.

You'll do well here. Welcome to Paint Talk!
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:50 PM   #5
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Welcome and good luck with your business.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:56 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forum and thanks for the great intro!
Look forward to your input!
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:16 PM   #7
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Hey, welcome to PaintTalk! The community here will be of great help!
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:36 PM   #8
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Wow... very nice intro... I like that you're starting small and working your way up to where you want to be.
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Old 01-11-2010, 04:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PressurePros View Post
Everything sounds doable for you except for two notable exceptions that can kill a business.. "not wanting to get rich" and "charging a fair price". I never knew what the latter meant? I hear it often from southern contractors. I think of a fair price as one that puts my kids through private school and offers value to the homeowner (ie the job is completed to their satisfaction). A customer's financial situation or desire for a lower price or something they consider fair has no bearing on my pricing. It can't. People would "fair price" me into poverty.
First of all Pressure pros I'm not looking to get into anything I have nothing but respect for you and I'm sure it is no fluke that you have pro at the end opf your name.. I'm also not trying to high jack this thread..

Fair price to me is in direct comparison to the Market and what painters are available at the time and what job is it that needs to be done.. For instance If I needed a paint job lets say for a small bedroom, and knowing what I know I would try to go with a smaller company with not to much overhead. If I needed a large office painted and needed it done fast I would go with a larger company. If I am booked all year in the beginning of the year then I will go around charging inflated price's and or a more than usual because that's where my business is at( meaning we have some room to gamble). On the other hand if I have went a month with out work and needed to pay a bill or two I might under cut myself to get some mulla.

Yes yes I know about half of all the accomplished painters ( over ten years in the business and aren't in my shoes) out here are getting ready to tear my head out.
Yes in an ideal world you never change your rates. If you aren't getting work you look into improving other things not taking your rates down. Improves your look. Many painters have talked about a sort of brochure when your quoting. Basically improving your professionalism on every aspect....

I totally agree in an ideal world this would happen and in an ideal world mommy and daddy would foot the bill and or the landlord would understand when I say oh its a little slow because I'm professionilizing my business...

I am fortunate because my partner thinks like this he is very professional that way. I on the other hand. Well I just explained my opinion. We have taught each other a lot of things. I have lost a customer or two because I had to tow this "pro" line when I should have been a little sympathetic to the customers cause. Ok I could go on for ever......

Northern painter A warm and lengthy welcome... Ya it probably get more colder than where I am. But doesn't everybody in the states think we live in igloo's, No that's not it I'm told were are really not a thought at all...Geez Im ranting aint I

Welcome and there is a vast amount of resources out here.
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Last edited by jason123; 01-11-2010 at 04:19 PM..
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:56 PM   #10
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Welcome northernpaint! Sounds like you have your head screwed on straight. I'll be honest. When I saw the title of your thread, I thought, "Oh no, another dude who painted his friends apartment and mommy's kitchen and now thinks that he is a full fledged contractor is jumping on here to get help with starting a biz!" Not saying that can't happen, but..well...ya know what I'm saying

What a relief!...Oh, and glad to have you on board!
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jason123 View Post
If I am booked all year in the beginning of the year then I will go around charging inflated price's
I dont think it would be safe to assume that all painters in any given market would share this sentiment. If I am booked all year, I dont see it as a time to throw inflated prices around, I see it as another opportunity to grow my business.

The other extreme you mentioned, going a month without work and lowering prices, is not an option.

The key is to constantly be working toward the balance of workload for the size you want to be, and being fully aware of the sweet spot in your pricing regardless of workload. Call me an idealist...but.

I agree with Ken, that its possible to "fair price" ourselves right out of business. Brian P. used to post alot about resisting the temptation to impose our own values or financial wherewithall (what we would be willing to pay) upon our customers. I dont think I could afford to hire my company to paint my house, and I am ok with that. I am not my ideal demographic.



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Old 01-11-2010, 06:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vermontpainter View Post
I dont think it would be safe to assume that all painters in any given market would share this sentiment. If I am booked all year, I dont see it as a time to throw inflated prices around, I see it as another opportunity to grow my business.

The other extreme you mentioned, going a month without work and lowering prices, is not an option.

The key is to constantly be working toward the balance of workload for the size you want to be, and being fully aware of the sweet spot in your pricing regardless of workload. Call me an idealist...but.

I agree with Ken, that its possible to "fair price" ourselves right out of business. Brian P. used to post alot about resisting the temptation to impose our own values or financial wherewithall (what we would be willing to pay) upon our customers. I dont think I could afford to hire my company to paint my house, and I am ok with that. I am not my ideal demographic.
Nicely stated. That certainly puts things in perspective.
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I dont think I could afford to hire my company to paint my house, and I am ok with that. I am not my ideal demographic.
I wonder how many guys on here could actually afford to do this? If they can it probably means either A) they are doing extremely well in this biz
or B) they are a very low priced contractor
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michfan View Post
I wonder how many guys on here could actually afford to do this?
I dont think I would want to know the answer to this question.



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Old 01-11-2010, 07:15 PM   #15
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I dont think I would want to know the answer to this question.
Agreed.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:09 PM   #16
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I know I couldn't afford to pay me to paint my place!
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:09 PM   #17
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You'll do fine....
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:39 AM   #18
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Welcome to PT
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:37 PM   #19
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Welcome to the club.
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Old 01-17-2010, 02:23 PM   #20
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VP and Jason, just say the word and I'll come and paint your places, but you'll have to pay our travel expenses....

and Northern, welcome to the board.
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