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Old 07-12-2010, 05:13 PM   #1
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Default New Residential / Repaint Contractor from West Michigan.

Hi all , new to the forum and have been in business for 22 years with 7 years expeirence before that doing Industrial , Commercial , New Residential and re-paints. I started on my own as a re-paint -house painter , but soon found out I would seemingly need a thousand customers to stay busy. Went door to door either talking to builders , or leaving business cards on there new homes , and after a couple of years I neither had to advertise or bid jobs. Just do a great job , and get it done on time. I kept some of these builders for 19-20 years before the new housing market collapsed , and now realize just how good I had it , even though I worked 6-7 days a week to keep up when times were good. , for up to 12 hours a day. Started out with basic entry level homes , and ended up doing mostly custom homes in the 350k to 1.5 million category.

I always kept comp and liability insurance , joined the Home Builders Association ect , but never had an actual painting Liscence because after going over the Michigan test , it included absolutely nothing to do with New or exsisting residential painting , or even most commercial painting , and a builders license was far easier to obtain. As far as I could tell , in Michigan the Painting License gives limited protection for the painter with regards to working on jobs that are more than 600.00 , and getting paid , and thats about it. In any case , I have never not gotten paid all of these years , or even had to go to court ect.

I have had up to 10 employees , but always worked on the job , and eventually figured out that I made almost as much with just me and two employess with far less hassles. Sadly , its so slow now that I have no employees left.

I am finding after not advertising for all these years , getting work doing re-paints ect is much tougher than when I first went on my own , and the only reason I haven't packed up and moved to another State is that my son still has his senior year in high school , and my wife still has a great job at a hospital.

I hope people in other States are doing better than here , and have one builder that moved to Florida , one to Colorado , and one that goes back and forth to Wyoming for work. The rest are doing little to nothing.

Greg

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Old 07-12-2010, 05:19 PM   #2
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Welcome to PT, thanks for that great intro.

I hear Michigan has been bad.

Many people are having to reinvent their business. Take advantage of the search feature and all the great info in the marketing threads.
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Old 07-12-2010, 05:21 PM   #3
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Welcome to PT Theel, thanks for the great intro.
Yours is a common story, we have all been hit hard. Be sure to check out the marketing section for advice on how to reach out to prospective customers using the internet.
Look forward to hearing more from you!
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Old 07-12-2010, 05:25 PM   #4
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Welcome from another Michigander

Pretty much still in the toilet for the most part around here, seems to be improving slightly.
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Old 07-12-2010, 06:16 PM   #5
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Wlecome to the forum - Theel.

I don't understand why a sustained business can't rely on referrals and repeats. I hear this all of the time. Curious as to your thoughts why the referral and repeat was / is not enough? Thanks.
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Old 07-12-2010, 06:32 PM   #6
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Welcome, from Calif.
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Old 07-12-2010, 06:40 PM   #7
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Welcome from Colorado, push forward....tomorrow comes with new light.
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Old 07-12-2010, 08:15 PM   #8
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Great intro Greg. Welcome!
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Old 07-12-2010, 08:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Workaholic View Post
Welcome to PT, thanks for that great intro.

I hear Michigan has been bad.

Many people are having to reinvent their business. Take advantage of the search feature and all the great info in the marketing threads.

Thanks for the welcome , Michigan supposedly was hit with the recession 2 years before most of the rest of the Country , and its been quite bad for around two years for myself , and most everyone else I know. Its funny how putting all your eggs in one basket can seem like such a great thing , and later you end up kicking yourself for it . Never expected things to get quite this slow , and with new home Construction down 33% last month , I see things in that feild getting even worse. Marketing....ie selling myself , has never been my strong point , but I will gladly check the marketing threads.
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Old 07-12-2010, 08:34 PM   #10
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Wlecome to the forum - Theel.

I don't understand why a sustained business can't rely on referrals and repeats. I hear this all of the time. Curious as to your thoughts why the referral and repeat was / is not enough? Thanks.

I quit any advertising of any type around 16 years ago because I did not want to tell people that maybe I could get there some time in 3-6 months. When you work for custom builders , even some of the million plus homes are not sold , and on homes that were sold , people don't usually want to come and meet the respirator wearing painter with stain , laquer or paint fumes in the air very often lol. They mainly dealt with the builders to choose colors ect , and I didn't have so much as my name on my trucks or a yard sign because I already had more than enough work. Three of my builders have left the State , and a couple of others closed shop...so in my case its very easy to understand why there is little repeat refferal business. Its basically almost like starting over again from scratch. I do get home owner re-paint refferals , but not having any time to do any of those types of jobs until recently , there few and far between right now.

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Old 07-12-2010, 08:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theel Painting View Post
I quit any advertising of any type around 16 years ago because I did not want to tell people that maybe I could get there some time in 3-6 months. When you work for custom builders , even some of the million plus homes are not sold , and on homes that were sold , people don't usually want to come and meet the resperator wearing painter with stain , laquer or paint fumes in the air very often lol. They mainly dealt with the builders to choose colors ect , and I didn't have so much as my name on my trucks or a yard sign because I already had more than enough work. Three of my builders have left the State , and a couple of others closed shop...so in my case its very easy to understand why there is little repeat refferal business. Its basically almost like starting over again from scratch. I do get home owner re-paint refferals , but not having any time to do any of those types of jobs until recently , there few and far between right now.
Do you have any way to get the customer info from the builders, we do mostly NC and I send mailers to all the homes we do (usually after the first year and with the builders ok). It amazes me how many people are unaware that we are a Painting Company and not the builders employee. They are an excellent source for referrals and future repaints.
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Old 07-12-2010, 09:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Do you have any way to get the customer info from the builders, we do mostly NC and I send mailers to all the homes we do (usually after the first year and with the builders ok). It amazes me how many people are unaware that we are a Painting Company and not the builders employee. They are an excellent source for referrals and future repaints.
That's great advice.
Welcome to the board. I imagine since MI and OH have been decimated by unemployment it has been tough. But have you heard that the recovery is going as planned.

Our statewide unemployment is no where near yours, but my area of the state has been hit hard. If I didn't do drywall and small scale remodeling to supplement it I'd be gone by now.
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Old 07-12-2010, 09:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Do you have any way to get the customer info from the builders, we do mostly NC and I send mailers to all the homes we do (usually after the first year and with the builders ok). It amazes me how many people are unaware that we are a Painting Company and not the builders employee. They are an excellent source for referrals and future repaints.
That is good advice Chris. A lot of NC the only recognized name a year later is the builder.
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Old 07-12-2010, 09:55 PM   #14
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Welcome from a fellow Michigander.

One piece of advise, get the General Builders license, it covers painting as well as all the other traders except electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. I have never used the general portion of mine, but it is nice to have more flexibility should the occasion arise.
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Old 07-12-2010, 10:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Do you have any way to get the customer info from the builders, we do mostly NC and I send mailers to all the homes we do (usually after the first year and with the builders ok). It amazes me how many people are unaware that we are a Painting Company and not the builders employee. They are an excellent source for referrals and future repaints.
I will check into that. I remember builders constantly saying the painters or my painter ect...so you could be onto something there.

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Old 07-12-2010, 10:55 PM   #16
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Welcome from Colorado, push forward....tomorrow comes with new light.

Thanks , my builder that moved to Colorado was the chairman of the parade of homes just three years ago in this area , and had a great name , and now he is running a crew blowing up mountains for preventive highway maintenence. Apparently a family freind visiting from Colorado had an in for him as a supervisor for a large new home construction company , as well as one for blowing up mountains. Both paid 6 figures , and I am sure he is enjoying riding his Harley out there in the mountains. I have been to Estes Park and surrounding areas three times now....beautiful country there.
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:01 PM   #17
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Welcome from Washington State.
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:01 PM   #18
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That's great advice.
Welcome to the board. I imagine since MI and OH have been decimated by unemployment it has been tough. But have you heard that the recovery is going as planned.
LOL , has that stimulous kicked in anywhere yet? Some how I get the feeling it hasn't.
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:23 PM   #19
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Glad you are here! Great intro!
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Old 07-13-2010, 02:05 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by NaeGan View Post
That's great advice.
Welcome to the board. I imagine since MI and OH have been decimated by unemployment it has been tough. But have you heard that the recovery is going as planned.

Our statewide unemployment is no where near yours, but my area of the state has been hit hard. If I didn't do drywall and small scale remodeling to supplement it I'd be gone by now.
I was just looking at the list for the top economies with citys 300k or less and Cedar Rapids was in the top ten at around 5.4% unemployment , and your state over all had far better than average numbers for unemployment , even though your area has been hit. And just think , I am in West Michigan in the Grand Rapids area which has half the unemployment Detroit has on the east side.
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