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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This past exterior season kicked my a$$. Some of it had to do with having to fire my employee mid season. At the end of the day I often just wanted to collapse. Sometimes I was ready to call it a day after only 5 hours of work.

I already have about 4 exteriors lined up for next year, but I am seriously considering telling any other potential customers that call me with exterior work no thank you or at the very least avoid any house that require more than a 20 foot ladder.

So, wondering how others have transitioned to interior only. I make a lot of money with the exterior work and right now I doubt that interior only would allow me to do as well financially.

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We did it about 14 years ago. At the time nobody else in the area had tried it and we heard numerous times that we wouldn’t be able to make it as IOs. Now, there are about five of us in the area and we managed to stay busier than we ever wanted to be.

We sold ourselves as being owner operated, particular about furnishings and floor coverings, and mindful of pets, kids and HO’s schedules (we rarely begin before 9:00 which is a plus IMO).

I love waking up in the morning not caring a damn about what the weather is going to be like for the day.
 

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That's a pretty common thing for painters that don't have a crew (or a small or older crew) to do do as they age. Part of the natural aging process of the small, independent painter. I've seen many be successful at doing just interiors. I've even seen guys who have never done exteriors, even when first starting out.

Of course if your not doing the more difficult work that pays higher, your income will decrease, unless you can figure a way to otherwise increase it. Decreased income is also sometimes the natural aging process for a small scale independent painter. That's why some chose not to stay small.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Have you considered raising your prices for exteriors? You might be able to pay an employee more, make more profit, and bypass the cheapo HO's.
I pay my employees well. The problem is finding them. The last time that I looked most of those that responded live out of town with no transportation, or could not work for me legally, or did not respond when I ask for them to meet with me for an an interview. Economy is booming in Massachusetts and no one wants to paint.

And I have raised my prices...but, still getting most jobs...even if I am more expensive than other bids.

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
That's a pretty common thing for painters that don't have a crew (or a small or older crew) to do do as they age. Part of the natural aging process of the small, independent painter. I've seen many be successful at doing just interiors. I've even seen guys who have never done exteriors, even when first starting out.

Of course if your not doing the more difficult work that pays higher, your income will decrease, unless you can figure a way to otherwise increase it. Decreased income is also sometimes the natural aging process for a small scale independent painter. That's why some chose not to stay small.
My wife has recently landed a job which has the potential to earn her more money than we have taken in with 2 incomes and rental income. So, earning a little less might not be an issue...So, I have considered just doing interiors even if it means I will not be as busy if her new job works out.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We did it about 14 years ago. At the time nobody else in the area had tried it and we heard numerous times that we wouldn’t be able to make it as IOs. Now, there are about five of us in the area and we managed to stay busier than we ever wanted to be.

We sold ourselves as being owner operated, particular about furnishings and floor coverings, and mindful of pets, kids and HO’s schedules (we rarely begin before 9:00 which is a plus IMO).

I love waking up in the morning not caring a damn about what the weather is going to be like for the day.
How was the transition from doing everything to only interiors? I really do not have lot of calls for interiors when it is the middle of July.

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Once you get established as an interiors only guy, you might be surprised at the amount of work you get in the summer. I don't know if you do a lot of new construction, but if not, you may want to try to get more of that. Some people don't like having interior painting done when the kids are out of school, but new construction is more year around. Of course then your deadlines are more crucial.
 

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That's a pretty common thing for painters that don't have a crew (or a small or older crew) to do do as they age. Part of the natural aging process of the small, independent painter. I've seen many be successful at doing just interiors. I've even seen guys who have never done exteriors, even when first starting out.

Of course if your not doing the more difficult work that pays higher, your income will decrease, unless you can figure a way to otherwise increase it. Decreased income is also sometimes the natural aging process for a small scale independent painter. That's why some chose not to stay small.
Not necessarily - we never lowered our rates a bit when we switched to interiors only. In fact, we continued to steadily increase them over the next fourteen years. Of course, the size of the jobs are smaller but if you can keep your schedule filled, that isn’t a problem (except for more bids to do). Plus, people seem to be much more particular about work being done inside their homes and seemed to have no issues paying very good coin to have a job carefully done. And the trust factor is very important. When you are in their homes all day long, often when they are gone, having the HOs trust you is a huge thing. People seem to be willing to pay for those aspects of a paint job which may not be such as big an issue with exterior work.

Also, when we started doing cabinets and doors, especially when refinishing them, we were able to charge significantly more than we had ever done doing exterior work and “regular“ interior jobs.

Of course, result may vary.
 

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Not necessarily - we never lowered our rates a bit when we switched to interiors only.

Of course, result may vary.
I agree with the majority of your points ...I wouldn't expect rates to differ from standard interior and exterior work...a big difference being that a good portion of exterior work is done higher up than most interior work.. Higher work requires equipment, takes more time and subjects the worker to more risk. All of these variables warrant charging a higher rate, with a higher profit built into that rate .

The rate for painting the third story gable end of an old Victorian is going to be quite a bit more than painting the hall closet! And involve a higher margin of profit...at least it should.
 

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I'm basically interior only and have been for quite some time now. I'll do an odd small exterior every now and then, usually one small ranch a year and throw in some porch railings and small stuff like that. Like others said when you make the switch you'll find yourself getting recommended for more interiors and less exteriors.

I didn't have to lower my prices either, like RH I've only increased them. Interiors are more invasive and requires more trust which in turn equals a higher price for peace of mind.

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How was the transition from doing everything to only interiors? I really do not have lot of calls for interiors when it is the middle of July.

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You will when the majority of the other painters don’t even want to think about interior work because their schedules are booked with exterior jobs.

Also, there is something about nice weather that gets people thinking about painting, inside and out - probably because they can have their windows open.

I always thought December would be the slowest month but you’d be surprised how many people want something done while they are away for the holidays. And of course, not everyone celebrates and decorates for them.
 

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This past exterior season kicked my a$$. Some of it had to do with having to fire my employee mid season. At the end of the day I often just wanted to collapse. Sometimes I was ready to call it a day after only 5 hours of work.

I already have about 4 exteriors lined up for next year, but I am seriously considering telling any other potential customers that call me with exterior work no thank you or at the very least avoid any house that require more than a 20 foot ladder.

So, wondering how others have transitioned to interior only. I make a lot of money with the exterior work and right now I doubt that interior only would allow me to do as well financially.

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I like being outside in the summer too much to ever give it up entirely. I would would like to stop taking the scary/high houses in the future. For me that would be a step in the right direction.

No reason you can’t say no to the ones you don’t want and gradually switch to interior...

Just curious, why did, why you need to let your employee go mid-season? Employees in a small business can be challenging. It can be like hanging out in an elevator 5 days a week.
 

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I agree with the majority of your points ...I wouldn't expect rates to differ from standard interior and exterior work...a big difference being that a good portion of exterior work is done higher up than most interior work.. Higher work requires equipment, takes more time and subjects the worker to more risk. All of these variables warrant charging a higher rate, with a higher profit built into that rate .

The rate for painting the third story gable end of an old Victorian is going to be quite a bit more than painting the hall closet! And involve a higher margin of profit...at least it should.

Well, there is some truth to more difficult work (and hence more expensive) being typically done outside. But working over hardwood floors, new carpeting, and over stairways in two story entryways, can bring some challenges as well.
Truthfully, I just never saw a drop in my income level when we went to interior work. But we were fortunate to have a solid base of existing customers who gave us lots of referral work. I am guessing Pete may be in that same situation.
 
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Well, there is some truth to more difficult work (and hence more expensive) being typically done outside. But working over hardwood floors, new carpeting, and over stairways in two story entryways, can bring some challenges as well.
Truthfully, I just never saw a drop in my income level when we went to interior work. But we were fortunate to have a solid base of existing customers who gave us lots of referral work. I am guessing Pete may be in that same situation.
Very true...it's easier to find a painter that can paint than it is to find a cociencious, neat, clean, trustworthy individual that can paint. These qualities are generally why HOs will pay top dollar for the type of painter they want IN their home. Aside from his questionable taste in dress(as per his avatar) Pete seems to fit the bill, and I'm certain he could make the interior only thing work .
 

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I too have considered IO’s however around my neck of the woods the weather is good on avg year round for both. This last year we’ve already done 5 large 2 story exteriors. Super laborious on the tall ladders and wife doesn’t like the safety issue. I’m ready to crank up the prices for exteriors or just phase them out over the next year or so too. Good to hear from some of you who have made the switch. Thanks!


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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I like being outside in the summer too much to ever give it up entirely. I would would like to stop taking the scary/high houses in the future. For me that would be a step in the right direction.



No reason you can’t say no to the ones you don’t want and gradually switch to interior...



Just curious, why did, why you need to let your employee go mid-season? Employees in a small business can be challenging. It can be like hanging out in an elevator 5 days a week.
He was not showing up for work because he was drunk.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I too have considered IO’s however around my neck of the woods the weather is good on avg year round for both. This last year we’ve already done 5 large 2 story exteriors. Super laborious on the tall ladders and wife doesn’t like the safety issue. I’m ready to crank up the prices for exteriors or just phase them out over the next year or so too. Good to hear from some of you who have made the switch. Thanks!


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The one that really got to me this summer was a small exterior job for which I had to use my largest ladder which 36 feet. I used it on a day that was hot and humid. Just moving the ladder wore me out...let alone going up and down it for 8 hours. I am going to use the ladder againin the spring for a good customer to paint one peak. After that I am done with it.

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I’ve found the best and most profitable approach for an interior’s only operation is to establish relationships with interior designers. The bulk of my work over the years has been for interior design firms, the work commanding top dollar, never having to bid projects against other painters, and never having to look for work.

The only drawback is, it sometimes requires traveling.
 

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I’ve found the best and most profitable approach for an interior’s only operation is to establish relationships with interior designers. The bulk of my work over the years has been for interior design firms, the work commanding top dollar, never having to bid projects against other painters, and never having to look for work.

The only drawback is, it sometimes requires traveling.
Years ago I made the mistake, and I do mean mistake,of calling a designer a decorator. :icon_cry:
 
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