As a business owner, you’re always looking for new ways to generate income. In this article, we’ll take a look at the potential opportunities in remodeling for painting contractors, along with the best coatings to use and some hard-won practical advice from a painting contractor who has been there.
The current climate
The remodeling market is bouncing back from the initial challenges caused by the pandemic, says the JCHS (Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University). Homeowners continue to spend significant time in their homes and are adapting them for work, school and leisure. Additionally, an aging overall owner population is likely to contribute to lower DIY activity in the near-term future.
So the time might just be right for you to consider adding remodeling to your wheelhouse.
One painter’s experience
After more than 15 years operating a successful professional painting contracting in the Boston area, Uga Defreitas made the decision to incorporate a full range of remodeling services into his business model about two years ago.
“I realized we needed to be more in touch with our customers,” says Defreitas, owner and CEO of Services Plus. “We would follow up once a year to see what other painting projects they may have. I realized we were missing a lot of their remodeling work. So I went to school and became a licensed contractor. Once I did that, I was able to offer our customers different services. It allows myself and my team to sell the whole project and not limit ourselves to just painting. We saw the opportunities with remodeling and decided to go for it.”
A natural extension to your painting business
Remodeling makes use of many skills you have already developed running a painting company.
“Both services go hand in hand,” Defrietas says. “If we’re painting an exterior and notice that clapboards need to be replaced, we’ll bring it to the attention of the homeowner. I train my employees to look for the problematic areas that could potentially make our final presentation look bad. It’s all add-on sales.”
The same approach applies to interior work.
“When we go in and quote a customer, the majority of the time it’s for a paint job,” Defrietas says. “However, once we listen to what the customer wants, we quickly find out there are some opportunities for remodeling their home to fit their needs.”
It’s all about listening to your customer, he adds.
“If you need carpentry work done in your house, a lot of things may get damaged. Walls, windows, and doors all get damaged. And with that you’re going to have to do painting. If someone is to replace tile, carpet, or refinish the floor, it means that all the trim is going to have to be painted. If someone has an ice dam over the winter and we come to fix the damage on the outside, it usually means the interior is also damaged and the ceilings need work. It’s very important to have different skillsets so you can always sell the whole job.”
For Defreitas and Services Plus, adding remodeling services to their portfolio has not only created new revenue streams, but it has helped build customer loyalty.
“Being a company that offers all aspects of the job really gives us a competitive edge,” he says. “Why would a homeowner act as a GC and have to essentially sub out all different types of work when we can be that company that can handle all aspects of the job?”
Tips on getting started
“The first thing is to make sure you get educated,” Defreitas says. “You need to understand construction codes and not just learn them on the job. You need to memorize them and really understand what they are because sometimes when you hire a sub they may not fully understand them and at the end of the day that’s a liability for your company. Once you do so, make sure you train your employees properly.”
It’s also a good idea to be selective in the type of jobs you bid.
“I don’t try to get into a lot of the big remodeling jobs,” Defreitas says. “I try to get into the smaller jobs to get our feet in the door. From there, we additionally sell the paint job. We had to spend a lot of time and money in training to make sure our employees were able to learn and understand how we can tie the two together to make a maximum profit.”
“We only work with the highest quality products.” Defreitas says. “Yes, it does increase the bottom line of the service they are purchasing. However, I strongly believe that if you explain the added benefits to upgrading, the difference is not so great on the wallet. By using premium products, it also helps cut some costs on labor, so in the end it’s almost a wash.”
For exteriors, Services Plus relies on Sherwin-Williams Exterior Oil-Based Wood Primer, Emerald® Rain Refresh™, Duration® Exterior Acrylic Latex, WoodScapes® stains, and the SuperDeck® Deck Care System.
For interior remodels, his preferences are PrepRite® ProBlock® Primer, Loxon® Concrete and Masonry Primer, Duration Home® Interior Acrylic Latex, Emerald® Urethane Trim Enamel and the new SuperPaint® Interior Latex with Sanitizing Technology1.
The Emerald and Cashmere® coatings lines are excellent choices for remodeling work, says Rick Watson, PPC Ask Your ProPartner™ columnist and director of Product Information and Technical Services at Sherwin-Williams. He also likes Emerald® Rain Refresh™ and WoodScapes Solid Stain on exterior surfaces.
For projects with smaller budgets, Watson says you can get good results with ProClassic® Waterborne Interior Acrylic Enamel on trim, doors and cabinets.
On interior walls, he recommends ProMar® 400 Zero VOC Interior Latex and Extreme Cover™ Interior Stain Blocking Paint and Primer in One. A-100® Exterior Acrylic Latex and ProMar® Solid Color Stains provide good results on exteriors.
1 SuperPaint Interior Latex with Sanitizing Technology is an EPA registered paint that kills 99.9% of Staph (Staphylococcus aureus), E. coli (Escherichia coli), MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis) and Enterobacter aerogenes on painted surfaces within two hours of exposure, and continues to kill 90% of bacteria for up to four years when the integrity of the surface is maintained.
Learn about more ways to grow and manage your painting company business in the PPC magazine archive.