Contractor Q&A: Corissa Cook Takes a Very Personal Path to Painting Success

For more than 30 years, PPC magazine has been on job sites throughout the U.S. and Canada asking residential and commercial paint pros to share their stories. This issue: Corissa Cook, who markets herself as The Painting Chick and specializes in interior painting in the Pittsburgh area.

How did you first get started in the painting business?

Growing up and as a stay-at-home mom, I amassed and enjoyed many handy skills, such as painting. One day a close family friend (who was a professional painter) was struggling with reliable workers on a big job. He reached out for my help and from there I was hooked! The instant gratification of paint, the satisfaction of working with my hands combined with the flexibility to continue to prioritize my family was the perfect fit!

What led you to start your own company?

The Painting Chick began out of the desire to provide a great product to customers while eliminating the complications that working for others came with. I was often requested by customers due to their desire to have a female’s attention to details combined with feeling at ease with a woman in their homes. I figured why not do it on my own and do it even better? I also desired being in control of my own schedule to prioritize family needs.

What have been the biggest challenges and rewards of going out on your own?

The biggest challenge at first was learning the “non-painting” parts such as bidding, budgeting, training, etc. Thankfully, I knew a couple painters who provided helpful advice and my Sherwin-Williams sales representative walked me through a lot of those processes utilizing the Sherwin-Williams PRO+ tools. These tools and support were hands down the biggest factors in helping stay on track with such rapid growth and set up my business for present and future success.

The biggest rewards are my many local satisfied customers with the ability to keep parent-friendly hours in order to prioritize my family. Multiple children in travel hockey is no joke, folks!

Are there other ways that Sherwin-Williams has helped you in establishing your business?

When I started my own business, I already had a lot on my schedule from the buzz in my local community. Preferring Sherwin-Williams paint, I reached out to my local store to sign up for a PRO discount. I was unaware of all other types of support they provided since others I had worked for did not utilize it.

Upon meeting with my sales representative, she shared the many resources the Sherwin-Williams provides. In less than a year, she helped me utilize everything from marketing tools to job estimation to training videos to product guidance and demonstrations to business growth seminars and beyond.

One specific example is when my sales rep organized a sprayer demo where I learned how to use and operate this equipment, resulting in added services for my customers. This is just one of many. Having all these tools combined with the individualized support my sales representative provides to navigate all the various circumstances us painting contractors encounter, truly has been immeasurable to the growth and success of my business.

You are very active on Facebook. How has this kind of social marketing helped you build your business?

Facebook is an easy, efficient way to share both pictures of my work and connect with others socially. When a customer hires a contractor, especially one that will be working in their home, they look for quality of work as well as someone they feel comfortable with. Personal connections lead to happier customers who are also more likely to refer – bonus!

Are there certain types of posts that seem to really engage customers?

Yes, posts that evoke some emotional connection whether it be comedic, complimentary, happiness, etc. as well as contain a pic of myself with my work seem to have the most engagement. This helps the customer feel more connected by seeing my face and a little personality, reiterating the impact of establishing that trust.

When your followers like or comment on your posts, it boosts it to the top of others’ feeds giving you more exposure, so change it up and keep it engaging. About one post a day seems to be the sweet spot for both the platform’s algorithm and followers. Let your personality shine, keep it professional and have fun with it!

Do you have any other marketing tips for other paint pros?

We all know direct referrals typically make the best customers and can even be the least expensive. Obtaining those referrals will happen more often via personal connections. Target personal referral channels such as customers sharing you on their HOA pages and leave a handwritten thank you note with business cards on each job along with a small gift if applicable. Send an occasional text to family/friends/customers featuring a picture of your biz card and a nice message encouraging them to share.

Talk with your Sherwin-Williams sales rep often and go into their local stores to get to know the staff well (hint, they love free snacks and a smile). Introduce yourself often when out in the community and yes, definitely utilize social media. Who are you more likely to refer to others? Someone you know and trust. When you establish those relationships and do right by your customers, your book of business will be filled with happy clients perpetually continuing the referral cycle.

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Follow “The Painting Chick” on Facebook for tips and tricks

Any final thoughts?

Thirty years ago, approximately 80 percent of homeowners did their own painting. Fast forward to today where almost 80 percent of painting is done by painting pros! Busy, working families created this shift, along with living in larger and taller spaces that can be difficult for the DIY-er.

It is a great time to enter the market as a painting pro, especially for us ladies. The patronage by my customers is greatly appreciated and I look forward to continuing to beautify the spaces in my community.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of PPC magazine. ©2023 Randall Reilly. Corissa Cook was interviewed by PPC Editor Mike Starling. Photography by Chandler Crowell. Read more about what pro painters have discovered on the job in the PPC magazine archive.