5 Ways to Kick-Start Your Business for the New Year

A little bit of planning in December can go a long way toward the continued health and growth of a business in the next year. In this article, we’ll look at five ways for professional painting company owners to take stock and make plans to be more productive, profitable and generally improve their businesses in 2024.

1. Review your goals and numbers

Plan to set aside time at year’s end to reflect on your financials, review your 2023 goals, and compare how your year turned out with respect to your budget and actual numbers, say the experts at the Growth Force accounting services firm.

“Ask yourself: How did you stay on track? In what ways were you successful? Where did you go astray and why?”

It’s also a good time to have a conversation with your tax advisor to make sure you are benefiting from all available tax credits and deductions, says Jenni Houtari, a CPA with Eide Bailly LLP.

Donations, charitable contributions and deferments are also things to consider.

“Depending on your income levels during the holiday season, you might consider pushing that income to the following year to save on taxes,” says Andrew Martins at Business News Daily. “Income earned on December 31 counts for the previous year, while income earned on January 1 can be logged for the upcoming year’s taxes.”

2. Revisit your tech needs

“None of us can be in business for long if our business is outdated or lagging behind others in the marketplace,” says Heather Campbell, an attorney who works with entrepreneurs. Her advice is to ask yourself: “How can we do better and more work in less time so that we can achieve cost savings in our businesses while providing an improved product or service for our clients?”

Check in with other business owners in your network to see what is working well for them. Your Sherwin-Williams team is another good resource. A good place to start is to open a PRO+ account and download the free Sherwin-Williams PRO+ app.

The app is an all-in-one tool for pro painters. With it you can order paint and supplies, access exclusive savings, create and send professional project bids, access the Pro Color Toolkit, and save time with the app’s business tools such as a paint calculator and product data sheets… all right from your phone.

3. Resolve to be more productive

Now is also a good time to start thinking about how you can streamline your work processes and be more efficient in 2024. Once again, Sherwin-Williams can help.

PRO+ductive Solutions is an ongoing initiative the company is spearheading to help pro painting contractors save time, complete jobs quickly, and save money to generate more profit.

For example, the free and convenient jobsite delivery service offered by Sherwin-Williams will help you save wait time, drive time and mileage. Pros who regularly use the free delivery service spent 10 more days painting instead of driving.

Smart time- and labor-saving tools are another key part of PRO+ductive Solutions. Mi-T-M Job Pro® 4000 Cold Water Pressure Washer can cut cleaning time nearly in half.* The 3M™ M3000 Hand-Masker™ offers up to five times faster masking than traditional methods.# And the Full Circle Radius 360°® Sanding Tool offers faster sanding than using a traditional sanding pole.***

The Purdy® 14-inch Roller System is designed to help you paint 55 percent faster, and the Werner® LeanSafe X3 ladder is one ladder that does the work of three, changing seamlessly between step, straight and leaning ladders.

Several coatings are also part of PRO+ductive Solutions. Gallery Series™ Waterborne Topcoat, for example, allows pros to recoat up to eight times faster than a traditional architectural cabinet and trim coating.**

Latitude™ Exterior Acrylic Latex will help you avoid weather delays and extend your painting season. And Emerald® Urethane Trim Enamel gives pros up to four times faster dry-to-recoat time.§

4. Recruit more effectively

Hiring is one of the biggest hurdles for the painting industry these days.

“If you ask a contractor, ‘What’s the number one challenge you’re facing in your business,’ they typically say, ‘I can’t find enough help.’ They have a lot of projects lined up, but it’s hard for them to find the right employees,” says Gabby Torres, Sherwin-Williams Marketing Director, Pro Contractor Programs.

To address this challenge, Sherwin-Williams launched a free coatings industry jobs posting platform to help painting contractors find and hire talented painters to their teams.

“The purpose of our new job board is to connect employers and job seekers,” Torres says. “Now employers have a platform where they can easily log in, post a job, and get applications from painters who are currently searching for work.”

Getting registered and posting a job listing takes less than 15 minutes. We walk you through the process in our story Find the Right Pro for the Job.

5. Reach out to old customers

Finally, December is a good time to update your customer list. People who you have previously done work for provide some of the best opportunities going forward, and reaching out now makes them more likely to think of you when they have future service needs.

The marketing experts at Blogging Painters offer this advice: “You can break the ice by emailing them if you haven’t spoken to them in a while. Include a greeting card to mark the holiday season, and your email will surely not go unnoticed.”

Dave Rohde, a Wisconsin contractor who recently retired and passed on his thriving painting business to son Ben, found this to be a winning strategy.

“At the end of the year, I send a Christmas card or letter,” Dave says. “In the letter, I thank them for their business and wish them happy holidays. I also remind them that January through April is our slow time and an excellent time to have interior painting done.” Many customers in his Midwest market escape the cold by taking a one- or two-week winter vacation, and Rohde offers to do any interior jobs while they are away. He also waits until April to raise his rates and uses the Christmas letter to remind customers to take advantage of last year’s rates before spring arrives.

Notes on product claims

*Mi-T-M JobPro® 4000 Pressure Washer: Comparison cleaning time vs entry level Pro washer as measured by cleaning units (GPM x PSI)
**Gallery Series™ Waterborne Topcoat: Based on recoat times as stated in applicable Sherwin-Williams Product Data Sheets.
***Full Circle Radius 360°® Sanding Tool: Sanding is 3 times faster when compared side-by-side to a traditional pole sander and sandpaper on prepared drywall.
Free Delivery: This number is based on customers with approximately three deliveries per week in a year, based on an eight-hour working day.
Latitude™ Exterior Acrylic: Based on Sherwin-William Advisory Board Research panel (n=360) professional painters surveyed estimate they have stopped painting between 2-3 hours early due to the impact of high temperatures.
§ Emerald® Urethane Trim Enamel: Product dry to recoat time of 4 hours based upon testing conducted by or on behalf of Sherwin-Williams. Select competitor times based on information publicly available in product Data Sheets for similar product technologies with stated, average dry to recoat times between 4-16 hours.
# 3M™ Hand-Masker™: 4 to 5 times faster preparation than traditional paper / poly methods that require manually manipulating multiple materials to achieve protective coverage.
Purdy® Revolution 14″ Frame: Compared to average completion time using the Purdy 9″ roller and 9″ frame.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of PPC magazine. ©2023 Randall Reilly. Read about more ways to build your painting business in the PPC magazine archive.