The 7 Secrets of Successful Painters

Pro painters share the mindsets that fueled their growth

Professional painting can be a very competitive industry to work in. In fact, a Painting Contractors Association (PCA) study found that the average painting business only lasts 1-3 years, according to Nick Slavik, Chair of the PCA’s Board of Directors.

So what is it that differentiates the businesses that survived and prospered? We talked to professional painters from across the country about their approach to business and what advice they would give the next generation.

You can’t do everything yourself. “Know that you probably can’t do everything yourself, but you can always hire what you can’t or don’t want to do. Doing that can save you time, money, and frustration. Most of all, enjoy what you do, because that is the life you are living!” –Dan Ross, Ross Painting in San Rafael, California

Happiness is contagious. “For the guys who are working in a crew, I would tell them to be happy, because that mood rubs off on the clients.” –Wilber Vargas, Wilber’s Painting in Maplewood, New Jersey

Grow with your business. “Don’t regard yourself as a painter first; regard yourself as a business person. … [Painting] is one of those opportunities that lets a business grow with you. As the business grows, so can your technical knowledge, so can your business acumen come with you, and so you have phenomenal opportunities.” –Annie Newton, 4 Seasons Color, Inc., in Walla Walla, Washington

Reinvest in your business. “My advice for an up-and-coming contractor is to work hard and keep putting your money back into your company—your workers will appreciate it.” –Gerard Gallagher, Cape May Painting in Cape May, New Jersey

Look out for your customer first. “Take good care of your customers. They are the biggest asset you have and without them you would be out of business.” Ron Adderley, Prism Painting in Bellingham, Washington

Early investments pay off in a big way. “If you are willing to work long hours marketing your business in the beginning stages, it will eventually pay off. It may take hanging door hangers, passing out flyers, learning how to use social media, and more. Never stop. … If you work hard, give great customer service, and offer a good product, you will become successful.” –Chris Berry, B&K Painting in Boise, Idaho

Ambition is a virtue. “Don’t be afraid to take risks. If you have the drive and ambition to become successful, it is an industry that will reward you sooner rather than later. The beauty of it is that almost anyone can do it. I say ‘almost’ anyone because ambition plays a key part in your future: How bad do you want it?” –Luis Inclan, Inclan Painting and Waterproofing in Elizabeth, New Jersey

For more business advice from industry experts and seasoned pros, check out the PRO+ Business Training Series.