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Old 12-14-2011, 07:47 PM   #1
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Need help selecting first customers


I am starting a small painting service and just wanted some advise on whether apartment complexes would be a good first place to start selling these services. Would I be wasting my energy and time dealing with apartments being they have property management companies to help with their units. Any advise would be helpful in getting started.

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Old 12-14-2011, 08:07 PM   #2
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Apartments are generally painted by the landlord when vacant-- Quickk down and dirty-(cheap)

What market are you most comfortable with?

Can you sell high quality work?----happiest with exteriors?----Like the late night hours involved with commercial work?

Tell us a little more about your self---and check out our sister site--Contractor Talk--Link at the bottom of the page.---Mike---

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Old 12-14-2011, 08:58 PM   #3
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If apartment work is what you must do than go for it. But you never develop a portfolio demonstrating the quality of your work doing things like apartment interiors for rent turnover at least. Many larger companies will have their own staff or contractor crews they hire. In campus areas everybody vacates and there is a mad rush to fix and repair everything in a matter of days. And from my limited experience the turnover experience is about prepping party head bashing holes, kitchen grease, smoke, etc. with the cheapest materials possible. Pay is often just above minimum wage.

I think if you do good work and would start keeping photos of it you should contact condo managers rather than rental ones. They often keep a list of contractors on file for condo residents who make their own contractor decisions, at least for their interior. Real estate agents often look for painters that can turn things fast. Concept is often the same as for apartment turnover with budgets for materials and labor low but just getting started it is not bad work. You may at least have something other than generic cookie cutter white apartment photos to show clients.

When I decided I wanted to do this for a living I sort of apprenticed with someone established who needed an excellent interior trim painter. When he retired and through no agreement or anything I started getting his referrals and from other painters who just couldn't get to nice projects fast enough. I did the same for others as I did more and more.

Do tell us more about you, your work, and the kind you are ultimately looking to get. Do you have your insurance and license ducks in a row? Working for someone that has these and is doing the work you like might be worth considering while you pursue them? I guess in most states you still don't need a contractors license to be a painter but you should have one. Most clients will want a real contractor. You dare not work without insurance.

Last edited by user1007; 12-14-2011 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:47 PM   #4
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a lot of painters look down on apt.painting .i take care 8 townhouses,and 10 apt. they don't turn over that quick but when they do i look forward to it .put the radio on and go. you can make nice money if you can bang out a newer unit i bed no trim or doors in a day.but a steady diet of apt. i think would burn you out quick. one thing, you have to know how to paint. that's a given. but i think just as important in you have to know how to network. neighbors , parents at your kids soccer games ,basketball ,hockey,coffee shop,church,bla bla bla .tell every one you paint .run a add in local newspaper. i swear i can work painting into a conversation in the five minutes of meeting someone. i think the first 5 years is a struggle now i'm on auto pilot , well almost.this is my second career,and their nothing i would rather do than paint ,well maybe restore muscle cars ,hey maybe that be my third career
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Old 12-15-2011, 07:05 AM   #5
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I am starting a small painting service and just wanted some advise on whether apartment complexes would be a good first place to start selling these services. Would I be wasting my energy and time dealing with apartments being they have property management companies to help with their units. Any advise would be helpful in getting started.
Years ago I had a couple apartment complexes I painted when units became empty. First off the fact that they were "mop and go" jobs didn't bother me. A quick in, splash on the paint and get out.

A couple problems that did arise were:

1. I'm a one man show and usually units become empty all at the same time, end of the month, this means you will have, depending on the size of the complex, several units to paint and only a couple days to do so, so unless you want to hire a crew or work your ass off I'd stay away from the lager complexes. At the end of the month I'd work 12 to 16 hour days knocking out 2 , two bedroom units a day. Normally I'd do this for one work week, Monday through Friday and be able to get all the units done.

2. Even though the property manager likes your work, He or She will always be looking for the next new guy to do the same job for less money, and that guy will always be out there. So you will find yourself lowering your price or moving on. I had about a 8 month run with the 3 properties I painted, then they found someone that would do it for less money, so I stopped dealing with that type of work.

Last edited by JMDPainting; 12-15-2011 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:17 AM   #6
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Good topic. Yes, apt. complexes are decent places to start. Like many have said, you have to work fast, so, in some ways you hone your skills......i.e. you learn to cut those ceiling lines quickly and those lines down by the baseboard efficiently. You will eventually be replaced by the "cheaper guy." And, by the way, any real estate agent/company is ALWAYS, ALWAYS after the cheapest blow and go job they can find. Don't waste a lot of your time trying to network these guys........they are not loyal and they want cheap, and, in the end, you end up grouchy working for those types. Best advice I ever got about apt. painting, "Start there, don't stay there."
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:21 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by jps2 View Post
I am starting a small painting service and just wanted some advise on whether apartment complexes would be a good first place to start selling these services. Would I be wasting my energy and time dealing with apartments being they have property management companies to help with their units. Any advise would be helpful in getting started.
JPS, in the painting biz, networking yourself is one of the toughest jobs, mainly because repeat customers wait to see if you're really in it for the long haul. Great clients want someone who they can count on for the next 10-12 years for their painting needs.
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Old 12-15-2011, 05:56 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies and advise, I really appreciate it. I like the ideas about the condos and townhomes, also starting... just starting with a few apartments. For those who wanted to know a little more about me. I'm 30, worked in the oil and gas field for 5 years and was recently laid off. I have been wanting to start a paint service ever since a buddy and I flipped a couple of houses a few years back, which is the only painting experience I have besides the painting I did growing up and with my wife at our current house. I am more interested in selecting the right jobs that I can profit from and that are not a waste of time and prep. I have the tools to do the job fast but I don't want want to spend more time than its worth with prep. I know I'll have to catch some of those jobs to get off the ground and market myself.

My state does not require a contractor license for painters doing projects under 50,000, I do not have it yet. but I am getting the license and insurance. I should be up and running by the beginning of the new year.

Thanks again yal. I'm sure I'll be back, I've been on here reading just about everynight
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:15 PM   #9
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This site is really for the DIY to ask the pros 's , but getting a paint biz going is quite another thing.
You not only need to know a lot of different skills that are needed to be effective, but you also have to understand the biz part of it.
If you want to get a good look at that hard reality - go to Paint Talk- and read the sticky- So you want to be..

It will be worth your time.
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Old 12-16-2011, 06:08 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brushjockey View Post
This site is really for the DIY to ask the pros 's , but getting a paint biz going is quite another thing.
You not only need to know a lot of different skills that are needed to be effective, but you also have to understand the biz part of it.
If you want to get a good look at that hard reality - go to Paint Talk- and read the sticky- So you want to be..

It will be worth your time.
Which is here


http://www.painttalk.com/f2/new-memb...ntractor-2879/
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Old 12-16-2011, 06:34 AM   #11
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Great post Gymschu! I knew you had been doing this a long time after reading those two post. You nailed it. A real estate agent will promise you all kinds of work if "you can just please get this one room painted for me". I been down that road. Good advice on the apartments also. Ok man before I go, I see your an Ohio St. fan. This is for you, ROLL TIDE!!! LOL. Take care and have a great day.
Kevin
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:09 AM   #12
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Reminds me of the good ole' dorm days painting at Syracuse University. Everything was all semi-gloss off-white. Only carpet was in the bedrooms so that was the only thing we had to drop. Stick-on tile floors everywhere else so you only had to wipe up a couple drips and you were good to go. Good learning experience.

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