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A Guide for Painting Contractors to Avoid 5 Common Business Mistakes and Thrive

You're in business to win, striving to grow and build something remarkable. Yet, despite your relentless effort, there seem to be pitfalls you unknowingly fall into, causing significant harm to your enterprise. As a painting contractor, these detours from success can be daunting and destructive if left unchecked.

In this comprehensive guide, we will highlight five of the most common mistakes painting contractors make, and offer strategies to rectify them. If addressed effectively, your business will be sailing smoothly toward a successful future. So, strap in, and let's start on the path to creating an uncommonly successful painting contractor business.

1. Breaking Away from the Common Contractor Mindset

The first major mistake painting contractors often make is holding onto a common contractor mentality. This mindset, laden with self-limiting beliefs like "I can't get those margins in my trade," or "You don't know the illegals man, and the going rate around here," is a major stumbling block. Instead of leveraging the success stories of other contractors and learning from their approach, you may find yourself dwelling on reasons why you can't achieve similar success.

Remember, you are not alone in your struggles. Everyone faces challenges, but the difference lies in how they handle them. Many contractors have successfully navigated the same hurdles you're facing right now. The key is to adopt an uncommon contractor mindset - if someone else can do it, you can too.

One crucial part of this mindset shift is recognizing that charging the 'going rate' could be detrimental to your business. Instead, focus on the value you provide and price your services accordingly.

2. Improving Your Sales Approach

Charisma and likability, while important, are not the be-all and end-all of sales. They are merely tools in your arsenal. Many painting contractors mistakenly believe that they are expert salespeople because they can get along well with people and land some jobs. The reality is, most contractors have spent little time honing the art of selling.

Sales, like any other skill such as carpentry, painting, or electrical work, requires practice and development. As a contractor, you need a well-defined sales process that respects and values your prospect's time and truly understands their needs. This process should take charge, leading the conversation in a direction that is beneficial to both parties.

Implement a sales process that stands out from the competition, connects with clients uniquely, and isn't afraid to discuss money. If your sales approach isn't yielding higher-than-average gross profits and personal income, it's time to reassess and adapt.

3. The Importance of Job Costing

The third prevalent mistake is neglecting job costing. Job costing is a straightforward yet critical tool for understanding your business's financial health. It involves simply subtracting the total cost of labor, material, and permits from the amount the job was sold for.

Without job costing, you'll find it challenging to truly understand your financial status. The insights you gain from this exercise can help you price your services better, manage costs effectively, and improve your profitability. Moreover, job costing forms the foundation of knowing your numbers, a vital element in running a successful business.

4. Marketing Matters

Another common mistake that stunts business growth is an ineffective marketing approach. Without a clear plan, consistency, or an understanding of your ideal client and project type, you are doing more harm than good to your business.

Consistent and well-planned marketing is integral to maintaining a steady flow of clients and projects. It's essential to understand that marketing doesn't end when you have a fully booked schedule; it should be a year-round activity.

Don't fall into the trap of complacency when your phone starts ringing with potential projects. Keep your foot firmly on the marketing pedal and stay focused on building your brand. Use your marketing strategy to communicate effectively with your target audience, speaking to their needs and desires, and positioning your business as their only choice.

5. Becoming a People Expert

Last but not least, the inability to understand, lead, and manage people can significantly hamper your business's growth. As a business owner, you need to become an expert in human dynamics. This includes understanding what makes people tick, how to communicate effectively with different individuals, and how to set clear expectations for success in your company.

Invest time in developing leadership skills. Cultivate a positive company culture where employees have a clear growth path. This will help you retain a high-performing team committed to delivering excellent results.


In conclusion, avoid the pitfalls of being a common contractor and strive to be uncommon. Improve your sales process, religiously practice job costing, stay consistent with marketing, and become a people expert. These shifts can help you navigate the rough waters of running a painting contractor business and steer your ship toward success, growth, and profitability in your painting contractor business. It's important to note that success is subjective and can mean different things to different people. However, in the context of a business, success usually entails profitability, growth, market recognition, customer satisfaction, and personal fulfillment.

Guiding your business toward success involves adopting innovative business strategies, embracing change, committing to continual learning, and staying ahead of industry trends. You need to foster a positive and conducive work culture, invest in your employees, create an effective marketing strategy, and ensure you provide exceptional service to your clients.

Moreover, you have to be financially savvy, ensuring that your revenue exceeds your expenses. This involves smart pricing of your services, efficient resource management, and meticulous financial planning. Above all, you have to be persistent, resilient, and optimistic, as steering your business toward success is a marathon, not a sprint.

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