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Why Many Painting Contractors Shoot Themselves in the Foot and How to Avoid It

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

We've all heard the saying, "You're your own worst enemy." This sentiment has never been truer than in the realm of painting contractors. Many of the problems contractors face are not from external forces but are self-inflicted wounds due to poor practices and entrenched beliefs. Let's explore seven of the most common pitfalls and discuss how to overcome them. This way, you can pave a smoother road to success.

1. "My Situation is Different" Syndrome

The most common excuse I hear from home improvement contractors is that their situation is unique. Whether it's complaints about unlicensed competitors, difficult customers, or the perception that their region can't bear the prices they want to charge, the excuses are endless. Success boils down to mastering the fundamentals, regardless of external factors. It's time to let go of the idea that your problems are different or more challenging than everyone else's. They're not.

2. The Fear of Discussing Money

Money is often the elephant in the room. While everyone knows they need to discuss it, most shy away from the topic until it's absolutely necessary. This hesitation to be open and straightforward about costs only creates distrust and confusion. Address your insecurities about discussing finances, embrace transparency, and bring the topic to the forefront. By doing so, you establish trust and clear the air of any potential misunderstandings.

3. Forgoing Formal Contracts

This is a straightforward one: always use a contract. Working without a clear agreement, regardless of the project's scale, is a gamble you shouldn't take. Without a clear agreement, misunderstandings can arise, leading to disputes and potential legal battles. Invest in a professionally-drafted contract to protect both your interests and those of your client.

4. Inadequate Communication

Whether it's poorly written text messages or an aversion to direct conversations, many contractors fall short in the communication department. Effective communication is the foundation of any successful business relationship. Prioritize clear, open, and timely interactions with your clients and team to reduce confusion and enhance project outcomes.

5. Avoiding On-the-Spot Price Discussions

Many contractors avoid giving immediate pricing out of fear that the quote might change based on various factors. However, providing a broad estimate during initial discussions can save both you and your client time and potential disappointment later on. Confidence in your pricing comes from knowing your numbers inside out.

6. Neglecting Continuous Marketing

A prevalent mindset among contractors is that once they have enough projects in the pipeline, they can ease off marketing efforts. This complacency can lead to dry spells. A robust, continuous marketing strategy ensures a steady stream of projects and helps establish a strong brand presence in the market. Embrace the digital age; use social media, content marketing, and community engagement to keep your brand at the forefront.

7. Failing to Embrace Leadership

Every challenge in your business can be traced back to a leadership issue. If projects are going awry, if there are misunderstandings with clients, or if your team isn't performing up to par, it all points back to leadership (or lack thereof). To thrive, you must be committed to continuous growth and learning in leadership. This not only benefits you personally but elevates your entire team and the business as a whole.


Being a painting contractor isn't just about mastering the craft; it's about mastering the business side as well. By addressing these seven pitfalls head-on, you pave the way for a more successful, stress-free, and profitable business journey. The road to success is rarely without obstacles, but with awareness, dedication, and a willingness to adapt, you can navigate any challenge that comes your way.

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