Faux Finishing Business Success: Part 4 of 4

This is the final post of a four part series.

  • The first post: It’s crucial to know what it costs to run your business, and how much to charge.
  • In part two I talked about the importance of building a high quality portfolio of finishes to get the best jobs.
  • Part three is all about how to make sure your customers keep coming back, and that they refer you to friends and associates.

Promotional work for faux finishing business success

Have you ever been asked to work for free? If you haven’t, it’s just a matter of time until you are. My first experience with this phenomenon was pretty bad. 

I ran an ad in the local classifieds, offering to do free promotional finishes for designers and shop owners.

A young designer working at a wallpaper and window coverings shop answered the ad. She wanted a ragged finish on the wall behind the counter at the front of the shop, a project that partly met the criteria of a worthy promotional effort (more on those criteria, below). 

That project went okay. The same designer moved to a high end design firm and called me again for a “Street of Dreams” project. That’s when things got weird. 

Not so dreamy

Exposure The Oatmeal cartoon for faux finishing business success

Another great cartoon from The Oatmeal. As a graphic designer, he feels our pain.

In case you’re not familiar, “Street of Dreams” is where a development is created (or rebuilt) and all the builders, subcontractors (paint, flooring, cabinets, trim, lighting…) are largely paid in “exposure”. 

I don’t want to drag this story out too long. Suffice it to say that I agreed to do a LOT of work for very little money. 

I can hear their conversation now:

“This project needs some decorative finishes and I know a guy who’ll do it for FREE!”

They had me pegged.

And why did I agree to this? Well, once these projects are all finished up, they’re opened to the public for a couple of weeks. So lots of folks will see the great work performed by all the talented crafts people on the site and hire them for paid work. 

I don’t know how these projects usually go, but the one I worked on was a dumpster fire.

Due to massive budget cuts and broken promises by the builder and designer, the contractors involved were unable to do good work, let alone their best work. 

It was about a month of long, hard days in a poorly organized environment punctuated by distrust, anger and resentment. 

The big payout

You might be wondering how much work I got for all this “exposure”. In short, Zero. Not one job. Not a single phone call.

In case you’re thinking my work wasn’t up to par, let me assure you that I did great work on that project. How do I know it was good? read more

Faux Finishing Business Success: Part 2 of 4

Part one is here. It’s all about understanding the costs of running a faux finishing business, and getting paid for your efforts. 

A quality portfolio of samples for faux finishing business success

4 color glaze sample panel for faux finish business success

A four color glaze sample measuring 32″ square. A consistent money maker, my portfolio includes three different color and intensity variations of this finish.

A Faux Finish Sample Panel is a physical, painted example of a decorative finish meant to display your work to potential clients, usually applied to rigid material. 

Your sample panels will be among your most powerful marketing tools.

In fact, they can be the deciding factor in landing the most profitable jobs.

Physical panels, vs digital or printed, are the true face of your business. 

This is not to say that your physical samples won’t end up on your web site, they likely will… but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll write about building a web presence later. 

A matter of size

Ever bought a gallon (or five!) of fresh paint based on a small color chip, only to find it too bright (dull, dark, shiny, intense…) after rolling it on the wall?

Why does this happen? Because the human eye needs to see a color over an area of at least 3 square feet before its impact can be felt. Paint company color samples are too small to achieve this. read more