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 3 of 4

Back in the first post of this series, I talked about how important it is to know the cost of running a faux finishing business, and charging enough to be profitable.

In part two, I get into the nitty gritty of building a world class faux finishing sample portfolio. 

Part four shows you how to find and leverage promotional work for profit and business growth. 

In this post I cover some secrets to fostering long term relationships with customers.

 

Customer Service for Faux Finishing Business Success

The words Marketing and Advertising are often confused, and confusing. So let’s start with some clarification:

Advertising is just one component, or subset, of marketing. Public relations, media planning, product pricing and distribution, sales strategy, customer support, market research and community involvement are all parts of comprehensive marketing efforts.” ~MarketingProfs.com

This is helpful for creating categories for organizing your marketing efforts. Though I believe the author missed the most important categorie: Customer service. 

This Art is Service

I believe that whether you’re selling tires, donuts, massages, insurance or faux finishes, all business is service. Assuming this is true…

Customer service and support should be the primary focus of your businessImage of ebooks of faux graining courses

Last week one of my graining students emailed about a technical issue she was having. In the most recent version of the course, I’d already addressed and resolved her problem. Looking in my records at her history with me, I saw that she did not have the most recent version of The Faux Wood Workshop eBook.  

I replied with some detailed solutions specific to her project as well as the link she needed to download the newer version of the course. 

What’s this got to do with marketing? Patience, Grasshopper… I’m getting to that. 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

Faux Finishing Business Success: Part 1 of 4

This is part 1 of 4 in a series on Faux Finishing Business Success. Part two is here.

 

Faux Finishing Business Success: A four part series

“Business? Yuck! I just want to paint”

PPR-CLPS-Biz-Post

This is often the song of the artisan when faced with business tasks. It’s rare for people who love working with their hands to also be excited about business.

This issue is so powerful that some artists make the conscious decision to not engage in business at all; working a separate, “steady” job and only making art on the side. Thus avoiding all business related stresses and concerns. I’ve been there, maybe you have, too. 

But for those of us who rely on faux finishing business success, avoidance is not an option.

This Art Gets Used!

If you’re reading this, you’re likely practicing “applied arts” of some sort. This includes faux finishers, car painters, furniture finishers, set painters or the myriad of others who focus on applying decoration to objects used in every day life.

Fine artists can stockpile their canvases, showing them when they wish, or not at all. But applied artists need victims (or… uh… customers) to fulfill our need to decorate walls, cars, doors, tables, floors…

Knowing how, and how much, to charge for our services is as much a part of our craft as the painting techniques we practice. 

Can you afford to be a faux finisher? 

Tools, materials, license, insurance, bond, clothing and shoes, education (skill development), advertising and marketing, studio/shop rent or payment, office equipment and supplies, accounting services or software, vehicle payment, maintenance and repair…Faux Finishing Business Brushes & Tools

And that’s only a partial list of the cost of doing business! It’s crucial that these costs be calculated and used as a base rate for billing new customers.

Here’s a great article on Lifehacker that walks you through how to establish a cost of business base line, and then how to add in profit margin.

Here’s another article that goes a bit deeper. It’s directed at digital freelancers, but applies to you and I, too. 

This process is a great first step, but it’s important to recognize that “cost of business” is only one aspect of growing and sustaining your art business.

“I love what you do!”

When a potential customer says those words, they tend to be well on their way to making an emotional commitment to hiring you.

Click to read more

Faux Finish Business Pros Share: What I wish I’d known.

Antique-Painter-Sign

Antique paint and decoration sign via Ruby Lane Antiques.

Hey! For much more about how to build and grow a profitable, low-stress faux finish business, check out my 4 part series

One question for pros

“What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your painting business?”

The faux finishing business can be tricky

For me, starting out was all trial and error. Partly because, at the time, there was little or no information and partly because I’m hard-headed and like to do things my way. 

So here’s my answer to this question: I wish I hadn’t tried to reinvent the wheel. read more