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 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

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Faux Finishing Business Success: Part 2 of 4

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.

This is part 2 of 4 in a series on Faux Finishing Business Success. Part one is here.

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

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Faux Wood Car Paint Project: 1931 Buick

Partial Faux Wood Trim Restoration

The owner wanted to minimize changes to the original interior.  He removed the 5 pieces that were most damaged. Of course my advice was to do them all at once.

After my work was done and installed, I was fortunate to have full access to the car for shooting pictures. This car is so gorgeous that I decided to create a larger pictorial blog post. 

I shot video and images of the graining process for this project and added it to The Perfect Wood Grain Car Graining Course

Bill, a retired architect, bought this gem in 1989 in all original condition. He painted and re-chromed, had a new top installed and made other needed repairs, but mostly left it alone. For example, the upholstery is all original. 

1931 Buick Hood Ornament, Grill, Headlights, Radiator

The owner of the media blasting shop I use was concerned that his process might damage the old, thin metal. 

A low pressure sand blaster was used instead. This got the job done and gave us the light texture we needed for maximum primer adhesion. 

I followed my standard process of creating a sample panel with 4 variations on the original grain for the customer to choose from. Faux wood car paint project sample panel and trim

Base Coat Alternative

For the base coat, I used a spray can product called Montana Gold. Formulated for murals, this product offers a much wider range of colors than paint or hardware shops, and they had a nearly perfect match for this project.

I normally use and recommend 2 stage auto paint for any car color and clear coats because interior parts like dash boards are exposed to direct sunlight and high temps.   Click Here to Continue…

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Cash Register Faux Wood Paint Restoration

A Gift for Dad

National Cash Register Model 711

The NCR Model 711 before disassembly. A bit rough, to say the least.

In December, 2015 I was contacted by a fellow who’s restoring a 1920, model 711, single counter NCR Cash Register. 

There are many old mechanical cash registers in circulation. National Cash Register was a major manufacturer, and they decorated many steel machines (vs brass) in a Mahogany-like faux grain.

Due to heavy use, these machines tend to end up quite worn and in poor condition. 

The customer was restoring the register as a gift for his father. He found my site via Google and contacted me through my “services” page. He’s also working with a specialist to restore and assemble the mechanical aspects. 

Cost of Restoring an Antique NCR Cash Register

In calculating a bid for this cash register faux wood project, my first instinct was to search for values on line (antique dealers, auction sites, ebay…), I found present value to be below $300 for similar machines. 

I don’t know what the cost of the mechanical work would be, but I’m guessing it’s not inexpensive.

A project like this, due to several small parts, some with multiple sides/angles of view, takes about the same amount of time as a full dash and escutcheon set for an antique car.

I was once asked to grain a plastic Jaguar shift knob. Small projects like that don’t usually work out due to the realities of time and effort: Create a sample for the customers approval, prep the plastic, apply primer, base coat, plus multiple layers of grain technique and clear coats. And by the way, real and faux wood shift knobs are available for most cars, often under $100. 

Point is, on some projects, unless it results in a substantial increase in value of the object being grained, my minimum fees are often too high. 

All That Glitters (some business talk)

I decided to reduce my fees for this project. Here’s why…
Please click here to read more…

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Faux Finishing Business Success: Part 1 of 4

“Business? Yuck! I just want to paint”

PPR-CLPS-Biz-Post

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

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

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