My Painting Business: Customers

This is one of the first houses I painted. I think I painted it three times over the years.

My business has always been primarily to homeowners. From when I started the business (in 1981) to the present (2020), I’m sure I have acquired over 1000 satisfied customers from over 30 localities in the Minneapolis area. I had a vision of really spreading out: I went out as far west as Minnetonka (you will have to look on a map), as far south as Burnsville, as far east as Oakdale, and as far North as Andover. But now, especially since I am retired, I see the wisdom in staying as close to home as possible. It saves on gas and it doesn’t take as long to get to work.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned over the years is to do whatever I can to please a client, and then do whatever it takes to keep that client. I would rather have satisfied repeat customers then to always have to advertise in order to get new customers. Don’t get me wrong, I like new customers, but advertising takes money. Also, if you have satisfied customers many of those will tell their friends what a good job you did, and those friends will call you for a job. I hate to brag, but for the last 20 years I haven’t spent a penny on advertising. I don’t have too; people just call me for work. Either they are repeat customers or they have heard about me from a friend. At the beginning of my business I had to advertise all the time. That’s normal. But you shouldn’t have to keep doing that.

Okay, what I do to keep track of my clients is this. As soon as I finish a job, I file the proposal for that client. Then at the end of the year I record all those jobs in my computer with their names, addresses, phone number, date of the job, and cost of the job. That’s fairly easy.  The hard part for me is calling them. I try to call every client I have at least once a year, to ask them if they need any more painting. Most of them don’t, but some do. And most of them are thankful that I called and will call me later—sometimes months later. But that’s okay.

One of the things I really love about this business is getting to know people over the years, and seeing them satisfied with the work I do for them. It’s extremely rewarding.

In my next post I will tell you about some of my favorite and most faithful clients—and maybe share some great stories.

My Work: House Painting

This is my work truck. I had a small painting job at this location.

My work. It’s been a while since I had work. But I’m retired. I started a house painting business in 1981. At the beginning it was just me and one employee—a good friend. We had no contacts so I had to advertise. I put adds in the local newspaper, and I also made small, half-sheet fliers to distribute. Sometimes I distributed them by hand, door-to-door, with help from nieces and nephews. Other times I paid to have them delivered as an insert. That kept us busy, just busy enough.

The summers were good, but the winters were spars. After the first couple years I hired more help. That was fun during the summer time, but during the winter months I had to lay them off. There was just not enough work. So in the spring time I usually had to rehire and retrain people—because the ones I had before, had gotten other jobs. But then there were a couple guys who kept coming back—the faithful.

Well, I don’t want to bore you by giving you a year by year run down. But there were some interesting stories to tell. Working with a crew of guys is always fun—but sometimes aggravating for me, the boss. I remember, one of my guys would always call me Boss, or Boss man. I hated that! Because I didn’t think he was genuine. Yea, I had some characters—all different. Those were the days.

I retired when I was 63, seven years ago. But I didn’t totally stop working. At first, I cut about a third out of my hours. Today my hours are cut about in half. I have never had so much work that I was able to save a lot. So I figured that with my Social Security payment I still need to work some.

But you know, I really think it’s for the best. I like working a little. At 69 I don’t feel much like working full bore, but I think its good for me to work a little. And I like seeing faithful clients. I have some clients that I have done work for, for over 30 years. For some of them, I have painted their entire house 4 or 5 times, or more. Some of them call me for work almost every year. And I try to call all of my clients once a year, just to keep in touch—but of course I will ask them if they need any painting. Out of about 30 calls I get roughly one job out of it.

 I’m waiting for someone to call me right now. I am ready for a job. A small job. This retirement at times sucks! All I do is sit around writing, blogging, reading, and doing my chores. Other things too, and it’s getting very routine. I need a job. I’m getting too lazy.

I’m afraid retirement for me will never be typical—like rich folks. You know, traveling and golfing and going on cruises. I will have to keep working as much as necessary to have enough in savings for when I get too old to work. I have to keep a tight budget. And it will always be, for me, a life of trusting God. That sounds good to me. He will provide and keep me joyful.