By Focusing on Professionalism, This Painting Franchise Is Raising the Bar for the Industry

Already active in 35 states, Fresh Coat Painters looks to expand that number significantly in the near future.

“I would like us to double the number of franchises within the next two years,” company president Tara Riley said during a recent interview from Fresh Coat’s Cincinnati headquarters.

In operation for a little over 11 years and franchising for over 10 years, Fresh Coat Painters does both interior and exterior residential and light commercial painting.

With more than 130 franchises, Fresh Coat is a home-based business that is active in California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, throughout the mid-west and in the mid-Atlantic states. But, the company has territories available across the United States.

Riley said the company has a significant veteran presence among its franchisees and also mentioned that over 20 percent of the company’s franchises are female-owned businesses.

Fresh Coat franchisees tend to be owner-operators that have business experience and understand how to scale up a business, Riley said. Many of them have come from corporate middle management executive positions and are looking to transition into business ownership.

“We have a variety of people who are successful in our business model,” Riley said.

Professionalizing the Industry

According to numbers from IBIS, there are currently an estimated 259,775 painting companies in the United States. If you also factor in people who perform painting jobs, but don’t officially classify themselves as a business, she added, that number could easily double.

With so many painting subcontractors within the country, the Fresh Coat president said, the light painting industry is extremely fragmented.

“What we find is the need is to professionalize the industry,” Riley said.

Homeowners want true customer service when it comes to any kind of contracting, she explained, and the greatest opportunity to professionalize the customer service side of contracting is in the residential and light commercial painting industry.

Fresh Coat Painters aims to provide that missing customer service element to home and business owners by ensuring that their painters are at the location on time, that those painters are bonded and insured and that they’ve had a thorough background check performed.

The reason the company is able to provide this kind of stellar customer service is because it uses an employer-based model rather than a subcontractor-based model, meaning all of the painters that set foot inside a client’s property are employees of Fresh Coat rather than subcontractors.

Hiring employees rather than subcontractors allows Fresh Coat more control over every aspect of the business and it means the same people stick with the company for years rather than just being hired on a per-project basis.

“It allows us to control the quality of the job,” Riley noted.

Sound Onboarding

Riley said she believes the key to success for both franchisees and the company is a sound onboarding process. That process starts with a three-week training program for new franchisees the company calls “Base Coat” training.

That initial core training is done at the Cincinnati headquarters and it covers the basics of opening and running the business, how to assess potential employees and how to use the company’s proprietary quoting software, called Epic.

“Our proprietary quoting software allows somebody who basically has no experience in the industry to have the ability to come in and provide a profitable quote that is fair to the consumer and the franchisee,” she explained.

In addition to training, franchisees are given a 90-day marketing plan to run for the three months after their initial launch. They are also assigned an onboarding business coaching team that works with them twice a week to make sure they are doing everything correctly to get started.

“We get franchise owners off on the right foot quickly, so they enjoy success and we earn our return,” Riley said.

Ongoing support for franchisees includes three regional training sessions per year that provide owner and lead painter training in areas like job organization, profitability, and how to paint at the highest quality level.

To ensure they are providing the best possible training for painters, the company has partnered with Sherwin-Williams in Ohio and Prep to Finish in Vermont, both of whom specialize in painter training.

“It’s an investment we make because we believe in the employer model and feel like if we’re going to have that model then we have to support our franchisees in having the absolutely best, top-notch painters in the country,” Riley said.

The president mentioned that she aims to continue investing in both training and proprietary software to keep Fresh Coat on the leading edge of the painting industry.

With a robust training program in place and the guarantee of great customer service in an industry that lacks just that, Fresh Coat Painters should have little trouble reaching their dual goals of doubling the number of states they’re active in and professionalizing the residential and light commercial painting industry.

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