For one Colorado entrepreneur who was used to dealing with subpar contractors, one franchise gave him the opportunity to inject some professionalism into an industry that was sorely lacking it.
Brad Jennings, along with his wife Yeny, purchased their Fresh Coat Painters franchise in February of 2013 and the franchisee said it was Fresh Coat’s positioning within its industry and its dedication to professionalism that made the pair want to get involved.
Room for Improvement
With a working background as a project manager for a general contractor, Jennings was used to being in charge of several sub-contracted tradespeople, who he was responsible for coordinating while running a project from start to finish.
The decision to open his own business came when he realized that if he was going to spend his time coordinating people, he’d rather do it for himself than someone else. He also saw vast room for improvement in the painting industry. He and Yeny decided to focus on one trade and do it well in their area of Centennial, CO, so they decided on painting, knowing how notoriously poor service in the painting industry can be.
“The bar for painters has been set particularly low,” Jennings said. “I hired painters for several years and painters were notoriously late to the job sites, they didn’t return phone calls, they didn’t return emails, they didn’t text. There was just virtually no communication.
Fresh Coat Painters manages to avoid this by hiring their own painters. Jennings’ is one of about 120 Fresh Coat franchises across North America and all of them share the common element of hiring their painters rather than subcontracting the work.
The best thing about hiring permanent employees rather than subcontracting, Fresh Coat president Tara Riley says, is permanent employees take much greater pride in their work because they are with the company long-term and they share in the responsibility of doing good work.
Having franchisees hire their own employees also allows the company to perform background checks on those employees to ensure Fresh Coat is not sending any unsavory people into their customers’ homes.
“We do a lot to make sure the person entering your house is a solid person,” Riley told Franchising USA.
Home Sweet Home
Prior to joining Fresh Coat, Jennings and his wife conferred with the company about where their territory would be and once they were able to confirm their territory, the couple flew to Cincinnati for their initial training.
After that initial training, they had a series of weekly conference calls with a business consultant assigned to them from the franchise for about 12-14 weeks. These calls included in-depth discussions about how to set up the business and how to progress it once it was up and running.
Another aspect of Fresh Coat that appealed to Jennings was the fact that he could easily run it out of his home.
“One of the big things I liked about this franchise model is there is virtually no inventory to carry,” he said. “There’s virtually no reason to have a storefront.”
The majority of his customers are either residential or light commercial or industrial in nature. Jennings always goes to the client’s location and discusses with them the work they want performed so he can lay eyes on the project before making a bid.
Once they know how large the project is, they order the materials they need from paint suppliers on a project-by-project basis, saving them from having to stock any paint.
A Great Experience
A couple of times per year, the franchise will host training sessions that franchisees and their staffs can attend, Jennings said. He also noted Fresh Coat’s annual conference is particularly helpful, as the franchise will invite different guest speakers to come in and talk about what’s going on in the industry.
Fresh Coat also has a comprehensive marketing plan that is completely laid out for new franchisees during initial training and they have ongoing marketing and instruction that is supplied to franchisees.
Now that they are over the hump of getting the franchise up and running and are into their fourth year, Jennings said, he and Yeny are starting to see an improvement to their work/life balance.
“In the beginning, it was a lot of long days and a lot of long hours in the first two years,” he recalled.
Despite the hard work it took to get the business up and running, the franchisee said, owning a Fresh Coat Painters franchise has been a great experience for him and his wife. The company has been professional and has been there with support every step of the way, he said.
It’s this professionalism that Jennings hopes to bring to the painting industry, with the help of Fresh Coat Painters.