Good Painting Cos. Roll Right Through Recessions

Recession Or Inflation? Relax Painting Contractors, You’re Lucky

I’ve been an active painting contractor from 1989-2023, and if you are new to being a painting contractor or have not worked through a recession before, relax, everything is going to be FINE. 

Too Many Homeowners Are Not DIYs? 

Whether people are moving, selling, or deciding this is the time to stay put, they are all potential customers.

Whether in a recession or a booming economy, most people want top dollar for their homes. They understand that the nicer it looks, the more money they will receive. Painting is one of the best ROI a seller can do.

For those sellers who don’t want to invest in a fresh coat of paint, don’t worry because the buyer probably does. Buyers are very busy people and most likely don’t have the time or energy to paint.

Homeowners with no plans to move may not want to spend money on big-ticket items, such as a kitchen remodel, but painting the house falls under their budget.

Landlords Don’t Paint:  

Rental properties have a large turn-over in a recession.

Painting Estimator with happy customer
Jon Anderson of Klappenberger & Son in Montgomery gets a selfie with a happy customer.

When One Door Closes, Another Opens

Retail owners and corporations may delay large upgrades, but lesser improvements, such as painting may still be in their budget. Other commercial spaces, such as healthcare and offices where customers arrive, generally try to have a well-maintained appearance. 

Flooring, painting, and lighting are at the top of the list of services that need to be changed from time to time.  

Yes, schools and other State and Local agencies get budget cuts during a recession, but many painting projects continue. We continued to paint at our local community college the same rate as we did before the recession of 2008. 

The Great Recession

The last recession was 2007-2009. It felt it extended well into 2010 for many people and some painting contractors. My painting company, and some others as well, thrived during the Great Recession.

Out of the 30 years I’ve owned my business, 2010 was my biggest growth year. In 2010 I grew my business from $550,000 to 1,107,000! I didn’t increase my advertising budget. I just worked hard and found more work. 

I have to credit the late Rush Limbaugh, who said something to the effect that, “if there is a recession, I don’t want to participate in it.”

Thankfully, I listened to Rush.    

Fortunately for me, some of my competitors threw in the towel. They probably lost a couple of customers and stopped hustling.

Zig Ziglar called that, “stinking thinking.”

I believe that some of the slow painting contractors didn’t mind. They might have complained on the surface, but they enjoyed the break. It was an excuse to avoid having to look for work.

Their decision to not seek out new painting opportunities made it easier for me to grow.  I still remember painting contractors in the store telling me how slow they had been, and I just listened. I didn’t want to sound braggadocios, or let the little secret out, but there was plenty of work.

Recessions Do Discriminate

Most people over 65+ with disposable incomes are not painting their homes. Independent living communities are certainly affected, but less so than someone who lost their job.    

Who Are The DIYs

According to Forbes, people under 35 years old are more likely to take care of projects themselves. However, those 40+ with disposable incomes of $75k+ are more likely to hire for home services. 

There Are Just Too Many Opportunities To Worry

Unfortunately, inflation hits hardest on the poor and lower middle class. That is not a painting contractor’s demographics.

The typical painting customers are between the ages of 45-75.  That is about 114 million people, or a third of the U.S population. In addition, there are other smaller pockets, including single moms between the age of 27-45 who earn over $100,000. They typically work 40-60 hours per week and do not have the time nor desire to paint. 

In short, with a few exceptions, there are plenty of customers. A million-dollar painting company only needs about 300–400 jobs a year.

Are You Hiring? Yes!

Good painters will flock to well-run painting companies because when poorly run painting companies slow down or close, the best painters will find new work.

Inflation Does Not Discriminate

When the cost of paint goes up, all painting contractors pay more. Don’t worry about rising prices because everyone has to raise their prices.

The same is true for wages. If you have to pay more for labor, so will your competitors. 

Profits Inflate?

If you were doing a $5,000 job and your net margins are 20%, your net profit is $1,000.00

If your labor and marketing costs increase by 10%, you will have to raise your prices by 10%. That means a $5,000 job is now $5,500, and your 20% net profit is $1,100. 

The Painting Industry Is Only Growing

According to Grand View Industries, the painting industry is growing at nearly 4.3% yearly, which is not expected to change any time soon.

As more and more kids master video games instead of working with their hands, the pool of customers will continue to grow.  

If you are interested in owning a painting company, franchising with Klappenberger & Son has the tools for rapid growth. Tools include marketing strategies, a website, call center, social media assistance, and more.