How to Start A Painting Business? Alone or Via Franchise

If you are thinking about how to start a painting business, you have two ways. First, you can start a painting business company independently. Starting a business or your own gives you complete autonomy.

The other choice is to buy a painting franchise. Franchisees have many big things already figured out for them. For example, a website, logo, marketing material, processes, software, and alike, but the franchisee pays a fee for this and ongoing royalties.

There are pros and cons to either starting a painting business on your own or through franchising and that’s what I would like to breakdown for you.

About the Author


In 1989, I started my painting company alone, and without any experience. Now I am a painting franchisor.   I certainly know the advantages and disadvantages of both sides and would like to give the pros and cons of each.

Whether you buy a franchise or start your own business there are real consequences good and bad. I will do my best to give a fair assessment of each side.

Every painting franchises is different. The territory size, amount of royalties, length of training all vary from one painting franchise to another. I decided to pick a best-case scenario on the franchising side, Klappenberger & Son.

How does Klappenberger & Son compare to other painting and handyman franchises?

How did I decide on a winner for each round?

 I factored that franchises have royalties, territorial limitations, and other restrictions and fees that non-franchises painting companies do not have.  Therefore, if a Klappenberger & Son franchisee only had a slight to moderate advantage, I gave the non-franchise painting contractor the round.   

Throughout the article you will find my advice on how to start a painting company independently from franchise.

Round #1 Marketing:

a Tag that says Start-up Cost

Regardless of how you are starting a painting company, you will need:

Klappenberger & Son Logo
  • Logo
  • Website
  • Marketing material
  • License
  • Insurance

Starting a painting business on your own will always take longer than if you invest in a painting franchise.   


Your responsibilities when starting a painting business are the following:

Starting a painting business requires wearing manty hats.


When you invest in our painting franchise, the franchisor takes some of wheres a few hats! 

Pros of investing in a painting franchise

  • Website – a team of experts who can immediately provide you with a website with domain authority, tons of content, and pictures.
  • Blogs – we are always adding professionally written blogs.
  • YouTube videos – to get noticed on the internet, you need a multi-facet approach, including producing videos.
  • Social Media – These crucial tasks take expertise and time.  It is one thing to make a beautiful website. It is another thing to have it visible when customers need your services.  If you are trying to start a painting business with no experience, the last thing you need to do is learn:
  • HTML
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Google’s ever-changing requirements

Marketing Strategies on How to start a painting business.

Suppose you had some capital and were asking me how to start a painting business without franchising. First,  I would suggest you hire an expert who knows website design and SEO.  Expect to pay $10,000 to launch your website and then $1k – 2k per month for ongoing improvements.

   When the website is complete, it will not start magically making the phone ring.  You are competing with the big boys such as Home Advisor, Angie’s List, and other painting franchises.  When starting a painting business on your own, it takes time for Google to raise your organic listing.

Pros of not franchising

You get the opportunity to create and design all your marketing material just the way you like. It can reflect who you are! Also, you can call your painting company anything you want.

Cartoon Boxing gloves

Round #1 Bottom Line

If you want to get leads organically from the internet, starting a painting company alone is a long hard road to go. It does give you the ability to create everything about the website just the way you like, but don’t expect it to have a ROI.

Our handyman and painting franchise has invested $100,000’s into the website to attract customers. Jumping onboard and having that completed, plus social media, Pay Per Click, Google My Business, and marketing material, make this round a TKO! Winner: Painting Franchise

Round #2 Admin & Bookkeeping

Is it worth the money?

When starting a painting company, the bookkeeping responsibilities are the first to get pushed to the side.   Your day is preoccupied with estimating, project management, sales, and solving problems.  The backlog of admin and bookkeeping piles up.   So, we added a bookkeeping service.

Bookkeeping For Painters Logo

 Having monthly meetings keeps the franchisee informed on P&L, receivables and many other important factors. 

Small companies that do not know their numbers are surprisingly common.  What is less surprising is they are more likely to fail. 

Keeping your accounting books current is the best practice for starting and properly growing a painting business.

Advantages of franchising:

When you invest in our painting and handyman franchise, you pay a reduced monthly fee to have your books kept current.

This monthly service will give you profit and loss statements, accounts payable, and job cost analysis.

 The cost of this monthly service starts at $525.00 a month.  This monthly fee is far less than what a part-time employee would cost if you start a painting company independently.  

Disadvantages of franchising:

There are little admin work and bookkeeping to do in the early stages of starting a painting company. Money is tight, and you know every single thing about your baby business. The additional cost is unnecessary.


We have negotiated with our 3rd party bookkeeping company a reduced fee for the first six months.

Round #2 Conclusion

If your goal is to grow a business, having your books in order is a must. No business can grow for long if it does not know the details. If you want to have a business with just 2-4 people working, you can manage it yourself.

However, if you plan on growing something of value, you will need assistance, and Bookkeeping For Painters is available to you whether or not you franchise with us.

It is not necessary to franchise with us to use Bookkeeping For Painters. Therefore the winner of this round is not to franchise.

Winner: Non Franchise

Round #3

Royalties and Fees Vs No Royalties and Fees

Pros to not franchising

Giving away 6% of your gross profit and another 2% to brand development sucks. It’s like a tax.

You could invest that money yourself back into the business yourself however you see fit.

The royalties could go towards buying a truck, website, social media, or -a dream vacation!

There certainly are avenues to teach yourself some of the things you don’t know by going on the internet and asking experienced painting sales reps. However, there are still so many gaps to be filled except through training or experiences.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Cons for not franchising

Starting a painting business with no experience will cost you time and money.   The School of Hard Knocks is a very real place, and Professor Murphy teaches it with a hard stick. 

Cartoon describing Murphy's Law.

I wish I had someone tell me how to start a painting business.  In the beginning, I made a lot of costly mistakes.  Mistakes come in two forms, that is, reputation and money.  When you correct your errors, it will minimize damage to your reputation.  However, time is money, and it eats away at the profits quickly.

Painting Franchising Pros:

Why royalties and fees are worth it:

Obviously, keeping 6% of your gross sales and another 2% for brand development would much better than giving it to a franchisor. For the fees to be tolerable, the franchisee must feel they are getting something better in return.

  • Our painting franchise, Klappenberger & Son, has over 45 videos that include topics such as:
  • What Went Wrong – Get the cliff notes to the School of Hard Knocks
  • How to Estimate Accurately – build confidence knowing estimates are fairly priced.
  • Sales – building confidence and value with the customer.
  • Best Practices for painting and handyman
  • How to grow a painting business – mentorship program

You Receive Six Weeks Of Training

1-2 Weeks in Severna Park MD

2-3 Weeks cyber

2-3 Weeks in your territory

All training is one-on-one.

Professional Quality Marketing Material

  • Google My Business Page
  • Facebook
  • Pay Per Click
  • Blogs
  • Klappenberger & Son Portfolio of work
  • CRM system
  • Estimating Software
  • National Discounts at SW and Ben Moore
  • Website
  • Personal Landing Page

Many of the items listed above took months to create, and the 180-page website is a thing of beauty.

Reason: Life is short.  When you have the:

  • Tools
  • Training
  • Marketing
  • and guidance.

Would you agree that you should be able to grow faster and more profitable with fewer mistakes?

I believe if you stay focused and disciplined, your margins should be significantly higher, offsetting the ongoing fees.

 I believe that the benefits of owning a Klappenberger & Son painting franchise outweigh the investment costs if time, stress, and profits are essential.


Round #4

Starting A Painting Franchise With Territory Restrictions

Pros of not franchising

If you are starting a painting company independently, you have a couple of advantages.  The first is you are not limited to any geographic location.  If you start your own painting company, you can work and advertise wherever you want.  You can keep conquering larger areas until your heart’s desire.

A highway sign says Drowsy Driving causes crashes.

Cons of Going Alone

Giving an estimate at 8 am 40 miles south of your house and having a 2 pm estimate 40 miles north of your house will eat-up most of your day driving. If you are also checking up on a job and dropping off materials east and west of your home, you have spent most of your day driving.

Truth Be Told

To have a handyman/ painting company that has 25-60 people working you would need a territory of about 500,000 middle class people.

cartoon map of franchise territories

Painting franchises have specific territories that restrict where a franchisee can work and promote.   Klappenberger & Son is aware of territory limitations, and that is why we give you the most extensive territories.  Our painting franchises have territories large enough to have 75 plus working and generating millions in sales!   The opportunity is there in a single territory.

Cons of having a territory

If you have a Klappenberger & Son franchise next to you, you will have limits to where you can work and advertise. You will likely get an estimate request in another occupied territory and pass that along to the other franchisee from time to time. If there is no other franchisee, you can do the work.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You will also inevitably get leads from other franchisees that you would have inevitably missed.

Pros of having a territory

No way….Pros to having restrictions, come on man!

If there is no other franchise around you, we will allow you to do work outside your territory with few restrictions.

Man talking to other painting franchisees

Having franchisees in neighboring territories has its advantages. For starters, you can share sub-contractors. This is not mandatory but certainly falls under the golden rule. If you would be starting a company with no experience, having a veteran franchisee next door would be beneficial.

Winner: Non Franchising

If you are starting a painting business, it is better to have complete freedom than restrictions. However, a substantial business can be developed focusing on a specific territory.

Round #5

What Do I Get For The Franchise Fee?

 All painting franchises have initial franchise fees.  Klappenberger & Son franchise fee is $40,000 Veterans / $47,000 for non-veterans.  

Man asking question are franchises a good value

“What am I getting for these fees, and is it worth it?”

Let’s investigate.  Does it make more sense to start a painting company, or is the franchise fee justifiable?

The Pros of starting your own painting company:

  • Save $40,000 or $47,000 in franchise fees.
  • Save 6-8% on ongoing royalties and fees.
  • No restrictions – any job, anywhere.

Marketing Techniques on How to start a painting business.

Creating a website – If you are starting a painting company with no experience and a limited budget, I’d advise the following for your website.  Have your website look professional and attractive, but do not worry about the SEO stuff.  You can do that later.

Initially, the website will only be for people who specifically are searching for you and PPC.


To attract new customers organically, you will need to find an SEO expert.    The excellent SEO experts are busy, in high demand, and expensive.  If you are starting a painting business with a limited budget, -hold off on SEO.   Instead, focus on sales, which would include:

  • Cold calling
  • Knocking on doors
  • Joining networking events
  • Pay per Click

Pay Per Click: When Starting a Painting Company Alone

If starting a painting company is the direction you want to go, a PPC campaign would be an excellent way to get leads.   Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing your website:

  • Explain what you do clearly and simply
  • Where do you work
  • Call to action on every page
  • Original photos are better than stock photos
  • Follow Googles Best practices rules
  • Use Proper SEO techniques

Pay Per Click gives you the ability to be at the top of the listing when someone searches for your services.  You pay a fee when someone clicks your URL and lands on your website. 


A good PPC manager can get leads for under $35.00.  A bad one can have leads get conversions for $500.00!  Trust me; I have personally experienced this frustration.

Cons to starting your own painting company means you have no:

  • website
  • Social Media Campaign
  • Marketing Material
  • No 6 week of one-on-one training
  • Support
  • Estimating Software and Price guide
  • No National discounts at Paint Stores

Pros: Why The Painting Franchise Fee Is Justifiable

Klappenberger & Son franchisee benefit with national discounts from Sherwin Williams and Ben Moore

Sherwin Williams logo


Benjamin Moore Painting log

Due to our buying power, we obtain substantially larger discounts than most independent contractors.  A Klappenberger & Son franchisee will save about 30% more on paint than our competitors. 

And boy, does it add up! A franchisee grossing $750,000 could save about $33,750 per year over someone independently starting a painting company.  The savings on paint supplies at Sherwin Williams alone will offset a large percentage of royalties.

Estimating Software / Sales

Our estimating software’s accuracy will prevent you from giving WAG’s – wild ass guesses.  As a result, an average painting franchisee at Klappenberger & Son has a close rate of 50%.  The industry standard is only 30%. 

Accurate estimates, coupled with a professional sales presentation, equals a higher close rate.  If you are starting a painting business with no experience, you will have none of these benefits. 

Yes, there is estimating software that you can purchase.  However, estimating painting projects can be tricky.  Each project has its unique situations.  Relying on square footage alone is not always accurate. 

Klappenberger & Son Painting Franchisee giving an estimate at his truck

Having a franchisor who can give you support and guidance through whatever circumstances you are going through is invaluable.  This assistance cannot be replaced with YouTube videos and estimating software.

Marketing with Klappenberger & Son

Pay Per click Campaign

Our painting franchise has its PPC campaign already set-up and is ready for immediate use.  In fact, during the fourth week of training, we recommend new franchisees activating it.  Activating PPC allows us to give estimates together during the last two weeks of training.

Conclusion: Is the Franchise Fee A Good Value?

Reason: to start your own painting company with no experience is a daunting task.

There is a vast difference between knowing what you need to do and then having it completed.  Finding good help is hard, painful, and slower than you might imagine.  Our painting franchise has already developed so many of the relationships you need to grow your business.   

Winner: Franchising

Can I Build My Business Faster With A Painting Franchise

The short answer is yes and no.

Perhaps you will agree that starting a painting business with no experience would take more time than investing in a proven painting franchise?   As figure 1 shows, starting a painting company from scratch is an uphill battle.   Even if you have the funds to pay for these services, it will still require a lot of your time.

But there are no guarantees. In the end, each person’s success is 100% predicated on their efforts.

Are you willing to follow a process, or do you prefer to do things your own way? If you prefer to do things your own way, then going as an independent owner would be a more logical choice.

If you are willing to follow a process…

Perhaps you will agree that starting a painting business with no experience would take more time than investing in a proven painting franchise?   As figure 1 shows, starting a painting company from scratch is an uphill battle.   Even if you have the funds to pay for these services, it will still require a lot of your time.

Time Is Your most Precious When Starting a Painting Company

If you are to start a painting company on your own, you will most likely need to outsource work. 

  • Website development
  • SEO – Organic Listing of website
  • PPC – Google AdWords
  • Social Media
  • Website Portals – Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Yelp
  • It Support

Having all these digital necessities working in harmony takes years. 

The result will cost you high five figures to low six figures, which I can personally attest to.

Why so long and so much? Because it generally takes 3-6 months to discover if the experts’ expectations are not possible or realistic. 

Most likely, expectations will fall short.  It will then be necessary to start the process over again with a new company.  Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the next company will be better – more time, more money.

My intention is not to scare you.  It is excruciatingly difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to have a strong team in place.  When you invest in our painting franchise, those unforeseen obstacles are taken care off your plate. It is our job to get those services right and to continue to improve them. It is your job to run and grow the business and follow our proven process.

What Does a Klappenberger & Son Painting Franchisee Include?

When investing with a Klappenberger & Son Painting franchise, it starts with:

Is buying a franchise worth the investment to save time?

Winner: Franchising

Reason:  For 25 years in the industry, I was that that independent painting contractor.  I know both sides very well.  It is tough to start a painting business with no experience.   Having everything we have in place is a real time saver. It would take someone with no experience decades to develop what we have available for our franchisees right out of the starting gate.

Conclusion: Should You Be Starting a painting company or buy a Klappenberger & Son Painting Franchise?

The choice between starting a painting company or owning a painting franchise comes down to:

  • Time
  • Capital
  • Risk
  • Independence

If you invest in a painting franchise like Klappenberger & Son, the processes, marketing, training, and everything else are already in place.  If you work hard and follow the system, you should do great.

However, all franchises come with royalties and processes that they want you to follow. Do you cringe at the idea of following “best practices”? 

Do you hate the idea of paying royalties? If so, then starting a painting business independently would probably be your best option. 

Finally, how to start a painting business may be dictated by finical means. Buying a painting franchise does require more start-up capital.

Either way, it is a great industry with a lot of potential. 

If you are interested in acquiring more information about owning a painting franchise or would additional suggestions on how to start a painting business on your own, please contact us

Klappenberger & Son Founder and franchisee