CertaPro Painters Franchise

CertaPro Painters is in the business of selling painting franchises.

CertaPro Painters is owned by The Franchise Company which is, in turn, owned by FirstService Corporation. Thus, CertaPro is the small fish in a three-fish food chain and serves as a profit center for The Franchise Company which is a profit center for FirstService Corporation. One must wonder how that impacts decision-making at CertaPro and whether or not the focus is largely on CertaPro's revenue stream.

It appears CertaPro Painters has a very high failure rate — as high as 80% to 90% of CertaPro Painters franchisees go out of business. The CertaPro model is based on minimum sales / minimum franchise fees and those minimum franchise fees can be the cause of a franchisee's failure. CertaPro markets the franchise to people with no painting experience and while it offers some minimal training the learning curve can be steep, and expensive.

CertaPro maintains no company stores—it is strictly in the business of selling franchises.

CertaPro's marketing may be deceptive in that, for example, it may lead prospective buyers to believe the franchise model is successful and proven. For example, CertaPro may tell prospective franchisees about successful franchisees who gross a million dollars or more per year. What it likely won't tell them is that these successful franchisees may one multiple franchise territories and may be involved in commercial painting. Yet most new franchisees will have only one territory and their ability to do commercial work will be restricted.

Generally, a successful painting business might require 3 years or so to establish a suitable customer base to provide repeat business and customer referrals. With CertaPro, and its minimum sales requirements, that means new franchisees must depend heavily on expensive marketing tactics. A new franchisee may spend as much as $200 to $300 per job in marketing costs alone. Add the 5% royalty fee and the 3% marketing fee, and that means the franchisee will incur significant job costs yet will be competing with non-franchise painting companies who aren't encumbered by those costs.

It appears CertaPro is engaged in churning—reselling franchises when a franchisee fails. CertaPro appears to also make a practice of insisting departing franchisees sign a non-disclosure agreement which forbids them from saying anything negative about CertaPro and may, in fact, demand they offer only positive opinions to any prospective franchisee who contacts them. Thus, any prospective buyer's effort to do due diligence may be severely impeded because of CertaPro's tactics.

CertaPro's franchise agreement is quite restrictive. New franchisees are prohibited from doing large-scale commercial painting work unless they pay CertaPro Painters a large fee ($6,000 or more) and attend a brief "training session".

CertaPro's marketing is designed to convince prospective buyers they don't have to know anything about the painting business and that they will work "on the business, not in the business" (not doing painting but hiring painters to do so). Yet with no experience in the painting business, that can prove to be costly. Certain labor-intensive job requirements may be overlooked during estimating, which can run up job costs (and reduce profit) substantially. While about two weeks of training is provided, most of that training is directed at administrative functions, with minimal time spent learning the fundamentals of hands-on painting.

A potential pitfall for franchise buyers is the nature of the painter workforce. The painting industry is rife with tales of problematic labor issues: Drug addiction, alcoholism, absenteeism, poor work ethic, theft, etc. Because a prospective buyer has no painting industry experience, it's likely that he/she is completely unaware of these workforce issues. Yet the franchisee's profitability depends upon the workforce.

CertaPro formerly promoted hiring painters direct—paying them an hourly wage. That philosophy was later changed to encourage using subcontractors. The advantage of using subcontractors is fixed cost: The subcontractor is paid a fixed price for completing the job. The downside of using subcontractors is that the amount paid may not be sufficient to attract the best painters. Another downside is that a subcontractor's goal may be to complete the job as quickly as possible. This may mean taking shortcuts. Yet CertaPro promotes "certainty", quality and professionalism. Those may be at odds with the objectives of a subcontractor.

It is worth noting that several other painting franchises have been established in the past few years. It appears these other franchises are largely modeled on the CertaPro structure, with minimum sales goals and minimum franchise fees.

If you are interested in learning more about the painting business, you may wish to visit a painters' forum where numerous painting business issues are discussed: PaintTalk.com

CertaPro Painters gripe site: CertaProSucks.org
Discussion of CertaPro at franchise-forum.com

#From someone calling him/herself "Luke Port":#

At one time Certa Pro Sold a franchise to a guy in Alabama called Tom Ballock. I met him in class.

Now Tom has taken it upon himself to disparage my business and harm the people and families who work for me.

I hope if anyone reads this they will do a little more due dilligence on Certa Pro and Tom before believing what he has spread around the web. And by the way, I have no problem finding painters, making money or making customers happy. I have two kids. One going to College this fall and one on the way in two years. I have met many other franchisees in the system like me who have put their kids through College here.

#Correction by Tom Ballock of the defamation posted by "Luke Port":#

What a bullshitter this "Luke Port" is!

Due diligence?

I've never heard of, or met, anyone named "Luke Port".
There was no "Luke Port" in my Certapro "training" class(es).
I was not "coming off a bankruptcy" when I bought the franchise.
I had worked for many years in the technical arena and had been laid off.
Like many other unfortunate chumps, I looked at franchises and decided to buy a Certapro franchise.
Biggest mistake of my life (and other former franchisees say the same thing).
Painters may or may not be a problem, depending on the market.
In the Birmingham market, the painter workforce is abysmal.
I was the second Certapro franchisee in Birmingham to go out of business, and perhaps the FOURTH CertaPro franchise to fail in Alabama.
In fact the failure rate of CertaPro franchisees is abysmal!

People can see for themselves at Where Are They Now?.
How Certa ProPainters Ltd. continually and knowingly sell franchises with such a high failure rate?
In my opinion, it's via misrepresentation, hype, marketing and slick salesmanship.

If you'd like to get the insight of a subcontractor who worked for a Certapro franchisee, go to Paint Talk Forum and pay particular attention to the posts by "BC Painter". He worked as a subcontractor for Certapro.

If you could talk to other former Certapro franchisees, you could learn more about the dirty underbelly of Certapro painters.
Unfortunately, Certapro manages to get many or most of them to sign a "non-disclosure" agreement (gag order) which prohibits them from saying anything negative about Certapro.
See what it looks like: non-disclosure agreement.
Why do you suppose Certapro wants to silence former franchisees?
The answer should be obvious.

As for "Luke Port", I suspect he may actually be an employee of Certapro or affiliated with The Franchise Co., FirstService Corp or CertaPro's "Reputation Management" consultant Aviatech. Hiding behind an assumed name and resorting to defamation instead of offering legitimate rebuttal or facts about CertaPro's well-documented history of franchise failure is reprehensible.


And don't miss Franchise Video You'll Never See.
And there's The Silence of the Lambs.
And don't miss Florida Franchise Failures.
and New Jersey Franchise Failures.
and California Franchise Failures.

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