Today we are introducing you to Frances who has been working with her business coach, Richard for a couple of years to develop Frances Painting.
About 5 years ago, after spending her career working in an office, Frances decided it was time for a career change to get her up and on her feet. Today she runs Frances Painting which is a residential and commercial painting small business in Broadmeadows, Victoria.
In our chat with Frances, she reflected on some of the ways the unexpected events of 2020 impacted her business and challenged her to come up with creative solutions in a changing world.
“With Richard’s help, I have been able to achieve in 2 years what I would have achieved in 10 years on my own.”
Keep reading to hear the business journey of Frances Painting.
My business is called Frances Painting. It started as Frances Duggan Painting and Decorating services but that name was too long! I have been painting for about 5 and a half years and I do commercial and residential painting and decorating, as well as protective coating. There is a bit of health and safety work included as well. This includes applying non-slip and high-vis stuff so that I can help people meet the safety requirements. I have been working with Richard from Many Rivers for about 2 years now.
For many years I did office and finance work, but I felt that sitting in an office wasn’t good for my health. I had to make a career change and I decided to go into painting because it was something that I was interested in. Then I realised I was good at it too, so I kept learning the skills and the lingo to use with the clients to help build up my business.
Before starting my own business I had been painting for other people. I had an ABN but I wasn’t actively promoting my service. I was mainly working for other builders and painters. It was a per-hour job. You can get steady work that way but you are not increasing what you can earn or expanding your client base. It is just like working for someone else. You are not making any decisions or imputing any ideas for creative or structural business changes. It is about doing what you’re told and ticking the boxes before you go home at the end of the day. This is partly why I wanted to open my own business.
Starting Frances Painting
I was trying to work out how to get work in my own area, I was travelling quite far from home. I thought that there must be a way for me to get regular work close to home. Then I saw an ad for the NEIS Program. I did the three-month course where they assist you to make a business plan as well as cashflow and the legal responsibilities if your business. You might do this for your private life but when you do this for a business it is completely different. They discussed Many Rivers and particularly the assistance with business loans. My vehicle at the time was very unreliable so I thought that maybe I could get some help to fix some of these issues.
I got trained by an older painter that was going into retirement. He wanted his customers to be able to call a painter who knew the way he worked and could provide the quality they expected. He wanted to hand over his client list with an assured level of quality. And that is what has kind of happened. He still works and if I have bigger projects he comes on as a contractor and works under my business now.
Here are two examples of coating by Frances Painting.
Unexpected Positives of 2020
COVID19 was crazy. Through the strict COVID19 regulations here in Melbourne I wasn’t able to go into customers homes. At one point I was not allowed onto their property. I had to do property line work like fences. However, I was allowed to work on commercial properties. I was very lucky to be able to find enough jobs of this nature during COVID19 by painting in businesses and spraying fences. What I found is that a lot of cafes and pub ventures were forced to close during this time and were taking the opportunity to renovate.
Then eventually we were allowed to go to people’s properties and eventually inside their names. I was going to customers properties and talking to them across the fence to give them a quote. By looking at the photos I could give them a soft number. I would have to include some wording that it would be final when I can see it.
Working with Many Rivers
We do a business check up at our meetings. Things such as checking my paperwork is on schedule and discussing any problems with customers paying bills. When we tick all the boxes that things are travelling well we start discussing future goals. Things such as hiring equipment and subcontractors which is a great opportunity because I have never been a boss in my life.
Richard’s enthusiasm is amazing. I didn’t have any understanding of business growth, I didn’t know what else I could do. Richard initially discussed with me goal setting and what I could achieve to create business growth.
Firstly, I got a loan to help with a few repairs. I paid that off quickly. A few months later, my car broke, and I can’t run my business without it. Many Rivers helped me with a loan to help buy a van that looks professional. Now I can carry everything I need on me.
With Richards help I have been able to achieve in 2 years what I would have achieved in 10 years on my own. He has helped me wrap my head around things about business that other people just don’t tell you about. Richard takes to this naturally.
The biggest success was paying the loans off. It was the first week of COVID19 when Many Rivers approved my loan. My car had broken completely, and I couldn’t work without it. There was no other option. We had to think of a backup plan. COVID19 was just starting and we didn’t know what was going to happen and how that was going to affect my business. Because it was a white van we thought that as a backup plan we could use the van as a delivery van if I wasn’t earning enough with my painting.
The increased size of jobs over the last 12 months has also been another success. For example, when I get the subcontractors in and we can do a whole house in one week. You walk in and you can tell that it is fresh and clean, and a job well done.
COVID 19 has been the biggest challenge and to continue believing that you can keep the business running through COVID19. You must keep going. Working for yourself is great but some weeks you don’t make a profit. You still have to rock up to work the next day, motivated and happy.
Also, you never actually get any time off. You have to schedule some time off to make sure you get it. Sometimes its 8pm and I am doing invoicing and quoting. Then I have to send off emails before I head out the door to paint the next morning. You might get a call at morning tea to do a job on the way home that afternoon. Scheduling was a hug issue too. Self-management and wearing business different hats.
Continued business growth, bigger jobs, layering jobs and running more than one project at once.
Thanks Frances for sharing your business journey with us.
If you would like to stay updated on Frances business journey, follow her on Facebook.
We want to encourage more and more people to take that first step towards building on their small business ideas, or their existing business.
We’re here to support you the whole way.
If you loved this story and are keen to read another, click here to read about Rex and his upholstery small business in the Pilbara.