Free Painting Leads: How to Get Your First Jobs for Free

I love being an entrepreneur because I create my own income.

For example, lets say I want to take me and my girlfriend on a month long trip to Costa Rica this December.

I need to make an extra $10,000 to make that trip happen.

That means we need to do an extra $100,000 in sales for me to make that money. How do we do an extra $100,000 in sales?

I need to do 100 more estimates. So I’ll need 150-300 more leads depending on what percentage I convert into estimates.

So if I need to get an extra 150-300 leads this year, I would need an extra 3-6 leads per week.

See – it’s all a numbers game. Start with the end in mind.

There are a lot of ways to get 3-6 leads per week… and there are even ways I can do that for free…. and other ways that are cheap. And even more ways that cost more money.

What doesn’t work: Passive Marketing

Dropping flyers… Drop 5000 flyers and get 6-10 calls at most. It will cost you at least $200 for the flyers, plus 30 hours or so to drop that many flyers. Not worth it.

Leaving business cards around town… You probably will never get a call. Maybe 1-2 a year. I know because I’ve done it and got no calls.

Car magnets… I drove around with a car magnet for a year and got 1 lead from it. Useless.

Building a website… A website is great. But if nobody comes to the website, it’s useless. How are people going to find your website? Don’t build it unless you have a plan on getting people to use it.

**You do want a website, but don’t spend lots of time or money on it until you will actually have people visiting the website through online advertising, or other marketing you are doing to drive people to your site.

Putting up lawn signs… If you put up 300 lawn signs around town, which would cost $1,000, you could probably get 10 calls before your signs start getting taken down everywhere. Plus a lot of time to setup all those lawn signs…

**Lawn signs are great when they are in the front yard of houses you are painting.

Marketing that you set up, and then wait for the phone to ring… sucks. Don’t do it. At least not when you are starting out.

All of those things can be worth doing LATER, but the purpose is more about branding. It’s hard to measure your return, or even get a good return, on that type of marketing before you are a large, recognizable company.

So then, how can you get customers for free!?

#1 – Door to door marketing.

Instead of dropping 5000 flyers on 5000 doors to get 6-10 calls… Knock on all 5000 of those doors and get over 100 leads by saying this….

“Hey, I’m Eric with Foothills Painting (hand them the flyer). I just noticed you have some peeling up here on your trim (point)… So I just wanted to give you a free estimate. (put your pen to the paper).”

If you don’t see peeling, point out the cracking, or the fading. If there is no problem on their house, say “…I’m doing estimates in the neighborhood. So I just wanted to give you a free estimate…”

#2 – Referrals

Make sure you turn your jobs into more jobs. Do an excellent job on their house. Tell them you are just starting. Put a lawn sign in their front yard when you paint their house. Go talk to all of the neighbors after painting their house, and use the door to door pitch… but modify it to include that you just painted their neighbors house. Get aggressive. Painting neighbors is so easy.

#3 – Friends and family.

Make sure all of your friends and family know that you run a painting business now. Do their houses for super cheap in exchange for them talking you up, writing great reviews for you, and taking pictures of their house to show off to future clients.

#4 – Craigslist.

Look on craigslist for people looking for a painter. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. Last week, Angie hit me up after watching some of my YouTube videos.

She went on Craigslist and found someone looking for estimates. She emailed him… set up an estimate… went to his house… booked it for $3,200.

Then she painted it herself, and started her business.

#5 – Networking

Directly contact property managers, real estate agents, other contractors, and roofing contractors. Ask them if they need a reliable painter and if they have any houses or buildings that they need a bid for. You’d be surprised how much painting is going on all the time.

We got over $200,000 of work this way in the last 3 months alone…

IMPORTANT: All of the FREE marketing techniques I just told you are pretty aggressive. The lesson to learn is GET AGGRESSIVE. I started my business by knocking on doors. Now we have more business coming at us than we know what to do with.

But you gotta start somewhere.

Warning: These techniques don’t work for everyone…

You need to find what works for you. Everything listed above is focused on trading time for leads – you have to invest time, energy, and effort to find people who want estimates.

When we start new companies, we implement the strategies above – but we also utilize the power of lead services to generate more leads, instantly.

Lead services are companies that provide customer referrals directly to you for a fee. No matter how long you have been in business, you can sign up for these services and immediately get business sent your way.

The catch is that it costs money. So you need to be willing to spend money on marketing in this case, rather than investing time.

Here are the 3 lead services we use most frequently:

Painter Choice – I co-own this business and stand behind it. All of my companies use Painter Choice because we get a great return on the leads we get from Painter Choice.

The most important thing to succeeding with lead services is:

  1. Call your leads IMMEDIATELY. Literally within 10-15 minutes tops.
  2. Follow up. You can’t expect to set every estimate up on the first call. You need to follow up multiple times over the first few days, including email and text.
  3. Strong sales process. This is true with ALL marketing. You need to have a strong sales process if you plan on winning any jobs.

Craft Jack. This company is similar to Painter Choice.

Thumbtack. This company also provides leads. The difference here is you can only communicate with the customer on Thumbtack’s website. You need to send a blind quote and try to get an estimate set up without getting their personal information. It requires a little more strategy than the other services, but can also be very effective.

You can find more on marketing in these articles:

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6 Comments

  1. David Vaughn | December 31, 2016 at 8:49 am Reply

    I’m interested in learning more and in collecting more leads.

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:54 pm Reply

      I got a lot more content and info. A quick and easy way to get more leads is go sign up with Painter Choice. http://www.PaintingLeads.com

  2. Alex Hopke | January 28, 2017 at 7:34 am Reply

    Eric,

    I started my business in college and have grown $300 into a business that does $5000 to $10000 a month. This is with me helping paint, I don’t want to continue painting because I’ll plateau at this level. While it pays the bills, I did not go to college and start a business to create a painting job for myself. I’m looking to expand, I have used multiple online lead companies and have gotten jobs from each of them and am attempting to set up an online presence that produces 5 to 10 estimates and appointments a week which should get me anywhere from 2 to 8 sales. I would like to hit 300,000 in sales this year which I can easily do if I have enough appointments. I have looked at your company and am considering an investment. Do you have leads in the St. Louis or Kansas City metro areas? If so, I’m willing to try it out. I called the number but did not get an answer so if you could get me some info that would be great.

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:38 pm Reply

      Hey Alex… Sorry for the late reply, I’ll email you as well. Sounds like you have a good plan. I’d highly recommend my course, Painting Business Pro.

      And yes, we get leads in both St. Louis and Kansas City and should be able to help you at least generate an additional 2-4 estimates per week in each of those cities.

  3. tony daniels | February 24, 2017 at 12:02 am Reply

    Help me !! I want to be successful with my painting business . I want to make at least $100,000 this year. Teach me! Show me!

    • Eric | March 21, 2017 at 8:23 pm Reply

      Hey Tony… Check out my course. I have students who are hitting over $100k in income by their 2nd year in business. All the best advice I can possibly give people is in that course.


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About Me

I’m Eric Barstow, creator of Painting Business Pro, founder of National Painting Group & Foothills Painting, Co-Owner of Painter Choice. I’m disrupting the painting industry, and helping thousands of painters start or improve their businesses. I love what I do!

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