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Are you paying enough?

APC recently reported on Painter Wages by State. This week we get thoughts from expert, Melissa Honan from Bookkeeping for Painters, on current labor data along with her own survey of pay for painters.

3 August, 2022

Ever since COVID-19 made its first appearance, the abrupt changes in labor and wages have risen to the top of business concerns. As the workforce dwindled, companies and industries famous for paying low wages were forced to raise their pay. Last month, APC published a news article on Painter Wages By State. This week we asked Melissa Honan, CEO at Bookkeeping For Painters, for some insight and perspective from her work with painters and their finances. 

She started by giving us the results of an informal survey of 91 painting companies on what they were paying painters on average. 

$10-15             4%

$15-20             20%

$20-25             19%

$25-30             41%

$30-35             5%

$35-40             3%

$40-45             0%

$50+                4%


APC: In general, are painter’s wages at the level they should be?

Honan: No. A lot of prospective clients tell me that they feel like they can’t afford to pay their painters more and that they’re barely scraping by. Nine times out of ten, they aren’t charging a high enough production rate to cover skilled labor. These same clients struggle with high attrition, low profit, and wearing too many hats in their business because they don’t have the time or money to delegate. Knowing your numbers allows you to really break down your costs to figure out what you should be charging, so you can afford the talent that is going to stick around and help you grow your business.

Struggling to raise your prices?? Check out these great resources

Podcast: Overcoming High-Price Objections

Podcast: Benchmarks to Guide Your Pricing

Free Resource: How To Confidently Price Painting Projects

Free Resource: Guide to Doubling Sales

APC: Where do you see wages trending from here?
Honan: In this labor market, definitely trending up.

APC: What is your advice for contractors who pay on the low end of the wage scale?

Honan: I think that this conversation expands beyond pay rates, and into long-term goals for your company. If you view new painters as a low wage, dime a dozen commodity, then that is what you’re going to attract to your business. If you focus on building a company culture that you’re proud of and have a mindset that what you are offering is a career rather than just a job, you’re going to attract quality talent that is invested in more than just an hourly wage.

APC: What is your advice to business owners on wages?

Honan: Definitely keep an eye on your attrition. If you feel that you can’t hire painters or can’t keep them longer than a few months, use that as an incentive to review your compensation package.
Make sure to have consistent quarterly check-ins with your team so you can keep tabs on their goals, their improvements, and their areas of opportunity.

When you all covered painter wages by state it was great at showing the numbers on paper, but we also need to remember that there are people in front of those numbers doing the work, and those people need support from a management team that cares about their success. Don’t let the operations side of your business suffer when you’re in a busy season and the phone is ringing off the hook. You need to make time to retain your current team so you’re not in a hiring crunch later.

APC: What are some resources they can go to for help?

Honan: I highly recommend getting to know the professional service providers that specialize in the painting industry, such as business coaches and financial advisors. I also recommend getting to know other painting business owners, either in-person or virtually, and crowdsource ideas with others that are in a similar situation as you.

We recommend checking out APC’s upcoming July/August “financial issue,” which will cover wages, investments, cash flow, and other dollar-related topics of interest. In that issue Honan and the crew from Bookkeeping For Painters explain in further detail how raising painter pay actually makes you more money as well. Don’t miss it! Subscribe free today! 


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