How to Charge What You Are Worth

Are you winning the fight, but losing the war?
When I started my painting company back in Michigan, I was 19 years old and, worse, I looked like I was 12 years old. Now, that is an exaggeration, but I did look quite young.
Can you picture a young guy starting out, maybe yourself, looking much younger then you actually were, showing up to an estimate and then claiming to be a professional?
Starting out, I had to almost give jobs away just to get started, which included working for builders. Believe me! Builders saw this as an opportunity to get cheap work!
Like most of us, I started off in the trap of giving work away then hustling like a crazy person just to break even. Not that I had any idea what my true breakeven was at the time.
I figured if I made $20 an hour after everything was said and done that I was doing well. When it was $25 an hour, I was on top of the world!
The greater danger with this downward spiral is not that I wasn’t making a profit; yes, that is a danger, but even greater are the things we did just to try to break even at the end of every job. Namely, sacrificing the customers’ experience.
The greatest danger is sacrificing the customers’ experience to win the fight, but we continue to lose the war.
Starting out, the typical job went from one bad customer to the next. I couldn’t believe how they were picking my work apart. How they would go line by line over my proposal, if I even wrote them a proposal, to make sure I did everything they expected.
By giving my work away, I was fighting to make a dollar at the end of each job and they were fighting to get full value for their dollar.
Operating this way, we will continue to win the fight of getting paid for that one job, but we continue to lose the war on receiving customer referrals.
So, we continue to give our work away just to we can stay busy and the cycles continues. Can you relate?
How do we break the cycle and turn the ship around, so that we can charge what we are worth?
You have two options and they both require hard work.
The first option is to continue this grind and remain frustrated and broke. No, thank you.
The second takes longer to pay off, but once it starts, not only does it pay better (most cases, twice as much), but you will truly begin to enjoy your business and all of the fulfillment it’s meant to provide. That’s what we are talking about, right? That’s why we are entrepreneurs!
The key is to stop and consider it from your customers’ perspective. They are not out to get you, as I once thought while starting out. They are looking for two things, a properly painted project and, more importantly, a great experience during the process.
What does a great experience look, feel, and smell like to them?
Well, we can cover the very bottom basics, show up on time, dress professionally, speak with respect, no blaring classic rock, or rap music, not parking on their lawn, and completing the project on time.
If you are doing all of this, then good. You are doing the bare minimum. If this is the extent of the level of your customers experience, then don’t expect many referrals.
The key to exceeding their expectations is to ask them this powerful question at the estimate:
“Mrs Jones, what does a great painting experience look like to you?”
Just listen and take notes. Don’t suggest or assume anything. Write down what you hear next. It is your golden ticket to knockin’ their socks off! This sets you up nicely to capture a video testimonial at the end and creating those raving fans who become your best referral sources!
We think we know what they want, but we have no clue. They/we are all so different. Some are most concerned that their cat won’t wonder out the door while painters are coming and going. Another is concerned that the color they selected is spot on. And another that you will carefully protect all of their furniture.
Now, repeat back to them, what you heard them say.
“Mrs. Jones, if I heard you correctly, a great painting experience for you is that we properly protect all of your furniture and also during the process we do not let Mittens, the pet lion, escape. Is this correct?”
By asking, writing down and repeating this back, you have already made a distinct impression and position yourself to charge what you are worth.
Next, make sure the crew knows what is most important to this customer.
Then, when you or your crews are painting her home, keep the customers experience #1.
When we checked in, we didn’t ask, “How’s the job going?” or “Are the hours are on budget.” The first thing we asked our guys was, “How is the customers experience.” This kept our team focused on our #1 priority, the customers’ experience.
If you focus on your customers’ experience, you will turn your ship around, most definitely start to hit ’em out of the park, and be well on your way to Doubling Your Business, profitably while making extremely happy customers along the way.
At the end of every job, during your final walk through and settling up, ask every customer, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to refer us to your friends and neighbors?”
This is straight from Jack Welshes, GE’s Net Promoter System. What they found was: if they give you a 1-6, that means they will not be calling you again. If they give you a 7-8, that means that they will use you until another comes by with a better price. If they give you a 9-10, they are a Raving Fan!
Here is the last golden question you can ask that pays dividends, whatever score they gave you, even an 8. Ask them what you could do next time to earn one more point, in this case a 9.
What they tell you next is pure gold. They will share opportunities for you to step your game up that you didn’t even realize was important or available!
Focus on the customers experience. Ask them what it looks like to them, Provide it and more. Then ask how you can improve on it, and you too will be well positioned to charge what you are worth!
On a scale of 1-10, how helpful was this article for you? Please post your answer below. 
If you would like more in depth strategies on how to take your business to the next level, I have put together Mastermind Groups,  specifically for painting contractors who are not in a position to pay a business coach $500-$2000 a month.
You receive direct access to myself, all of my strategies, and the perspective of other non-completing painting contractors.  We meet every other week for a hour and a half over a web-conference to go deeper on making changes for greater profits and personal/family time.
We set and track self assigned action task so we actually implements these strategies, then we hold each other accountably to follow through. 
You’ll also be include in our members only Facebook group where we all come together to further brainstorm, ask questions, and share our achievements. Full access membership cost $147 a month.
 By Steve Burnett
Click here for more info:

Read more…

What's a little paint between friends?

Enter the Faux Retreat Paint Bucket Challenge for a chance to win FREE classes, food and lodging at the August Faux Retreat!

It's easy! Here's how to enter:

First gather your supplies!  A paint bucket, a video capturing device, probably a change of clothes, maybe a towel.
1. Take a video with Instagram, YouTube or Vimeo and use the hashtag #FAUXRETREATPAINTME
2. Fill out the form below and add your video!
3. Share with your friends!  Did you Like our page?


1.  Take a video with Instagram, YouTube or Vimeo and use the hashtag #FAUXRETREATPAINTME
2. Fill out the form below and add your video!
3. Challenge another Decorative Artist
If either of you win, you both win half off the August Faux Retreat price!

Second and third place winners will get either a Cutting Edge Stencil or Royal Design Studio Stencil

Read more…

How to Watermark your Images

We all know the importance of a watermark to protect our images, especially for brand recognition, but very few actually know how to accomplish this.  Most think we need expensive software like PhotoShop to watermark our images, but there are free and inexpensive ways to do it as well.  

Every time I post a photo of a decorative finish on the House of Faux Facebook page, that I have found, and that does not have the artist's name anywhere, I feel sad for that artist.  Thousands of people are going to see the photo, many will "like" it and comment on it and the artist may never know how much others are enjoying their beautiful work. 

So now that I am giving you two ways to watermark, quit procrastinating and make some time to do it!  


There is a very good, easy to use website where you can create a watermark on your images in batches.  Saves a lot of time if you want to do a lot at once.  There is a free and paid versions to choose from.


Here are step by step directions I found using if you prefer watermarking your images one at a time.

Step 1:  (this diy section from
{You can create a login if you want to, but it's not required.}
Click on the "Upload Photo" icon {if loading image from your computer} or load your image from any of the locations on the bottom if you store them somewhere else.

Step 2:
Your image will show in the main window.
Click on the "Layers" tab {second to the last one on the right} and click the "Add Images" option.

Step 3:
A window will come up for you to upload an image.
Click the "Edit from My Computer" button to upload the watermark image you created earlier in this tutorial.

*If you have a custom logo, make sure it is a PNG file with a transparent background.

Step 4:
Resize your logo/watermark to fit to your photo by dragging one of the corners and holding down the shift key. You can also rotate your image by clicking on the arrow above the logo. You can make the logo as big or as small as you'd like.

Step 5:
Your logo doesn't have to stand out if you don't want it to. To have it blend in a little bit to your image, select the "Opacity" tool under the "Layers" tab. Move the slider towards 0 to make it more transparent, and towards 100 to make it more opaque. Click "Done" when you're finished. You can select the "Opacity" tool again if you decide to make any changes.

Step 6:
Sometimes a white logo won't work for a light colored photo. Easy to change!
Make sure your logo is selected. Under the "Effects" tab, select the "Invert" effect. This will change your logo from white to black, making it easier to see on lighter images.

Step 7:
When you're done editing, click "Save" up by the FotoFlexer logo. You can save this in JPG format since you won't need it to have a transparent background.

Step 8:
Save your new image.

Now you're on your way to better branding and a step closer to protecting your images!

Read more…

Have a sparkly 2015!

With New Years Eve approaching brings the inevitable celebrations with glitz, glamour and sparkle to mark the new year.  So what better time to showcase the many places you can purchase all the glittery wonders we use in our art?

There are I'm sure thousands of different sources and articles for everything that sparkles, so I apologize right now for not taking a whole month to find and list them all! ;)  Here are the ones I remember for sure, plus some other things that I thought were interesting.

I have NOT verified all of the below resources as being reputable companies.  Please do your own research before purchasing from any of them.

Sources for crystals, glitter, mica and

Diamond Dust Glass Glitter ~ Mica Flake Sparkles
Old-Time Sparkles, Glitter, Glimmer and Flitter

Meyer Imports
Importer of unique products for artists, crafters and designers. 

This place has some fun glitter and colors.

This site is confusing for trying to figure out what to buy, but they will send you some sample packs so it is easier to order in the future.  Glass beads and glitter

Huge selection of Swarovski crystals and beads.  Get a wholesale account if you can for those large jobs.

U.K. based giant glitter and flutter glitter.

You may want to get a wholesale account here to gain access to all of there many mica colors, flakes and tiles.

Types of leaf
Regular Gold
This term refers to the average thickness which a manufacturer has deemed as the standard for gold leaf. This standard may vary from one manufacturer to another. One gold beater's regular may be thinner than the regular leaf of another brand.
Surface Gold
Surface gold leaf may have a few irregularities and is often used where double gilding is required or the leaf will be distressed or toned.
Loose Gold
A book of loose gold leaf is assembled by placing each piece of gold leaf between pieces of thin rouged paper. The gilder can then remove one leaf at a time without disturbing the remaining leaves. It is removed from the book with a gilder's tip, a flat natural hair brush.
Glass Gold
This term applies to gold leaf which is selected for it's higher quality having fewer pinholes and irregularities.
Double Gold
Double gold does not mean that the leaf is two times thicker than regular leaf. Double leaf may be only 10% to 20% thicker than regular gold leaf. Double means that it is heavier than regular.
Patent Gold
Patent gold leaf, also referred to as transfer leaf, is gold leaf mounted to special tissue paper by a pressure process. A book of patent gold leaf is assembled by placing each unit of gold leaf and tissue paper between pieces of thin rouged paper. The gilder can then remove one leaf at a time without disturbing the remaining leaves.
Patent leaf is removed from the book without the aid of a gilder's tip. The leaf will stay on the tissue until it is pressed onto the prepared surface and the tissue backing is removed. This form of gold leaf is necessary for outdoor work or where conditions would make loose leaf unmanageable. Patent gold leaf is not suitable for water gilding and is best suited for flat surfaces.
Article from

Supplies and tutorials.

Gold leaf, copper leaf, silver leafing & gilding supplies including edible gold flake. We also provide tutorials on how to gold leaf and comprehensive gilding.

Suppliers of gold leaf and supplies, imitation leaf, and gold leafing kits.

large array of genuine gold and metal leaf, gilding tools and supplies.

Blockhead Stamps



Mica Revolution




Infinity Foils

Texas Art
Specialize in exclusive European Glittering Supplies

How Can You Tell the Difference between Mica Flakes, Pyrite Flakes, and Gold Flakes?
Whether you’re gold panning or shopping an art store, when you see gold flakes it’s an exciting moment, especially if they turn out to be real gold.  But how can you be sure it’s gold and not mica or pyrite (also known as fools Gold?  Here are some things you can try:
  • Take tweezers and bend one.  Gold will bend, but pyrite and mica usually will not.  If the flakes shatter or break, they aren’t gold.  Gold will simply bead up.  Note that if you don’t bend it far enough, mica might spring back since it does have SOME flexibility.
  • If you poke pyrite or mica flakes with a pin, they will usually break apart into even smaller flakes, whereas gold will dent and spread like soft lead.
  • Rub the flakes between your fingers.  If they disintegrate, they aren’t gold.
  • Gold flakes will still look like gold in the shade whereas pyrite and mica won’t.
  • If you scratch a larger piece of pyrite, it will produce a sulfur smell.
  • Gold is a metal, pyrite and mica are not, so see what your metal detector has to say!  However, keep in mind that the detector won’t always detect flakes because they’re so small.
  • Gold shines, but pyrite and mica (due to their crystalline structure) tend to be more glittery in appearance.  In the sunlight, gold nuggets or flakes will continue to shine as the specimen is turned to different angles and remain the same color.  Pyrite and mica will glitter as the different sides of their crystal-like structure reflect light differently.  They will also change color when tilted in a different direction due to its color coming from reflected light.

Read more…

Vintage Glitter Bulbs

Remember these fun holiday bulbs? Some of you may even still decorate with them! This year I decided to give them a fab makeover!

Unscrew the bulbs, and coat each one with some Elmers glue. Sprinkle glitter all over & tap to remove excess.

Set to dry & figure out how you will display these sparkling beauties!
On a wreath?
In a bowl?
Gift tags?

My little gal grabbed a few for her room to be displayed with her decorations!

So easy to make & I love the retro feel!

Original post can be found on

Read more…

RokRez Pro Clear/Metallic

Used RokRez Pro Clear/Metallic on MDF boards.
Here are the steps:

Sprayed boards with Bulls Eye 123 white. Let dry 30 minutes.
Light sand and tack cloth.

Mixed Metallic thoroughly into activator.
Added metallic activator mix into Clear. Same as always. 2 parts clear to 1 part activator. (Pre-measure activator amount before adding metallic powder)
Mixed 3 minutes.

Poured 1st metallic color on boards. Squeegeed product around. Drizzled in other colors.
15 minutes later splashed surface lightly with Denatured Alcohol.
Let sit 2-3 minutes then hit it quick with a leaf blower to create movement.
Boards will dry with same gloss level.

Total project time about 1 hour.
Easy project for a floor or countertop.

This would make for a great class in your store or an amazing floor!

Samples sell products, not buckets!

Painted floors can be more than gray!

Recipe provided by Jim Hay 

Read more…