If you’re interested in reading about how I stumbled into the curb-painting business when I was in high school, check out part one of this article here. That experience shaped the comprehensive guide below.
Treat this guide as a business plan.
If you follow it, you should be able to recoup your investments and make a nice hourly wage.
With no experience, I was able to jump in and make an easy $30 an hour. But that's only the beginning.
With the right systems and team in place, you can make a cool $9,000+ per month.
This guide takes you through everything you need to know to get started.
Figure out what variations you’re willing to offer.
Don’t offer too many options. One or two extra flairs in your product offering is enough. Your potential customer is making a split-second decision on whether or not to say yes. You don’t want them to be stuck deciding between options.
Here’s what you need:
Spray paint. Black and white at the very least, including other any other colors you want to offer.
Stencils. Address numbers are required for painting the curb. Get them here.
Rectangular frames for the background color of the painted address. You can buy them from us here, or you can make them yourself. If you’re using our 4” curb stencils for this, our rectangular background recommended dimensions are: 4 digit addresses = 14 x 5.5 inches and 5 digit addresses = 17.5 x 5.5 inches.
Paint mask to avoid inhaling fumes (recommended, but not necessary).
Wire brush to clean up curb before you set up and handle any running paint if you go outside the lines.
Do your preliminary trial runs on cardboard, old newspaper, or something disposable.
Figure out your price point.
When I ran my sidewalk painting operation, only a few customers balked at my $10 price. In 2018, it’s totally justifiable to ask for $20 for this service. Ask potential customers what they’d be willing to pay or what they’ve paid in the past. It’s likely either going to be $10, $15, or $20.
If you’re offering variations, how much are the extra options going to cost the customer? Is a glow-in-the-dark paint option $5 more than the standard address?
Learn the answers to these common questions.
"How long will the paint last?"
The answer depends on what type of paint you bought and where the stenciled address is located. For the curbs that I painted, addresses that have been sitting in direct sunlight cracked, crumbled, and lasted a significantly shorter amount of time than ones that are in a shady spot. Do the research on your specific paint and your geographical conditions like weather and temperature. Use your findings to inform potential clients.
"What’s the purpose of this?" or "Why would I need this?"
Curb numbers are super helpful for firefighters and emergency personnel. Addresses that are physically located on a home can be poorly lit or shrouded. Duplicating the address on the sidewalk provides a backup in case the other address is not visible.
It also looks nice to have a fresh address painted on the curb, especially if the neighbors have news ones and/or you have an old, crusty one.
"Are you allowed to do this?"
Do research on the specific neighborhood you’re in. Chances are, you’re fine. I lived in a gated community with a homeowner’s association, which I’ve heard has rules against rogue curb painting, but since I was averaging a wage of $30 an hour, nobody was stopping me. Only one guy asked me, “Uhh… Are you allowed to do this?” I muttered something and walked to the next house. I didn’t hear any other objections. (If you’re really thorough, you can come up with an answer to that question ahead of time. I prefer to freestyle.)
"Your price seems high. Can I negotiate the price down?"
No! Don’t negotiate. It’s not worth one person in the neighborhood potentially telling other customers that he or she whittled $5 or $10 off your price.
Create and practice your sales pitch script.Introduce yourself. Be friendly. If you live in the neighborhood, mention that fact in your opening sentence. Keep it short, sweet, and under 30 seconds. Most people will still probably say no, so the less you talk, the more time you have to knock on doors. Remember, it’s a numbers game. More houses, more money.
Offer to do a few houses for free.
This will help you learn your best strategy for the surface you’ll be replicating the address numbers on. Take nice photos of these painted addresses. That way, if a potential customer is unsure of what the final product will look like, you can show him or her. Preferably, do this for neighbors you know well. Explain to them that you’re starting a business and that you’re offering this in order to build your résumé and practice, and to please not tell anyone that you’re doing this for free.
Carry change and a get a card reader to accept card payments.
This way, you can accept most forms of payment. “Sorry, I don’t have cash” is no longer a valid excuse. If you charge $20, you probably won’t have many people handing a $100 bill, but you never know. Better to be prepared. If you charge $10 or $15, you’ll probably be giving change in most transactions because most people will still hand you a $20 bill.
Get started.Start walking around and knocking on doors!
The most important thing to remember: don’t get discouraged when someone says no. Even if you only succeed in selling to 5% of the households you approach, you simply need to increase the number of doors you’re knocking on to make more money!