The Real Grind – A professional decorator’s challenge for motivation and his fight to achieve the best


As a professional decorator, I always thought that once you have established your level of standards it is then time to have a cup of tea, - I mean, of course, refine those standards.

Working for yourself on a self-employed basis or running your own business can be truly tough and testing at times. Although I’ve always enjoyed decorating, I found myself in a bit of a rut in 2012. Monotonous and sometimes extremely dull work projects - “oh, another feature wall” – started to really get to me. It was then that I needed to decide to either up my game and carry on with my business or pack it up and find a regular job.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but in the end, I chose to carry on and really push myself to get out of this grind. 2012 was the year that I really got into dust free sanding and then shortly after that into spraying. I’ve spent the past 8 years always trying to up my game, even if it cost me extra time or money. “I’m not happy with that!” “It needs another coat!” “It needs sanding again!” Delivering quality work has become my absolute mission and so has finding the most effective and efficient work tools.

I would advise any decorator that is new to the job to invest time into researching tools, products and paints, and don't be afraid of trying new things. Now I can say that I've got the perfect paint system in place and going back to jobs that I did three to four years previously; I can honestly say that they look like I did them last week. This is only because I took the time to research what products to use and checked the recommended usage to make sure I was getting the most out of my system. 

Remember, the phrase ‘that will do’ is a negative mind set and it should be replaced with 'perfect, I'm happy with that'. The ‘that will do’ attitude is a slippery slope that will result in low standards on a job. Consequently, the recommendations a customer might give will be: “He's a good decorator” as opposed to “Oh, I've got a brilliant decorator, he/she will make your house look like a show home”.

Who do you want to be and how would you like your customers to think and talk about you?

Creating strong, lasting relationships with your customers will not only result in continuous work and recommendations, but it can also be the start of friendships. I’ve even invited some of my customers to my wedding.

Over time I’ve helped some of my clients bring in their shopping, put out their bins or even fed their pets. It doesn’t take much to lend someone a hand and it always pays off, just like hard work does.

Always take pride in your work! A customer will spot the difference between the person who is a decorator because it pays the bills and someone who has a real passion for it and wants to build a solid customer base.

It’s been extremely hard work for me, and I don’t think I knew back in 2008 that it would take me 12 years to get my business to where it is today. Would I do it again? The answer is definitely ‘yes’!

I might sound big headed, but my high standards and the systems that I’ve put in place over the years have absolutely paid off for me. I’m proud to say that I’m completely booked up until December this year, which is a great feeling and every painter and decorators dream.

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