We stepped into the unknown when we started PaintTech Training Academy over six years ago. If you’re seeing us for the first time now, it might look like we have our shit together and we’re running a bloody good business, and in truth, we are, but it wasn’t always like that. Like most decorating businesses, like 90% of companies, we’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly to get where we are today. We stepped into an area where there were no competitors, which on paper sounds great, but in principle, it’s one of the hardest and loneliest places to be.
Competition is good.
Being the first is often the hardest; they’re the ones who took the chance. Is there an audience, is there a need, but most of all, how do we convince people to buy a product that they don’t even know they need. It’s a gamble, hit or miss: profit or bankruptcy. So when we seem overprotective of the brand and what we offer, consider what we risked. But the thing is, you are no different, and should be just as protective. We’ve been decorators; we’ve been where you are. We know the risks of becoming self-employed, giving up a stable wage, giving up any free hours you had, and, in most cases, your sanity. The only difference is that you have competition. You have people who have been there before, tried and tested systems, failed, and made a highly profitable business. Competition is good because you can use what they know. You can see what works/worked for them and use it to your advantage. That’s why we use the experiences from hundreds of decorators that we’ve taught in our course content.
Things have to change.
But back to us, as I really do want to get out what has been happening in the academy. Change is afoot.
You might have seen that over the last 12 months, we’ve closed the Ireland Academy and Scotland Academy, and now the Exeter Academy is closing too. There are also a few changes to the personnel as we make space for upcoming changes in 2024. And as well as temporarily reducing the number of locations we have, focusing on Edenbridge and Preston for the remainder of 2023, we have added many more courses.
It’s hard to make changes that sometimes feel like you are going backwards. You’ll understand this as a business owner. We had five academies throughout the UK and Ireland, and things were going really well; honestly, they still are. It may seem strange to make changes when things are working well, but being a business leader means we must be forward-thinking. Take a company like Carphone Warehouse, they have/are removed/ing their high street shops and now have centres set up in PC Worlds. Or Argos that are changing their store locations to be within Sainsbury’s. They have forecasted ahead and seen that people’s shopping habits have changed; they no longer want to go from shop to shop; they want to shop within a hub. And we’ve done the same, so although it hurts, it feels like a step backwards; it’s not, and our plan for 2024 is going to be groundbreaking. It’s making it better for all those wanting to take our courses.
We are staying ahead.
Although competition is good, you need to always stay ahead. As a decorator, you need to think about what you can do differently. What will people want in the following 12 months to 5 years, and what can you do to adapt? (Quick hint – It’s spraying related).
At the start, we took the risk, we took the gamble, and we spent the time finding out what worked. Now, several other companies like ours have used this information to create their own type of spray painting academy. And that’s good for us because competition is good. Competition means that we’re always looking for ways to adapt, offer more, be the best, and bring new things to the market, but as with every growing business, we need to be the ‘Coca-Cola’ to Pepsi and adapt to stay ahead, rather than a Blockbuster who refused to change and got knocked out of the park by Netflix.
Quickly, on Netflix, I did not realise they were still offering DVDs via post. Well, at least until now. At the time of writing, in early October 2023, I was reading an article that they had just posted out their very last DVD. Interesting!
Apologies, only I can get sidetracked while writing a blog.
Changes for 2024
In the last year, we’ve brought on Worktop Refurbishment, Venetian Plaster and Hawk StoneFlecks courses. That was after bringing on Estimating for Painting and Decorating and our Project Management courses. So, we’re continuing to bring you new and innovative courses that support the growth of your businesses. We’re also working more closely with CITB to offer new funding opportunities to people in particular areas. We’re the company CITB trusts to work with Decorators and are talking to us about what you want from them.
But also, as I’ve hinted throughout, we’re looking and have a concept in place to bring more courses to different locations around the UK. We’re not in the position to say more yet, and we do encourage you to book onto our Edenbridge or Preston academies while we continue planning for 2024.
Think it through.
The last six years have been incredible; there have been times when we’ve all felt nothing could go wrong and other times when someone at some point wanted to throw in the towel. You’ve probably been through it yourself, or if you haven’t then you will trust us. It’s part of being a business owner. But we’ve all chosen to be here; we’ve decided to be business owners, and we must remember that when things are tough.
For us, at the moment, it’s a challenging yet fun time. Things have changed; it can feel like a step back, but it’s ten steps forward. We will bring back training in Ireland, the South West and Scotland but built for the future, and it will give our students the best experiences and training.
Keep your head up.
We like to sum up these blogs, and I think, the best way to do so is to remind you to keep your head up. Whether your business is 12 months, 5 years or 20 years old. You’re still here because you adapted. You survived tough times such as COVID, the cost of living crisis, and inflation because you never gave up.
But I realise that we’re not made of steel, and it’s hard for tradespeople to go day in and day out, always one job or month away from broke. So, working with CITB, we are bringing new training courses/programmes to you that will help you to grow your business, so watch this space over the coming months to find out more about this exciting proposition.
Thank you for reading. This blog has been quite personal, but we feel very important and relevant with everything we and you are going through.