What is it?
Chris Berry (The Idaho Painter) has something called “The Paintlife Mafia” now I have to say that is a really cool name and just with the name alone I want to join. How cool would it be to tell people (anyone not just decorators) that you are part of the “The Paintlife Mafia.” The join there is a subscription fee, and this is paid monthly. In return you get goodies, help and advice from Chris himself. I have spoken to a mafia member and he says that it is easily worth the membership.
What has this got to do with “PTA support”? Well PTA stands for PaintTech Academy of course and it is the support group that people go into once they have done any of our courses. The name is not quite as sexy as “Paintlife Mafia”, but it is essentially the same thing but free.
The support group is made up of hundreds of decorators, joiners and other trades that have done the course and want help and advice about the current work that they are doing. The support if meant to be regarding spraying but we will give our opinions on anything, including paint choices, paint systems, pricing, plastering the list goes on. Everyone in the group has paid to do a course so you tend to get a professional and serious bunch of people.
Where did the idea come from?
This is what PTA support is. Where did the idea come from? In the early days when I was part time at college and doing my own spraying work, I always wondered why more decorators didn’t do it. There were good spray machines out there, Graco for example would help to get set up with your sprayer if you bought one. Colleges taught spraying and part of the apprenticeship and also on adult evening courses.
So why did no-one do it?
When someone does a course at college, they think they are going to remember everything. They even make notes (sometimes) to be sure. However, once they get on site two or three weeks later, they seem to have forgotten 80% of what they have been taught.
What does this mean?
It means that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. If this happens to you on your first day spraying who do you blame? Usually the sprayer! You tell yourself that spraying is rubbish and you throw t he sprayer in the shed never to be seen again.
I didn’t want this to happen to people who did our courses. I wanted them to be able to pick up the phone or message on Facebook if they had any problems or they had forgotten some of the things they had learnt. We decided to offer this service for free if you paid for a course and we decided to offer this service for as long as it was needed, not for just a month say.
I will be honest with you, I had visions of my phone ringing constantly will a million questions. But guess what? That didn’t happen.
Why was PTA support successful?
I think there are two reasons that my phone did not ring very much. Firstly, while teaching people I knew that if I did a rubbish job then they would be on the phone in a couple of weeks’ time asking loads of questions. So, I made sure that I covered everything that I felt people needed to know. We also give a little book on the course which us packed with info about spraying.
Secondly, I think when people know that they can pick up the phone at any time they don’t panic as much and are much calmer on their first days spraying. Once they get through that first day on their own then their confidence soars.
The support has been very successful, and I wonder why all courses don’t have it. Imagine if you went to college to learn to be a car mechanic and you had support after the course was completed in case you had any teething problems. It would be amazing, Why don’t colleges and universities do it? Well they probably have the same reservations that I had when I first had the idea.
Over the years the group has developed and grown into something beyond the vision that we originally had. Its been a real surprise how good it has become. Rather than a burden to both me and Ian (constantly answering questions) it has become an asset. It is a reason to do a course. You cannot buy what the PTA support has to offer anywhere.
It’s real value is the members.
There are people in the group that did the course years ago and they are now experts in their own right, there are people in the group from all over the country (and abroad, one guy did the course from Australia). There are people in the group that specialise in Kitchens, there are joiners in the group there are people that spray boats, people that spray new build houses, people that spray domestic properties.
In fact if you did a course this weekend and then joined the group it is very likely that there is some one in the group that does the same kind of work as you who you can link up with and share hints and tips.
Another massive benefit of the group and it is that if you get a big spraying job and you need some help then it is very likely that there is someone in the group who has the skills who lives within a 40 mile radius of you. You can hook up and help each other out. You know that the person is good because well you will have got to know them through the group.
The live show
One final benefit is the Live show every Thursday. This is done by Ian Crump from his academy in Edenbridge. As an academy we are constantly being given new spray machines and new products from manufacturers to test. Ian is good at testing because he is brutally honest and knows his stuff. As a member of the support group you will get to see all the latest kit tested and you will get told if it worth buying or not. Ian will also test new products and tell you how to get the best out of it.
Ian also discusses other topics on the live show such as pricing and Government funding for your business.
Someone once said to me that it was worth doing the course just to get into the support group and do you know what? I think they are right.