Is College Pro Painters a Scam?

Over the next few weeks here at My University Money we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at a few cool summer job opportunities (even though by this point you should probably have something locked up if you want to say ahead of the game).  For our first “profile” I decided to look into College Pro Painters (CPP).  I remember sitting down for a lecture a few times every year and finding a little flyer on my seat touting the CPP program.  There would be numbers like $30,000 in a summer bolded in large letters, and it talked a lot about entrepreneurship etc.  To be honest, I remember thinking that it looked interesting, but since I had a great job with the Canada Border Services Agency, I wasn’t really thinking I’d look into it too much.

That was pretty much the extent of my firsthand experience with the company.  I didn’t even really know anyone who worked for them or ran their own franchise, but it always appeared to be a good deal.  When I started Googling around on the internet however, I found no shortage of feedback.  The only problem is that it appears like peoples’ experiences are all over the map.  I did a few hours of reading and I was amazed the entire time about the broad range of experiences people had working under the CPP banner and running their own CPP franchise.

Is There A More Iconic Summer Gig?

For people that aren’t at all aware of what College Pro Painters is, the basic idea is that students make money by running their own small painting business in the summer.  The theory is that they hire other students, make use of the CPP brand name, resources, and training, then go about making great profits over the course of a summer.  I did my share of painting jobs growing up, so I am definitely aware of what it is like to scrape and paint for a sweltering twelve-hour work day.  It is certainly not easy money, but then again, few student jobs are what people would consider “plush”.  The one consistent comment that I read in every single review of the company is that if you wanted to make any money at all, you had to be very dedicated and hard-working.  This is not a job for the faint at heart.

Two Completely Different Employment Opportunities

To really talk about CPP with any accuracy, you have to look at it from two viewpoints: as a worker bee, and as a franchisee.  By far the most passionate responses about the program seem to come from people who had taken the leap into being a franchisee.  I should admit that this would have never even occurred to me as a post-secondary student to take the risks involved with running your own small business (which is essentially what being a CPP franchisee is) for my summer job, so kudos to anyone who is willing to take on that risk.

Running Your Own College Pro Painters Franchise

The Canadian website has had a couple of great articles on becoming a CPP franchisee and what you can expect.  In addition to the firsthand accounts highlighted in the respective articles, the comments section is filled with people who claim to have had similar experiences.  Obviously the saying, “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet” – Abraham Lincoln , is about as true as it gets, but there definitely seems to be an overall pattern to CPP experiences.  Here are the jot notes I compiled from my reading:

  • Being a CPP franchisee is A LOT of work.  Make no mistake, running your own business and learning so many new skill sets is not easy.
  • CPP provides a lot of training and promotional materials.  In exchange for this they take 24%-30% of total sales (NOT total profits).
  • Start-up costs alone will run most people in the $5,000 range.
  • If you have no experience painting, jumping right into being a franchisee is a bad idea (common sense should probably tell you that one rings true).
  • Think about the average post-secondary student you know.  Do you want them working for you?  Do you trust them to work hard, take pride in their job, show up on time, and never let you down?  Hiring painters has got to be one of the hardest aspects of the job, and also one of the most important.
  • Running your own CPP franchise can teach you a lot of entrepreneurial skills and looks great on a resume.
  • There is absolutely no guarantee you will make any money as a franchisee, and many people reported making very little.
  • It appears that the longer you stay with CPP, and the more experience you gain, the more money you will make and the better your profit margins will become.  Again, this makes a lot of logical sense to me.

Here a couple of quotes from the comments section of the article on Talent Egg that were revealing to me in terms of revealing what the realities of being a franchisee would be.  Again, this is not saying it’s impossible to make money with CPP, but it is important to realize this isn’t like buying a couple cans of paint and a few brushes before hanging up a sign and letting money roll in:

It is true, College Pro takes a large chunk of the money coming in, after royalties, guarantee fund, admin fees it may be up to 35% initially, if you have high sales this % will go down. 

College pro talk about the 24% royalty but what they don’t mention is that after all the deductions they take from the Zees is amounts to roughly 29-30% of total sales. This is not including workers compensation, phone bills, gas for travel and cash you have to pay for ppl to cold call for you. Your labour cost is another 25-30% of your total sales. And your material can run you another 10 -14 percent of total sales based on your experience.”

I Just Want to Paint Dude

If you are just looking to get a painting job for the summer, there were again several different accounts online.  Many people said that they earned $18-$20 an hour while working with their buddies in an outdoor setting for the summer.  One could certainly do worse than that.  On the other hand, there were also many accounts of complete mismanagement and shoddy business practices where people worked for managers they didn’t know before hand.  It appears that oftentimes franchisees have felt the need to save money EVERYWHERE – including wages – and this leads to many conflicts.  I would be really leery of working for someone I didn’t know and/or had no track record in the painting business.  There is just too many risks for me considering the summer season is the prime earning opportunity for most students.

Who Needs a Franchise to be an Entrepreneur?

Here’s my take on the CPP business model: is there brand name and “organizational help” really worth all of the fees they charged you?  If you are the type of person who wants to take entrepreneurship by the horns, gather up a few hard-working buddies, and start a business, then do you really need these guys’ help?  I don’t quite understand why their training is any better than asking a professional painter of any kind to come help you once in awhile or paying them for a day to come help you with a new type of project.  IF (and that’s a huge if) I had the ambition to start doing my own thing, I would be awfully tempted to ditch the CPP business model regardless of a few of the cool success stories they have helped produce.

Does anyone have any firsthand experience with the program?  They certainly appear to have marketing down correct if my post-secondary experience was any indication.

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11 years ago

I don’t know much about the company besides they train and hire students. We’ve had them come to our door every single year since moving in our house. We’ve seem to some work in the neighbourhood. Personally, I’d just do the work myself if I had to go as far as to hire a student to paint. The other option would be to just find someone on kijiji because they probably will do just as good a job but for cheaper. If you want a professional then pay for a professional.

Trevor Milgaard
10 years ago

Scam company with a horrible reputation. Only via the use of elaborate corporate shells have the principals of this operation avoided being buried in lawsuits and criminal charges.

30 percent royalties? are you kidding me?? Mcdonalds charges 8 percent and it’s,..well, Mcdonalds

Basically they prey on naive students, pump them full of fantasy and then farm them for a few weeks in the summer for ridiculous fees.. What’s left of the kid at the end of the summer “isn’t the company’s concern”

3rd Year College Pro Franchisee
9 years ago

Reading this article really made me understand the amount misinformation that is out there on the internet. As a third year franchisee working for College Pro, I can speak from experience(as a young entrepreneur, not painter) on the subject. This position is not for everyone, in fact it is not for most people. It means putting in long hours, 15-30 hours per week during the school year (business size dependent) and 40-80 hours per week during peak times of the summer. Anyone who has entrepreneurial experience will tell you that this is pretty standard, running a business is a round… Read more »

9 years ago

Thanks for the comment 3rd Year. I have received such a large amount of feedback both supporting and criticizing CPP that I honestly have no idea what to think at this point! It appears experiences differ by huge amounts.

Concerned Student's Mom
9 years ago

As a mother of a college student who started the process of taking on this challenge my concerns were enormous and I could not find any answers to these issues online or within the company profile. I ended up speaking with local paint suppliers and was not surprised to hear their personal experiences with well-meaning hard working local college students wanting to make some cash and get some real business experience. My concerns: 1. hiring kids (18 and older) to paint someone’s home correctly is not easy, they do not know how and cannot get that knowledge in a few… Read more »

8 years ago

Those are great questions and insights concerned mom. Certainly a lot for a future entrepreneur to take into consideration.

8 years ago

Currently working as a painter. Perhaps I do not understand the flow of money for the franchisee, but what always seems to happen is that my franchisee low balls estimates on the amount of hours required. As such, when we go “over budget” our pay is cut by a percentage. Usually dropping from $9 an hour down to minimum wage. Part of that also means we are required to work 50 or 60 hours per week instead of 40, while only being payed for the 40, and College Pro does not provide overtime pay. I feel ripped off, but then… Read more »

8 years ago
Reply to  Anon

Ouch… sounds like a systemic issue!

8 years ago

College Pro takes you under their wing, tells you about the amazing opportunity to run your business. They tell you start up costs are low, they tell you they will train you and be there every step of the way. What they don’t tell you is how much money they will suck from your business, and how they will put you into debt and ruin your finances. This who “program” is a scheme to make money off students. Yes some do very well, however others do not. You get assigned a specific area you can paint and market in, what… Read more »

8 years ago

Had the franchisee in south Lethbridge paint trim and stain a fence. The experience was AWFUL. It amouted to a total SCAM she sub contracted and the job was never completed properly, within a week the paint was peeling and the fence stain never cured. It still has not and the job was done in August and it is now Nov. 1. Even though the paint supplier agreed that the work was in all respects unsatisfactory CPP provided no satisfaction. I paid to have the surfaces properly scraped and sanded and the subcontractor refused to so , he smashed plants… Read more »

8 years ago

I am a franchisee, full time student (17 credits per quarter), AND I play baseball for my school; not mentioning that baseball takes up about 8 hours of my day alone. Hiring a college student is not the issue, hiring a worker with little experience is the issue. As a franchisee, you can’t trust everyone you hire but you have to. You could hire any painting company and get a 30 year old employee that will do the same work as a college student, noting that being a painter at that age probably resulted in not taking advantage of a… Read more »

8 years ago

I also forgot to touch up on 2 things. When getting hired you sign a waiver stating that you are aware of the dangers of painting, just like you would for any other high risk job. The people going into this know what their getting into. Also about the part how students can’t get good grades and do this at the same time.. Like I said, I’m a student athlete. Juggling three things at once isn’t easy, but I make it happen while getting excellent grades. The students entering this position should be doing this for their own benefits and… Read more »

8 years ago
Reply to  Anon

I’m looking in to being a painter as well, but it sounds like from my research that they pay the same no matter how fast or slow you get the house done. Then if you take wayyyy too long your pay sits at minimum wage. I think they do this to make sure the franchise manager doesn’t lose all their money to labor costs. If you paint faster you would make more per hour.

CP Parent
7 years ago

Here is a reality check. College Pro hands out a lot of Koolaid up front about support and growing entrepreneurs and training etc. But nothing is free. A capital investment is required contrary to what they claim. The franchisee needs a work truck and equipment. that is about 5 grand. Then, if they haven’t got enough in sales downpayments they will need a float to cover the cost of paying their painters before the job is done. College pro takes their 30-35% off gross not net. with the remaining 70% gross, the franchisee pays for wages and other fixed and… Read more »

College Pro Business Coach
7 years ago

As a previous franchisee and business coach in College Pro I wanted help shed some light on some of the concerns and mis-conceptions. College Pro as a company is within a larger, publicly traded franchise company. It is not a scam. Where the issues come up is the fact that College Pro will be the hardest thing anyone entering the program has ever done up until this point in in their life. Hence why it’s an entrepreneurial development company. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Therefore, the results vary tremendously as responsiblity is put solely in the franchisee’s hands. For this reason College… Read more »

7 years ago

I worked as a franchise owner for two summers in university. I thought it was an amazing way to get real world experience. For me, it wasn’t about the money initially. I wouldn’t make that much working minimum wage somewhere else, so if I hit that I thought I’d be happy. I really just wanted a different experience and to build some of the skills. It was really tough, there were days that I felt in over my head and days that I wanted to quit, but overall I am so glad that I did that. I graduated with way… Read more »

Why is everyone ignoring the fact that this website was clearly set up by a College Pro shill in order to mitigate the outrage over their horribly unethical practices? As a recent franchisee I can assure anyone who is interested (realistically=nobody) of the dangers which are involved when doing business w/ these people. IF you are getting your house painted by them you can be reasonably certain that the franchisee who is managing the operation has practically no real training or experience providing the service which they are encouraged to present themselves as an “expert” in. IF you are a… Read more »

Alexander Pezzutto
7 years ago

I am going into my second year as a franchisee this year and would love to clarify some things: 1. College Pro is by no means a scam. It is a franchised business opportunity made available to students. A franchise provides a system that, for those who follow it, has almost guaranteed success. 2. College Pro does not take 30% in Royalties. It is 24% for the first bit to cover all of our training, but then drops down to as low as 3%. The average first year franchisee makes between 10k and 20k. However, for those who push themselves,… Read more »

2nd Year Franchise
7 years ago

It’s interesting reading the miscommunication from what College Pro provides to people. The purpose of the program is to Educate Secondary level education students how to properly run a business, in which they do so. It isn’t for everyone, which causes people to miss their goal and become profitable. The major thing here is I’ve learnt more about running a business with College Pro than I have from My University Experience ( B+ Average), You pay 8 Thousand + dollars a year in Tuition for your education, With College Pro, you get payed / possibly lose $5,000 to learn about… Read more »

6 years ago

They scammed me, took my down payment and never finished the job

6 years ago

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to go to see this web site, Keep up the good work.

6 years ago

You actually make it appear really easy with your presentation however I
find this matter to be really one thing that I think I might
never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely huge for me.
I’m taking a look forward for your subsequent put up, I will attempt to get the cling of it!

5 years ago

Company is not a scam. There is no better place for a student to develop and learn plenty of skills as well as running their own business. If you don’t put in the work, you won’t be successful – simple. If you do, you’ll love it and make more money than ANY student could in a summer. Those you think it’s a “scam” or complain about the position or company are not meant to be an entrepreneur (which is fine) but, they should understand that and take the proper steps in to the right direction, such as; McDonald’s or Tim… Read more »

5 years ago

It’s great that you are getting ideas from this post as
well as from our argument made here.

5 years ago

Seems like a business that would have been great for business-enthused students 30 years ago, but why would any college-age kid who wants to start a company not go with a tech startup? You can develop an app for $5 grand without any experience at all, just an idea, maybe not even a good one. If this isn’t really about making money and is all about gaining experience, which is what all the people who have tried it are saying here in the comments, then why not gain experience in a modern business, rather than an old-fashioned one. And who… Read more »

5 years ago

There’s a lot of stupid things in this comment section. Just because you didn’t make money in your business doesn’t make it a scam. They have a system in place and train you how to use it; if you use it correctly you make money, if you don’t you won’t. If you didn’t make money, that means you did something wrong. Take responsibility for your results and don’t blame something else for your failures. To the people in here saying that College Pro is the reason they failed, well, I’m not surprised that you failed. You clearly don’t have the… Read more »

Real entrepreneur, west michigan
5 years ago

I apologize if this offends anyone. But ‘actual franchisee’ is talking like a spokesperson. With no comment on where or when he/she ran their franchise. I have just completed a year and a half with them in west michigan. 2018. I did learn a few tricks of the trade as far as painting skills go. And they gave me a basic template for adding the numbers, which helps. However, the statements of them having your back and taking the responsibility is only as true as the integrity of the individule standing behind it. For every person, this is different. I… Read more »

Real entrepreneur, west michigan
5 years ago

I would also add, in all honesty, college pro is a franchise based organization. This means the experience of one person will be based on the experience they have with that franchisee, who will experience their gm, who will experience their vp. Franchisees switch out every year a lot of times, so last years experience may no longer be valid. Depending on who is involved.

5 years ago

Thank you for the participation in the internet. A wealth of opinions from different perspective. The author voiced his opinion in a very respectful manner, and so did most of the people responding here. I don’t like seeing comments saying other comments are stupid. With every company there are satisfied clients and disgruntled clients and the idea is that this page will serve as a well-balanced response to the question “Is College Pro Painters a Scam”?

Graven Masten
5 years ago

Found this on Reddit, thought it might be helpful: Just a warning to anyone tempted to get sucked into the College Pro Painters scam that’s infecting college campuses these days. First off their whole business model is founded on a lie. That lie is that an 18 year old kid earning minimum wage with two days “training” can deliver the same quality painting product that a journeyman painter with 20 years experience can. Read the College Pro marketing material and you’ll see. Your job as a manager is to peddle this lie to homeowners in your community and then give… Read more »

Shirley McMeeking
4 years ago

I’m looking for a team in my zip code. My son painted one year(20 some years ago )and found himself solving problems for the franchisee so he decided to ask for his own franchise the next year and asked for his home zip code. He got it. Training started in Feb. Offers to do an estimate started coming in. He was ready to go by late May. He had to interview, hire, train, manage, and sometimes fire an employee, and get reports turned in timely on Sunday afternoons. Some friends wanted to work for him, even his brother-in-law. Some found… Read more »

Vanessa Wylie
4 years ago

Avoid this company. They have screwed over and damaged the property of many home and business owners in the champlain valley area. If you, as a college student, put out the money for start up costs, you will have an uphill battle getting any jobs around here. When you run a shady business, word gets out.

Ann M
3 years ago

Has anybody thought of hiring people out of work, or seasonal work for interior painting? Some NH New Hampshire “The Works” pay for workers that need help, and might have skills for painting. They may be having a financial hard time, but wish to earn money…with skills already. Give others a try maybe to help them and yourselves? A simple check on their name for poor background check is easy enough to do. It’s no different than hiring any person or company for any job. People in the field, usually have their go-to sidekicks they’ve worked with. It’s just a… Read more »

Customer of CP
3 years ago

Not a scam whatsoever… nothing good comes without working hard. It’s hard work and that’s very clear. But, massive upside to learning, development and $’s.

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