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 TalentEgg.ca 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.