Questions to Consider Before Starting a Paint and Wine BusinessCraig Ceccanti
So you want to start a paint and wine business and are looking for some pointers on where to start but mostly like want to know what big challenges are involved. Before I divulge all the secrets I have learned over the last 8 years in the paint and wine business, let me give you some other questions to consider.
Are you ready to start a business?
Having been to a top 10 entrepreneurship business school and growing up with an entrepreneurial family, it can be a daunting adjustment to start a paint and wine business not because it is painting and wine but because it is a small business. For those of us with kids, it is a good test to ask yourself if you are ready to have another kid because that is what a new small business will be to you. It takes time for a business to grow and begin to crawl, feed, walk, and talk. Eventually a business becomes self-sustaining only with a lot of nurturing and parenting along the way. Thinking that a new paint and wine business will sprout wings on day 1 is a big mistake, so make sure you have the time and patience to commit to opening a business.
Do you have deep passion for entertaining?
For many years I have served as an adjunct professor at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. It is always exciting when I see students think about starting and owning a business. The ideas of mass fortune and complete freedom are infectious. I see it in the faces of many students as they work on their newest idea. I meet with many of them as an advisor after they graduate, and they always have a new appreciation for the grit and determination it takes to start a business.
At the core, passion is what drives us past challenges to find success no matter what it takes. Are there businesses that do not require passion? Of course there are. There are many franchise systems that are set up to run with little involvement, other than money. Passion is a necessary component in the paint and wine business. You need to love to put a smile on someone’s face after they experience their girl’s night out or date night at your studio. You need to love helping a corporation put together a fun team building event that will bring their team closer. You need to love to see the class of painters singing along to music while they create their masterpiece. This passion to entertain goes past teaching others to enjoy painting and wine. It is what we have found at Pinot’s Palette to be a special ingredient in our ability to differentiate from the many other paint and wine businesses in the market.
Top 5 Challenges to Start a Paint and Wine Business
There is no way to put everything I have learned and everything you will need to know about starting this business in one blog. It is why we created Pinot’s Palette franchise system to provide all of the knowledge in step-by-step road maps, operating manuals, software suites, boot camps, vendors, discounted supplies, and a headquarters team to support new entrepreneurs through this process. For those reading interested in our paint and sip franchise I will include what Pinot’s Palette provides to support these challenges.
- Commercial Real Estate – If you have not dealt with a commercial landlord before you will soon learn that it is a vastly different world from renting an apartment. The level of liability and commitment is distinctly different, as well as what maintenance you are responsible for in the space. You will need consumer marketing, real estate, business and legal advice as you select a space and review the contracts. Take it from my experience trying to do without this support in our first three paint and wine studios. One mistake in lease negotiation could have a huge impact on your business. It can be debilitating to forget to nail down specifics like your parking or signage rights in the lease. Pinot’s Palette has an on boarding team that supplies this support through expert vendors and experience from opening over one hundred locations.
- Artists and Staff – Finding the right people to help start a paint and wine business is critical. This is typically a top three concern for new Pinot’s Palette franchise candidates. The key here is not finding artists, but the right artists. Much of our competition finds artists. To be successful your team needs to be all of three things. Good painters, great instructors, and natural entertainers that are comfortable on stage. These three things together are much harder to find. Pinot’s Palette has a step-by-step recruiting and training guide to find the right staff and build on their strengths to help them provide an extraordinary night out for your painters. Pinot’s Palette also has a unique bonus program for artists that develop paintings for our system that always pulls in the top talent in the market.
- Administrative Stuff – For most people this is the worst part of starting a business. I define administrative stuff as incorporating, banking, finances, insurance, liability, sales tax, bookkeeping, contracts, and accounting. These are all things that are easy to fall by the way side as you are excited to focus on the fun parts of building and growing your paint and sip studio. However, these things also have the ability to close your business on a bad day. Not paying taxes, keeping up with your books, or getting proper insurance is something that you can get away with in the short term. But trust me, when the phone rings you will wish you had. An advisor of mine always says, “Don’t risk a lot for a little.” Spend the time to keep your administrative stuff in order to protect your paint and wine business investment. Much like knowing your vitals (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels) keeping up with bookkeeping is more than just a chore, it is how you know the health of your business so you can make appropriate adjustments. Pinot’s Palette provides over twenty-four hours of training on how to administrate your business covering all of these topics. Pinot’s Palette franchise also has proven, preferred vendors to assist with things like insurance, bookkeeping, and financing so you know you are getting the best price without all of the headache of having to explain the concept of a paint and wine business.
- Website and Reservations – As a software programmer in a previous life, I was surprised there was not a great off the shelf tool to help sell and maintain online reservations and private party requests. After a year of running the business with WordPress, Paypal, and a complex spreadsheet we made the commitment to build our own software platform. Be ready for the challenge of putting these things together and the logistical burden of maintaining reservation information. We found that as business grew we spent a larger percentage of our time strapped to the desk sending customer communications and updating spreadsheets that we eventually automated saving us nearly 30 to 40 hours per week. Be ready for this to take a lot of time to learn and keep up with. Pinot’s Palette completely maintains the website and has an integrated software systems to make your life easy. We continue to invest and deploy new tools every year. Most recently (2016) we launch a full featured rewards program called “Pinot Perks” along with a fully mobile responsive website. Watch a webinar on Pinot Perks here.
- Marketing – One of the courses I teach at Rice University is “Marketing for Small Business”, a course that I worked to found in 2011. I have to re-write the course every year due to the changing times with digital marketing. Keeping your website, local listings, and social media platforms up to date with best practices in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), and relevant engaging content is very challenging. Since the paint and wine business is a luxury destination industry primarily searched for and purchased online, you will need to continuously find fresh ways to reach new customers and bring back returning customers through the digital world. If you do not have a deep background in retail online consumer marketing, be prepared for this to be a big challenge after you get your studio open and your friends and family opening weekends diminish. In 2009, when larger brands like ours did not exist this was much easier to wing on your own. But now, it is much more challenging for independent paint and sip locations to compete against larger brands with a decade of experience, a million-dollar marketing budget, and world class specialized vendors. Pinot’s Palette’s marketing team keeps you up to date on digital marketing best practices through monthly webinars, one-on-one training calls, expert vendor training, and online information sharing between franchise partners to dominate your local market.
I truly hope this helps identify the largest challenges that you will face when you start a paint and wine business as well as provide a look into how the Pinot’s Palette franchise system provides support in these challenges.