CERTAPRO PAINTERS CertaPro Sucks: The Movie, The Gripe Site

Unhappy Franchisee – Years ago, Tom dedicated his time, money & energy to becoming a successful CertaPro Painter franchisee.  Now that the money, and his franchise, are gone, Tom dedicates his time and energy to warning others about the franchise investment he calls “the worst and most costly decision” of his life.

Tom has built a number of websites including CertaProSucks.Org, and  He posts on Twitter as @FranchiseFraud.  He has even posted an odd but humorous little animated movie on YouTube:

Unhappy ex-franchisee Tom contends that CertaPro Painters has an extremely high franchise failure rate – perhaps as high as 90%.

He accuses the company of “churning” franchises (that is, simply reselling territories again and again after franchisees fail).

Tom writes:

“I believe the vast majority of those who buy a CertaPro franchise risk losing as much as $150,000 or more within a few years and ending up emotionally distressed, saddled with debt or forced into bankruptcy, faced with demands from CertaPro for more money or finding themselves sued by CertaPro.

“In my opinion, CertaPro’s deceptive marketing, combined with its actions which serve to hide information about the many failures, represents an intentional effort to deceive and misrepresent. I believe they must KNOW they are making money at the expense of others and that most new franchisees are probably destined to fail.

“Potential victims of CertaPro’s actions should know about the dark side of the CertaPro franchise.

“I believe CertaPro’s motto should be: ‘We put the pain in painting’.”

CertaPro Painters supporters lash back

To his credit, in a response letter CertaPro CEO Charlie Chase wrote to Tom “I, of course recognize that you have the right to express your personal opinion about your experience owning a CertaPro franchise.”

Others criticize Tom’s laying all the blame on CertaPro Painters.  In an email posted on Tom’s site, a fellow franchisee wrote:

You [Tom] blamed CPP for things you didn’t know or things you didn’t do. You hired a bad painter and blamed CPP. You didn’t make the money you wanted, but never thought to share where you overspent or made bad choices. If you would have started your own business why would you think that the same issues wouldn’t have happened? Or even worse?

On ComplaintsBoard.Com, sickofyoubashers writes:

And much can be said about people like you who are disgruntled because YOU FAILED. Perhaps the fault lies behind your own inability to be successful. Unfortunately you can’t accept that fact, which is why you feel the need to place blame on others. So in exchange for the franchise allegedly trying to “silence” you, you feel the best forum is to retaliate by setting up stupid websites to bash them and post negative comments about them all over the web. Seriously? You think this is effective?

What can be learned from franchisee gripe sites like

Agree with Tom or not, his sites raise a number of issues to be considered by anyone considering a CertaPro Painters franchise, a competing painting franchise, or starting up an independent painting business.  Writes Tom:

In actuality, there can be numerous reasons for failure. Lack of money is, I suspect, a big one.

Another reason is the painter workforce, which can be atrocious (drugs, alcohol, absenteeism, poor work ethic, poor skills).

Then, too, a franchisee is going to have to price his services higher than an independent painter.  There’s more overhead (e.g., franchise fees).

Many markets are, I’m sure, loaded with painters and many homeowners want references. It can take time to become experienced and established–perhaps four or five years or more.

In fact, many of the complaints and warnings on are not exclusive to CertaPro Painters, but voiced by many unhappy franchisees of different systems:

The industrywide deception regarding franchise failure rates.

Bogus “awards,” skewed “franchise reviews,” and timid franchisees painting an unrealistic picture for prospective franchisees.

Understated investment requirements.

An allegedly flawed operational concept.

“No experience necessary” franchisee recruitment when industry experience is necessary.

The list goes on and on.

Tom also dramatizes some of the ways that franchisees compound their losses by pouring money and effort into a lost cause:

Two franchisees I spoke to were struggling or failing and both said the same thing:  They had spent so much money that they hated to walk away from it, and they didn’t want to be “a failure”. When you’ve spent tens of thousands, it affects your objectivity.  The temptation is great to borrow more, charge more on credit cards, and to dig a deeper hole–in the fragile hope things will somehow improve.

The overall message of Tom’s gripe sites:  Do your homework before selecting a franchise.  If you bought into what you know, deep down, is a losing venture, cut your losses and cut’m quick.


Opposing opinions and company rebuttals or clarifications are welcome and treated fairly.  You can contact the author or site admin at UnhappyFranchisee[at]

6 thoughts on “CERTAPRO PAINTERS CertaPro Sucks: The Movie, The Gripe Site

  • Thanks for the mention.

    One additional point I’d like to mention: A primary motivator for establishing the website is the fact that virtually nothing can be found in a web search for former CertaPro franchisees. Yet there must be hundreds of them. There are even franchisee testimonials of praise on the web…from franchisees who later failed. Yet their praise lives on forever in the ether of the web.

    It would be very helpful for prospective franchise buyers to be able to hear both sides of the story but they often can’t. Finding nothing negative about CertaPro online was one of the contributors to my decision to buy the franchise. Silly me. BTW, that was before and other gripe sites existed–so I’m glad this site now exists.

    I established the site in large part to ensure the other side of the CertaPro story can be found online.

    However, even with the existence of websites like and my gripe site, prospective buyers should know there’s minimal access to former franchisees. One reason is pride: When a franchisee fails, it can be a debilitating blow and he/she may want to go crawl in a hole. Another reason: Non-disclosure agreements. CertraPro (and I’m sure other franchisors) attempt to get a signed non-disclosure agreement from departing franchisees. That agreement is a gag order: They can never say anything negative about the franchise.

    So good luck with your due diligence, prospective franchise buyers.

  • I am a former CertaPro Painters (CPP) franchisee. I am also a failed franchisee. I took a chance, and invested everything I had in the business. I was one of the first franchisees in California. I worked with CPP to establish methods to successfully qualify a franchise for the necessary Contractors License. I was also there when the laptop software was introduced to estimate and keep track of the jobs and quotes.

    I don’t blame CPP for my failure. There are so many reasons a business can fail, and a franchisor can only control a certain amount. They warned me that the painter pool was one major problem. I tried to hire good people, and I had a few, but there were some that undermined my business. They told me how to track expenses, plan a successful business, and got me great prices on paint and supplies with top quality stores. Was it their fault that I kept buying stuff I didn’t need, and wasting time I shouldn’t have?

    CPP gave me the tools that would allow me to charge a higher price. The brand and support was there, so customers were willing to pay to have a professionally managed business take care of their needs. CPP gave me the structure to run the business day to day. They gave me an office staff that gave the customer confidence, which got me more jobs.

    Gee, was I wrong to believe that it was my fault I failed? You mean I could have blamed CPP for my inability to run my own business? It was CPPs fault I had crackheads on my crew? That I only looked at the money coming in, and not the bills I had to pay? That I should never had taken a job painting a Lawyer’s house or a crazy lady with 10,000 sq ft. new construction, unheated in January where she was the contractor? Gee, my life would be so much better now if I could have just blamed CPP…wait, no it wouldn’t. Whatever happened to taking 100% responsibility for the decisions you make?

    I did learn that I make a much better employee than a business owner.

    I failed, not because CPP didn’t give me my money’s worth, but because I ran the business into the ground. I stopped doing the marketing that I should have done, I didn’t plan well for down time. I had some bad painters on my crews. I took on a few jobs that I shouldn’t have (and had been warned by CPP to avoid).

    Some people shouldn’t be in business for themselves. Some people shouldn’t be in the service business. Some people don’t need a franchise to succeed. It was not CPP’s responsibility to determine if I was the right fit. They did some research to see if I might make it, but nobody can tell until the rubber hits the road.

    As a footnote: There has been a new franchisee in my area since I failed. He is flourishing, and has been for 10 years. It’s not the system, it’s how you use it.

  • Pingback: CERTAPRO PAINTERS: Failed Franchise Owner Accepts Blame : Unhappy Franchisee

  • Interesting that “Randy” claims to be a former Certapro franchisee, but is he (or she)? Was that verified by this website?

    You see, interestingly, “Randy’s” comment was posted at the same time that Certapro’s hired attack dog, Aviatech (a “reputation management” company), was disseminating massive propaganda (and, I believe, undertaking efforts to attack my website). In many cases, the name “Larry Carnier” was used. “Randy” is, I suspect “Larry Carnier” or one of his Aviatech co-workers.

    More about the efforts of Aviatech (which is now part of Mainstream Interactive) on behalf of their client, Certapro Painters.

    Would an ethical, honest, reputable company feel the need to hire an attack dog?
    Because one failed franchisee (who didn’t sign a gag agreement) published a couple of websites?
    What are they afraid of?
    The truth?

    “Certapro Painters: We put the pain in painting”

  • Nino Perez

    I have 35 years in the business been a contractor for over 28 years. I left the business to start something less physical at my age. I have painted more landmarks and popular places in my career then I care to mention. I have trained many top tier painters in my life. One of them took a job at Certa Pro this person completed over 90000 dollars worth of contracts in a little over two months. Yet they never paid him the franchise promise of the system. I was asked to look into it. The franchise training to the independent is to falsely sell the employee a 50 to 52 % piece rate for their work.
    52% if you use all their apps and tracking system. Of the 50% 10 to 15% is for materials after materials they take 32% as a burden rate to pay Medicare, Social security , and any Workers comp cost that usually is about 10% of the pay. The rest is used to cover the owners franchise fee and advertising fees. The rest is what they pay their employee. Rarely ever making the pay they are promised by piece rate or by hour. Which by the way is illegal you cannot legally do piece work as well as hourly to the same employee or job. A contractor must decide to which one they want to use. One or the other. Hours can be used to track production and accuracy of the bid process but not for pay on piece rate. Although the exception is hours can be used to pay an employee for additional hours worked to complete a job that goes over for no fault of their own or if it puts the pay piece rate below federal pay standards on regular or overtime hours. In short they are an employer con job on their employees. In the case of this franchise they don’t even give them pay stubs when demanded and an explanation was asked they fired him. They are a terrible and unethical company.
    I recommend never to work for these clowns and always ask for every detail of your pay it is your right.

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