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, MyFranchiseExperience.com and Franchise-Forum.com. 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).
“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 CertaProSucks.org?
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 CertaProSucks.org 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.
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Opposing opinions and company rebuttals or clarifications are welcome and treated fairly. You can contact the author or site admin at UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com.