CERTAPRO PAINTERS: Failed Franchise Owner Accepts Blame

Recently we wrote about a failed CertaPro Painters franchise owner who claims that the CertaPro franchisor is to blame for the  losses he suffered.  

He has made it his mission to warn prospective franchise owners about what he calls “the dark side of the CertaPro franchise.”  (Read:  CERTAPRO PAINTERS CertaPro Sucks: The Movie, The Gripe Site)

The franchisee, Tom, states: “I believe they must KNOW they are making money at the expense of others and that most new franchisees are probably destined to fail.”

Commenter “Randy” claims to be an early CertaPro Painters franchisee who also failed.  Randy, however, claims that the CertaPro franchisor provided a realistic picture of the risks and challenges involved with the CertaPro business, and provided valuable training and guidance.  He admits to not following the advice he was given, and accepts blame for his failed business.

Randy writes:

“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.”


16 thoughts on “CERTAPRO PAINTERS: Failed Franchise Owner Accepts Blame

  • ROFL!!!
    Who, exactly, is this “Randy”?
    It reminds me of the famous old “New Yorker” cartoon: “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

    The fact remains, “Randy’s” comments notwithstanding, that perhaps as many as 90% of CertaPro franchisees go under. This with a franchisor that spends lavishly on marketing a “business in a box”.

    The fact remains that perhaps hundreds of other failed franchisees are gagged by virtue of a non-disclosure agreement sought by CertaPro. You certainly won’t hear from them.

    Hiring bad painters? When you don’t know the painting business (and CertaPro says you don’t have to), it can be pretty difficult to separate the good from the bad. And by the time you’ve learned, it will have cost you dearly.

    Didn’t do enough marketing? CertaPro’s marketing can be very expensive and it can cause a franchisee to run out of money. Running out of money is a good reason why CertaPro franchisees can’t adequately market.

    California franchisees? They have been dropping like flies.

    People don’t spend dearly to buy a franchise which claims to have a proven business model, proven marketing, proven training, and agree to pay large minimum annual franchise fees because they want to test their own business acumen. They buy it because they are led to believe the model has been devloped and proven.

    As for assistance from the franchisor, that is, in my opinion and experience, laughable.

    Sorry, but I have to wonder who this “Randy” really is and I happen to firmly believe, based on what I know about other CertaPro franchisees’ experiences, that he/she doesn’t speak for the vast majority of those who paid dearly for a “business in a box”.

    Tom Ballock
    Former CertaPro franchisee
    Birmingham, Alabama
    See the facts yourself: Click on “Where Are They Now?”

  • Tom:
    You are obviously so obsessed with proving that you are a victim at the hands of evil CertaPro that you contradict yourself and sink your own credibility.
    You assume that because Randy disagrees with you he MUST be a corporate shill. Yet search the Internet a little (California, Randy, CertaPro) and you’ll find that one of the first CPP franchisees in CA is named Randy and probably the commenter. Some people DO take responsibility for their own decisions and actions. I’m not going to out his identity, but I believe he’s who he says he is.
    You state that 90% of CertaPro franchisees go under, then link to a list that shows fewer than 50% in CA went under.
    Businesses fail. This is news? Starbucks closed 600 locations a year or two ago, and they run a tight ship with a high margin product. I didn’t hear them blaming anyone else. That’s business, and business ownership is risky.
    Painters are a tough workforce to manage. That’s news? You had to buy a franchise to find that out?
    185 CertaPro Painters franchisees surveyed gave the franchise 4/5 “very good” across the board. There are 33 glowing franchisee testimonials on their website and all are still in business. Why is there only one of you?
    If 90% of CertaPro franchisees fail, why are you the only one commenting negatively here? Where are all your fellow victims, and why aren’t they commenting here?
    At first I thought you might be a crusader warning about a scam but the more I read the more I think that you’re obsessed with placing blame elsewhere for your own lack of due diligence and bad decisions. I doubt you put 1/10 of the effort into due diligence before buying your franchise as you do bashing them afterward.

  • guest II

    How do you know if 50% of California went under? or failed? could they have changed names? changed hands? sold? amalgamated? retired? quit? died? got sick? moved away? are these things not allowed? Does running a business mean you must do it forever and never change or you will be a failure?

    Does the failure theory count for more than just Certa Pro? What if someone decided not to do something anymore? Does that make them a failure? Does anyone who retires or moves on a failure? Does divorce make you a failure? Divorce is expensive. You can loose a lot of money there.

    I guess people shouldn’t get married or run businesses. That is what I am getting out of this here thread.

  • Guest II is right! They probably got so wealthy that they had to stop being house painters so they could spend full time trying to find more places to store their money, jewels and furs.
    Maybe every time you see a name disappear from that list, it means another millionaire got his wings!

  • HappyFranchisee

    Here is my experience… It is a lot different….

    After many years in the CertaPro system, I am a happy ex-franchisee. After a tenure of over 13 years, our business has been sold to a very capable individual who shares my zeal for a team built around achieving great results.

    People come first at CertaPro- from the Corporate office to the Franchisees. CertaPro has shown countless times in my experience that they ensure people are treated with respect and value. The values of the CertaPro Corporate team are foundational to the systems, training, follow up, coaching, and on going training that allow franchisees great success. I can assure you that franchisees can build businesses that make great income and become a great financial asset in the future. With CertaPro, results matter, but not with out regard to the value of those involved. They have not let me down. I am thankful to have been a CertaPro franchisee.

    As a former franchisee who earned a terrific living and sold the business at my desired price, I would be happy to recommend the CertaPro organization to anyone qualified to own and operate one of the franchises. If I could do it all over again, I would not have changed my decision- I would still have been a CertaPro franchisee.

  • Sickofbashers

    Oh, Tom…you are such a loser! The chip you’ve got on your shoulder has turned you into one. Let it go! Get over it already! Move on! Make something of yourself! Continuing with your ranting about this company only makes it more apparent to EVERYONE ELSE but YOU.

    You’d be better off spending your time teaching others how to learn from the mistakes you made, rather than wasting your time bashing a company that clearly doesn’t give a damn about what you really think!

  • Another Former Franchisee

    When it comes to failure rates, I can list at least 12 Southern California Certapro businesses that have gone by the way side. Of those, only 2 of the turfs may have been sold. The others had to walk away from their businesses due to all of the reasons found on Tom’s site.
    Of the 2 turfs that may have sold, one saw his business dwindle due to economic pressures and forces beyond his control. And it didn’t help that Certapro has had no good answers on how to truly market effectively to the Southern California market.
    The other franchisee was screwed by Certapro Commercial. He had a slim margin, high volume gig going with prompt payment schedules from the client. Certapro came in and wanted to take control of the process, jacked up the prices and although they were paid in 7-10 days, held onto the money for 45+ days.
    The customer would not pay the inflated price for the new work and the franchisee was unable to maintain cash flow because of the changed terms.

    And to Sickofbashers, it isn’t about complaining to Certapro. It’s about warning others that may sink their money into a system that is really only interested in taking their money, not in their making money. Just weigh how much marketing is aimed at the consumer and how much is aimed at selling franchises. The evidence is clear. Certapro will sell franchises to anyone who can mist a mirror as long as they have money.

  • I think this article is great. It let’s someone accept responsibility for their own inability to run a business, admit it and move forward. A lesson some of these commenters could learn.

  • An update: CertaPro resold my failed Birmingham, Alabama, CertaPro franchise to another poor chump. I imagine that was about 3 to 3-1/2 years ago. I just took a look at CertaPro’s website and his name is gone, which presumably means he has gone under. And HE was able to start with an established customer base (mine).

    What a shame, another failed CertaPro franchisee, and this one was able to start with a bit of a leg up (established customer base), and who has also, apparently, gone under.

    Good luck to chump #3 (assuming CertaPro finds another chump to sell it to).

  • terrible franchise. lost everything except my family. they weren’t prepared for the pitfalls of being a painting franchise in the south. just now paying back all my credit cards. have a judgement against me for more than $100,000 from cpp. if my business failed how do they expect me to pay them that money?

  • Joe Decean

    Tom,Don, and the others that speak out against Certapro are 100% correct. Certapro screws their franchisees, and fails to set them up. Why won’t Certapro allow people with prior painting experience to buy a franchise? Because the painter knows the numbers(royalties and margins) will never allow for personal success. Stay away from Charlie Chase and his goon squad!

  • Dawn Nuss

    Well on another end of the spectrum from a sub contrators veiw. We did all the work while the franchise got all the money. Once we got the contract it was all on us. To contact customer. Get materials. Help pick their colors. Place samples we never had a option to decline contracts or the threat of firing us was used. I a women ran a crew of over 10 guys at a time. Taken on 2-3 projects. We were the best sub contractor in town. We had great feed back from customers and they all loved having a women supervise the project. Made them feel safe. What our problem came to be is more than a few times we had those not so pleasent customers who were after something for nothing and aftet completing the progect they would refuse to pay full price. Even after our A+ rating only because they were those kind of people not because there was anything wrong with the job and our franchise owner allowed customers to in the end. Pay what they wanted to. Leaving us to pay out of pocket while the franchise owner still took his percentage of the original contract. Is this really the way to treat a sub crew who brought you in 1 mill in revenue a yr every yr for three yrs straight. I soon found it to be to much of a risk to take when they hold no liability to collect full contracted price.

  • Marcie Nagy

    I want my money back from Bob Sauer from CertaPro painters. A horrible experience. Mother momths and job is still not done. Now he wants to send out a 3rd painter. Really?

  • Read more about the sleazy “reputation management” tactics of Aviatech, hired by CertaPro.

    Then there’s “Larry Carnier”, who was a staunch supporter of Certapro and Jani-King (also an Aviatech client and also with a lot of negative stuff online).

    I have no doubt the “Randy” who wrote about being a happy CertaPro franchisee was part of the Aviatech “reputation management” effort. It was taking place in late 2010, just as “Randy” appeared here. Is this the sort of stuff a reputable and ethical company would do? Certapro advertises “quality” and “customer care”. That’s disproven by customer complaints. But don’t take my word for it. Read the customer complaints.

    It sounds to me that many of these customer complaints sound like the consequences of using subcontractors — subcontractors who are paid only about 50% of the price of the paint job.

    I’ve also posted information for customers who may wish to report the use of undocumented immigrants, btw.
    Notwithstanding objections from Certapro shills, face the facts: It’s a deceptive and defective franchise which has buried a graveyard full of failed franchisees. Certapro’s “plan” is a demonstrated failure and has caused unconscionable harm to customers and franchisees alike. How the hell do those people sleep at night?

  • The in-defense-of-certapro commenters here are undoubtedly employees of Certapro. Why else would they decline to provide their names? Even Aviatech used names (even if they were fake).

    Why am I speaking out but other screwed-by-certapro franchisees are not? Well, a prime reason is the gag agreement they are forced to sign in order to get out of their franchise agreement:

    Why would a reputable, honest, ethical, franchise feel the need to silence failed franchisees — and to force them to LIE to prospective franchise buyers?

    What happens to too many of those “satisfied” franchisees?

    Let the Certapro shills who post here offer an absolute proof of their (false) assertions: Offer a release to all former franchisees from the gag agreement they were forced to sign.

    Why would a reputable, honest, ethical company hire an attack dog to do stuff like this: ?
    (Hint: They fear sunlight.)

    P.s. If you’d like to see how well it works for Certapro franchisees and their customers, check out
    Real people.
    Real names.
    Real bad experiences.
    And it appears to me that many of these experiences are due to (1) “No experience necessary” (to buy a Certapro franchise) and (2) the use of subcontractors and/or the use of undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately, it can result in customers being screwed and franchisees going out of business.

    Certapro Painters: “We put the pain in painting”.

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