COLLEGE PRO PAINTERS: Great Opportunity or Franchise Scam?

The College Pro Painters franchise opportunity seems like a brilliant idea:  a program that gives college students and recent graduates the training, systems, branding and guidance they need to build their own successful, profitable seasonal house painting businesses.

College Pro Painters franchise

The idea seems to be a win-win for everyone:  Homeowners get a quality, reliable paint job at a reasonable price and students not only earn good money, but gain invaluable business, management and entrepreneurial skills and experience.

According to the College Pro Painters franchise website directed at prospective franchisees:

… no other experience can provide you with the exceptional leadership and management training that helps you stand out now and in life after college. College Pro is the largest and most successful student painting company in North America because it provides a challenging, real-life business experience that inspires excellence. You‘re already working on your education in school, but this summer learn the tools you will need in order to make and manage money, run your own business and gain the self-confidence you will need for any future career…

Each summer we select over 700 driven, enthusiastic young entrepreneurs across North America to run their own business from more than 25,000 who apply. These students employ another 7,000 additional workers. All of them represent a brand recognized throughout North America, so we are particular about who enters the system – and supportive of those we choose. Find out what franchise managers say about how a summer job with College Pro can help you to meet tons of new people, make money to help pay your tuition, and learn new skills that can be applied to your future employment endeavors.

However, there are numerous comments on Internet complaint sites that tell a different story.  On the Pissed Consumer website, a parent whose daughter was in the College Pro Painter franchise program calls it a cultish Ponzi scheme:

…College Pro was cult-ish and is run like a Pyramid Scheme.Think about it. The kids are working their butts off bringing in the CASH while a bunch of slackers at the top are raking in the money. “Bonding Sessions” are common-place. Financially, they took over 30% of the profits. That’s over $25,000 from my kid for her working 4 months.

They charge the Franchisees for EVERYTHING at top prices. They even charge the kids $15.00 for a College Pro T-shirt !!! YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING! Shame on them. They disgust me. I will NEVER use College Pro. They are NOT good leaders or role models for our youth! It’s a greedy company breeding greed and teaching kids to cheat, not trust their loved ones and to lie about the painting skills they have ( 1 day of training).

If your kid wants to do College Pro, stand by them and know that they will work their butts off. There are a very few that make big bucks, but they are really rare. Help them create books, balances their checkbooks – your kids will need you more than ever. Don’t abandon them. They will not be able to do well unless they get REAL help from those that really care about their personal growth and work ethic.

John Doe writes:

Scammers. I was a franchise manager and I was robbed of all my money. I booked 72k and was on my way to my goal of 80k and my GM told me I was only going to recieve something less then 10k. I was pissed so you mean I worked 12-20 hrs a day and take home less then 10k. Bull ***! I just kept thinking they make 70k and I only make 10k. So I quit and sold my book work to other franchise managers so they can make their goals. I was just lucky not to have to pay anything more back to them for quiting like I read other managers have done. I really didnt have anything to owe them besides not fulfilling my goal. Anyways spread the word to kids that CPP *** and is a scam. Dont do it no matter what they say positive about their company

former CPP franchisee writes:

College pro painters is the worst student scam that is legal… the company lies, misleads, threatens, blackmails and on top of that they steal. True facts: if you sell anything under 75K your going to make nothing. There is NO guarantee of making any money! Example on a 50K business you will make 3000$ for working 70h a week for 6 months (1,78$ per hour). Total SCAM!

It isn’t really 24% royalty its more like 35% with all the hidden cost you pay on each job you book. Think about it 35% CPP charges 35% labour 15% supplies if your lucky you be left with maybe 15% to pay for your car, marketing, equipment. Don’t forget the 6000$ charge for what they call recoverables.

In total on a 50K biz they take 25K. They will take everything you have! If your thinking of becoming a franchisee it will be a mistake of a life time. You have greater chances of making money by starting your own company and make 45-50% of the sale and not 10-15% like with college pro!


111 thoughts on “COLLEGE PRO PAINTERS: Great Opportunity or Franchise Scam?


    Ive heard Tony the ceo say in one of his talks that they simply do this to help young entrepreneurs as their is easier ways to money.

    Who on earth says that after sucking some young naive students for 40% and charge them for each stupid weekend retreat?

    The recoverables are insane for a box of shit that goes unused for the summer.
    $250 for a weekend retreat? $65 for an end of summer rewards dinner? Talk about thanking the franchisees for working their tail off for you all summer!!!

    Treat your employees with respect and this company would be a whole heck of a lot better.

    Money sucking leaches that nickel and dime students with fees throughout the summer.

    They still owe me $450 for some ridiculous warranty work I had to complete in another franchisees area.

    Way too much work for what you earn in the end.

  • Hi there,
    I’ve already signed the contract to be a window cleaning franchise manager. I asked my interviewer, Chelsea, to give me some time to think over the pros and cons of the position but she kind of rushed me into it and I signed and faxed it off. Stupid decision on my part because the more I think about it the more I want to back out, and I am trapped by a $1000 termination fee.

    But here’s the current scenario;
    Chelsea calls me earlier today and she says that she mixed up some dates on the Washington State laws about franchises and she needs me to sign the contract again. I am just wondering is this my opportunity to back out without paying the $1000 fine? I know that I don’t want to do this program for sure. I was looking for a challenge, not a trap. and If i did end up in debt i would literally have no way to pay that off without fucking my life up.

    So basically the contract was not considered legal by state law here in Washington, so she wants me to sign a new one that would be legal. Can i tell her to get lost without financial repercussions?

  • Shwees:

    Email me at UnhappyFranchisee[at] about this issue.



  • I am currently working as a JSM with a CPP franchise. I’ve seen a ton of posts on here with the franchisee perspective, and just thought I’d share mine as a painter.

    I showed up my first day on the job with no painting experience and was told to start prepping a house with absolutely no training. When I asked for a basic run down or a few tips, I received nothing helpful. The little training I did receive was given in the middle of the job from my then-JSM, who had been working for less than a week with no prior experience. Two days into the summer, we received a visit from a couple higher ups in the company who basically told my franchisee that he was doing everything wrong (he was). They “promoted” me to Job Site Manager, but I really was given no choice in the matter, it was accept or quit.

    I have been put on ladders that I was uncomfortable working on, and basically just told to figure it out myself if there was a challenging spot or unclear ladder placement. I feel like my safety is of no concern to the management, even when I’ve explicitly expressed my discomfort with a task, I’m still told to just do it.

    When I agreed to take on the JSM duties, I was told that I would be making $12/hr. Instead, because we have consistently been so behind budget and on sites without paint or proper equipment, I have been working 40 hour weeks at minimum wage for the past month and a half. Because I take some level of pride in the work that I produce, which cannot be said for the other painters my franchisee has hired, I am basically getting paid minimum wage to clean up other peoples’ messes and deal with (rightfully) angry homeowners.

    I think at the end of the day, regardless of how frustrated I am by the shit money I’m making for the work I’ve put in every week, the homeowners are ultimately the parties suffering the most from the CPP business model, which has been surprisingly understated in previous posts. I feel terrible about the paint jobs we’ve produced this summer, and while I have done my best to ensure my highest quality of work, at the end of the day these people are trusting their homes to kids with no experience who receive basically zero training. Of the 10-15 sites I’ve worked on this summer, all but one or two were left dissatisfied with their experience and obviously will not be recommending us to anyone. I would never suggest to anyone to book with College Pro, and am incredibly frustrated from working for a company in which I take no pride.

    Yet because college students seeking summer work are their target employees, by the time we figure out that we basically agreed to write away our summer for minimum wage, it’s too late to find anywhere else who is willing to hire and train you for only a month or two or availability. I’ve been consistently looking for other jobs, but cannot afford to quit CPP because I’m a college kid with bills and loans and am desperate for a paycheck, even if it is minimum wage.

    But to top it all off, a homeowner of an older house with lead paint was so dissatisfied with the way that her property has been handled that she called the EPA, who is coming to do an inspection in the next few days, meaning that after all the work I’ve put in over the summer it’s very likely the franchise is going to be shut down and I’ll be out of a paycheck anyway.

    Just save yourself the trouble– don’t accept a franchise management position, don’t apply to be a painter, and definitely don’t book College Pro to paint your home.


    ADMIN note:  This comment has been re-posted here:

    COLLEGE PRO PAINTER Complaint: Untrained Employees, Dissatisfied Customers


  • I feel sorry for these poor kids but as a person who hired our local college pro I feel that I was ripped off. The kids doing t

  • Number one piece of advice for potential customers: DO NOT HIRE College Pro. No matter how nice the kids are, the supervisor did NOT do his job . I payed premium price and got such a lousy job that I have to redo over 30% of my house. There are whole areas that were not cleaned and a bunch that don’t have any paint at all on them. As a senior, I hired them because other people had a good experience, Well, there are 2 franchises in my area and I mistakenly got the new kid. We have about 40 pictures showing what wasn’t done. I feel like I was stolen from.

  • Ex franchisee

    They have a great idea to help people learn to run a business. However they are the only franchise I’ve ever heard of where you have to buy in every year. It cost me 10K to run a Window Cleaning Business. Might I add I had to purchase everything like ladders, bucket, ratchet straps, ladder mount for car, gas, etc.
    you fund there business with your own bank account an on top of it they charge you another 10K for there website, insurance, and brand name. My personal trainer/coach was suppose to help me step by step with 1on1 meetings. He only showed up once and it was so I could sign all his paperwork saying I’m an idiot and would love to pay you 10k for doing nothing.
    The only thing I’ve learned from College Pro is that when life looks like its offering something good its probably to good to be true.
    Oh might I add that I didn’t make it to 10K so I had to pay them out of pocket the rest of the money at the end of the year. Which needed to be paid by the end of the year. It was like $800 per month and if I couldn’t make a payment on time it was an extra 10% interest. That’s $80 extra dollars.
    I was actually on the verge of thinking suicide was the only way out.
    Needless to say I dropped out of college that semester and worked my ass off for them again without even running there business.

    F**k College Pro

  • THIS GETS ME QUITE HEATED. I just have ran a college pro business and it was the best experience of my life. College Pro is in the operation of training young entrepreneurs, and like any business, the business owner takes on the legality and financial responsibility. I was never once mislead or mis treated, and if there were ever skeptics saying they were, the reality was that they were not working hard enough. They do not charge interest on their fees, they coach you every step of the way, and give you an opportunity too really break through and make a difference at such a young age.

    And in terms of the fees, of course they’re going to fucking nickel and dime you, without it they would not be able too pay their bills. College Pro barely takes a profit.

    Shame on the people here for listening too the few opinionated people who simply failed at their job.

    I would highly recommend College Pro too anyone who wants too make a difference

  • Midwest Zee

    So I feel the need to respond to this after two years with the company as a JSM for a really shitty franchisee and then as the owner of a really strong business.
    My first year sucked. We regularly made minimum, we weren’t trained well, and we really didn’t do all that nice of a job for the homeowners. That’s why I came on as a Zee for year two. I was able to run a large, “presidents club” level business my first year working 20 hrs a week in the winter/spring and 40 – 50 hrs per week in the summer while taking on a full class load. I made almost 30k off of my business, and my best painter made over $6000 over the summer. On avg., my guys made about $9 an hour off of the 9.25 I promised (a few really slow guys brought down the team unfortunately. I imagine with the cash tips they made pretty close to 9.25 exactly. My customers had a 95% approval rating and a net promoter score of 57% (60% is considered world class). We only had two truly unhappy customers, of which one was refunded most of the money he paid because I felt bad.

    I saw several people make little to no money this year and I noticed the following things as to why:
    1. Immaturity. A lot of 18 year olds aren’t capable of handling the pressure and emotional roller coaster.
    2. Ego. For the most part, coaches know what they’re talking about if you lean on them for help. People who thought their way was better rarely did well.
    3. Expectations. It IS NOT easy. I consider myself a strong leader and assertive. I came in with a lot of confidence. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was worth it, but it was not easy.

    Of the people I saw fail, no one failed because they were scammed. College Pro actually loses money if you run less than 60k. This is all outlined in the agreement you sign at the beginning of the year.

    My advice: read the damn contract and understand the terms. Ask a lot of questions. Know that it’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Know that if you don’t put in the work, you WILL lose money. At the end of the day that’s the risk of running a small business. Also, don’t do it just for the money. That’s how we get unhappy customers and unhappy painters. If you don’t think you can handle it, seek out a conventional internship.

  • Trevor Winegaarten

    Was a franchise manager for 2 years. Horribly manipulative company, ripoff franchise fees of 25% to 30% when all fees are factored in. (McDonalds is only 4% ffs!!)

    Hitler youth like training program, cult like atmosphere throughout the organization

    Panders to gullible young college students who believe the company’s misleading PR

    My advice, don’t do it. Hire a prof painter to teach you estimating and painting, run your own co and take the 30% you would have paid CPP and put it in YOUR pocket!


  • Peter Wilson

    Ok so Im steaming about some of the comments on here! CPP is NOT a scam. I ran a franchise in Denver for two years. Ok I didn’t make much money, in fact I owed quite a lot on credit cards and to the paint store at summers end, but the Comapny College Pro said I was a success, and gave me an award to prove it

    Isn’t success more important than making money? I got a plack, with an engraved thing on it showing how successful I was, I hit the companies targets for me.

    Yes, I had to drop out of school briefly to make money at the sports store to pay for tuition but CPP says Im a success.

    Some poeple criticize the 30% royalty rates the company takes. yes this is alot but
    importantly the company places alot of TRUST in you (me) the franchise owner.

    My painters didnt make much money either it seems and yeah they want to blame me, but I told them the company says Im a success so shut the f up about it all


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