From back verandah to workshop and beyond …
Like many, Covid forced changed upon us.
Day 1 of restrictions saw the business I was working with (within the travel industry) cease immediately.
So the opportunity to take our hobby of painting furniture and try and make it a fulltime business arose.
Until this point furniture painting was just a hobby on the back verandah. Flip a piece a week to pay for dinner out on the weekend.
But with the need to make it a reliable source of income, we made a plan and decided to have a run at it.
We started living every flippers dream … we signed a lease on a 160sqm workshop where we could sand, paint, Upstyle and generally make a mess, without it being in the way at home or upsetting the neighbours with endless hours of sanding.
It was daunting. Could we paint enough to make a living. Would enough people come by to make it profitable. What processes would make painting furniture more effective … the little nagging voice of negative was definitely there.
Day 1 of being open and we had someone come by asking if we did commission work. Bryan wanted his table and chairs painted. Bryan became our first customer.
Bryan’s want to have his chairs painted also saw me break my commitment to never paint dining chairs. It was this day I YouTubed how to spray paint and went a bought a spray gun.
Before we finished Bryan’s furniture we had a few more quotes accepted. Heidi was the next, much to her husbands delight, we painted practically every piece of furniture in her house. Poor Carlos, I don’t think he ever though his home could look so white!
Heidi has gone on to be our greatest marketing tools, still referring us business 2 years on. It seems Heidi knows half of Sydney!
From that first fortnight the next 2 years until now have been a joyful blur.
All of a sudden the doubt was erased and the need for 25 hours in a day to get through the work began.
We learnt to spray paint. Especially for dining chairs. The process of clean, scuff, prime & paint was developed, reducing the time we took in sanding, allowing for work to be finished faster at the same quality as when we were painting on the back verandah.
We started retailing paint to compliment the store sales. This lead to us doing classes both online and then in the workshop when restrictions allowed.
With a focus on reducing landfill, we collected so much furniture, we opened in March 2021 a seperate shop, 200sqm, to house our furniture that was either painted or waiting to be painting. The Flip Shop is a treasure trove of antique, vintage and unique pieces all waiting for a new home.
Our shop model of ‘As is, DIY or Upstyled’ allows customers to choose their piece and take straight home, buy paint products to Upstyle theirselves or have us Upstyle the piece. A unique experience for customers when furniture shopping.
The business as you may know includes our very own paint range, which we developed to make painting furniture more economical, effective and efficient for our customers.
Yes we keep busy, but it certainly is the best job on earth and we wouldn’t give it up for anything.
So for those flippers out there who have the itch to give a fulltime business a go, what would we suggest? What have we learnt that you can lean on?
- Being all in is a big step to success. We were forced to make it the primary focus. If we had the comfort of a fulltime job whilst making the flipping business a success we would probably still be painting on the back verandah.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and for help. Wasting time being stubborn and getting it wrong only diminishes your motivation, makes you less productive and ultimately costs you money. Ask, ask again and keep asking. There are plenty of great people in the flipping community who love to help. Start with us if you don’t know where to go … we’re always happy to assist where we can.
- Look like a business from day one. Social media, payment & quote system, website etc. Have you customer on the first day of trading feel like you’ve been around for 100 years.
- Seek and win commission work. It is far more profitable and provides a better cash flow than painting your own piece and waiting to sell it. It allows you to plan your week and know the cash which will be flowing into your business.
- Understand your time is what you are selling and treat it with the highest regard and value.
- The most important part of furniture sales in our view is not the paint colour, whether it is spray or brushed or really anything to do with the finished product, it’s the pick up and delivery service we offer on our commission work. With our average job being 4 pieces, very few customers have the capacity to get these to and from us. Offering deliver jumps this hurdle and customers love that their furniture is picked up, taken away by the painting fairies and retuned and put back into position. Meaning all they have to do in the process is pick a colour … and of course pay.
- Remember to focus on the 4 parts of a sale daily. Order, fulfilment, delivery, payment. How are you advertising to generate quotes and ultimately orders, what is your process to paint the pieces efficiently (within the hours you set out for the job), can you complete jobs to get them back when promised and finally have customer pay a deposit and settle on the day of delivery.
Our business in 2 short years has moved from painting roadside pick ups on the back verandah, to -
- Completing over 1,800 pieces of commission work
- 200sqm shop
- Our own paint brand with more than 1,000 customers
- Estate and downsizing business, saving more furniture from landfill, plus we get the first dibs on the best pieces!
If we can do it, anyone can. We are certainly excited about the many ideas we have to continue to evolve the business. We are also excited to see others build their own businesses within furniture flipping, we are certainly here to help you if you would like to go down that road
As always if you have any questions, please reach out we are always more than happy to help.
♥️ Bree & Stewart