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Catherine Arthur - Vice President of lia sophia

1. What is the story behind CertaPro?

CertaPro Painters evolved from the college student based franchise system, College Pro Painters, the largest student painting company in North America. College Pro started in 1977, and CertaPro was developed during the span of 1989-91 to address year-round consumer demand for painting, and also to accommodate requests for more complex or long-term decorating projects. Franchising began in the fall of 1992.

The Franchise Company is the parent company of CertaPro Painters and College Pro Painters. The Franchise Company operates franchise systems that serve more than 300,000 customers through a network of more than 1,800 franchisees. It is firmly entrenched in the residential services market, owning several other recognized franchise systems including California Closets, Paul Davis Restoration, Floor Coverings International, Handyman Connection and Pillar to Post.

2. What made you decide to franchise?

The paint contracting market was and remains highly fragmented and without large-scale competitors. CertaPro saw an opportunity to offer customers a standardization of products and services through a franchise network. We believe that an experienced business person makes a great franchisee, and that they will execute a sound business plan, and, add value to the painting market.

3. Is it a myth that painting is a man's job?

Yes, we have many fantastic women both as franchise owners and as painters. Our core customers are women, and our experience has shown that our painting franchise requires people with: detail orientation, goal attainment, assertive leadership and a preference for introspection. These are traits that are more commonly found in women, than men. At least that is what I've been told!

4. So would you consider CertaPro as a great franchise for women?

Yes! Earlier we predominantly attracted men as franchisees. Now we are getting many more women because we have found that women, as business leaders, are very strong. We are looking for people who want to build a $2.5 million to $3.5 million business... a business that just happens to painting. If you think about it, it is usually the woman of the home who decides that the home needs painting and goes about contacting companies, getting estimates and making decisions. We are finding that our home-owners respond well to doing business with a woman, especially women who understand the importance of how the home functions while painting is going on. We have found that our customers respond to our Certainty Service System very well. In fact, our focus on achieving high ratings on Customer Experience has shown us that women have a higher command of the elements of our program.

5. What do your franchisees say about CertaPro?

Almost all franchisees rave about our training program which includes two one-week sessions focusing on business operations at our corporate headquarters in suburban Philadelphia in addition to the on-site, hands-on training either in the franchisee's own territory or that of an experienced CertaPro franchisee through our Mentor Program. CertaPro's training department also offers continuing education programs.

6. What is unique about your franchising opportunity?

CertaPro is the only large-scale, full-time, franchised commercial and residential painting business in the home improvement industry. CertaPro has 223 franchise owners and 260 locations in North America.

Thanks to stratospheric growth in home remodeling accompanied by equally explosive interest in home décor, painting has never been more popular. The paint contracting industry is estimated to approach $100 billion in annual sales. CertaPro franchisees are well positioned to serve U.S. homeowners who company studies suggest have come to view their home as a sanctuary rather than a castle. That is bolstered by a prosperous but aging Baby Boomer generation with more disposable income but less inclination to handle home improvement projects themselves as well as the aging housing stock in North America that needs painting every three to seven years.

7. Any words of wisdom for women looking to own their own business?

Go for it! Make sure you have a plan in place and realistic expectations about how much it will cost. Also, talk to your family and make sure you have their support, it will be a lot harder if you don't. Focus your energies on where you, as a woman, can make an impact. Where are women under-represented in the economy? Therein lies opportunity!

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