Are Cheap Decorators Destroying the Industry?

Updated Jun 9, 2024 | Posted Jan 12, 2024 | Business, Professional insight | 4 comments

Someone messaged me a few days ago and asked me whether I thought cheap Decorators are destroying the industry. Apparently, he’d quoted for redecorating a hall, stairs, and landing, but missed out to a cheap Decorator who’s price was £350 including materials.

I see similar comments regularly on social media. Or I read things like “you couldn’t charge that round here. There are too many Gardeners working for nothing”.

I also see other Decorators saying they can’t charge more than £150 per day. Just to break that down; take your running costs out, cover your time quoting or organising the van, and have a few weeks paid holiday a year. Those £150 a day Decorators are working less than minimum wage!!


Why do so Many Decorators Struggle to Make a Good Living?


So, what gives? Are cheap Decorators destroying the industry? Is it localised poverty around the UK that keeps prices down? Or is it something else?

I want to try and do this in a respectful way because it’s evident that a lot of Decorators struggle. However, I don’t think cheap Decorators are to blame. In fact, if you’re a Decorator and you’re competing for that type of work, then that’s on you.


If you go and quote every time you have an enquiry, regardless of the job, then a portion of the jobs you go and see will be clients looking for cheap labour. Stop wasting your time. Start screening your potential clients.

Ask them what they’re thinking about having done. Ask them if they’re seeking other quotes. You can even say something like, “we’re not the cheapest, but we try to be the best” to see if that puts them off. Make sure they’re happy with your waiting time before you commit to an appointment.

If the homeowner starts talking about being on a budget, or they want a “quick freshen up”, then you know they’re looking for the cheapest Decorator.

When you do go, you should turn up looking clean and tidy, talk through the job in detail, recommend premium products, and never send a quote over text. If you don’t do these things, then the only thing you have to compete with other Decorators on is price, and that’s it. The only other way to win work is to be a cheap Decorator.


The Shortage of Decorators in the UK


If you are a cheap Decorator, then this may surprise you, but there is a shortage of Decorators in the UK. We are in demand, and a lot of us have waiting lists that exceed 6-months.

Most homeowners struggle to find a Decorator at all. Others get let down in one way or another. Ask any of them and they’ll tell you stories about asking a few Decorators for a price, one not bothering to turn up, and the others failing to come back with quotes.

These homeowners just want someone professional who they can trust. Someone who isn’t going to let them down. Be that guy, and they won’t mind paying a premium for you.

So, stop worrying about being undercut on the odd job, who cares. You can walk into a subby type role and earn £180 a day, so if you can’t run a business and charge £200 a day, then don’t run a business.


Final Thoughts


I hope this blog has helped someone. Cheap Decorators aren’t destroying the industry at all. I just think we need to up our game and stop coming out with stuff like “there are too many Gardeners round here”.

I wrote a more detailed blog on how to raise your prices, which you can read here. I also put together a list of books that also help. Click here for details.

Now, go and charge your worth.

Updated Jun 9, 2024 | Posted Jan 12, 2024 | 4 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.
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  1. Jack Wardley

    my god £350 inc materials for hallway landing thats scary I hope there’s isn’t to many of them my way what he using contract matt straight over on the woodwork

  2. Craig

    Been self employed for 31 years this years,never seen so many people holding a brush.
    Quoted for a job,hallway,staircase landing ,lounge,kitchen and toilet.
    The price I quoted was just over a grand,the customer got back to me and said that’s double what two other decorators costs.Think you have to leave them to it.

  3. Richard

    I always maintain that a cheap decorator is cheap for a reason.

    Firstly, they are slow.

    So £15 a hour means they take 2 days to paint a room whereas l can perhaps do it in a 8/9 hour day

    Customers don’t always see this and the £15 hour v £20/£25 is all they see.

    Online Reviews, recommendations,

    Be tidy

    Prompt to customers enquiries.

    Turn up on time don’t go away mid afternoon customer wants you in and out as quickly as possible with the minimum dustruption.

    Don’t always take every cup of coffee
    offered it looks bad nowadays and it’s very noticeable. Ie if they think you are expensive they will think ahh he had 3 coffees today..

    Perhaps stay clear Facebook as looks cheaper end IMO, however done have had decent leads from Facebook.

    Don’t let customers push/mess you around be firm but always polite you are the skilled decorator and know what your doing.

    Offer friendly advice where you think something not going to look right etc

    Make yourself look in demand as you should be if you are good.

  4. Robert Campbell

    Couldn’t agree more, with all points made!


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