FAQ – Become the best decorator you can be

There’s no such thing as ‘the best decorator in the world’, because we all have different skills and different experience. But we can become the best decorator we can be, given our mental aptitudes, how our bodies can manage the work, and how we approach the business of decorating.

So how do we work out how to be the best decorator we can be, wherever we are in our career? And what kind of decorator do we want to be?

It’s in the mind

Everyone’s brain works differently. Some people are methodical and detail-focused, others like speed and getting lots done. Some people are very focused on tasks, getting satisfaction by ticking things off as they get done. Others are more focused on people, wanting to make sure their customers are delighted. 

The kind of work you prefer will probably depend on what kind of person you are. If you love detail, then maybe getting into high end papering or paint effects would be very satisfying. If you get a thrill by bashing out a newbuild really fast, then perhaps learn high speed spraying. If you’re really customer focused, working one on one, then perhaps the residential market would work for you. If you prefer getting on with a tick list of jobs, perhaps commercial work would suit. 

I’m not saying you have to conform to this list, but it’s a great place to start, because what gives you the greatest satisfaction will spur you on to be better at it, and move towards the best decorator you can be. 

What don’t you know?

On a practical level, once you’ve identified what kind of decorator you want to be, you then need to work out how to get there. There’s a lot of information online in blogs and videos. Read the articles in The Decorator magazine and go back to past issues. Ask questions in decorator forums.

Perhaps you learn better by being shown how to do stuff, so go on a course or ask to work with someone you respect in return for learning some of their skills. We often do that when we start in the trade, but there’s no reason why we can’t do it when we’re years or even decades in. Martial arts masters often say that they are always apprentices, this is a great approach to have. 

What don’t you know?

Whatever it is you choose to learn – whether it’s graining or spraying or papering or timber repairs… Use every opportunity you can to practise. If you can do it at home, then go for it. If you’re just beginning then offer to do a charity job, or something for a friend or family member. The best way to get better is to do it, make mistakes and learn. 

Share your work

Whatever you want your specialism to be, people need to know you do it so you can do more of it. So share your work on your website, on your social media. Do a quick post or a quick blog about every job, just a couple of photos and a few sentences will do.

If you want more commercial contracting then send photos and blog links to contractors you want to work with, or turn up on site and speak to the gaffer with examples of work on your phone or tablet. Try business networking, few contractors will be doing it so you’ll have somewhat of a captive market.

Peer support

Speaking of networking, try to connect with other people who do what you want to be great at. Find the experts and where they hang out online. Meet up with them for a coffee or a pint at decorating shows. And while you’re at the shows, get the latest gen on products and equipment.

Better business

It’s all very well being great at what you do, but you won’t have the customer base nor the resources to do it if you don’t run an effective business. Reply to customers in a timely manner, turn up on time, be friendly, be clear, do what you say you’ll do and then a bit more.

Listen to your customers, then repeat back what they say in your own words, it’s such a simple way to reduce the chance of getting the wrong end of the stick. It’s not rocket science; it’s just getting into the habit of doing everything a bit better. 

Simply the best

Becoming the best painter and decorator you can be requires a combination of technical skill, talent, doing what you enjoy most and experience.

You have a unique combination of those, and that means that you’re already the best decorator you can be, at this given time, with the skills you have right now, the tools you have right now, the attitude you have right now.

But you can be better. Knowing that you can achieve more by taking some simple steps can give you purpose at work, it can lead to personal growth, business growth, and a more satisfied life.