Local college student running own house painting business adapts during COVID-19
Galen Kusic, Editor
Madelyn Swanson is a graduate of Benicia High School and a transfer student at San Francisco State University. After graduating from Diablo Valley College with a degree in communications, she chose SF State because it is close to home and she can travel back on the weekends to visit her grandparents.
When Swanson arrived in San Francisco state, she found that she was one of a few hundred students taking a communications degree and found that she would join them in the job market next year.
“I always thought that in an interview after college I could refer to my degree and say, do you see that degree? I worked hard for it, can I have a job now? ‘Boy, I lived in a false reality. ” She said.
While she admits that a bachelor’s degree is something to be proud of, she also notes that it isn’t the only thing employers are looking for. She quickly understood that she needed something to stand out from the future crowd in the job market and started looking for internship opportunities.
“If I say I’ve spent hours researching internships, I would be frivolous about the process. ” She said. “I’ve probably looked at over a hundred internships, both on and off site. I knew I wanted a business-based internship as I plan to go back to school when I finish my bachelor’s degree. “
Swanson didn’t notice anything like the internship at College Works Painting. The internship not only focuses on one aspect of a company, but also provides practical experience in sales, marketing and operations.
“It took me over a month to get the internship. ” She said. “After I showed interest in the internship, College Works took me through several interviews and even had me do in-depth research on the company to determine if I was suitable for their internship.”
After doubting whether she had what it takes to run her own business and completing the final interview with a cover letter, she received one of five internships to run her own home painting business.
It was difficult to balance full-time school, a part-time barista job and internship, but Swanson made the sacrifice and realized the importance of a daily routine.
“You can successfully balance school, work, and social life if you devote time to each of these and make yourself responsible for doing it during these times, ”she said. “It’s about balance and discipline.”
Prior to COVID-19, she did much of her door-to-door marketing in Benicia. She would work out an area for the day and knock on as many doors as possible to let everyone know she’s doing business in the area and would love to give them a free estimate at a later date.
“Benicia is old-fashioned in many ways, so the city retains its charm and remains a picturesque place to live, ”she said. “On the other hand, his old-fashioned methods also suggest challenges.”
Swanson did some door-to-door research before marketing and found that she needed special permission to run her business in town. She drafted a full presentation for the company’s California board of directors of their internship, explaining to them why investing in a Benicia permit was beneficial for both the company and themselves.
They agreed and said that as long as she took the right steps, they would pay the permit.
“I’ve had a lot of doors on my face or people asking for one of the business cards that never call me, but I remain optimistic by looking at every door I knock on as another opportunity to connect and expand my business “, she said.
When COVID-19 hit, their entire business structure went out of the window. Just like other companies, it had to adapt to keep going. For the marketing component, she switched to alternative online marketing. She reached out to the press, joined local groups on Facebook to post her ads, set up a NextDoor account, and asked friends and family to spread the word.
“I haven’t had too many results with alternative marketing, but I post every day, “she said. “With everyone at home safe, people are more aware than ever of projects they need to do around them.”
How does Swanson run a business that focuses on in-person appointments and online on-site estimates? Three easy steps: FaceTime, Skype and Zoom. As soon as she receives a lead that she is interested in seeing a price for interior or exterior painting, she will place a quick 10-minute phone call with them on one of these platforms and let them show you around their home. They talk about the amount of work they want to do, and she takes screenshots of problem areas that she notices.
With the screenshots, the scope of work and the area, she designs a presentation and a contract to present them to the customer later via Zoom.
“If the customer decides the price is good for the scope of work and they like me and my company, they can digitally sign the contract and leave their deposit online, ”she said. “I’m also offering a 15 percent discount to people who book with me for the summer during this time.”
Swanson plans to send their crews (all licensed, tied and seasoned professionals who have worked successfully with the company in the past) out to paint their clients’ homes from mid-May.
Since the pandemic started, Swanson moved back in with her grandparents. The State of San Francisco closed its campus and moved classes online. Her grandparents are both retired so they spend most of their time at home, but COVID-19 has affected their ability to run errands or buy groceries.
“I am glad that I am at home and can help you during this time. ” She said.
The residents could remember their grandparents. Years ago her grandfather put up intricate dollhouses that he had built in her front yard over the Christmas period. People from all over Benicia brought their children to visit the Dollhouse Village, where he depicted Santa’s workshops and village. He even won the Coldwell Banker Winter Wonderland competition for a year. They are also present in First Street Parade on July 3rd each year, driving the Ford Model A that their grandfather built.
After college, Swanson hopes to get a job in marketing or communications. In the long term, she would like to be the communications manager of a large company. Your advice to graduating seniors is the only person holding you back from achieving your goals is yourself.
“If you want to be successful you must take the necessary steps to get there. ” She said. “Commitment and discipline are the key. First, ask yourself what you are passionate about, and then see how you can turn it into a career. There is no single path to success, everyone will go different paths. The most important thing is not how long or which path you take, but that you work harder than anyone along the way. “
Swanson calls her mother her greatest role model growing up. She instilled a strong work ethic and taught her to keep your commitments, own your flaws, and strive every day to be a better person than the day before.
“She taught me that if you want something, you have to work for it, ”she said. “You have to make hard sacrifices to be successful. Sometimes you have to pass a party to study for an exam. If you focus on long-term goals, you have a chance to pass this exam, but you have more chances to go to parties. “
For those interested in a price for interior or exterior painting, Swanson is available Give them a free digital estimate. You can reach them at (707) 291-3884 or [email protected]