When a store opens in an area, there is an immediate need for beginner classes. There are always a few brave soles who will just buy the paint, and with a few short verbal instructions or 10 minutes in front of a YouTube video, go home and try it. But the majority of people would rather take a class and be shown, step by step, how to use the products. And let’s face it, if you want to sell paint, then you’re going to have to teach them how to use it.
Another really great thing about teaching classes is having a busy shop! When customers come in and see lots of people having fun and creating wonderful projects the enthusiasm is contagious! Trudy, my trusty helper, always encourages people to ‘some and see’ what the girls are up to making them feel included and very positive about what we’re doing.
It’s been my experience that there are 2 main types of learners. One group just wants to paint their Grandmother’s table and the other that wants to learn as much as possible about all of the products. So, to accommodate both groups, I offered both types of classes:
Cottage Paint Beginner’s Basics: Wooden tiles or pieces of molding are used to demonstrate the different painting techniques and mediums – like one and two colour wet distressing, crackle medium, glazing etc. Cottage Paint provides the wooden trays and tiles plus all the instructions you will need to teach the class. These classes are quite intense, require good timing to get through all of the techniques you need to teach and a considerable outlay for supplies since all are included in the price which runs anywhere between $100 – $200.
Paint Your Own Furniture Piece: Where the student brings in their own SMALL piece to paint – from learning the importance of cleaning, through the painting and finally applying the wax. These classes are a lot of fun and I find the students benefit from seeing what others are doing as much as a learning how to do their own piece! From a shop point of view, these classes are less stressful to teach, cost less and take much less time and organization to prepare for. I only charge $20 for the instruction plus whatever paint, wax and other supplies the student need.
Drop-in Sundays: After a couple of years or so, I found that a lot of the people that wanted the beginner’s classes had taken them and were happily painting away at home. Then what? There are still always people who want to learn a specific skill or technique for that ‘special’ piece or just need help and encouragement with a challenging project, like their kitchen or bathroom cabinets. So the ‘paint your own’ classes have evolved into ‘drop-in Sundays’. Here’s where we might try a couple of techniques and colours on sample boards that they can take home and test in the room (colours vary dramatically in different lighting conditions) to ensure that they’ve made the best choices for their home and skill level. So now, when the customer purchases their paint and supplies, you know that they feel much more confident about tackling a huge project at home. It really is in your best interests to make sure that people know what they’re doing. They’ll keep painting if each project turns out well – the first time!
Project Classes: I usually do these on a Friday or Saturday, to accommodate families and working people. I try to keep class time to no longer than 3 hours and run them from noon – 3ish. This gives me the morning to get set up and eliminates the need to deal with lunches. These classes are a great opportunity to promote any new products you’ve introduced (like the mirror class using the Botanical papers) or to provide hands-on instruction for products that are a bit tricky to use (like the image transfer mediums). I will talk more about which classes have been really successful for me in future posts. And I’d love to hear about any great classes that have worked well for you!