2 min

Wow factor

Couple shakes up Ottawa's painting pool

Painters Leesa Franklin and Leesha Cunningham work with a colour consultant to help indecisive customers make decisions.
If you’ve ever had your home painted, you know that a few quick coats of paint can quickly turn into a much larger undertaking than you bargained for. A big painting job can put your home out of commission for days or even weeks, with contractors coming and going. A new business is seeking to change all that: Wow-1Day Painting is as good as its name, bringing in professional crews to do the job — setup, painting and cleanup — in just one day.
The business began in 2010 when Brian Scudamore, the mastermind behind 1-800-Got-Junk?, bought a company called One Day Painting from owner Jim Bodden. Since then, Wow-1Day Painting has expanded to more than 20 franchises in the US and Canada. Which is where businesswomen and partners Leesha Cunningham and Leesa Franklin come in.
The couple met online in 2010. It quickly became apparent that they should also go into business together. With backgrounds in construction and food services, respectively, Cunningham and Franklin each brought a unique skill set to the table. They have a passion for small businesses and unconventional career paths, which seems only fitting, given how they were introduced to the company. “One day we were watching TV and Undercover Boss Canada came up,” Cunningham explains. “It was talking about 1-800-Got-Junk? and that piqued our interest.”
At the end of the program, Wow-1Day Painting was mentioned, and the two were hooked. An email to the company got the ball rolling, and soon they were franchisees. “It’s our passion to run a business and to be involved in something,” Franklin says. “The Wow-1Day Painting concept is very untraditional in this business. The fact that we happen to be the only female franchisees in the system right now is an added bonus for us, we think.”
Cunningham and Franklin have noticed an interesting pattern: many of their customers seem more comfortable using their service because they’re women. “It puts them at ease right away,” Franklin says, noting this acceptance even extends to paint colours. “They automatically think that being women, we know the colours,” Cunningham says. “It’s like, ‘What do you think?’ They wouldn’t have asked a guy!”
They work with a colour consultant to help indecisive customers make decisions and also offer their own gentle tips and suggestions along the way. If at the end of the process anything has been missed, the crew will return to make things right.
Franklin’s role is more behind the scenes: taking care of PR, marketing and bookkeeping and driving the painting van around town to increase visibility. She is currently serving in the military, to have a second source of income while the franchise gets off the ground, and is learning the ropes of the painting business. “Especially when we were starting out, I needed to learn the business, so I would go out with Leesha on some of our earlier jobs and paint with the crew,” she says. “That’s one thing I learned in the military: if you’re gonna do it, then you’re gonna go out and do it.”
A big part of Franklin and Cunningham’s business is networking. “I think women approach business differently,” Franklin says. “Women are all about relationships and building networks, meeting people, and it’s a more personalized thing.” They are also working hard to counter the perception of the painting industry as haphazard and unreliable by always presenting a professional, organized crew and a polished final product. A few thoughtful touches don’t hurt, either. At the end of a job, the crew leaves sticky notes for customers to tag problem areas in the event that anything is missed. They also leave a small gift and a card. “At the end of the day,” says Cunningham, “I want to see a smile.”