How to Start a Home Improvement Business: The Dealership Model


Beginning a business in the competitive realm of home improvement is a challenging endeavor. It demands a distinct product, a well-constructed strategy, and a strong support system for success.


Here at Rhino Shield, we have dealerships all across the nation and often receive inquiries such as “What are the essentials to start a painting dealership?” Beyond just painting, we also get asked, “What are the key components to make a home improvement business successful?”


We'll address these questions honestly and provide you with a clear overview of everything concerning starting a home improvement dealership.


Robust Marketing and Sales Support System

Whether you do painting, siding, door and window replacement, or HVAC installation/repair, you need leads to get business, which means sales and marketing support that provides all the necessary materials to execute a clear marketing plan. These should include most of the materials below:

  • Digital assets

o Educational Videos


o Social Media Templates


o Customer Testimonial Videos

  • Printed materials
  • Trade show designs
  • Brochures
  • Radio ads
  • TV commercials
  • Billboards


Our Rhino Shield dealership offers these and more within our turnkey business model.


In the home improvement industry, unique dealerships are rare. And when they do exist, they often lack the comprehensive support that Rhino Shield offers. Placing our model on a spectrum, with independent businesses on one end and franchises on the other, we align closely with the franchise side. This speaks volumes about the level of support we extend to you.


With Rhino Shield, you benefit from greater freedom to operate your business as you see fit. Additionally, we do not require monthly payouts like franchise fees, which can range from 6 to 12% of total revenue.


Product Training

A good dealership will educate you on effective sales techniques, including how to:

  • Deliver value
  • Educate homeowners
  • Enable customers to make informed decisions for their homes and budgets


Installation Training

The dealership you go with should invest time and resources in crews of new dealers in the field. Even when in-person assistance isn't possible, your dealership should always be available via phone for prompt assistance.


Rhino Shield has a Level 2 certified NACE coatings inspector on staff who assesses damages to determine warranty coverage. If additional expertise is needed, such as an engineer or envelope consultant, we've brought on this extra assistance in the past and will continue to work with our dealerships to identify these needs.


Financial/Business Training

Lastly, your chosen dealership should provide financial training for all your dealers, covering:

  • Setting up a chart of accounts
  • Managing product and labor costs
  • Tracking marketing expenditures
  • Commission range


With over two decades of experience, we understand where these thresholds should be to ensure your dealership's profitability.


The Best Marketing Strategy

Unlike traditional dealerships that leave business owners to navigate alone, Rhino Shield offers a turnkey marketing strategy. We've partnered with vetted marketing experts to help dealers effectively plan and execute their business's inaugural year.


With 20+ years of success in the market, Rhino Shield provides confidence when introducing our product. Our services include top-tier installation and sales training in person. Click here to get all the answers to the questions below.

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In any business, especially home improvement, without marketing leads, all other assets become inconsequential. Having a comprehensive marketing strategy is crucial. No matter how excellent your product or application process is, without customers, there is no business. Attracting potential customers is paramount in running a successful home improvement business.


For instance, to achieve a $1 million revenue in your first year, allocating about $200,000 to marketing is necessary. It's important to note that not all of this is upfront cash but reinvested revenue from completed jobs. Accumulating working capital is crucial. When managed properly, gross margins should range from 55 to 60%.


In 2022, we profiled two new dealerships, one in the Midwest and another in Florida. Both aimed for $1 million in their first year, with the Midwest reaching about $1.1 million and Florida hitting $1.6 million. They budgeted accordingly, allocating about $200,000 to advertising.


Click here to visit our dealer page.


Rhino Shield offers comprehensive marketing training to our dealers, covering various advertising avenues, including traditional methods such as:

  • Radio
  • Television
  • Home magazines
  • Print ads
  • Yard signs


We encourage our dealers to highlight three key elements in their marketing:


  1. National Network: Showcasing Rhino Shield as a national, U.S.-manufactured, and veteran-owned business with a 25-year track record of standing behind its product.
  2. Dealer Stories: Featuring local dealers' experience and commitment, emphasizing their expertise and longevity in the home improvement industry.
  3. Product Benefits: Emphasizing the unique features of the product.


We aim to share stories like this:

Mark and Sharyl in Brighton, Michigan, have been Rhino Shield partners for 16 years. Mark brings 30 years of home improvement experience, and they operate a family-run business.


Find more testimonials on our customer testimonial page here.


Exclusive Territories

Your chosen dealership should provide exclusive territories for each dealer. This exclusivity ensures you do not compete with other dealers, allowing you to focus on building your business without unnecessary rivalry. At Rhino Shield, we do just this.


However, this exclusivity comes with responsibilities, such as maintaining a positive reputation and adhering to Better Business Bureau standards.


We also establish minimum purchase requirements for our product, ensuring dealers are committed to their business's success and promoting the Rhino Shield brand.


Close-Knit Dealer Network

To cultivate a sense of community among dealerships, your brand should go the extra mile by closely working with you, which can include things like:

  • Conducting ride-alongs
  • Participating in home shows
  • Offering a supportive network spanning the nation


These opportunities will enable dealers to share insights and provide feedback on product enhancements, fostering a collaborative environment benefiting all involved. Our Rhino Shield network follows this collaborative model, and we’ve seen substantial results.


Unique Superior Product

Rhino Shield stands out with a product that distinguishes itself. It’s a system designed for longevity, unlike major manufacturers who want repeat purchases of paint that don't last, leading to more purchases.


The only comparable products to ours are those used exclusively for commercial settings. Even then, independent lab tests consistently show Rhino Shield outperforming in crucial aspects. It's rare to bring a genuinely unique, superior product to market, especially one that outshines competitors in a competitive landscape.


Attributes that make our product premium include:

  • 25-year warranty
  • Class A fire rating
  • Exceptional resistance to wind-driven rain exceeding 98 miles per hour, surpassing ASTM standard.
  • UV reflectivity for cooler homes and energy savings
  • Thickness, flexibility, and breathability reducing cracking and peeling, especially from natural house settling. You can learn more


What’s the Startup Cost of a Dealership?

Starting a home improvement dealership is relatively affordable compared to franchises. The initial investment is around $70,000 - $80,000, usually covering:


  • $20,000 product and marketing deposit to secure exclusivity and license the Rhino Shield brand, also allocated for the first year of website development for educational and lead-converting purposes.
  • $15,000 in product credit, prepaying for Rhino Shield products to be received incrementally.
  • $35,000 to $40,000 for initial marketing spend, with early investments of $10,000 to $15,000 monthly in the first 90 days and aiming to allocate 15% to 20% of working capital to marketing.
  • $15,000 to $20,000 for necessary tinting equipment.


Rhino Shield dealers typically see gross margins ranging from 55% to 60%, with net profits averaging 15% to 20%. Established dealers often enjoy higher profits due to reduced marketing needs from brand recognition, while new dealerships might start closer to 15%.


Learn more here.


Unlike franchises with ongoing fees, a dealership model will not impose such costs on dealers.


Rhino Shield's dealership model offers a unique proposition in home improvement, providing:

  • Exclusive territories
  • Comprehensive training
  • Robust marketing support
  • A superior product
  • No franchise fees
  • Complete sales training
  • Dealer and financial management guidance
  • The average Rhino Shield dealer generates over $1.5 million in annual revenues.


Check out this article covering real experience with one of our Rhino Shield dealers.


If you are interested in becoming a Rhino Shield authorized dealer or have any additional questions, you can navigate to the ‘Become a Dealer’ page on our website.