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Franchise Review #1: Pinot’s Palette (Strengths, Weaknesses, and Overall Grade)

by Daniel Slone on October 21, 2013

in Art-Related Franchise, Franchise Review Series

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This Pinot’s Palette franchise review was written by Daniel Slone, our new regular franchise reviewer. Daniel currently serves as CFO for a small public company that owns two franchise systems in the restaurant sector. He has previously worked on both the franchisor and franchisee sides of the house for a national service franchise, serving as vice president and director of franchise operations and subsequently as CFO for the system’s largest franchisee. He has an MBA and held the Certified Franchise Executive designation from the International Franchise Association from 2007 to 2010.

All opinions expressed in this review are Daniel’s own.

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Getting together with friends or coworkers to drink wine, socialize, and paint might not seem like the most obvious way to spend an evening, but the concept has caught on surprisingly well. More than one franchise opportunity is available in this niche, and here we’ll consider Pinot’s Palette.

Pinot’s Palette Franchise:  The Basics

Pinot's Palette Studio PhotoFor a price typically less than $50, the customer enjoys 2-3 hours during which they paint a specified piece (which they take home) under the guidance of an instructor while enjoying wine or other beverages. Although the “evening and wine” version is probably the best known, outlets can also offer daytime “coffee and canvas” events, private parties, corporate events, and children’s classes.

Pinot’s Palette Franchise:  Strengths

1.  Pinot’s Palette is a location-based business, so retail space will be a necessity, but outlets can easily be placed in strip malls or similar retail sites. This is not a walk-in or impulse purchase business, so an expensive high-visibility location is not necessary. A relatively modest amount of space will serve, so rent should not be excessive. The business does not require a substantial level of inventory (although supplies are typically purchased from the franchisor, potentially limiting pricing flexibility).

2.  Because space requirements are modest and there are no significant equipment or inventory costs, the startup costs are relatively low. Pinot’s Palette currently requires a minimum of only $80,000 in liquid assets for franchisee qualification, which is fairly low, and that is projected to include the first three months of operating capital.

3.  Unlike a retail or service business that must be manned during all operating hours, this business offers predictability since events are scheduled. Labor costs can be virtually nonexistent since the art instructors are typically hired on a contract basis. This would eliminate the complications of payroll, payroll taxes, and workers’ compensation insurance. The franchisor does provide training for art instructors.

4.  This franchise also requires no specialized expertise on the part of the franchisee. While someone capable of providing the art instruction themselves would certainly have an advantage, it is certainly not necessary. An outgoing personality and a certain flair for marketing would both be helpful, however.

5.  Pinot’s Palette offers a proprietary management software system that simplifies management, reservations, payroll, customer relationship management, and reporting.

Pinot’s Palette Franchise:  Weaknesses

1.  As we mentioned initially, Pinot’s Palette is not the only social painting (or what the franchise website calls the “paint and sip industry”) franchise. Its main competitor is Painting with a Twist, which first opened in post-Katrina New Orleans in 2007. Painting with a Twist began franchising in 2009, the same year Pinot’s Palette opened in Houston, and it remains the category leader with approximately 100 locations in 17 states. Pinot’s Palette began franchising in 2010 and now has 29 franchised units. The significant difference in the growth rates of the two systems is a concern and warrants further investigation.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles Willis November 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

Hey Franchise Chatter,

Just wanted to give you a heads up that Pinot’s Palette currently has 61 studios as of 3rd quarter 2013, and is on pace to become the largest system in our industry in late 2014 / early 2015. Very exciting times to be a Pinot’s Palette franchise owner. Also look out for our iPhone App coming out later this year.


Charles Willis
President / Co-Founder
Pinot’s Palette


Franchise Chatter November 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Hi Charles,

Thanks for the update! Please keep us posted on any new developments with Pinot’s Palette and we’ll share it with our readers. All the best!

Best regards,



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