Repeat business is where it’s at. According to the book Marketing Metrics, businesses have a 60 to 70 percent chance of selling to an existing customer, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5 to 20 percent.
Studies also show that repeat customers spend 33 percent more compared to new customers.
With the popularity of home improvement content on TV, YouTube and social media, your customer base is more sophisticated than ever. Even if they haven’t picked up a paint brush themselves, homeowners certainly know what to look for in a contractor.
In this article, we’ll take a look at five easy and effective things you can do in your everyday customer interactions to build your reputation and generate more repeat business.
1. Demonstrate your professionalism
One of the simplest ways to differentiate yourself from the competition is to make sure your company follows good business practices. Demonstrate your worth as a professional painter by showing your customers respect. Arrive on time, return phone calls promptly, clean up when you leave and note details that are important to the customer.
Simple gestures such as trying not to wake a sleeping baby or greeting a customer by name go a long way in creating a good impression. Develop a code of conduct in dealing with customers and take the time to train your crew to follow it, too.
The professionalism you show customers will travel by word of mouth, and some prospective customers will find that almost as appealing as your painting ability.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Clear and frequent communication is one key to producing satisfied customers who will call you for their next paint job and recommend you to their friends. Set expectations early and check in regularly with your customers before, during and after their project.
Texting is an efficient and easy way to keep customers up to speed on their project. You will want to report issues promptly and keep your work as unobtrusive as possible to customers’ everyday lives, says the Family Handyman. But make sure you make a point to talk with customers in-person because there’s nothing like talking face-to-face.
Make sure your estimate clearly states your base costs and several options for standard and premium products, as well as a clear explanation of the differences. When you address their expectations in writing, your customers will feel reassured about what they’re paying for – and about your professionalism as a contractor.
PRO TIP: The Project Bids Tool, available in the Sherwin-Williams PRO+ App, is designed to help pros deliver an easy-to-read, professional bid that captures job details and project information, all on-site, right from a mobile device, from which bids can be easily sent anywhere, any time. Get more details in our story Thumbs Up for PRO+ App Project Bids Tools.
3. Share your product knowledge
A successful painter knows their products and how to integrate them into the goods-and-service package that they offer. With all of today’s advances in coatings technology, you can offer your customers more product options than ever before.
From ultra-smooth to semi-gloss, finishes come in more sheens, too, giving customers a range of choices and upgrades. Educate your customers about the differences among today’s paints and coatings, and they’ll see you as a knowledgeable authority who brings extra value to their project.
Sherwin-Williams sales reps and store managers receive continual, ongoing training on the latest coatings advances and application techniques – so make sure you tap into their knowledge and expertise to stay up to date on the products that will give your customers the best-looking, longest-lasting results.
PRO TIP: Sherwin-Williams offers easy-to-use customizable sales and marketing tools for contractors with a PRO account, including a project guide builder template to input recommended products, color selections, etc. Learn more in our story Easy to Use Customizable Marketing Materials for Pros.
4. Assist with color
Color selection can be stressful for your customers, so helping them with this process not only can help you make the sale but also provide added value that is remembered by your customer.
The good news is that there are more resources available now than ever before to help ease your customer’s color journey. For example, the Color Toolkit is the latest addition to the Sherwin-Williams PRO+ App, the free all-in-one tool for pro painters for iPhone or Android.
With this app, you can share color tools to help your customers pick a color with an email or a text right to their phone, see what’s trending with the 50 most popular Sherwin-Williams paint colors and help clients by ordering free color chips online or schedule time with a Sherwin-Williams Color Expert for free color advice.
Even without these advanced technological tools, there are numerous ways you can help customers pick the perfect color for their project.
“I listen and watch their body language when they’re looking at the color samples,” says Don Easton of Easton Painting in Woodland, California. “I look at their clothing and accessories, their artwork and decorations, and the style of their home. I notice colors in their garden and the color of their car. These are all clues to the right color for them.”
5. Go the extra mile!
Last but certainly not least, a surefire way to generate repeat business is to always, always go beyond what is necessary or expected.
Gary Brousseau of Brousseau Painting in Windsor, Ontario, for example, once painted a bedroom and found out later that the husband of the woman who contracted the work didn’t like the color. Brousseau went back to the job site, where the woman had picked a new color that her husband liked. She didn’t have a lot of money to pay for the project, however, so Brousseau made a deal that she pay only for paint.
“I did the repaint for free,” he says. “That went a long way.” He received so much future business from her and other members of her family that it easily made up for the time he spent repainting the bedroom.
Once the job is finished, nothing ruins a good paint job quicker than leaving a mess behind. Ken Doyle of Emerald Isle Painting in Phoenix, Arizona, takes cleanliness to a new level. He makes it a point to clean the carpet in the room he has painted.
“It only takes an hour,” he says. “And people love stuff like that.”
Doyle says he once moved a tree for a customer because she was having a difficult time getting her landscaper to do the work.
“Going the extra mile really helps when it comes to repeat business,” he says.
Sher Payne of Perfeck Painting by Sher in Midway, Texas, agrees. She regards this as an investment in the future.
“Yes, we all need to make a living but don’t get nitpicky about the money,” she says. “Help customers with the colors if you can. Do a follow-up call after about three days just to make sure everything looks alright and to make sure you didn’t miss anything.”
Bottom line, she says: “Leave their home looking more beautiful than it ever has before and you will always have a project to work on.”