One of the most prevalent mistakes in any business is thinking that a lower price than the competition is always a good business strategy. The notion that customers will be attracted to the lowest priced vendor seems reasonable at first, until the deeper meaning of such a strategy is uncovered. For starters, there is likely someone else capable of delivering the job at an ever-decreasing price point. Secondly, reducing price to win business signals to the customer that your offering may not just be inexpensive, but also “cheap.”
However, the most important reason that competing on price alone is unhelpful is that the work of professional painters requires skill and precision and cannot be performed by just anyone. Being properly bonded and insured, using the right materials, using an even and complete coating, and taking your time to ensure that the paint is the correct color, sheen, and thickness means your service has time and capital expenses that can’t be eliminated just because the customer would like a lower price.
That said, suggesting that a professional painter establish and stick with higher paint pricing is easier said then done. The temptation to book a job for less revenue is certainly strong when the alternative is to have no job booked at all. Here are five suggestions for pricing your service at the higher level you deserve, so you can avoid trying to win the job based on being the least expensive option.
1. Be Confident – The most powerful thing any service professional, including painters, can do is to be sure of themselves when making the case for their service instead of the competition. Telling a prospective client, “I can’t speak to the quality of work that someone else will do. There may be someone less expensive then me/my company that may be able to do a decent job. I DO know that we charge a fair price for the outstanding service that we offer. You may pay more to use our company, but I am certain our work will exceed your expectations.” There is nothing wrong with telling a prospective client that you are going to do an excellent job for them…and that it’s only fair that they pay fairly for you to do so.
2. Be Honest – Professional painters often fail to be transparent with clients when the client thinks that pitting multiple painters against one another will lead to a lower price. No one enjoys being “shopped around,” and being asked to meet the price of another vendor is unfair to everyone involved. As a result, painters should be open with potential clients by explaining exactly why their bid is a certain price. Don’t be afraid to tell them how much paint you need and how much that costs, how many rollers you need and how much that costs, and how many hours it will take you to do a good job and how much that costs. Clients that see your lined out costs and still push for a lower price are those that view professional painting as a commodity, which it most certainly is not. Conversely, those that review your costs and understand what they are paying for are much more likely to have realistic expectations about the service you are providing.
3. Be Creative – Suggesting that painters not try to win business based on low prices doesn’t mean that painters can’t offer certain services at low prices to help bring in additional business. For example, if a client is considering having a new coat of paint applied to their living room and dining room, it makes sense for the painter to offer a discount if the client adds painting the home’s bedrooms to the project, as well. There is a difference between offering your service cheaply to win business and offering your service at a discount to expand the business you have already won.
4. Be Different – A powerful tool at your disposal when bidding on a job positions your offering in a way that makes a comparison to a less-expensive competitor invalid. If a potential client insists on telling you that another painter is willing to complete a job at a price lower then yours, you must absolutely resist the temptation to compare your offering to theirs. Instead, describe how you will proceed with the job and how your process makes you different. Educate the client in a way that lets them know they are comparing apples and oranges when placing your bid next to a competitor. For example, simply saying “I don’t know what service you are getting for that price from my competitor. We will be moving the furniture, taping off all moldings, using commercial drop-clothes to cover your floors, applying primer and two coats of paint, and then checking thickness and color after the paint has dried,” can be an excellent way of differentiating your offering from the competition.
5. Be Willing to Lose the Job – This is perhaps the hardest thing to do in any service industry. When just a few dollars separate your bid from another and the client insists they would like to have you perform the work, you have to be willing to walk away. You should not simply devalue the service you offer over “just a few dollars.” Why should paint professionals be expected to absorb the burden of a lower cost? If “just a few dollars” isn’t a big deal, then ask the client to pay it. The problem with discounting your bid at the last moment to win a job is that it sends the wrong message to clients: it tells them that your original price is not final and it tells them that your original price is more expensive then what you are willing to accept for work. It communicates that you are flexible in what you charge, which will lead to a reputation of being flexible with the quality of work you provide.
As hard as it may seem, you are much better off with the reputation of a professional that charges a fair price for excellent work than just-another-painter who offers low prices. If clients want a cheap price, then they will no doubt receive cheap work. Resist the temptation to be associated with that kind of painter and resist the temptation to join in the competition of lowering your price. Your business will find itself with higher revenues and clients that value your skills as a paint professional.