Building a business of any type is difficult. Market conditions and competition make it a challenge to succeed in even the best environments. Add in that once you’ve booked the business you also have to perform the service itself and it can seem like handling administrative tasks, driving sales, and actually performing the work are each full-time jobs in and of themselves. If you have any hope of actually having the time to handle more than one full-time job on your own, you have to make time management a priority.
“Hi Graham, it’s Al with A+ Paintworks calling again. I’ve left a couple messages and stopped by the other day, but you weren’t home. Please call me when as soon as you can…your invoice is over a month past due and we still haven’t received payment.”
Sound familiar? You’ve done the work and the client is happy. Final inspection has come and gone and everyone involved is delighted with the results of your paint work. However, one problem remains: you have yet to be paid for the work. Making things even more challenging is the fact that the client is ignoring your phone calls, emails, and invoices. Instead of focusing on growing your business through new sales or paint jobs, now you’re spending time you can’t afford to waste chasing payment over an invoice that was due long ago. You never thought you’d end up handling bill collection as part of your day-to-day activity, did you? Even worse, there seems to be no easy way to deal with delinquent clients who owe you money except to spend more time calling, emailing, and trying to make contact in an attempt to collect the payment you rightfully deserve.
One great tool to increase your profit margin on a per-client basis is the technique of upselling. We get upsell offers every day – and many of them are highly effective. Would you like to super-size your Big Mac meal? Would you like the large tub of popcorn for just 50¢ more? Would you like to tack on an all-day meal plan with your theme park ticket? Yes, yes and yes, please. Upselling allows you to add value for your clients while increasing your bottom line. It should be a win-win, so you can check out some tips for upselling here. For many commercial painting clients, anti-graffiti coatings are a great upsell.
In part one of this two-part piece, we looked at how painting companies can use image-based social media to show off their work to encourage new business. But if a picture paints a thousand words, a short video can create a book’s worth of promotional value. Videos are huge right now. The originator and still reigning king of web video, YouTube, sees one billion unique visitors each month and 100 hours of video uploaded every minute.
Last month we took a look at how you can and should use social media to promote your commercial painting business. We focused on Yelp, Facebook and GooglePlus, and touched a little on Instagram and YouTube. But today we’re going to dig deep into visual social media and visual content as a means to market your services. Painting services very naturally lend themselves to visual media because clients will naturally want to know how your work looks. Providing would-be customers with this visual evidence is bound to drum up more business once they see the impressive results of your work!
Stretching every dollar is an inherent part of owning and operating a personal paint business. And while we would all like to have an unlimited advertising budget with which to work, the reality is that allocating significant money to marketing and promoting a painting business is easier said than done. Even worse, when an owner or team-member does find a way to invest in advertising and promotion, the actual implementation is often so disjointed and disorganized that the result is very little return on investment.
The key to a strong paint business marketing strategy is having a consistently delivered message that finds the customer at the exact moment they need your service. Think about it: no one is suddenly going to decide to buy a car just because they saw a car advertisement in the newspaper. However, if a person arrived at the conclusion of buying a car already, and then saw an advertisement in the newspaper, they might be more inclined to consider that brand or visit that dealership.
The top service companies on earth don’t do what is expected – they do more than is expected. That additional effort or offering is what makes them exceptional. Over time, exceptional companies stand out from the crowd. Eventually, a tipping point is reached and the exceptional company is no longer “the best available choice”… it’s the only choice. On a long enough timeline, the company that wows its clients and customers with a greater frequency and to a greater degree than every competitor eventually wins the sector and becomes a titan in their chosen market. Exceptional service is that powerful of a tool.
But you don’t have that kind of time. You aren’t interested in “eventually” or “later.” Your paint company needs to differentiate itself from the competition today, not tomorrow. These four unusual, seemingly small customer service tips are all set in motion once the painting is complete, and will set your paint company apart from the competition in the client’s mind even after you’ve moved on to the next job. We can’t guarantee that your sales pipeline will magically fill up overnight, but these four strategies will guarantee that clients don’t soon forget the professionalism of your company or the quality of your work.
The new complex was called Sierra Plaza. It was a three building complex downtown and sported great views of the skyline. The general contractor was taking submissions for both interior and exterior painters and the word throughout the business community was that he was from out of town and came with no prior allegiances. This was just the break the owners of Bruton Commercial Painting were looking for.
Bruton Commercial was a three year old paint company with fifteen painters and an administrative staff of five. The business had grown quickly in the commercial sector by being professional and offering high-quality work at a fair price. Even when Bruton Commercial wasn’t the lowest price bidder for a job, they often still won the business because of their great reputation.
“If we win this job, our business will double in size almost overnight!” Jerry Bruton and his brother Steve were excited about the possibility of winning such a large job. There was only one problem: despite their recent successes in the paint sector, their local business would be competing with large-scale commercial paint companies from all over the state, and neither Jerry nor Steve had any idea what it might take to win a job of this size.
“I know a perfect interior decorator who can help you…”
“We work with a printing company that would be great for producing the flyers you need…”
“Let me contact a colleague of mine…that new website design you need is right up his alley.”
One of the best ways to grow any business is to find partners to work with. Working with someone else that offers a different, but complementary, service to your offerings can help lead to better solutions for your customers and increased revenue for you both. While a vendor is a company that sells you a good or service for a flat fee, a partner relationship is much more organic. A partner is someone with common interests that can help you just as you help them in return, so your relationships with your partners will evolve and change as both of your businesses grow.
“Jack’s paint work was sloppy. We were very dissatisfied.”
“The painter showed up two hours late to do the work in dirty clothes.”
“The workers were unprofessional and left empty paint cans behind when they were finished”
“We had to hire a different painter to come in and repaint the room. I wouldn’t hire ABC Paint company ever again.”
As a professional painter, your intentions are likely genuine. Your hope is that every client loves your work and says good things about you. Reality is much different. Some people are impossible to satisfy and sometimes things simply don’t work out for one reason or another. How do you tell your side of the story in a professional and dignified manner? Is it even possible to get a word into the conversation?