"My painter does such a great job for me. The next time I need something painted, I wouldn't even consider going to anyone else."
Do your customers talk about you this way? To make sure they do, incorporate these three winning customer service strategies into your business practices when you complete your next job.
Do the Unexpected
Once the job is finished, nothing ruins a good paint job quicker than leaving a mess behind. Some contractors take cleanliness to a new level. Phoenix painter Ken Doyle makes it a point to clean the carpet in the room he has painted.
"It only takes an hour," he said. "And people love stuff like that."
Doyle said 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 said.
Future business also comes from making sure the customer is satisfied with the current job, said Gary Brousseau, a contractor in Windsor, Ontario.
"The customer and I go through the house room by room," he said. "We check it wall by wall, ceiling by ceiling, to make sure it's perfect." Brousseau once painted a bedroom and found out later that his customer’s husband didn't like the color. They picked a new color but didn't have a lot of money, so Brousseau made a deal that they pay only for paint.
"I did the repaint for free," he said. "That went a long way." He said he received so much future business from the customer and other members of her family that it easily made up for the time he spent repainting the bedroom.
Wisconsin contractor Dave Rohde leaves leftover opened cans of paint so customers can do minor touchups later themselves.
"We label each can clearly, marking the date of the paint job and on which room the paint was used," he said. "I also send a note to them later to let them know that all their colors are recorded and will be kept on file in our office. That gives them peace of mind."
Stay in Contact
Like Rohde, successful painters keep in touch with good customers.
"I make it a point to stop at my old jobs and chat with the owners," said Steve Allen, a contractor in Ferndale, Calif. "I check over our work and make any repairs or touchups. Then I sit down with them over coffee at the kitchen table and talk about future projects."
Today’s contractors also take advantage of social media. “Online marketing helps me build top-of-mind awareness,” said Flagstaff, Ariz. contractor Joe Cornelius. “Facebook keeps you connected with your friends, and if you forget who your friends are, they stop referring you. The sooner you come up in conversation, the more work you get.”
Make a Lasting Impression
Think about your favorite restaurants. Now think about the places you never returned. What made the difference? Isn't it the atmosphere, service and attitude of the employees that keeps you coming back time and again? Don't they make you feel comfortable, maybe even a little pampered? Feelings like these linger with painting customers too. Taking the extra time and paying attention to details pays off.
Ken Doyle makes a good impression by always washing down the customer's home before he paints.
"This catches people's attention," he said. "Because of all the sand here, houses get really dusty, but nobody else really takes the time to do this. I come from a small town in Ireland where I learned that you better show people you have good customer service or you won't be in business very long."
Well-trained employees also make a statement."I try to hire people that are customer-friendly," Dave Rohde said. "I look for nice, polite painters who are conscientious when they are in a customer's home. Someone who goes out of their way to not disturb a sleeping baby or whatever the situation may be at a particular job site."
Always meeting or even beating your deadline is another good way to differentiate your company. "I've learned you're only as good as your last job," said New Hampshire painter Dick Valliere. "When we deliver a quality job on time, my customers reward me with some of the most choice new jobs in the state."
At the end of the day, customer service strategies like these are the cornerstone of a successful painting company. "There's nothing better than a satisfied customer," said Billy Moore, a contractor in West Monroe, La. "You can build your business on that alone."
Ken Doyle agreed. "It pays to be nice to people," he said. "I always say, don't ever slam the door on your way out. You may have to go back in someday."
About the Author
This article was supplied by the Sherwin-Williams Company. Get more ideas for building your business at the Sherwin-Williams painting contractors website , or join the professional conversation on Twitter @SWPaintpros .