In this fourth installment of a series on achieving sales success for PRO painting contractors, Archie Bartel offers sales tips and guidelines for contractors trying to improve their sales performance. Bartel, Sherwin-Williams Director of Sales Force Effectiveness, is the former Marketing Director for Residential Repaint at Sherwin-Williams. This article will examine the continued importance of being customer focused as you deliver and execute the project.
Congratulations! You’ve made the sale, and it’s time to go to work. So while your focus should certainly be on the task at hand, according to Bartel, remember that in the big picture, you’re now selling future jobs. And nothing is more important than the way you perform in the present one in determining whether you’ll do business with this customer again, or they’ll recommend you to other homeowners. And keep in mind that customers will judge a contractor not just by the outcome, but by the process.
“It’s not about just proving you are a good contractor who will produce good work,” Bartel says. “Consumers expect not just good work but a good experience, so at the end of the day if there are hiccups in the experience that will overshadow the good work that was done, then you might not be the contractor of choice next time they think about doing some painting.
“So you have to think about the now, and you have to think about the future. This is how you set yourself up for repeat business.”
Avoiding the “hiccups” is sometimes easier said than done, according to Bartel. But a frequent -communication structure can help mitigate any that occur, and keep a homeowner’s trust level high.
“Throughout the project, it’s important to have have little touchpoints with the customer and make sure they don’t have to reach out to you for those touchpoints,” he says. “That shouldn’t be their responsibility. You should make it easy for them. For example, ask, ‘How have my people been doing? Are you satisfied so far? Has anything else come up that maybe we didn’t discuss, that you realize is important now? Oh, by the way, we’re on time. We expect to be done by when we said.’
“Those little touchpoints are important because if this is a week or two-week job and they feel there isn’t a connection, it’s a window for them to worry. And when they worry, it’s an opportunity for them to lose trust and not value you as much as you should be valued.”
It’s also critical to honor any special considerations or conditions that were discussed in the bidding phase.
“Let’s say one of their concerns was you need to be out of the house at 2 o’clock because the baby needs a nap. So you shift your schedule in order to meet those needs. Make sure you document that every day you were out by 2. That may mean you’ve got to clean up at 1:30, but the customer needs to be confident that you are doing what you said you would do.
Frequent and prompt communication— that’s absolutely critical through every stage of the process, but especially in the execution of the project. The moment one of those starts to break down, you diminish your trust level.”
As you develop familiarity with a property and your customer, other opportunities may present themselves for the observant contractor if the trust levels with the customer have grown throughout the process.
“Let’s say you’ve recognized the opportunity to upgrade their patio, for example,” Bartel hypothesizes. “’I see you have stamped concrete. Have you considered changing the color, adding a gloss, or refreshing the look? Or perhaps painting the deck to enhance your guests’ experience? I can give you a quote on that as well.’
“Add-on services sometimes can feel pushy but if you relate the add-on service to a need they’ve already addressed, it makes it a whole lot easier to extend the value of that project for your customer and make more money for your business.”
Next: Validation and Follow-up