Every owner wants a steady stream of high-quality leads for their painting business. In the digital age, new possibilities for lead generation pop up every day.
While a few of these freshly-minted opportunities are worth your attention, most simply serve to distract you from marketing and sales methods that are much more powerful, effective and produce higher returns on investment.
Over the past decade, I have made an intense study of marketing for painting contractors. In fact, the short list of methods outlined below represents what I’ve discovered after working with over 300 painting companies directly and conducting over 900 hour-long marketing and sales assessments for painters. These are not flippant “suggestions” – they are well established, field-tested processes that work.
#1 – Past Painting Client + Unconverted Lead Reactivation for Repeat Business
After a project is painted, most painting contractors abandon the client forever from a marketing standpoint. From that point forward, no centralized database of client contact information is kept or updated. Zero communication follows to generate repeat business.
One of the best ways to grow a profitable painting business year-after-year is to focus on people instead of projects. This requires owners to recognize that every past client represents tens of thousands of dollars in repeat revenue. However, if you do not consistently communicate with past clients, they soon forget the name of your business and move on to another contractor. This is why so few painting companies grow continuously. It’s because they practice “catch and release” marketing which causes companies to “start over” year-after-year again and again... forever.
To reactivate your past clients for a huge cash surge, use multi-step, multi-medium marketing. Send your entire list of past clients a letter followed by a text message, email, and phone call within a seven-day period. Repeat this process two more times until you have made personal contact with every client. I have watched this process generate tens of millions of dollars for painting contractors – often as much as $250,000 in closed revenue in a 60-day period depending on list size.
#2 – Focusing on Persuasion Instead of Pricing in Your Sales Process
The average painting contractor believes that the primary purpose of an in-person appointment is to give the client a price. This is incorrect thinking. The purpose of any sales appointment is to convince the client to purchase from you when you are several thousand dollars higher than the next lowest bidder. When the real purpose is identified, it shapes the way you approach every estimate.
Every estimating course and school for painting contractors focus on pricing instead of persuasion. This leads painters to continually compete on price instead of value. Instead, owners must communicate how their crew members, processes and product knowledge are superior to the typical painter.
During the four stages of a sales call – pre-positioning, presenting, post-positioning and follow-up – the salesperson must use tools that build trust, communicate directly to client concerns and provide corresponding, third-party proof that their claims are not just another empty promise from a painting contractor.
At the end of the day, the scope of work does not win the job. That is achieved by the persuasive processes, messaging, and tools that are used before, during and after the in-person appointment.
#3 – Building Online Equity Instead of Buying Leads
Many painters spend hundreds or thousands of dollars per month paying online lead services to generate estimate requests for them. This is very counterproductive for two reasons.
First, when you buy leads you have nothing to show for your investment except for the lead you just acquired. However, painting contractor websites that are built to generate online leads organically represent digital equity for the owner. Once established, these properties continue to generate leads week after week at a fraction of the cost of purchasing leads online.
Second, when you give painting contractor online lead services your money, you are subsidizing and funding your own local competition online. When you search for “painters” in your city online, you will see tons of out-of-town organizations that have used the hard-earned money from painting contractors to build their own online presence. Essentially, these companies get between you and your local clients using your resources, then charge you again for the pleasure of reuniting you.
#4 – Targeting the Commercial Repaint Market
While most painters focus on the residential market, the commercial market represents a very large and untapped opportunity. While generating commercial painting leads is challenging at first, if you invest the time and money in targeting this market it can produce larger pay-days, recurring revenue, and desperately needed interior winter work. First, purchase a list of facilities in your area that are 40,000 square feet or larger targeting the job titles similar to the facility manager, plant manager, or maintenance director. Then, follow up consistently with mail, email, phone, and in-person visits until the decisionmaker is clearly identified. Thereafter, your primary focus is to get your first face-to-face visit. Too keep the list warm, put them on your mail and email newsletter list. Also, create a personal outreach calendar so each prospect is being touched at least once per month through multiple marketing mediums.
The Key Takeaway
As a painting contractor, your time is very limited. There are hundreds of tiny details and opportunities that tug at your attention daily. Many of them promise growth and prosperity. However, only a few of them represent essential, proven and productive methods for achieving your goals.
An owner’s primary job is to determine what business processes are essential and critical for success. Once this is decided, focus your attention on a handful of small, discrete processes and become excellent at them. Agonize over perfecting them. Then, monitor them weekly to make sure they are in peak performing condition.
If you do this, rest assured success will follow. It must.
Brandon Lewis is the publisher of Painter’s Weekly, and online painting contractor magazine and founder of the Academy for Professional Painting Contractors, an organization exclusively devoted to offering sales, marketing, management, hiring and business coaching for painting contractors.