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Three Ways To Drive Greater Profit for Your Painting Business In 2021

We interviewed four successful painting pros to better understand how to stay proactive and drive profits in a highly competitive moment for the market.

Stephan Rabimov

Today, having a strong technical skill set isn't enough to succeed as a painting professional. Clients are looking for a premium experience as well as stellar results, both of which can help boost your bottom line. How can you drive greater profit for your painting business in 2021? We interviewed four successful painting pros to better understand how to stay proactive and drive profits in a highly competitive moment for the market. Based on these insightful conversations, Houzz Pro, in partnership with Benjamin Moore, has outlined three ways to keep your clients happy and return or refer you for more premium services.

Jon Dryfhout, HD Painting Ltd.

1. Provide a Premium Experience

So what makes a painting service premium? These four experts sum it up with one word: communication.

For Jon Dryfhout, who runs his 32-year old family business HD Painting, it’s about providing an extra level of support to his clients.  “Don't just sell the job and then collect a paycheck,” he advises. “We're with our clients the whole step of the way. We're accessible to them. If they ever call, someone picks up the phone. They don't go to our voicemail, within reason.”

For Jeff Dupont, of Seattle-based company Sound Painting Solutions, it’s about keeping them up to speed every step of the way. “I don't really believe you can over-communicate,” he says. “If clients are out of town, we send photos every day. It's just really making sure that we pay our team to spend a little bit extra time talking to them, and making sure that they're happy throughout the process.”

For Chad Lyons, of Washington state-based Lyons Painting and Design, it’s about meeting client expectations. “It's making sure their experience with us is everything that they expected and want it to be. They know exactly what to expect, how the project's going to be performed.”

And for Jason Paris, owner of Minnesota-based residential repaint company Paris Painting, it’s about helping clients make informed decisions. “You have to educate them. They often look to us for guidance when we show up,” he says. 

Communication is important to these four pros because it builds trust, which they all agree is crucial in maintaining a successful business. “One of our core values is being an open book,” says Paris. “I think when you're honest, people will trust you. A lot of times, that's saying, ‘No, we can't do that,’ or, ‘I don't know the answer’.” Lyons agrees, explaining, “A lot of it is being able to say, "You don't need to do that. You don't need to spend that much here." Dryfhout shared that trust creates client referrals. “When we go in to talk to a new customer it becomes a very easy sale, because they're normally getting referred to us by someone else that already trusts us.” 

2. Use Premium Products & Tools

Another thing these four pros have in common is their use of Benjamin Moore’s line of super premium paint called Aura. Houzz Pro recently partnered with Benjamin Moore to integrate their premium paint colors into the Houzz Pro 3D Floor Planner and Mood Board tools. It gives pros the ability to visualize their designs to clients in greater detail.

To better understand why these painting professionals prefer premium paints as well as how they sell premium paints to clients, we asked all of them to share their rationale with us. “For the product, it's a pretty easy sell,” says Paris. “You're already paying for our labor. We can apply good paint or bad paint. Premium paints are more durable, require fewer coats, and require less upkeep. Pay for it now, or pay later [when you have to reapply paint], either way, you're paying,” explains Paris.

Premium paints can actually save you money, according to Dupont, as the higher quality the paint, the less labor that is required. “The most expensive thing is labor, not paint. It's going to be fewer coats and better coverage,” he explains. “Paint is 11-14% of the price. If we go to premium paint and it's an extra $5 a gallon, we spend a lot less on labor.”

Jason Paris, Paris Painting

Dryfhout emphasizes the value of premium products to clients. “In our area specifically, they really do trust the Benjamin Moore brand,” he says.  “It's just about letting clients know that they're going to be taken care of with a trusted product.” Lyons steers clients towards premium products by explaining the benefits, but only if he believes it’s the right fit for that project. “A lot of the homes we're doing are repaints. In an old home, say it's been painted three, four or five times, a high build product will outperform what's on there, and cause less issues for the client later on.”

The benefits of premium paint are undeniable, so much so that Dupont will turn down clients that don’t want to work with high-end paints. “Using a premium quality product gives the client a better job. If the client's not willing to partner with us and trust us to pick a higher quality product, it's probably not the best thing,” he explains. Paris underscores how premium paints are an integral part of his company’s process. It’s a tool that affects the outcome of the project. “The crews might not know how to use other paint products if they aren’t premium. It might not build and lay down the same way as a premium product. It might not get good coverage," he explains.

3. Invest in Technology

Business management solutions have already upended the home industry, even for sectors typically seen as hands-on, like painting. Houzz Pro, which brings together in one tool everything from communication, marketing, and lead management to invoicing, estimates and proposals, and 3D models has revolutionized the way painting and other home professionals run their businesses. 

 “Before COVID, we were all paper, everything was old school. Now I've got my company to the point where I could be anywhere in the world and I could still operate my company. We do everything electronically now,” says Dryfhout, who believes technology will continue to evolve and rapidly change the industry. I will be using anything and everything that gets brought into the industry that can make our life better. I'm a big proponent of change. I honestly believe there's going to be robotics heavily introduced into the painting industry and a lot sooner than we think.”

According to Paris, technological solutions are an exciting addition to the industry – and a necessary one. "The more you can utilize technology, the easier it's going to be for you to scale. It's going to be harder and harder to operate your business without tools like Houzz Pro,” says Paris. “Another argument is that your competitors are doing it. Not only are your consumers interacting with the internet and tech more and more, but all your competitors are jumping on board. If you aren't, you're getting squeezed from both ends.”

Dupont has seen tangible effects from technological solutions.  “I wouldn't have the business we have if it wasn't for the digital footprint. We track leads every week. At our sales meeting last week, 45% was repeat business, and 55% was from online leads,” says Dupont. “Anyone who's not leveraging Houzz and social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, Google, anyone who's not leveraging online marketing, is going to struggle in five years.” 

Even Lyons, who describes himself as “archaic” when it comes to technology, has risen to the challenge. “I have all this stuff because I have to stay in business.  If you choose to build a technology-free business, then know that you'll have very limited opportunities.” 

For those intimidated by the prospect of learning new software, Dupont’s advice is to take it slow. “I'm working on a new tracking tool for our business and I've been doing 30 minutes a day. Just doing it piece by piece because it's easy to get overwhelmed with technology,” he says. “You have to really be willing to take that time, even if it's outside your comfort zone.” 

Those hesitating to embrace the change and begin incorporating business management software solutions into the way they run their business will get left behind. “If you're not growing, you're dying,” says Dryfhout. “If you're not willing to invest, put yourself out there and take chances, you're really going to get pushed back and passed on very quickly. We're in a generation where you don't really have a choice.”

In order to survive and thrive in today’s quickly evolving industry, you need to have an edge. Offering premium services, utilizing premium products, and incorporating business management and marketing solutions can give you that competitive edge. As summed up by Lyons, “Very few people are looking for a paint job. They're looking for a certain [premium] experience.”

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Stephan Rabimov

Stephan Rabimov leads Content Marketing at Houzz. Portland resident. Global citizen. Nature loving.

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