Paint Contractor Estimating Skills: Communication and Listening

| January 13, 2016 | 2 Comments

Video: P2F Unplugged at Sherwin Williams University on Paint Contractor Estimating

Please enjoy video highlights (above) from our Dallas presentation on estimating. If you like it, please “like” it and subscribe! And here are some more thoughts on estimating…

Nothing Gets Sold until Something Gets Estimated

Paint contractor estimating is a challenging topic because many homeowners are confused about the value of a paint job. The media, froofy DIY tv shows and lowballing trunk slammer painters have driven the perceived value of painting down.

That certainly makes it harder for legitimate paint companies to go out and sell a high level of service at an honest price.

paint contractor estimatingIt is also an opportunity to demonstrate to customers why they should choose you, and you really do have to be unique to hold their attention.

Everyone is selling “30 years of experience, fully insured and quality craftsmanship.”

Those are just words.

Some terms have been used up. “Differentiation” makes us all cringe. Everyone is so different these days that to homeowners it would be easy to think we all look the same.

When all paint contractors look the same, it is human nature for homeowners to make a paint contractor selection based on price. And so the cycle continues.

So, how do we overcome being perceived as a commodity?

It might not be so much about what you are presenting to the customer. They can go online and find out all about you, and if they can’t find you at all, that is a problem.

Present Less and Listen More

infographicListen to what? They are asking you for an estimate. You, the professional, are supposed to be the one talking, right?

If you know what questions to ask customers, you are in a position to LISTEN to what they want. If you can help customers figure out what they want, from there you can get to what you (as the professional) know that they really need.

Knowing what questions to ask, and how and when to ask them is the key.

Why do homeowners get paint estimates to begin with?

What DO they want?

And if you ask them these questions, what will they tell you? If they don’t feel connected to you with immediate TRUST, probably not much.

Well how do you earn trust? That is more a question of human nature.

What are people drawn to? There  is a psychology to paint contractor estimating.

People are drawn to other people who are good listeners, and who care about what they are saying. Passion for what you do. Not just that you love to paint or provide paint services, but that you would love to make their home better than they even know it can be.

Slow Your Inner Closer Down a Bit

paint contractor estimatingThere is a lot of pressure these days to close on the spot, before other paint contractors can come along and confuse the customer any further.

While that is nice, and is best sometimes, there are many times when it is not best.

Long term relationships are difficult to build on a snapshot closed sale.

No matter how tight your estimating program is, and how slick your bluetooth printer and logo, those aspects of the presentation are icing on the cake in the customer’s mind.

But How Good is the Cake?

When customers call you in for an estimate, they get their first impression of you and that influences how they will act during the meeting. It really is true that first impressions are formed within the first minute of meeting someone, and they usually turn out to be accurate in the long term. If they like you, you have the opportunity to earn trust.

If they are unsure, maybe you are nervous or feeling pressured to make a sale, there are stock objections that everyone falls back on that simply make it impossible to close the sale on the spot.

Homeowners never call and say: “We’d like to have you come over and sell us a paint job, or better yet, can we just give you a credit card with an open line and get on your schedule?”

They call for an estimate. Yes, estimates mean numbers, but estimates also mean dialogue.

Overcoming Objections

There is a psychology to paint contractor estimating. And you have to be able to read the customer to determine if they are looking for a commodity…a paint job. Or, if they are looking for a high level of service from the best available talented professionals in their area.

If you are selling something that you can’t deliver – think smooth talking owner who then sends a sketchy crew to do the work – there is no long term relationship to be had.

But, we think it is often times the other way around. Humble, honest paint contractors who aren’t talking up their own company and service enough. You can’t rely solely on your website and the estimating packet you leave with the customer, no matter how great they are.

YOU have to be great. And the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE you deliver has to be even better.

Please leave your own thoughts and tips on estimating in the comments below!





Category: Business, What's Up?

About the Author ()

Scott Burt is a paint contractor, writer and paint trainer from Vermont. He writes for American Painting Contractor magazine,, and is a featured blogger at JLCOnline.

Comments (2)

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  1. Thank you for the insightful article about the psychology of building relationships to close a sale and continuing to sell past the initial project completion for years and years.
    This is the essence of a long term relationship based on respect and trust.

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