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Small Business Etiquette: 
The Top 3 Rules for the Professional Painting Business Owner.

By: Andy Thompson  

Rule #1Never speak negatively about your competition (or anyone else for that matter).

As a painting business owner you are in the “people business” so be professional and keep the conversation on “what benefits the customer”.  Your business will flourish as your dynamic people skills grow… 

One of the best books for developing great people skills is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. 

Nothing will hurt your reputation faster than putting down another person in front of a potential customer.  No one likes to hear someone slander and defame someone else’s good will.

As they say, if you don’t have something good to say about someone it is best to say nothing at all. 

It is important to always keep the conversation positive…  It is Ok to sympathize with a customer who is venting about a bad experience they may have had with another painter but it is never Ok to jump on the band wagon and ad in your two cents. 

Your job is to solve the customer’s problems and to educate them as to how you are better and different than other painters.  Your time is better spent getting them excited about the painting project and why they should choose you to do the work.

Rule #2:  Never speculate or guess if you don’t know the answer to a customer’s question.

Customers are smart and many of them have done their homework long before they schedule you to give an estimate.  Many times homeowners will have concerns about something specific. 

For example: What kind of paint should be used on metal? Or what is the best paint to use in the kitchen and bath? 

Even if you know the answers to these questions it is still an opportunity to go above and beyond.  Consider handing a brochure from the paint manufacture to the customer.

Not only did you answer their question correctly you backed it up with information directly form the source… That is professional!

If a customer throws you a curve and asks a question that you do not know the answer to, here are five little words that will build instant trust and credibility with them.

“Let me do some research” The last thing you want to do is give bad advice or misinformation.  All you have to do is say “That is a good question, let me do some research and get back to you.”

Get back to the customer and tell them what you found.  That conversation would go something like this…

Hi “Customer” I did a bit of research on (state the concern) and spoke to John Doe at Professional Paint Store and he said… 

What you just did here will go a long way, you went above and beyond to get the correct information for the customer and they love that. 

Never try to B.S. a customer.

Rule #3:  Never do business without a signed contract.

Professional painting business owners use a detailed contract for every job!  A signed contract protects both parties equally.  It clearly defines the job and work to be preformed so everyone involved knows what to expect from each other.

To expect a customer to hand over a deposit without a written contract is foolish.  A contract puts the homeowner at ease and gives them peace of mind knowing that the painter will come back and do the job.  It puts the painting business owner at ease knowing once the job is complete they will be paid in full as agreed.

If you take an up front deposit without a signed contract you are putting yourself and the homeowner at risk… Nothing causes more anxiety and stress for a customer than handing over their hard earned money without something in writing!

Imagine taking a $500.00 deposit before you start the job and you get hurt or a scheduling conflict pushes the job back a few weeks. 

Imagine what the customer is feeling…  “The painter has $500.00 dollars of my money and I have nothing in writing, now they postponed the paint job, will I ever see that money again”?  It is poor business practice to ask for money up front without a contract. 

A contract is a mutual agreement between two parties.  It spells out the expectations of everyone involved.  It creates a sense of security and certainty and is essential for tax records. 

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