Three Strategies to Grow Your Painting Business Year-Round
Keep the paint flowing year-round with these customer-focused strategies contractors can use to maximize the jobs they get.
By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals
Painting isn’t as seasonal as some businesses, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times in the year when the paint runs a little slower for most of us. For many in the painting industry, being great at what they do isn’t enough to make a business grow. To build a painting company that will prosper, painting contractors need to master the art of reaching out to and engaging clients.
Painting contractors trying to grow their business need to bear two things in mind to keep the leads flowing. First, that there are painting jobs year-round for those that want them- however, they change with the season from indoor to outdoor and back. Second, homeowners start thinking about how they want their dwelling to look long before they decide they need a painter.
Look ahead to the seasonality in the business and prepare prospective customers for the possibilities that the season holds for them and their house.
For those at the top of the business, this is the “secret sauce” that keeps them growing year after year. Thankfully, there’s no real secret to building a customer-centric business. In this article, we’ll explore three simple steps that painting companies can take to change the way they engage with potential customers over the course of the year to keep the jobs flowing.
Wrangle your customer list
Arguably the single biggest difference between businesses that make it and those that don’t is how they keep track of their customers. Juggling your contacts with your inbox and by text message may work when you have five contacts that you’re working with, but it’ll never do when you have 20, let alone 200.
Keeping track of these contacts as they move through the bidding process is essential to scaling a business.
It’s important to be able to manage relationships with different clients as they move through the sales process, and hopefully to becoming jobs.
As businesses continue to grow, it becomes necessary to begin keeping track of customers long before they engage with you in an actual bid process.
Companies that have grown to scale at this point use software tools to help them accomplish this. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a platform that allows companies to capture and track their interactions with clients and prospective customers.
From emails to phone calls, and from estimates given to jobs completed, CRM software provides sales managers and their teams the ability to bring business reliably in the door and make sure customers leave satisfied at the end of the experience.
In no short order, CRM software is the difference between businesses that stay small and those that win.
With this urgency on utilizing tools that help businesses get control over their customer relationships, it’s no wonder that there’s been an explosion of different offerings on the market.
The large number of options out there can make picking one that’ll work for a contracting business a challenge. When choosing, it’s important to select a CRM that will conform to your sales process, has the features you need, and forgoes the unneeded ones that get in the way.
Reengage people you’ve talked to before
Now that you’ve wrangled your customer list into something usable let’s talk about next steps for finding customers. There’s no doubt that there are a lot of contacts that have entered your sales process at some point in recent history and ended up not hiring your company for the job.
These people are a great place to start.
With this group of people, try to answer some basic questions. Why did they not buy from you? Did they end up going with another painter? Were they happy with the outcome? The odds are that these questions are difficult to answer.
If the answer’s “I don’t know” to any of the questions you have, there’s no better way to learn than by asking.
Make a habit of routinely following up with customers, even if you didn’t get the sale. Maybe they didn’t move forward for their own reasons, and they’re getting ready to start the job again. Perhaps they went with someone else because of price and weren’t happy with the results. Engaging customers who were previously in the sales pipeline is a leading strategy of high-intensity marketing and sales teams in the most competitive industries in the world.
Restart the conversation. Stay persistent. Focus on creating value for your customers and you’ll be amazed how many jobs can come in after the sale was “lost.”
Start new conversations
Everything we’ve talked about so far is about capitalizing on the work that your business has already done to get people in conversation. As you get control over this group using your CRM and begin to engage them, it’s time to look at starting new conversations.
Sales and marketing teams look broadly at two different sources for bringing customers on board. Inbound, and outbound. Most painting contractors are familiar with inbound strategies. These primarily involve getting prospective customers to either call or email in response to placing your message in various locations from the internet to magazines to the side of a bus.
Outbound is a strategy that is widely employed among corporate teams but is far less familiar to most contractors. Finding business through outbound methods involves actively emailing and calling cold prospects. The goal is to try to develop interest and gain their business.
Creating a successful outbound strategy is often more challenging than placing ads and waiting for calls. Nevertheless, it’s worth considering for painting contractors looking to grow. Selectively targeting prospects to reach out to gives contractors the ability to bring on larger commercial projects. These are a great addition to the often smaller residential jobs with which inbound marketing tend to be the most successful.
In addition to targeting commercial accounts, contractors can take advantage of a number of online services to acquire the information of property owners who are physically close to recent jobs. That way they can be engaged while there is particularly relevant proof right in front of them.
By putting these strategies together, painters can look ahead to what jobs they need to bring in to continue growing. Getting out ahead of their current work schedule allows contractors to make sure they have the resources to make each job successful and control for changes in seasonality. Reaching out and engaging clients over the phone and by email, allows companies to control the kinds of work in the schedule to better fit the needs of the business.
For all companies, getting control over their sales pipeline is the key to independence and growth. For painting contractors, mastering the skills of revenue creation are the key to engaging their community and creating a company that will stand the test of time.