How to Get More Paint Jobs When Business Is Slow

What do you do to generate leads and to find business when things are slow? Whether it’s back to school, getting out of school for summer break, some kind of terrible catastrophe, or the winter slow season. What do you do to keep the phone ringing?

Understand Organic Demand for Painting Jobs

The first thing you have to understand is the concept of organic demand. If you’re a painting contractor and if you look at the number of leads requested nationally, which I’ve had access to data that shows me this, what you’ll see is kind of like a parabola, meaning that at the height of the season, around June, July, August, you’re at the peak and the top estimate requests are coming in.

But from there, there’s kind of a tail, like a bell curve. And when work is slow, that typically means that you’re somewhere in those tails, on the edges. And if you’re in a northern climate, Canada, northeast United States, your bell curve is really tall and it comes down really sharp and the edges are precipitous. And if you’re in a warmer state like Florida, Texas, California, you still have a bell, but it’s not as pronounced. However, December, February, January are months when work is really slow. Even if you’re in a warm climate, people have spent all kinds of money for Christmas, et cetera. People just tend not to do as many home improvement projects and painting is among them. So when that demand is low, if you’ve built your entire business off of the first transaction, which means all you ever spend any real-time or money on is net new leads from places like Angie’s List or Home Advisor or online leads. That means the only people you can reach are the folks that are coming into the market at that time, who would normally find you.

And what that does is it leaves you completely at the mercy of these lead services or digital marketing. That means that you’re going to have to pay a lot more for a lead, a lot more for a sale and depending on if you’re using services that pit you against other contractors in a fight to the bottom, now you’ve got other slow contractors really fighting it out, trying to figure out how they can drop their prices low enough to keep their guys busy. This is not where you want to be. Instead, I recommend that painting contractors build their business on the first referral and the second transaction. If you want more repeat and referral work, you can’t spend your entire budget chasing after net new leads and then be mad when that’s all you get. So when it’s slow, it’s all about list management. Your in-house list to be specific. What’s your in-house list?

Build a Database of Past Clients and Unconverted Leads

Your in-house list is your database of your past clients, unconverted leads. Those are people that received estimates but did not purchase. B2B referral sources like roofers, plumbers, cabinet installers, flooring installers, realtors, interior decorators. You can have several in every vertical category. And finally commercial prospects, decision-makers that you’ve identified at large organizations you want to do work with and commercial clients, people you’ve actually done work with. When you have a list of thousands or hundreds, and you get into the slow season, you have the opportunity to run a reactivation campaign. And that is where you reach out to your list of hundreds of thousands of people with a multistep, multimedia campaign, which includes mail, email, phone, Facebook, social, Facebook custom audiences, rather, and text messaging. When you reach out to thousands or hundreds of people directly, even though demand is diminished, you still end up picking up tons of work because you’re talking to a broader audience. And if you’ve run your newsletter marketing campaigns, which we call customer retention, what happens between reactivation campaigns by mail and email, they know, like, and trust you. They’ve built a personal connection with you.

And if you will reach out to that entire list, especially on the residential side, you can manufacture work in abundance that is not even remotely possible if all you’re doing is building your entire business on net new leads, but no money or time is dedicated toward repeat and referral business. You’ve got this huge database that continues to purchase painting services, but if you’re not in front of them, you’re never going to be able to get it. And mailing a postcard once a year is not going to do it. A Christmas card once a year is not going to do it. Even a monthly email newsletter is not going to do it because email is getting weaker and weaker. Open rates are getting lower and lower. Unsubscribes are getting higher and higher. So you have to mix in multiple mediums.

On your B2B referral side and your commercial side, that’s when relational marketing really comes into play. Running your referral route, your commercial prospecting points program, being in front of those people, whether it’s digitally or preferably, when possible, face-to-face and if face-to-face isn’t possible, then certainly things like screen shares and videos, whatever you can do to replicate that personal interaction as closely as possible at a distance, although in-person is always preferred. So when things get slow, should you increase your spending on net new lead generation sources? Maybe a little. But where you really need to invest your time and energy is after those people that you have built trust with, that have had previous experience with you and that you’ve assembled a team of people that you have relationships with.

Focus On Business Systems

Finally, when it’s slow, sometimes it doesn’t mean that you need to focus on leads, leads, leads. Sometimes you need to stop, take a deep breath, and focus on business systems instead. Things like, is your sales process persuasive and effective? Are you maximizing your profits from operations? Are you doing job costing or using production rates? What’s the team meeting look like? Do you have an ultimate crew leader packet? Sometimes when the season is slow, what you do not need to do is get overly worried about generating work because you can’t turn winter into summer. Okay? Can’t be done. Instead, sometimes those seasons are a good time to work on the business end of your business, to become a serious student of it and put those management, recruiting, hiring operations, and even marketing systems in place so that you can build a stronger business so that when organic demand is up again, you can really reap during the harvest.

Need Help Implementing The Tips Mentioned Here?

Brandon Lewis, with Painter’s Weekly and Painters Academy. If you found these tips helpful, or if you’ve listened to me for years, if you would click the subscribe button and forward this video to people that you know, or post it in a painter’s chat room or anything like that, it would be awesome. Because we love bringing these types of tips to people that allowed them to see things in a completely different way because we want painting contractors to thrive.

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