SW - Article - 5 Ways to Sharpen Your Competitive Edge header image
Originally published in PPC Magazine.

By Terry Begue

Owning a painting business can be challenging. There’s more competition than ever before, and from a technical standpoint, most painters look the same in the customer’s eyes. To get your share of the business, you must find ways to stand out and get noticed. 

Buyers today are more educated than ever. Your prospects need to recognize your value before they’ll give you a chance to deliver. I’ve found that focusing more on people skills than painting skills creates opportunities for helping your prospects learn what you stand for and most importantly how it will benefit them.

Today, the contractor who knows what the customer wants and can best communicate value is the one who gets noticed and usually hired. Here are five ways to stand out in a sea of sameness.

1. Project confidence

Would you rather be around someone who is poised and assured or someone who lacks confidence? One thing all great leaders have in common is a high level of self-confidence.

This means that in your heart you know your services represent excellent quality and value. If you don’t truly believe you’re the best choice, how can you ever expect your prospects to?

2. Offer extras instead of cutting prices

Some contractors instantly drop their price when estimating a job they really want (or need). Instead of lowering your price, try offering additional related services for little or no charge. Exterior services could include:

  • Pressure-cleaning cement, decks, or fences while washing the house
  • Clean the leaves out of clogged gutters
  • Tighten up loose siding or spouting

Painting inside? Offer to:

  • Clean the gunk off the tops of ceiling fans
  • Change light bulbs
  • Clean the cobwebs from high ceilings
  • Vacuum behind furniture before putting it back in place

These extras services cost you little but can make a big difference to customers, especially to the elderly. Get creative and find ways to provide more services rather than cut your price. You may not only earn a sale but a loyal customer, too.

3. Be Likeable

Are you a likeable person? Your prospective customers are judging everything you do, every word you say. You decide, good or bad, what that experience will be like for them. People naturally want to be around and employ those people who care about them.

Steer the conversation toward what your prospects want to talk about – themselves and their problems. Show them you care by taking the time to listen (and I mean really listen) and to understand what matters to them.

The more genuine interest and care you show, the more your customers will like you. Treat them like they are the most important person on the planet, because for the short time you’re with them, they are!

4. Guarantee your work

As legitimate business owners, we all stand behind our work, right? But few business owners use responsibility as a selling point. Reap the benefits of assuming responsibility by assuring your prospective customers that you won’t bill them until they’re completely satisfied. I call that giving your customers permission to nitpick.  It’s powerful because it creates instant trust.

I found that assuming the responsibility forces you to stay in close contact with your customers.

It also pushes you and your crew to provide the highest quality work. I tell my crew, “If I don’t get paid, you don’t get paid – so the job must be perfect.” And you know what? I get paid every time! This dialogue forces my crew to raise the bar and essentially creates a win-win situation for everyone.

5. Offer Testimonials

Credibility is essential to your success. Testimonials are reviews written by satisfied customers, and they are vital to your business. Nothing gets better publicity and builds trust more than when a past customer tells someone about their excellent experience because they hired you.

Your satisfied customers promote your business, your integrity, and your values. And here’s the best part – testimonials are free! They cost nothing except the time it takes you to collect them. And you just can’t have too many. See the testimonials page on the Begue Painting website to see how our company is making use of both written and video customer testimonials.
Testimonials reduce your marketing costs and make selling easy.  If you don’t have any testimonials, start by contacting your past customers. Satisfied customers will help you grow your business if you treated them right. Remember that when YOU tell people how good you are, it sounds like hollow bragging. But when a client makes a recommendation, it speaks volumes.

Some of these ideas may seem a little shocking. But if you want to get noticed, you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone. Most competitors won’t do these things. Look at your customers’ concerns as an opportunity to stand out. Remember, successful people do the things unsuccessful people are unwilling to do!


Terry Begue is the owner of Begue Painting Inc. and author of The Wealthy House Painter's Guide to Having it All e-book. To find out more, visit wealthyhousepainter.com