Most painting contractors have the best of intentions when they provide job estimates.  Even so, bad things happen.  Painters quit, or bad weather causes you to get way behind schedule.  Maybe you thought you could get away with one fewer coat that turns out to be required, or maybe you discover major damage that should be repaired while staining a deck.

Delivering bad news is never fun, but it’s made worse by the fact that there are untrustworthy contractors out there, painters who try to rope a person into selecting them and then backtracking on their offer.  It’s important to give yourself every chance to not be seen as one of these bad actors when you deliver bad news.  Even if the bad news was totally beyond your control, customers may still feel like they’ve been cheated somehow. That can have a major impact on your reputation if a customer leaves a negative review online or complains to people in your community.

Here are a few tips for when you do have to deliver bad news.

  • Make it clear you know the bad news is a surprise. Customers don’t like to hear bad news, but what really makes them angry is if they feel like you don’t acknowledge, or care about, how much of an inconvenience it is for them. If they took a day of vacation time to be at home and you can’t make it that day, they may not be able to get that time back.  A change in costs or timelines can have a big impact on a customer’s life – make sure to acknowledge that.

  • Be as open as possible with the customer. Tell them as much as you can about why this bad news is just arising now.  If it’s an unexpected problem like damage that wasn’t visible on the initial inspection, show them where it is and tell them why your pre-quote inspection didn’t uncover it.  If they expect that you’re hiding anything, they’ll assume that you’re hiding everything.

  • Offer to make the situation better. This doesn’t mean that you have to lose money on the job (unless you’ve already made a firm offer) but make it clear that you’re going out of your way to make it impact their lives less. Even a small gesture will make it clear that you understand it’s an inconvenience and are trying to help them through it.  Also, remember that not all gestures are financial – it may mean putting a bit of time in on a Saturday you had scheduled off, or offering to connect them with someone who can help them repair damaged drywall or decking at a special rate.

To learn how ProPainter Websites can help your painting business find new customers (or new employees!) call us at 855-385-1134 or email us at