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How to Pass on Work (Without Saying No)


May 23, 2021

If you’re a painting contractor, it’s always better to have too much work than to have too little. But “catching up” by scheduling 55-hour weeks isn’t much fun either.  This is the second of three articles providing techniques to balance your workload and make every job worth the effort you put into it. The first was Exceeding Customers’ Expectations (without Exceeding their Needs).

When a customer calls and they’re ready to pay for your services, it’s hard to say no.  That’s especially true if you’ve been short of work recently.  What if you end up needing that money?

It’s also hard because saying “no” too often can impact your reputation.  If you become known as the “always-busy” painter, you’ll lose referrals and jobs.  That means spending less time painting and more time on marketing and sales efforts.

Saying No without Saying “No”

But you don’t have to say “no”.  You don’t even have to say it when you really don’t need (or want) the work.

When someone calls you, it’s probably because they need their house painted.  But even if you can’t paint it, you can still help them!  You’ll look like more of a hero if you help them fix the problem without charging anything for it.

The first thing you can do is to let them know that, while you’re busy right now, you’d be happy to help them out later.  Provide a specific window of availability both for the quote and the service.  There’s always a chance they’ll take you up on that offer, especially if they appreciate your honesty about how busy you are and think you sound eager to do things the right way.

If they need the work done sooner than you can get to it, the best thing to do is to refer customers to another painter who does good work.  

The type of company it makes the most sense to “offload” jobs to depends on painting competition in your area and what types of services you offer. But whoever you choose, make sure you trust them!  If they mess up, you’ll get some of the blame.

For some painting contractors, it makes sense to refer overflow work to a relatively new painting business in the area.  The owner will be happy to get the small, lower-margin jobs that are your least attractive opportunities.

If there aren’t any newer painters in the area, it might make sense to pick a “friendly competitor” you can trust and cross-refer work to each other when the load gets too heavy.  Ideally, whoever you choose will also refer good work to you when you have space on the calendar to take it.

The one thing you don’t want to do is ignore phone calls when you’re booked and delete the voicemails without responding to them.  You’ll never know what opportunities you’re letting go until you listen to them.  And customers do review businesses that they’ve never hired!  A surprising number of one-star online reviews are for service providers who angered a customer by screening their call and never returning it.

To learn how ProPainter Websites helps painting contractors attract their ideal customers, call us at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com.

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