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Monday, December 9, 2019

If you own a painting contractor business, you probably know that many consumers find local businesses online.  And if you’ve ever bought website services from someone who doesn’t know much about painting or search engine optimization, you’ve probably also learned that it’s not easy to show up in the organic search results.  After all, every other painting contractor in town wants to show up, too, and there’s only so much space on the first page of Google.

You’ve probably also been told by a website provider that they’ll get you results if you’ll just pay them for a few more months.  Sure, it takes time to show up on Google – but how much time does it really take?


The short answer is that it will take at least three to six months.  Your website might show up further down the rankings in the first few months, but if your domain is brand new, it really will take some time to get a first or second page ranking in the organic search results – and that’s if you’re doing everything right.

To get results within a quarter or two, your website needs plenty of content about your painting services.  It needs to be well written; Google needs to see that it’s written for humans, not just a bunch of repeated keywords designed to trick search engines.  Your website should include images and be linked to other websites relevant to painting.  Ideally, your website provider will help you get some legitimate links back to your site, which also helps with visibility.

If you want to get the fastest results, there are a few things your provider can’t do without your help.   The most important is setting up your Google My Business account; it’s free, and if you don’t have up-to-date, accurate information about your business here, Google is likely to leave your website very low in the rankings. If you are uncertain, we wrote a blog about getting set up on Google My Business.

Another way to boost your search results (and, more importantly, the number of calls you get) is asking for Google reviews from your satisfied painting customers.  Businesses with a strong number of positive reviews are more likely to search well.  They are also far more likely to get called by the potential customers who find them online.

One of the most important parts of searching well is to have one website.  Obviously, you’re not going to get found easily without a web presence.  But if you have multiple websites, you’re going to have problems.  Google doesn’t like uncertainty because it really doesn’t like delivering bad information. If you’ve got five web addresses and it can’t figure out which one is the “official” one, it’s not likely to show any of them.

To learn more about ProPainter Websites and how we can get you found online, call us at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

When it comes to marketing services, everyone wants to sell you something.  Get your painting company in front of thousands of eyes!  A picture is worth a thousand words!  Guaranteed house painting leads or you won’t pay!  Surely if these companies stay in business, they’ve got to work for somebody.  Right?

Not necessarily.  More than 90 percent of those postcard mailers will get thrown away before anyone looks at them.  A big visual ad is useless if someone isn’t actively thinking about getting their house painted when they see it.  And those “guaranteed leads” – they don’t tell you that they’re sending them to a half dozen other painting contractors too, and the ‘lead’ will pit you against each other until you’re losing money on every job.

In fact, many of the most effective marketing techniques don’t cost as much as you’d expect!  Some of them are free!  Here are the most important things to do if you need more business.


Get your name where it matters online

If you’re trying to get your business in front of customers right when they’re thinking about hiring a painting contractor, these are the three most important facts to consider.

To get new customers from the internet, you don’t need a beautiful, custom website.  You need a site with the content that gets you on the first page of Google.  And if you want to earn all of those customers who are trying to learn more about you, you want to have a Google Review rating above 4.0.  That means you need to ask your happy customers for reviews, even if it’s awkward or unpleasant.

Claim your work

Neighborhood houses tend to be built around the same time.  If houses in the neighborhood are still on their first coat of paint, the paint also tends to start peeling at the same time.  That means the house you just painted probably has several others around it in need of a coat of paint.

When you finish a job, ask the customer if you can put a yard sign outside of the house.  People in that neighborhood will see what a new coat of paint did for your customer’s curb appeal – you should make sure they know where to go to get that same effect for their own home.

It’s also a good idea to send a mailer to other houses in the area letting them know which house nearby has your paint on it. Tell them you would by happy to paint theirs, too.  This might make them circle around the neighborhood to look at the newly-painted house, even if that house is further back in the neighborhood and they normally don’t pass it.

Ask for referrals (and explain why)

So many companies build marketing campaigns asking for referrals that it’s easy for consumers to get immune to them.  That’s a shame, because referrals are the lifeblood of a small business.  This is especially true with a business like house painting, where repeat customers are uncommon; it doesn’t really matter how great of a job you do with a customer’s house, you’re still only going to get paid to paint it once.

When you ask for a referral, don’t do it like big business does it – an off-hand, scripted remark that’s said as quickly as possible because it’s awkward and unsure.  Do it in a way that will make it have an impact.

After a customer tells you they’re happy with your work, thank them for the feedback.  Then tell them you’re a small business, and you’d really appreciate the opportunity to do any painting work that their family or friends need done.  Tell them referrals are one of the most important ways that you get business.  Give them a couple of cards and ask them to hand them to anyone who might need painting.

The reality is that most people won’t make the effort of referring you even if you ask.  But if you can double your referral rate, you can have a dramatic effect on the amount of business coming your way.

To get more business for your painting company, call us at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Painting contractors don’t get into the painting business because they love the advertising business.  For many painting contractors, marketing is the worst part of the job.  For every honest company trying to sell you marketing services, there are at least two that want to assure you, with no evidence, that their expensive solution will bring you thousands of customers.


In many cases, the solution would work if the company wasn’t bad at their job.  Sometimes, however, it’s the idea itself that just doesn’t work.  Here are three really bad marketing ideas.

Cover the Earth with Coupons

There are several reasons that buying 5,000 pages in a set of coupon mailers doesn’t make sense.  First, most people don’t even read through them – they pick it up and throw it directly in the trash.  So if you aren’t on the front or the back, you get no visibility.

More importantly, you don’t want to lead with price.  In many of these coupon books, the 10% off coupon text is larger than the company logo!  This immediately identifies you as the “cheap painter”. People who want the cheapest jobs will come your way, and they’ll try to haggle away your margins.  Most customers willing to pay more for great service don’t go looking for painting contractors in the coupon book.

Let the Work Sell Itself

If you’re not a person who likes to talk about how great you are, it’s tempting to simply let the work sell itself.  While it seems like it should work, most painters never get many leads this way.

It’s not because the work isn’t good.  It’s not because the customer isn’t happy.  It’s not even because they don’t care to help you.  Unfortunately, most people are so busy that they quickly forget to tell everyone what a great job you did.

Think about the last time you had a positive customer service experience.  Who did you tell about it?  For most people, it’s rare to leave reviews, much less make phone calls.  The only way most customers are likely to make a referral if they aren’t asked is if house painting comes up in casual conversation.  And unless someone is walking into your newly painted house, painting is not a frequent topic of conversation for most people.

This is why asking for reviews is so important.  If you know a customer is happy with your work, sending an email after the job asking for a review is not going to make them angry.  In fact, they’re likely to be appreciative of the fact that you reminded them.  And because many people are sitting at their computer when they’re checking email, they’re much more likely to go to Google and provide a business review before they get distracted by one of the many other things going on in their life.

Land and Expand

Of all the marketing techniques the “land and expand” is one of the worst.  Most companies that do this use a coupon, but it’s not required.  Companies using the land and expand strategy advertise a service at an extremely low rate with the hope that they’ll uncover more work when they get to the house. They try to sell that additional work at full price in order to make enough profit for the job to be worthwhile.  For instance, you might have a coupon that only covers painting two rooms, and any additional rooms are at full price.

There are plenty of problems with this.  If you’re advertising a super low rate, you’re likely to get penny-pinchers, and they won’t pay for other rooms even if they need them painted.  Those that do pay for additional rooms may feel like they were tricked and leave a negative review or speak badly of your company.  Finally, the initial price devalues painting; anyone who sees that ad will expect that you, and every other painting contractor, should be charging a much lower price per room than you can profitably charge.

To learn more about what makes a website a good marketing idea, call us at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Most painting contractors don’t start a business to get rich.  They want the freedom of being their own boss, to create a positive work environment, and to do great work for their customers.

Most owners do reach a point where the financial value of their business becomes important.  You might be trying to decide whether to expand or franchise your business.  You might also be hoping to sell your business and retire some day.  In these cases, the financial value of your business is an important consideration.

It takes more than a steady flow of jobs to make a painting business valuable.  Surprisingly, it also takes more than strong profits.  Here are three factors that help to determine any business’s financial value.

Accurate Financials

Maybe your business has never missed a pay cycle.  Maybe it’s been providing you with enough income to keep your family happy and send the kids to college.  Unfortunately, your potential buyers weren’t likely around for all of that, and those aren’t the criteria they will use to evaluate how much profit they’ll make when they buy your business.

What they want is to see the accounting books – and they want those books to show a consistent trend of profitability, after all expenses are considered.  That means they want books based on accrual accounting, not cash accounting.  Without a few years of well-kept books, the buyer is taking on a heightened profitability risk – and taking that risk means they can’t offer you as much money for your business.

A Business That Runs Without You

What would happen if you took a few weeks off?  Most small business owners have taken very few vacations over the years because they’re terrified of the answer to this question.  They simply don’t have the processes in place to allow the business to function for weeks or months without their presence.

In most cases, however, when you’re retiring, you don’t sell yourself with the business.  If the painting business can’t make a profit in your absence, that means it has no value without you.  Even if you intend to work for the new owner for a year or two to ease the transition, that’s not always a reality.  Sometimes, unexpected health issues or other factors force a retirement.  You want to make sure that these unforeseen circumstances don’t wipe out the value of your business.

This means that your business needs processes in place to produce a strong profit even when you aren’t there.  Employees need to have the knowledge, and to be empowered, to make good decisions without being able to reach you first.  Painting contracting businesses that can “run themselves” are far more valuable than businesses that require hiring new management to be profitable.

If your business cannot run without you in the middle of it, you’ll want to develop a plan to get there if you plan to sell in the next 3-5 years.

A Competitive Differentiator

The highest profit painting contractors have customers who are willing to pay extra for that business’s services.  There are many reasons that might be the case.  Your employees might be more professional, and make customers more at-ease with strangers in the house.  It might seem well-run, and inspire confidence even among new customers.  You might be the only painting contractor with hundreds of five-star online reviews in the area.

If your painting business doesn’t have a competitive differentiator, the profit that you’re making is likely to be whittled down over time by other nearby painters.  If the differentiator is you, that’s also not good.  Remember, you’re not generally trying to sell yourself with the company.

If you don’t know what your differentiator is, it’s a great opportunity to improve your profit margin!  Competitive advantages tend to build on themselves, leading to higher profits, more satisfied customers, and more confident, purpose-driven employees.

Figure out why customers select you as their painter.  See if you can find trends among their answers.  Finally, focus on those things, always working to make them better, and tell your employees these are the reasons that customers choose to let them paint their house.  Don’t forget to advertise your excellence in these areas!

To learn how ProPainter Websites can help your business generate more revenue, email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com or call us at 919-424-6121.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

We’re the best choice for managing your online web presence if you’re a painting contractor (okay, we’re a little biased :)).  We aren’t the only company who can help, however – there are a handful of other companies with the industry knowledge to do a good job of representing you online.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of companies who don’t have that knowledge.  And they blow up your phone or email every day.  Some of them are just selling overpriced websites; they can’t write painting content and know nothing about how to make painting contractors search well.

Unfortunately, most of them are even worse than that.

Our customers frequently send us emails they’ve received about their website underperforming and ask, “are these legitimate problems?”  Most of these emails fall into the “scam” category.  Here’s how to spot a scam.

 

Red Flags that a scammer is emailing you.

Scammers operate by sending out millions of emails to any email address they can find, hoping to catch a business owner desperate for more business.  In order to work, every word in the email has to be relevant to anyone, in any state, in any industry.  That means that the email is extremely vague.  Here are some signs you can just toss the email directly into the trash.

  • They have no idea who you are. The email refers to you by your website, not your name.
  • Nothing in the email is specific to painting, or to any content on your website.
  • They intentionally use technical jargon they know you won’t understand.
  • You have no way of verifying that any of what they’re saying is true.
  • The grammar is awful (this email probably wasn’t written in the US).

Here’s an example of a scammer email.  Click the image below to make it larger.

Red Flags that a hacker is trying to trick you and hijack your computer.

Cyberfraud emails try to trick you into giving a hacker access to your data or your financial information.  They might reference some website problem or other technical support issue, but they probably aren’t trying to get you to call them.  Cyberfraud emails look very similar to a scammer email, with a few additional red flags.

  • They may try to trick you into thinking they’re someone they aren’t such as a delivery company, bank, or other major company you’ve heard of before.
  • They tell you that the email is urgent, and you need to do something quickly.
  • They want you to click a link – and the link doesn’t go where the email says it goes.
  • They include an attachment and tell you that important information is in the attachment.

Avoid clicking on anything in these emails!  Delete them immediately.  Many of these emails try to lock you out of your PC and encrypt your data.  They will then try to extort you for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to get it back.

Here’s an example of a cyberfraud email.  Click the image below to make it larger.

To learn how ProPainter Websites can help you earn more business, call us at 919-424-6121 or email us at Team_PPW@ProPainterWebsites.com.

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