What steps are you taking to protect your business during the COVID-19 emergency? In this article, pro painter and PPC contributing writer Terry Begue offers a framework to help you stay engaged and take care of your customers through this restricted time, so that you can emerge on the other side of this crisis with a business that’s ready to take care of you.
The ‘Four Abilities’
Life as we know it is changing rapidly, at least for a while, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses have had to close their doors not knowing when they will be able to reopen, while services considered “essential” by their state continue to operate, provided that they abide by the state’s guidelines for safety, including strict social distancing and cleanliness standards.
There is no one-size-fits-all advice for working through this. Different locations, business models, family needs, and personal values make everyone’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic unique.
Some of us work in areas which will require careful adjustment, but will find that work does not stop completely. In many cases, though, we will not be able to engage in-person with customers or complete services you had planned for the spring. It is important to follow the guidance of your state carefully and to keep yourself, your family, and your customers healthy.
While we are all affected differently by the current crisis, it is important to remember that we will get through this. This simple “Four Abilities” framework has served me well, even through times of hardship.
Start by understanding what your customer really needs, and just have a conversation about how you can help.
For many, painting is not a current priority. Now is the time to put those people skills you developed to work by finding out how you can help. Likeability is approachability, even at a distance. Ask your customers what you can do, and be sure they know that it doesn’t need to be painting related. We’re all in this together, so ask yourself: “How can I use my talent and resources to help today?” Better yet, ask them!
If your customer is planning on moving forward with a painting job, don’t skip the conversation! Understand their concerns about the current health crisis, and let them know the ways you are meeting or exceeding your state’s requirements to keep them safe and healthy.
Believability builds the bridge between “liking and trusting.” It’s not just about saying you care, sometimes it’s showing you care as well. There’s a saying that goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
So, pick up the phone and call your customers. Ask them what you can do to help today. If it’s a little out of your field, YouTube it. Who knows, you might even discover another income stream down the road?
Look at your networking and professional groups. Can you refer someone you trust if you see there’s a need and it’s not in your area of expertise?
Sometimes people won’t ask for help. Check in with your elderly customers to make sure they’re okay. If you can see that their grass needs to be cut, just do it. If their deck or cement is slippery from moss and mildew, what’s it take to pressure clean it? You can even offer to deliver groceries!
Trustability means keeping every promise that you make.
Go back over your past customer job proposals and work orders. Is there something you never got to before that you can offer to do now? Can you provide a discount? Don’t just assume they know you want to help. Making your intentions clear is sometimes what it’s going to take.
During this time more than ever, trust goes beyond just doing the job you promised. It’s being there for others when they need you the most. Empathy, integrity and respect aren’t just the building blocks to trust, they’re qualities that show you’re in business to serve others. Even when it has nothing to do with your title.
Even during these unusual times, look for ways to wow your clients. It’s still the biggest reason they’ll remember you, use your services, and recommend you to others.
Doing more than what’s expected doesn’t just apply to business. Make it a part of who you are. Sometimes that means self-sacrifice. If you’re fortunate enough to have continued work during this time, why not offer to help out on the weekend or an evening as a way of paying it forward? Remind current and past clients (and yourself) that they’re the reason you have a business in the first place. Going the extra mile can help keep you “top of mind” when the better times get here.
Remember: People don’t buy your product, service, ideas or dreams until they first buy you. Our current situation has opened many opportunities to WOW your community in new ways. Taking care of your customers and potential customers requires focus and perseverance, but the payoff is something you can’t put a price on. Now more than ever, you have an opportunity to gain customers for life!
Practical actions while social distancing
- Understand your customers’ worries so that you know what it will take to make them comfortable.
- If possible, focus on properties with outbuildings, businesses that are temporarily closed, or vacation rentals where social distance will not be an issue.
- Consider offering additional services which may meet the needs of your clients more than your regular services.
- Maybe take on some repairs outside or maintenance in areas that require a ladder; clean out gutters, or wash windows, repair the roof or flashing, or fix broken windows.
- Clean every surface you and your crew may have touched using appropriate disinfectant.
Practical actions while on stricter isolation or quarantine orders
- Call to check in on your customers and leads. Listen to their concerns so that you can be ready to exceed their expectations when you are able to resume projects.
- Use your social media channels to post how-tos for simple home maintenance and painting tips.
- Take some time to work on updating your website, social media, and online professional directories so that you can be easily found after restrictions have been lifted.
- Go back over old work orders and revisit any unfinished work. This will help you get organized, and line up work for later in the year!
This article was written by Terry Begue, owner of Begue Painting and author of Attract & Keep Customers For Life: 4 Abilities To Build Trust, Communicate Your Value, And Charge What You’re Worth.