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Give These Options during the Estimate for a Better Chance at Winning the Bid

You know one thing I really hate? I hate losing a job.

You pre-qualify the customer over the phone, you ask them a few questions, then you arrive at the house, you walk around, do the whole proposal, and then you either present it on the spot or email it to them and you lose the job.

I want to give you a couple of tips of how we try not to lose the job and give the customers options that probably nobody else has given them.

Today I am up here in my little house up in the lake in New Hampshire, I picked this up about a year ago now, it needs work –it needs a paint job.

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Anyway, I want to tell you about options that you can do, if this was somebody else’s house. I am going to walk you through, at least the front part of this, of what we would ask the customer, or mention to the customer.

And then on the proposal, make sure it is all written up, even with some pictures if possible.

The house is about 950 square feet, so not very big, nice and manageable for any painter who wants to tackle this job.

It hasn’t been painted probably in about 7 years, but it’s still pretty good. So here are some of the tasks you could include in your proposal for such a house.

Replacing rotten wood in full lengths

Down on the bottom, it has some rot. This could be repaired by cutting these little pieces and splicing them together, some of the boards we could use with a proxy that would be fine.

But we are not only going to put that on the proposal, but we are also going to actually replace the rotten wood in full length.

I don’t like how it is all pieced together, and a lot of customers don’t, but they don’t know the difference, they figure you being a painter, and the next painters are all bidding on the exact same thing.

So be very specific in your proposal, and add line items as options to do this kind of work, to replace the full boards, not just patch them in, and then give the cost of materials to the homeowner.

Scrape paint & PVC

Here, you will see this is all missing, I thought of this video as I was doing this work.

This could have been all scrapped, primed and painted, this is a problem here, a lot of water rushing down this corner.
We will put gutter up eventually, but right now, I just decided to replace this morning all with PVC, that would be an option we give to a customer.

That’s an upsell, that’s more money, scrape paint, never have this problem again and then if we can replace it.

If they have owned the home for a while, they have probably replaced this wood if it is all that water coming down. So, PVC is $100 worth of material, probably $20 of stainless steel screws I picked up a few hours this morning so, it is an easy $400 up-sell.

Trash fee

When you’re taking the wood apart and getting rid of it, the customer assumes that you are just going to get rid of this wood, you are not going to leave it in the pile. Although I have seen some people leave the debris.

What you want to do is a line item –the lined item would be a dump fee or transfer station fee.

I buy a primer every year, it is $100, plus they weigh me when I go in, it shouldn’t have been more than $25 or $30, I get $85 all day, if not more, to dump the trash.

Nobody wants a thrash on their property, they are happy to pay that.

Replace shutters

Another thing we do is give them options on shutters. We’re not just going to wash and put them back up –we are going to replace the shutters and give them prices.

They might be sick of this, but they haven’t said anything because they don’t know the cost.

A lot of homeowners do not know the cost of doing these repairs, you are the professional, give them some options.

House wash

We also put a line item on our estimates for house wash.

Yes, it’s assumed that we have a house wash, but we like to put a line item, put a cost on that. A homeowner is willing to pay if they know what something costs.

Masonry seal on the chimney

Also, the cinder block chimney should be sealed –that should have a mercenary seal on it, and it’s worth $35 or $40 dollars.

It’s probably going to take an hour or two hours to do it, which makes it a $150 up-sell.
So, as you are walking around start giving the customer options.

Customers are willing to pay, if you are working with A and B customers, you are the professional, they are willing to take your lead on some of these work.

Paint mailbox –for free

Also, give them the option of painting the mailbox post, throw that in, and put a zero cost.

On some of the things that we do give away for free, we line item them and put a no charge on it, just so the homeowner knows they are getting it done and we are not charging.

Shed repaint

The shed is also a line item for repainting, say at $650.

Customers would pay it all day. Wash it the same time you are washing the house, like prep 2 gallons of paints, a couple of hours, 4 hours or maybe 5 hours’ worth of work and you have a painted shed and $650 in your pocket.

So, what I am saying is, these are the little things on this house that I have noticed this morning, but imagine some of the bigger houses; interior and exterior, take some pictures, take a picture of the roof, if you do roof washing, give them an option for the line item of a roof wash and so on.

While you’re at a job and you notice it needs to be done, you might not discuss this with them, maybe you take a picture.

Imagine them sitting in their house, at night, after coming home from work, getting your proposal compared to the next painter’s proposal.

You have this beautiful long, drawn up proposal, lined item with options and the other painter just has this regular prep and paint a house.

Not all, but some customers are going to realize that you are the professional.
One key though, do not let the proposal add it all up at the end, because what would happen in some cases that the lined item would all add up and if they just look at the lined item, they are not actually comparing A to B, they are actually comparing yours with all the options to someone else who is giving them just a paint job.

Anyway, there’re always options and do not forget to put your warranty on it.

A lot of painters, it is an assumed warranty, for some, it is a tailgate warranty, as they leave the house.

Put your 3, 5, 7, 9 year-warranty whatever, make yourself different and don’t forget to follow up.
I got to get back to banging some nails and prepping this house for some paint.

I am Ron Ramsden and I am a DYB coach, also a painting contractor. I feel your pains, but I also feel your wins. If you would like to chat, find me at or find me on Facebook, I would love to chat with you. We can even exchange cell phone numbers, give me a call if you need me, I am here for you. Have a great day, bye…

About the Author

Ron Ramsden is the owner of the successful Ramsden 1-800-PAINTING, who implemented the DYB SYSTEM, and crushed it in 2015, and now coaches other painting contractors around the nation to do the same.