prequalify, leads, painting business, marketing

Painting Contractors: Prequalify Your Leads With These 7 Questions

As you drive up to a potential customer’s house you look around and think, “what am I doing here? This isn’t for me!”

Sometimes you just know it before you even walk up to knock on the door.

I am Ron Ramsden, and I am a DYB coach, also a painting contractor up here in Northern Massachusetts.

I don’t know how many times in the past this has happened to me.

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You show up, start talking to the people and walking around the house, and then you realize, “I don’t want to be here, I am wasting my time, I have too many other things I should be doing. Now, I have to write them an estimate, so I’m going to waste even more time for a job I don’t even want.”

I’m sure you can relate to this, but guess what…

I found the solution!

Let me walk you through the pre-qualifying questions that we ask every single customer.

We also have the questions in a neat FREE pdf for you.

Go ahead and grab it now so you can follow along: Pre-Qualifying Process

To start it off, we allow them to book their appointments online to schedule an estimate, and it is very effective.

If you want to learn how we do this, you can grab our YouCanBook.Me Training Video Here

Some customers prefer to book their estimate online, and others prefer we jump on a phone call.

Even with online booking, we ask these questions, we want to get some information out of them before we even commit to going on an estimate.

Of course, we get their email address, and their phone number, because we have to call them back.

We get their address, what they’d like painted, what their time frame is, where the source came from.

By source I mean:

  • Were they referred?
  • Did they Google for painters and find us?
  • Did they see our branded truck parked on the side of the road?
  • Did they see one of our yard signs?
  • Was it another kind of contractor who referred us?

It’s important to know where it came from, it shows a lot if we’re going to go look at that job.

So, we have that information online or if they call, we ask them the same questions.

This is typically what happens, if someone books online and I read the information, for example, it could be a sister of a past client, we are going to go see that person, as long as the address is in our service area.

One of the first things we ask for when we are talking on the phone is we want to make sure we are a good fit for them, we like working for certain customers that we call, A and B customers.

Just like school, A, B, C, D, we kind of characterize everybody into A, B, C or D, Ds, of course, we don’t want to work for, As and Bs, that’s who we are going for all the time.

What we first ask is, of course, their name and address, so we get that pertinent information, but then we are going to Google their address, we look it up using Zillow.

We do this to see if it is the kind of house we typically work on.

You need to go through your 3 Ps, which is your People, your Process, and your Profit, so you know what kind of jobs you’re looking for.

If you want to learn about this go ahead and grab your FREE worksheet:

How to Find Your Target Market

And Here is where I explain the worksheet.

This worksheet will help you find the leads that really makes sense for your company to be doing over, and over, and over again.

For example, if it is a lead house, my company doesn’t work on lead houses anymore, we don’t have our P-license, we let that go, we found that wasn’t one of our 3 Ps.

Whenever we get those kinds of leads, we refer that work off to a lead contractor in the area.

So, we Zillow it, if it fits into the area that we work on, we prefer half a million to 1 million dollar homes in this area.

Also, the closer the better, because we don’t like to drive far, my guys don’t like working in the city and we can be stuck in traffic for 1-2 hours each way even though it’s only 30 miles away.

So we check that it’s in our service area, we also check the cost of the house by Zillow estimate, we know the address, and then we ask them, “is this your own house or is it a rental?”

Maybe it’s a 2-family, 3-family or fourplex, we tend not to work in multi-family homes.

Being a landlord for 16 years, I realized what landlords are looking for and that’s not something we provide, which is usually cheap painting.

They don’t want to pay premium and we are a premium company and you should be too.

Next, we are going to ask, “where did you hear about us?”

A lot of the time they will say, “I don’t know, I can’t remember,” 9 out of 10 times, they can’t remember.

It could be Google, it could be Google reviews, that’s a recent one.

“I have been watching your reviews and we decided to give you a call when we needed a painter,” or, “I saw a few painters on Facebook,” that doesn’t mean they are a great or perfect customer of yours, so you have to dig a little deeper.

Maybe it’s a contractor we worked with that referred us, maybe it’s a past client referral, maybe it’s a neighbor of a client or past client, those are the good ones, those are the ones that have a little more weight.

We are actually going to explain to them, the level of craftsmanship that we provide, that we are not the cheapest painters, if the price is a sensitive topic for them, they’re not for us.

We want to let them know we are really into the craftsmanship, we use quality products, we provide the products and we go on and on.

If any red flags pop up, we kind of end the conversation there is a very nice way and I am going to talk to you about that later on.

Also ask, “when would you like it done?”

If they are going to say, “we want it done next week.”

“Well, I’m sorry we are already booked for next week, but we’d be happy to find a time on the calendar for you,” if they’re uptight about that, that’s a red flag.

If any of these red flags come up that don’t seem like a great fit for your company, there is a way to get out of this!

When they want it done, a lot of times we already have a schedule, our schedule and their schedule doesn’t match, that’s something to bring up if any red flags come up.

Another thing, if it’s a small job, we don’t estimate small jobs.

Just recently someone had some hardwood floors, sanded and the baseboard had to be touched up.

The customer needed someone to come out and give them a price, and I very nicely said, “anything less than a day is a painter for a day.”

Of course, you’ll notice everyone has different expense levels and different charges all over the country.

Demand different prices depending on your overhead and we talked about overhead in some of the previous videos.

You should know what you charge per painter for a day, be it x number of dollars, you can say, “Mrs. Smith, typically on small jobs like that, we don’t come out and price them out, we have a painter for a day.”

Anything up to 7 and a half or 8 hours, however, you price it.

This project seems like it’s only going to take about 4 hours to take care of the baseboard.

If there are a couple other little things around the house, we’ll probably take care of that too.

So you’ll tell them, “that is x number of dollars, would you like to book that?”

They say, “yes, it’s great,” and then you ask for credit card information so you can put a deposit down for the day.

Then when the painter is all done that’s when you process the charges, tell them this and ask, “does that sound good to you?”

If they say no, that’s a red flag, they called you because they trusted you to be a painter to come up to their house, if they’re going to waste your time, then they’re not worth it.

Remember, your time is worth a lot of money, you don’t have a lot of time, so you’ve got to make sure you use it wisely.

Anyways, you ask these 7 questions, but how do you get out if you have any red flags and it just doesn’t feel right.

Of course, anyone is capable of telling them rudely, but how do you end an estimate, of a lead that isn’t fit for you, with the customer thanking you?
You can make this situation a win-win, you want to be able to have the contact information of another painting company to refer this work to.

You may be saying, “wait a minute, I have to give my competition some work?”

No, you know who your direct competitions are and you should be friendly with these people, I know I am through the PDCA.

I always see them at paint stores and other gatherings around.

I know my competition, I’m more than happy to have coffee with them, share some ideas.

There may be someone where you know they’re a good painter but they may not be a very good person, or they may be very bad at marketing, but they are always looking for work.

You know this person is a good painter so you cut a deal, “Hey Joe, sometimes I get jobs that I can’t handle, would it be okay if I referred them to you?”

He’s going to be thrilled, and also tell them, “but you’ve got to do one thing, you have to promise me if I refer you someone, you call that customer back, and I’ll keep referring them to you as long as you keep calling these customers back.”

It’s as simple as that, refer away the leads that aren’t a good fit for you.

We find a couple of painters in the area that we can trust, so we’ll call them and say, “Hey Joe, Mrs. Smith is going to be calling you because I just referred her with the job we can’t handle, please call her back when she calls you.”

That’s a win-win!

We tell the customer, “at this point, we can’t fit you into our schedule,” or “that’s really outside of our service zone, but I do have a painter I can refer to you, would that be okay?”

The customer would be thrilled, they don’t have to do any work, you are handing them another painter who promised to call them back.

That’s one way it is a win-win, and this way your customer is happy, that painter is happy.

It’s not a customer you are going to work for anyways and you don’t want to waste your time going over to write an estimate for work you don’t want.

Remember, keep that smile on your face, you are not going to get a bad review, you might even get a positive review out of the deal.

So, you’ve got to look at it this way, your time is worth a lot of money, so what you want to do is use it wisely.

You want to pre-qualify the customer before you go over and see them, if it is a repeat customer you can kind of put this aside.

So, qualify the customer, if the customer isn’t a good fit for you, refer them to another painter.

If you don’t feel comfortable enough to ask these questions, you are going to get to that job, you are going to look around and you’re going to go, “why am I here?”

Then you have to provide them an estimate, if you don’t provide them an estimate, you are going to look like the bad guy.

Be the good guy, make it a win-win situation even if you don’t want to work for that customer.

I am Ron Ramsden, if you have any questions you can email me at, you can also find me on Facebook here.

Anyways, thank you so much for watching, I help painters work on their business, so they don’t have to work in the business, have a great day!

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.