Color Consulting: An Emerging Value-Add Opportunity for Pros
Color selection can be a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process, especially with an indecisive homeowner. But it can also be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both painting pros and their customers. Incorporating color consulting into a business plan can not only be a cost-effective time saver, but it also provides reassurance when it’s time to choose the perfect palette.
EVALUATE THE NEED
Depending on the size of the job, painting professionals like Genesis Macedo, owner of Genesis Pro Painting & Restoration, Inc. in Westchester County, NY, discusses color options at the time of the estimate and, depending on the size of the job, offers a complimentary color consultation with a local interior designer for prospective customers.
“We provide this service as an extra value for large jobs, typically above $5,000, when the client’s budget isn’t an issue,” Macedo said. “This added service really helps us, especially in certain high-end markets and when we are competing for a bid.”
Color consultations with a professional designer cost on average $150 to $200 per hour.
“As a painting pro, I consider this a minimal investment that my business can absorb and it makes a huge difference for our customers,” Macedo said.
Macedo says he receives a color consultation request at least once a month. For smaller-budget jobs, he doesn’t typically offer this service for free, but will connect his customers to a local interior designer so that a color consultation can be scheduled.
Eve Gimmel, a color consultant based in Boise, ID, says that choosing the right color combination is a win-win for everyone.
“It doesn’t matter how great the paint job is if the color isn’t what the client wanted,” Gimmel said. “A color consultant can bring a design element to the home by incorporating accent walls and adding new trim, which can really make a job stand out.”
Color consultation can be advantageous because it reduces labor by saving time on prep, sampling and cleanup, and often increases the amount of paint needed, which can be financially beneficial for pros.
Gimmel says color consultants, like herself, can guide clients on color choices and recommend sample selections, as the appearance of paint can greatly differ from color chip to wall.
“Pros appreciate when I come on a job because I create a better system for paint to be applied,” she added. “I meet with the client, write a color plan, and forward it to the painter, who can then update his or her bid.”
With 22 years of painting experience, Minneapolis- area painting professional Nick Slavik, of Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration, considers color consultation a large part of his business. Slavik utilizes his own personal experience and life-long passion for restoring antique furniture to provide free color consultation services to all of his clients.
“Often, my clients are curious about my opinion even if it’s just for a one-bedroom job because I’ve been painting for so long and deal with color on a daily basis,” Slavik said.
In initial color discussions, Slavik introduces options and ideas, and then later meets with the homeowner to further drill down the final choices. He makes it a point to stay informed of color trends and monitors changes in the housing market.
“I subscribe to 18 design magazines and regularly visit bookstores to gain additional insight,” he said. “I also tour new-home construction so I can clearly see upcoming trend lines.”
He credits his vast experience and unique ability to read clients and understand different personality types for predicting the type of color scheme that will be selected.
As part of his approach, Slavik requires his customers to purchase paint samples, test out colors on various walls, and view the paint in different light throughout the day before he starts the job.
“Sometimes, this can take a few weeks and it might slow things down, but it helps clients become more invested in the process,” he said. “It also shows me they have skin in the game.”
Slavik provides approximately 200 color consults each year, converting approximately 150 of those into paid jobs. He considers this spend of time more valuable than paid advertising.
“I’d much rather spend 20 minutes with a potential client doing something I enjoy instead of paying for an advertisement,” he said.
He says that the color process almost never goes wrong. “My process works 99% of the time and clients are pleased with the color,” he said. “If I feel like they are hesitant, I’ll go right over to their home and talk through any concerns.”
To avoid any miscommunication, many pros require their customers send paint selections in writing.
“Once we have the color selections finalized, we place the paint order,” Macedo said. “This lends a sense of finality to the selection process and reduces the chances of last minute changes and the need to re-order paint.”
One of the biggest ways to ensure a successful color strategy is to establish trust with each client from the very beginning. “Trust is everything,” Slavik said. “Your clients will feel secure knowing you are helping them pick the right colors and ensuring the process is smooth.”
FREE COLOR CONSULTING AT DUNN-EDWARDS PAINTS
For pros seeking additional resources, Dunn-Edwards offers a free color-consultation service in 90 retail store locations across the United States.
“When we introduced the program, it was intended for homeowners, but we quickly began seeing painting professionals using the service too,” said Dominika Bandyk, regional color advisor manager for Dunn-Edwards.
Bandyk says that many painting pros send their clients to Dunn-Edwards to assist in the color-selection process with the help of our professionally trained color advisors.
“Approximately 25% of our clients are contractor driven,” she added. “They see this as a huge benefit to their business so they can remain focused on being out in the field, getting their jobs done faster.”
Dunn-Edwards utilizes an online design software to help homeowners visualize their new space and narrow down samples. “This is an especially useful tool for new pros who are trying to grow their business but may not be able to hire an interior designer or color consultant,” Bandyk said.
Some pros have even included this free service in their bids as a value-add; some even offering to make an appointment for their client at Dunn-Edwards.
“We understand the needs of homeowners and pros,” Bandyk said. “We consider ourselves more like business partners.”
Learn more: DunnEdwards.com; search ‘free color consultation’