5 traits customers look for in a contractor … do you have them?

by Brian Sodoma

customer concept with business elementsAfter 21 years in business and millions of contractor reviews, Angie’s List has become a respected go-to source for consumers looking for quality contractors. By the nature of the business, Angie’s List employees hear the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to contractor experiences. Company spokeswoman Cheryl Reed has heard her share of the most common complaints and compliments through the years.

“What people ultimately want is a fair price and a job well done,” Reed said. “People just want to know they’re not getting ripped off.”

Here are five very common traits customers look for in a contractor:


When a customer contacts you, each brings a different expectation for when you should respond. Some want a callback within a day, others a text within an hour. Reed suggests contractors “think in terms of hours, not days.” Always consider calling back by the end of the business day. If you can’t call, remember that some customers are open to texts or email.

“A lot of people complain, angrily, when they don’t get a call back. It has been, for a very long time, among the top complaints we get,” Reed said. “The beauty is, it’s very fixable.”


When you do talk to a customer, help him or her understand what you need in order to give an accurate bid. Also, educate customers without talking down to them. A customer may not know furniture needs to be moved. He or she may not know exact room measurements either.

“Educate them, but do it in a way where you are partners, as opposed to being an overlord,” Reed added. “No one likes to be bossed around, especially in their own home and when they’re paying you.”

And avoid statements that imply gender bias. Don’t assume a man is part of the picture if a female is on the phone. “It’s something we hear all the time, contractors asking females if the man of the house is home,” she said. “In many cases, women are making the call on this.”


As a painter, particularly with interior repaints, you have a wealth of opportunity to make a mess of someone’s home. But a customer will sing your praises if he or she spots you taking your shoes off, wearing booties, and using extra drop cloths.

“If you can pay attention to those kinds of things, you’re going to get rave reviews. The guy who wears the booties will win,” Reed noted.


If you say it will take two coats, show the customer you are applying two coats. If you say you will be there at 8 am and leave by 5 pm, do it. The horror stories about contractors who never leave or never complete the job are rampant, Reed warns.

Many customers also demand pricing transparency. Be open about material costs if you sense the customer wants to see them. Explain potential change orders before the contract is signed and give the customer an idea of what could happen with possible problem areas, beforehand. It will help you if speed bumps arise.


If you knock over the prized lamp, find a way to fix it. Don’t blame. Don’t hide. Some of your crews are more diligent than others, Reed says, and unfortunately accidents do happen. “If something goes wrong, address it ASAP and do your best to make it right.”

To become part of its growing contractor community, visit And for more tips on running your paint business, visit

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