by John Seidensticker

John Seidensticker serves as the senior VP of professional sales for Behr Paint Company. He is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the professional sales and business development strategy and execution throughout the U.S.

Q: How can a paint manufacturer’s service offerings be most helpful to the pro painter amid COVID-19?

A: Without question, this is a challenging time for all businesses, and especially for those in public-facing service industries like paint contractors. For many pros who have seen their business drop off by 50% or even more since the virus emerged, every day is a struggle to figure out how to keep their operation up and running and how to do it safely.

Fortunately, many long-standing—and a few new—services from paint manufacturers are in place to help pros navigate the ever-changing landscape and to address a number of challenges they’re facing.

Obviously, one of the biggest issues is finding ways to mitigate risk by limiting unnecessary exposure to others. Where available, pros should take advantage of contact-less ordering opportunities. Many manufacturers now offer online ordering for coating and painting supplies. Companies like Behr Paint have gone the extra step and provided direct access to BEHR PRO Reps via email, text and phone. These reps can coordinate order placement, fulfillment, pickup or delivery, and, working from your ordering history, ensure you are receiving the exact products you need and had previously ordered. And not just for paint, but for any supplies you might need on a jobsite.

What follows naturally from online ordering is curbside pickup and delivery options. Even in the best of times, pickup and delivery options were a simple step for streamlining workflow. And now, they are just another measure you can take to protect yourself and your employees. Ideally, curbside pickup includes free load-in by the retailer. Be sure to ask about the option.

Beyond solutions for safely obtaining products, pros should not hesitate to ask their paint reps for support on other fronts.

Very early on in the pandemic, BEHR PRO Reps reached out to customers to get a pulse on their needs and challenges and to determine how we might help. Among the support we were able to add to our offering was helping painters locate resources to learn about and apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, a Small Business Administration loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during this time. We built out our website to include links to resources ranging from lenders by state and small business association directories to CDC guidance for small businesses and information on tax credits.

For pros whose projects got cancelled or delayed, our reps assisted in finding other projects and filling their pipeline through The Home Depot Pro Referral program. For pros who were fortunate to keep busy, we began conducting job walks independently—something we’re also doing with increased frequency for property managers. As part of the BEHR PRO Professional Products & Services Program, our reps are available to walk jobsites, observe the substrates, take pictures, prepare job specification recommendations, and, when requested, even provide color services. This is especially helpful in situations where property managers are still working offsite or have returned to work on a limited basis. Work they used to have to accomplish, often with groups of people, can be taken care of with no—or very limited—contact.

At this moment in time, there’s almost nothing a paint pro shouldn’t ask of their rep. The success of manufacturers depends on the success of pros. Manufacturers are rising to the challenge of not only being vendor and supplier, but also serving as a business support partner. The goal is to keep pros working as safely as possible at full, or as close to full, capacity. Many of the pro services offered are designed to do just that.

And if there’s a bright side to be had in any of this, it may be the fact that the new habits pros develop utilizing these services will continue to serve them well—saving them time, saving them money, and increasing efficiency—in the future.

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