Are you asking your customers this important question?

by Brian Sodoma

iStock_000057820670_FullThe phrase ‘pop the question’ is tied to one of the most important personal decisions in your life. But when it comes to your paint business, sometimes the right question can show a customer how much you really care about your work and their well-being—and that can be a difference maker for your ability to build business. Especially when it comes to the subject of healthy homes.

Today, media reports, like those highlighting Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring having high formaldehyde levels, are raising consumer awareness of the home environment’s impact on human health. Having a ‘healthy home’ is even topping environmental concerns.

“Today’s consumer is not as concerned about oil prices, but if a daughter or son misses a soccer game because of asthma or sinusitis, they’re willing to do what it takes to get that fixed,” said Larry Zarker, CEO of the nonprofit Building Performance Institute.

Some experts say the paint pro has a unique opportunity to offer healthy-home solutions. One simple question could open the door to a paint pro’s knowledge on the subject, and even bring a bottom-line boost.

“All the contractor needs to do is simply ask the question: Does anyone in the household have any allergies, asthma, or air-quality concerns?” said Kelly Sinatra, a Benjamin Moore spokesperson.

It’s a conversation starter that paints the paint pro (pardon the pun) in a different light.

“A customer will look at you differently when you ask that question,” adds Chad Ruhoff, vice president of energy services for Oregon-based remodeler and builder, Neil Kelly.

Ruhoff says he is meeting more and more customers concerned about chemical sensitivities and the overall impact a home has on health. When he seeks out a paint contractor, he needs someone who understands the healthy-home trend.

Arm yourself with knowledge

So, what should a paint pro know about healthy homes? Paint and building industry experts offer the following advice:

1. Be aware of customer perceptions about healthy homes. In a 2014 survey, online home design site found more than one in three homeowners felt their home is ‘less than healthy.’ Customers are concerned about what is in their home, and they want to work with someone who can offer answers, not more questions.

2. Read and learn about off-gassing from man-made materials in the home like furniture, cabinets and flooring. Then familiarize yourself with zero-VOC paint products. Some even claim to combat odors and off-gassing from other materials.

3. Look beyond paint. Some customers may even ask about off-gassing from tape and caulk. Be prepared to offer a solution.

4. Be flexible with your strategies. Some customers may ask you to roll instead of spray in order to minimize contaminants in the air––and they may be willing to pay extra for it, too.


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