Canadian Contractor


Painting contractors: proven strategies for avoiding callbacks

Callbacks are often preventable — if you understand the common causes. Learn how to reduce callbacks, maintain your reputation and boost productivity with a few best practices

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Callbacks are often preventable — if you understand the common causes. Learn how to reduce callbacks, maintain your reputation and boost productivity with a few best practices

by Diane Walsh

Diane Walsh is VP of market development & sales operations for Shurtape Technologies’ Consumer & Craftsman Group, ShurTech Brands, marketers of Painter’s Mate Brand Painter’s Tapes. As director of company’s Professional Paint Advisory Board, she works with leading contractors to explore industry trends and share innovations for the benefit of the entire trade. Diane was named PDCA Associate Member of the Year in 2018.


“I’m not happy with the work.”

Words no painting contractor wants to hear. They mean less attention to other jobs, a smaller profit margin and potential loss of future business.

Callbacks can hurt a business’ reputation in several ways: adverse impact on referrals, negative online reviews and keeping the team from moving on to the next project.

The good news? Many callbacks are preventable. Here are three key strategies for avoiding them.

Educate the Customer

Customer satisfaction often comes down to one important factor: A contractor’s ability to manage customer expectations.

“We get fewer callbacks when we educate the client about things like materials and warranties,” says Cal Phillips, 43-year painting veteran and owner/operator of Denver-based Eco Paint. “We’re the professionals, so it’s up to us to educate the client so they can care for their home.”

Education should start as early as the initial onsite visit. Managing a customer’s expectations is essential when it comes to color variations, service parameters and ongoing maintenance. Customer education doesn’t stop after the last coat is applied, either. Phillips makes sure his clients understand their responsibilities for continued care after the job is completed.

“On an exterior project, we’ll let a client know that the paint needs to be maintained by making sure sprinklers are properly adjusted, with gutters and downspouts in good operation so that water is adequately removed from the painted surfaces,” he says.

This kind of dialog also tells customers you care about the lasting quality of your work. And the trust that builds can help turn first-time customers into repeat clients.

Maintain Clear Communication — Inside the Office and Out

Poor communication is a more frequent cause of callbacks than poor work.  Communication breakdowns between estimators and painters or between painters and customers can result in mistakes. Like applying an accent color to the wrong wall or painting trim the customer had wanted untouched. That can often mean lost productivity and bad customer reviews.

At Two Dudes Painting in Lancaster, PA, painters receive a copy of the client’s paperwork to ensure everyone understands what the client has signed off on.

Samantha Seifried, Client Advocate at Two Dudes, says for longer projects, the company encourages clients to communicate with painting crews.

“When a project lasts more than a couple of days, we strongly encourage homeowners to review the work daily and let us know if they see errors or details they’re not happy with,” says Seifried. Regular dialog with the customer makes the company more efficient—and clients are more satisfied—because if errors crop up, painting crews can make corrections while they’re still on site, rather than having to come back after they’ve committed to another job.

Re-scope the Job When Needed

When customers fail to understand the process or timeline, or ask their painting contractor to perform work outside their area of expertise — carpentry or electrical work, for example — painters can sometimes find themselves in a bind. Painters may not have experience in carpentry, drywall finishing or electrical work, and trying to perform work in these areas could end up worsening jobsite problems. Knowing when to call in a specialist and/or rescope the job is crucial to protecting your work and reputation.

For companies that offer a variety of service lines, it makes sense for crew members to request assistance from specialists in that line of work when needed. Trusting your field staff and giving them the authority to ask for help can reduce callbacks significantly.

For smaller companies or one-to two-person crews, it makes sense in such cases to simply recommend an outside contractor to tackle repairs that fall beyond the scope of a painting job. Small painting companies may hate to say no – and homeowners hate to hear it – but in the end, the customer will appreciate your honesty and have a better overall experience because of it.

In the end, callbacks can cost a painting company dearly, both in reputation and production. It’s essential to take proactive steps to prevent them if you want to build a more profitable business.

“We don’t want callbacks,” Seifried says. “But, more than that, we want great reviews and ratings. That’s why we work so hard to deliver a whole project experience.”

This tip for your painting business is brought to you by Painter’s Mate Brand®, the painter’s mate for quality and value™. Get professional paint results without the premium price with Canada’s favourite painting tape. Learn more about the family of Painter’s Mate products at


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