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Is the Customer Always Right?

By on June 15, 2013 in Customer Service with 4 Comments

“As a Painting Contractor, Is the Customer Always Right?”

customer_is_always_right The term the “customer is always right” was a slogan launched by the retail industry in the late 19th century. It’s intention was to make the customers “feel special.” I, like many others, have adopted this slogan into my business practices.

But I must admit at times I am challenged to live by it.

As contractors we’ve all been there… After completing the job, everything looks great and the customer is satisfied. But WAIT…after further review they’ve discovered a small chip in the tub, a dried drip of paint on the rug and a tiny scratch on the furniture all of which were “most certainly not there before.”

So what do you do?

Do you present your case to the home owner knowing full well you weren’t responsible for the chip, drip and scratch?

Or take care of those items of concern at your cost? If your goal is to have satisfied customers with repeat business then it’s really too late at this point to argue your case. Remember, in the customer’s mind the chip, drip and scratch was never there until you showed up. In this case, you will most likely have to make good on taking care of the customer’s concerns. As a contractor I understand this is a painful process as you watch your profits diminish right before eyes.

 So how can you avoid this scenario, the one in which a good paint job has suddenly gone south?

For me it starts with communication even before the painting begins. Look at the furnishings and flooring before you lay the first drop cloth. Carefully check the tub for tiny chips before laying drops. If you see something that could potentially become a problem, point it out to the customer in a “tactful” way. Explain how making them aware of those little details is part of your business practice.

My business practice is established and shaped through the process of working and interacting with customers. Learning from past mistakes and implementing a plan not to repeat them is an important part of this process. As contractors we might not all agree on a popular business slogan, but we all go through the process of striving to keep our customers satisfied and our profits up.

Leave a comment and tell me how you handle this.

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I am a painting and wallpapering contractor of over twenty five years in the Shenandoah Valley. The town of Winchester VA is where I do most of my work. I do mostly residential work and feel very fortunate for to be able to make a living within ten minutes of home. As a contractor I enjoy networking with other painters and am always on the look out for products and methods that will help me to do a better job. My business practices have been borne out of experience and I enjoy sharing this information to help others in my profession.

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There Are 4 Brilliant Comments

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  1. I do marketing for a painting contractor and your point about communication and tactfully pointing out any items that might be considered “your fault” at the end is a wise business practice. If done correctly and explained as a standard business practice as you discussed, perhaps even having some sort of list that the customer can sign off on before work begins would eliminate any issues after the job is done. Good post!

  2. Sal Mangeri says:

    Walshone, Yes a check list might work well, I have a contractor friend who even takes digital pictures of the those types of things that the home owner might notice after the painting.

    Thanks for your input!


  3. I’ve taken photographs before decorating as proof of how something was. I frequently clean up switches, hinges and flooring which a previous painter has left. These things only take minutes – but are worth it.

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