A lot of painting contractors want to rush through this part of the painting process. If you miss something here, you can get hurt. It’s actually fairly easy to estimate a paint job. I have seen contractors jot down a paint estimate on a piece of scrap paper, paper to ones like mine which are formally typed and itemized down into the individual elements of the job such as rooms, doors, windows and showing accurate counts of each item.
Some painters believe that it helps to win jobs, to act like a magician, walk through an estimate, and just pluck a number out of the air, based solely on their guess. Some paint customers might be impressed by this act. I think that a more accurate estimate is better for the painting contractor and for the customer. Probably someone might be impressed by this method, but to me it seems rather sloppy.
I always do a two part sales call. The first time I visit the customer is the measure call. I measure the paint job and I find out as much as I can about the customer as I can. I don’t do any selling on the measure call. Ask questions, like “Have you ever worked with a contractor?” “How long have you been planning this work?” “How many estimates are you getting?” I then take my measurements to my office and prepare a formal type written estimate. The customer usually has an unusual reaction to my questions. It’s as though they don’t dream of a painting contractor asking questions like those.
When estimating the cost of a paint job, you need to keep records as to how long it takes for you to paint individual items such as a door, window, 100 square feet of wall or ceiling. Then when you go to your customer’s home just count the items and you will have a good idea of the total time it would take to paint. You will have to add time for other miscellaneous things like setting up the job, prepping the job and cleanup.
You must know your own selling price and never price your estimates using the “going rate” or “market price.” These prices have no value to your business, and can hurt your painting business more than help it. Calculating your selling price is not difficult, but it is too long of a subject for this article.
I save the selling for the second call when I present the paint estimate. I make an appointment with all the buying parties. I never email, fax or mail my estimate. By taking control of the estimating and selling process you can win more bids and sell at prices higher than your competition.