A Step-by-Step Guide to the Full Painting Estimate Process

May 12th, 2017 | Eric Barstow | Painting Business Articles | 8 Comments

A carefully crafted estimate process is invaluable. Why? Because:

  • You can make more sales.
  • You can sell at a higher price point.
  • You can set better expectations with your customer.
  • You can provide a better customer experience.
  • You can spend more money on marketing because you sell more jobs at a higher price point.

Overall… your business grows significantly! The higher your company sales rate, the faster your company will grow. It’s the most valuable part of your business to make improvements on.

In this article, we’re going to outline what a good estimate process looks like from start to finish. We’re not going to miss a single thing. We’re touching on every single detail, including:

  • The initial phone call
  • The Q&A at the estimate
  • The pre-close #1
  • The walk around
  • The pre-close #2
  • Estimating and writing up the agreement
  • The close
  • Follow-up

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Let’s get to it…

1. The Initial Phone Call

The first step is setting up a great estimate. How you handle your initial contact with the customer can make a huge impact on your sales rate.

Because of that, it’s imperative that you set yourself up to win. Some people refer to this as “Field Position Theory”. It’s like a football game. Each interaction with the customer gets you further up the field. With a really weak initial call, you might only be on the 10-yard line, leaving you with a long way to go!

On the other hand, with a great initial phone call, you can put yourself on the 50-yard line. By the time you give them the contact, you’re on the 1 yard line, and all they have to do is say “yes”.

But if you don’t do a great job throughout the process, you need to make something magical happen at the end. Which we all know is unlikely. So, do yourself a favor and start off as amazingly as you can. Here’s is a great video on how to set up a perfect estimate.

2. The Q&A at the Estimate

Once you arrive at the estimate, you should immediately start building rapport. A great question to get that started is “How long have you guys lived here for?” Look for common ground and build genuine rapport.

Remember, people buy on trust. The best way to build trust is through building a relationship, and being genuine and real with people. Become their best friend.

Customers will get estimates all across the board. Some higher, some lower, some more professional, some less professional… which one is the right one to go with?

The one they trust the most.

So, start off with the relationship. Then, when you notice the rapport slowing down (could be 2 minutes, could be 30 minutes) transition into talking about the paint job. All you need to do here is ask questions and cover the basics:

  • What concerns do they have?
  • Have they painted before?
  • What are they looking for in a paint job?

Your job is to find out what they need and want, and make recommendations and help them get the paint job that is perfect for them. Be genuine and honest and look for what’s best for their needs. People can sense that, and that in turn builds trust. Which is exactly what you want to do.

3. The Pre-Close #1

A pre-close is when you offer a discount in exchange for something from the customer. The reason you do a pre-close is to encourage the customer to take the estimate seriously.

Instead of them thinking “We’re just getting an estimate”, we want them to be thinking “Do I want to hire them?”

When customers are considering if they want to hire you, they ask all the most important questions. They listen more. They care more. They evaluate each part of the estimate differently. This all benefits you.

For example, when you ask: “When are you guys hoping to get this painting work done?”, they say whatever they say.

Follow up with: “I’m just asking because right now I’m trying to fill my next available spots. Right now, that’s June. If everything works out and you guys decide to paint with me, would June work for you?”

They’ll say “yes”. Then you say: “Perfect! If everything works and you can schedule for June, I can save you guys some money because that really helps us with our scheduling.”

Now, you’ve got them listening and taking the estimate more seriously.

Now their thinking has shifted from “Maybe we’ll paint this year, we’re just getting an estimate” to “Do we want to hire them? Because if we do, we definitely want to save that money for painting in June”.

Because let’s be honest. Nobody wants to spend money painting their house. They’d rather take a family vacation. The less they can pay, the better!

4. The Walk Around

Now that we’ve covered basics inside the house, it’s time to walk around.

During this part of the estimate, you want to walk the house with them. Identify all the problem areas on the house. Educate them. Tell them what is happening. Why is it happening? And what is going to happen if they don’t do something about it? What do you recommend doing for that problem and why?

Only make recommendations. Then ask them: “So do you want me to scrape, sand, and prime all of these peeling areas around the house?”

See what just happened? You’ve given them ownership of the estimate. Now they are the ones customizing the estimate. It’s their estimate now. It’s not the stock estimate the company offers, but they’ve been given all the options, and they chose this paint job.

You also want to take this opportunity to customize the estimate. Give them unique options that fit their situation and budget. Ask about all the little details. If you were about to start the job tomorrow, you’d ask stuff like: “Do you want this utility box painted?”; “Want us to add an accent color to the peaks?”; etc.

5. The Pre-Close #2

Once you’ve finished the walk around, it’s time for another pre-close before you send them back inside.

First, recap everything you’ve talked about. Tell them the options you are working up, the prep work you’re including, materials you are using, and any other important notes you wrote down.

Let them know you’re going to take about 15-30 minutes to make your measurements and write up the estimate for them.

Remind them that if everything looks good, and they want to move forward with you today, you’ll save them a little extra money on top of the money you can save them for scheduling in June.

Hand them your client binder full of references and referrals and send them back inside so you can do your estimate.

6. Estimating and Writing Up the Agreement

This is all on your own. Take your measurements. Write up a professional proposal. Make sure the proposal is detailed and includes every single thing you talked about.

If you can put something on the contract that you talked about, but they already forgot about, that’s a good thing. It makes them feel like they are in good hands… even if they miss something, you’ll catch it.

Check out our article on how to make a professional painting proposal for more expert tips.

7. The Close

When you walk back into the house with your contract in hand, pick up the rapport again. Talk about the weather, their weekend plans… anything to lighten the mood.

Sit down with them. Let them know you’ll run them through everything you came up with. Then slowly and clearly talk them through the estimate.

In the proposal article, we go into more detail on this section of the estimate. Refer to that article about how to close like a pro.

8. Follow-Up

Customers either say yes, no, or maybe. If they said yes, you signed them. Great!

If they said no, you can take them off your books. No need to follow up.

But if they said maybe – like they are getting other estimates, or they wanted to think about it, you need to follow up.

The most important thing about following up is persistence. Each time you talk to them, agree on a time to follow up next. Always call when you say you’ll call. Never stop until they give you a yes or no.

Remember, the person who persists longest wins the job.

And there you have it. Every step in the process of doing a full painting estimate. Now, review the article. What changes are you going to make in your sales process?


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