$99 Per Room Painters? Think Again.
Occasionally I spend some time tracking the keywords people use when searching for Toronto painters on Google. Tracking searcher’s keywords is useful information for a few reasons. The main reason is that it helps a company optimize their website so that potential customers can find it. A secondary reason is it gives us an insight into what people expect from a service provider.
Alarmingly, there is a significant number of web searches using the term “cheap painters”. The terms “affordable painters” or “value priced painters.” don’t even come close to that search volume.
Is it true that consumers just want “cheap” painters?
I have been in the painting trade for 25 years and the $99 per room discussion existed since then. Let me be clear that my comments are not the comments of an old and bitter painter whose professional pride has been hurt.
When the economic climate is unpredictable, painting is the last thing on people’s mind. Even here in the Toronto of the million dollar homes, there is economic uncertainty. What is worrisome, is the false perception that a trade service such as painting is a commodity. When every contractor churns out identical paint jobs, the only thing separating us is the price. The thinking is, if one painter can do it for $99 dollars, why can’t everyone else?
Let’s see why the $99 paint job does not exist and why it’s just a sneaky advertising ploy. Let’s examine why home and trade services are not a commodity and why all contractors are not the same.
Let’s read the fine print
Most of the $99 painters advertise in free classified websites such as Craigslist and Kijiji. After reading some of these ads, it becomes obvious that the $99 per room is a ploy to get the painter in your home. After meeting them for a “real estimate”, the advertised special is just an afterthought. The absurd combinations of conditions necessary for that kind of price do not exist. The $99 room will never happen. Let’s see see some of that fineprint:
- It’s for one coat only. (almost all paint jobs need a minimum of two coats)
- You need to paint a minimum of 3 rooms.
- The ceilings are priced extra.
- Doors, windows, and door frames frames are not included.
- The closets are not included.
- What most painters consider basic patching and prep work will cost you more.
- The customer will supply the paints (at retail cost)
- The price includes one colour.
- You have to pay cash and don’t expect a receipt or a warranty.
- For that price don’t expect liability insurance and WSIB coverage.
One coat, no prep, no receipt, no insurance, these sneaky conditions make a big difference to a customer. Reputable painters always had to contend with price undercutting, this is nothing new. Professionals always had to deal with the student painters or “ the man with a brush” types. What is different now, is the all new consumer entitlement for good and cheap service! Perhaps this is not surprising considering the popularity of big box stores and the “Walmartization” of the economy.
A good contractor is not “cheap”
The term cheap painting doesn’t even register in our way of thinking. We think we offer a tremendous value Our hard working painters are professionals and they need to be paid as such. We want them to be safe, insured and they receive health benefits. They deserve to earn a good living for themselves and their families.
Our company invests in our future. When apprentices first enter the trade they have high expectations. Becoming a professional takes time, as they need to learn how to paint properly.
Our valued customers deserve the great service they get. We are proud of the reputation that we earned and is reflected in the many reviews that we receive. The only way to continue this service is by pricing our projects appropriately.
It takes a lot of time to prepare the surfaces for painting but skip this important step and the paint will fail. Without prep, paint will not look right, as it can only look as good as the surface that it goes on. The price of the paint itself is expensive. There are inexpensive paints available but they are not well suited for residential projects.
The real cost of a paint job is greatly affected by the above factors. Any shortcuts here would indeed be false economy.
The “$99 per room” concept is not just a bad marketing ploy but just plain silly.