Skip to main content
I’m a
who wants to see products and inspiration

3 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.

A paint site in a home, with Green FrogTape Multi-Surface Painter's Tape masking off the white trim. There are green drop cloths on the floor, a paint can, and a step ladder.

By Diane Walsh, VP of Market Development & Channel Management for Shurtape Technologies, LLC

“I’m not happy with the work.” They are the words no contractor ever wants to hear. They mean less attention to other jobs, a smaller profit margin and the potential loss of future business.

Callbacks can hurt a business’ reputation in several ways. First, referrals are adversely affected when homeowners talk with one another and share their unpleasant experiences. And when those same homeowners take their displeasure online and leave negative reviews online and on social media, the impact can be much more permanent. Finally, callbacks can also hurt a company’s productivity by inhibiting the ability of the team to move on to other projects.

The good news? Many callbacks are preventable. Here’s a rundown of three key strategies for avoiding them.

A man painting a blue wall gray. The trim is taped off with Green FrogTape Multi-Surface Painter's Tape

Educate the Customer

Very often, customer satisfaction comes down to one very 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, who has owned and operated the Denver-based Eco Paint since 1990 and has been painting homes since 1977. “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, especially when it comes to color variations, service parameters and ongoing maintenance.

And consumer education doesn’t stop after the last coat is applied. 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 painted surfaces,” he says. “We also inform them to keep vegetation pruned back away from the substrate."

This kind of dialog does more than help prevent callbacks. It can also instill a trust factor with your customers that tells them you care about the lasting quality of your work, even after the job is complete. And that can have the fringe benefit of turning first-time customers into repeat clients.

Maintain Clear Communication - Inside The Office And Out

Rarely is poor work the reason painters get called back to a job site. The most common reason is poor communication. 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, a leading commercial and residential painting company 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, who holds the role of 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 — professional painters can sometimes find themselves tasked with a job in which they’re less-than-comfortable. Painters may not have experience in carpentry, drywall finishing or electrical work, and therefore trying to perform work in these areas could end up worsening jobsite problems. Knowing when to call in a specialist, as well as rescope the job with the customer, is crucial to ensuring your work and reputation remain intact.

A painter taping off a section of a white wall with Green FrogTape Multi-Surface Painter's Tape

For companies that offer a variety of service lines, it makes sense for crew members to request assistance from others who specialize in that line of work when needed. Trusting your field staff and giving them the authority to call and ask for help if they feel uncomfortable taking on certain aspects of a project can reduce callbacks significantly, since certain contractors have more experience in certain areas than others.

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 outside the scope of the painting job. This is especially true with exterior paint projects, where it’s not uncommon to run into damage like rotted wood. It may be the last thing small painting companies (or homeowners, for that matter) want to hear, 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.”

About the Author
Diane Walsh is Vice President, Market Development for Shurtape Technologies, LLC, maker of FrogTape® brand Painter’s Tape.  She directed the Shurtape Professional Paint Advisory Board, working with leading contractors across the country to explore industry trends and share insights for the benefit of the entire trade.  She also served on the PCA Residential Forum Board of Directors for seven years and was named the PCA Associate Member of the Year in 2018.

More ideas like this

  • A man painting a blue wall gray. The trim is taped off with Green FrogTape Multi-Surface Painter's Tape

    Tips and Tools

    Customer Research

    How homeowners choose painting contractors is always changing. So, we went right to the source.

  • Rookie Painter's Handbook page featuring painters using FrogTape.

    Tips and Tools

    Rookie Painter's Handbook

    The Rookie Painter’s Handbook is intended to serve as a springboard for the skills you’ll grow with every job — a guide to help round out painting fundamentals and offer you a jumpstart as you begin your career in the painting industry.

  • A painter masking off baseboard trim using Green FrogTape Multi-Surface Painter's Tape.

    Tips and Tools

    How To Prep Your Jobsite & Protect Your Reputation

    Most jobs are 90% prep and 10% painting. And your customers rely on you to protect their home and property while you work. Your reputation depends on it. Learn best practices for what to move, what to cover, what to mask, and how to do it all efficiently when prepping to paint.