Table of Contents
- Match of Do it Best™ E153 Taupe Light *
- Do it Best Celebrates New Products, Expands Paint Options at 2019 Fall Market
- THE OPTIONS
- THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Don’t buy a beautiful shade of mediocre paint
- Benjamin Moore Receives First Green Good Housekeeping Seal
- Five Ways to Improve Your Paint Department
Choosing a color is where some folks start. Color-matching systems have improved to the point where you can get close to the color you crave in just about any brand. The sheen can vary by brand, however, and that can affect your perception of color. So decide which sheen is needed for the job (you’ll see the pros and cons spelled out below), the color you love, and then the best paint for your budget. (Despite all the colors available, whites and off-whites remain the top-selling interior colors. With dozens to choose from, zeroing in on just the right white can be tricky.)
Look at the biggest paint chips the store offers. A store’s lighting affects your take, so step outside to get another look in natural light. Once home, place the chips on the wall, next to the trim, and look at them at different times throughout the day as the natural light changes. Do this over the course of several days, omitting colors that aren’t working. Keep in mind that indoors, color tends to intensify over large areas, so it’s generally better to go too light than too dark in a given shade.
Once you’ve narrowed your choices, buy small cans for testing. Paint sample colors on large sheets of heavy paper so that you can move them from place to place without having to paint the walls. Live with them for at least a few days. Observe the effects of changing light on the color throughout the day, both natural light and light provided by bulbs.
For exteriors, warm, neutral palettes continue to be widely used, because the brick, stone, and other fixed elements are warm materials. That said, as blues and grays became popular colors for a home’s interior, they’re popping up on exteriors, too. And it’s smart to take a cue from other homes in the neighborhood, although you don’t want a color that’s too close to the homes next door.
Paint sample boards with each color you’re considering, and place them on different corners of your home. Again, observe the color at different times of day as the natural light changes. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, paint a swatch on the front of your house where it’s in full sun—not on the porch or under an overhang, where there are shadows. Look at the color at different times of the day.
Match of Do it Best™ E153 Taupe Light *
Matching Do it Best Paint Colors
MyPerfectColor is able match all of the Do it Best paint colors so you can find and enjoy the colors you love. MyPerfectColor uses its expert capabilities to recreate the original Do it Best color by matching the original Do it Best color books and swatches. MyPerfectColor is not using Do it Best paint.
The colors shown on this website are computer video simulations of the Do it Best Color and may not match Do it Best Color standards. Refer to Do it Best Publications to obtain the accurate color. Please know that MyPerfectColor is matching the original Do it Best color. If you intend to touch up paint that has been on your walls for years, know that your color has undoubtedly changed from the original due to exposure to light and age and the new paint may not match. You will achieve best results by re-coating the entire surface.
If you need more assistance, please feel free to contact us and one of our expert staff would be happy to help.
Do it Best Celebrates New Products, Expands Paint Options at 2019 Fall Market
Around nearly every corner of the 2019 Do it Best Fall Market this weekend in Indianapolis, attendees could see New Vendor flags flying high above exhibitors’ booths. The flags are a symbol of the co-op’s commitment to continue providing new growth opportunities for its members and to providing an enhanced market experience.
The Launch Zone, which Do it Best debuted at its fall market last year, is a space at the front entrance of the show floor that showcases innovative new products.
“The new vendors in the Launch Zone have something truly unique that we believe can be a differentiator for our members,” says communications director Randy Rusk.
Throughout the weekend, vendors hosted enhanced product demonstrations for attendees so they could see the capabilities and the advantages of the products.
Right behind the Launch Zone is the reimagined New Item Gallery. Do it Best repositioned this area at this market to a more prominent spot on the show floor. The layout of the space is different, too, with items merchandised on featured shelves. The products in this space are the top 20 percent of new items Do it Best has in stock.
“Our merchandise managers have identified the trending items that are a must-carry in the store,” Rusk says. “The new setup of the New Item Gallery gives our members a chance to look at the items that can enhance and differentiate their businesses.”
New products are always a traffic driver at markets, and that’s the case for the team from W. W. Fairbairn & Sons Hardware, which is based in Alanson, Michigan.
“We operate a hardware store with an HVAC and plumbing business attached,” says Sam Fairbairn. “There are five of us here this weekend ordering for both of our businesses.”
Alanson is in northern Michigan and sees a fair bit of seasonal tourist traffic. Fairbairn says they come to the market to see new ideas that will appeal to those customers.
“We like to keep the hardware store stocked with new products,” she says. “In our area, organic products are a driver, so we like to see what new vendors offer items in that category.”
Getting to the Core
New vendors and new product areas aren’t the only new opportunities on the market floor. Do it Best also featured the Category Solutions and Core Solutions store setup areas, which provide Do it Best members a simple way to see the products they should have in stock and how they can merchandise them to sell.
Category Solutions introduced 14 category opportunities at the spring market, and added three more at this market, including 24 feet of hand tools.
“These markets are all about our members getting the full experience and seeing great savings. We are offering some significant opportunities throughout the market, but especially with the Core Solutions and Category Solutions sets,” says Do it Best vice president of merchandising Dent Johnson. “These spaces show the most up-to-date assortments which can be purchased as a whole set or in sections so retailers can be sure to get the product mix they need to serve their market.”
The hand tools Category Solutions set is merchandised by brand so retailers can see how they can tailor their departments according to the top names driving sales.
Samantha Post, marketing and human resources manager for T & M Hardware & Rental, which operates six stores in Pennsylvania and Ohio, stops at the Category Solutions setups to be sure her store locations have the stock that Do it Best recommends and to get merchandising ideas.
“The market gives us a chance to take a step back and remember what everything is supposed to look like,” Post says. “Especially in our smaller stores, we tend to take displays apart and split up planograms, so it’s good to see what the recommendations are from the co-op.”
Core Solutions offers attendees a detailed look inside a specific department as it could look in a home center setting. Each market will have a Core Solutions focus moving forward. Do it Best chose to launch the area with a plumbing and electrical focus because those categories are often significant traffic drivers for members.
“With the help of our merchandise managers who stay on top of regional and national trends and forge relationships with vendors, we identified the categories where we know our members can be dominant,” Rusk says. “With the Core Solutions setup, we can show them how they can be dominant. Providing these categories in a store setting helps our members envision how it may look in their store and makes that translation a little easier. ”
In the Core Solutions store setup, attendees could see the planograms that show how to adapt the assortment for a hardware or lumber operation.
“The Core Solutions area is 5,000 square feet dedicated to plumbing and electrical in a home center setting,” Johnson says. “It’s the best-in-class plumbing and electrical products, and it serves as the inspiration for setting up a store.”
Serving Up Options in Paint
Two years ago, Do it Best introduced The Color Bar, a store-within-a-store setup for members to reimagine their paint departments and draw in consumers who tend to make design choices, especially paint, based on color.
Over the last two years, Do it Best has made even more commitments to helping its members enhance the customer experience and grow sales in the paint department.
Last year, the co-op entered into a partnership with Paint Sundries Solutions to expand access for its members to specialty applicators. At the spring market, Do it Best introduced expanded options in its line of Best Look brushes and applicators.
At this market, the company highlighted its new relationship with Benjamin Moore and its brand new stocking program with PPG’s Glidden paint line.
According to Rusk, about 15 percent of Do it Best members’ sales come from paint and accessories, which is why the co-op has made such a significant investment in the category. Do it Best president and CEO Dan Starr says this combination of options in paint makes the company a dominant player in the industry.
“I challenge any of you to show me a more robust, comprehensive paint program in the entire industry,” says Starr. “We should be your first choice. We know we’re your best choice. And if you want to dominate in paint, we’re the only choice.”
Customer Experience in Practice
Many updates at the market—from new products and new experiences, like an auction on Sunday afternoon to updated signage throughout the floor—are examples of how Do it Best treats its entire weekend as a learning experience for its members. Rusk says it’s all about delivering on enhancing the customer experience.
“We ask our member-owners to differentiate in a competitive, crowded market and do things others won’t do, like host special events, stock unique innovative products and create an exciting in-store experience,” Rusk says. “It’s more than just being friendly and getting to know customers. It’s about building a shopping experience. Our members are our customers, so we’re ensuring they have exceptional experience at the market with new products and new programs. We’re just practicing what we preach.”
The 2020 Do it Best Spring Market will take place Feb. 7-11 in Indianapolis and will kick off the co-op’s 75th anniversary.
Paint consists of pigments and an oil or water-based binder. The proportion of pigment to binder dictates the amount of gloss the finished product will have. Traditionally, the glossier the finish, the more hardwearing it will be. However, technology advances mean that there is now a vast array of different formulations to choose from, and many manufacturers now produce matt paints that have been specifically designed to be hardwearing to cope with areas of high traffic or the rigours of a kid’s bedroom or hallway.
The most common categories of finish are matt, and gloss with a wide range of variants between the two, ranging from dull to shiny. Manufacturers describe them in different ways, but most often you’ll be able to find matt, silk, satin, semi-gloss, high gloss. Again it used to be that the shinier the paint, the easier it was to keep clean, but you should find a matt finish that’s reasonably easy to wipe clean now with the latest technical advances.
Most interior walls and ceilings are painted using emulsion paints. Emulsions are water based and will have vinyl or acrylic added, to make them more hardwearing and to provide a varying degree of sheen to the finish. Emulsions are easier to apply than oil-based paints, have less smell and are relatively straightforward to wash out from brushes and rollers after use.
There are three main types of emulsion, vinyl matt, vinyl satin and vinyl silk, although manufacturers are moving away from using the term vinyl in their branding and you’ll often just see matt, satin and silk. To help further, some manufacturers now spell out exactly what each paint should be used for, so that what you see on the tin is exactly what you get. If you want something for the kitchen, just look for ‘kitchen’ on the tin, and so on.
Matt finish (Vinyl matt) – for a really flat finish. Matt paint produces a non-reflective or shiny finish, which makes it a good choice if you want to disguise an uneven surface or imperfections on the wall or ceiling. If your preparation of the walls hasn’t been that thorough, this is a good choice. It’s also great for creating impact with colour and matt emulsion will give depth and a richness to your room. Ideal for living rooms, matt paint can mark easily and traditional matt emulsions aren’t washable, but you’ll now find wipe-clean matt paints on the market.
Satin finish (Vinyl satin) – for a subtle, soft finish and a more durable choice than a vinyl matt, satin can withstand gentle sponging to get off light marks.
Silk finish (Vinyl silk) – for a shiny, reflective finish that’s completely washable, so a good choice for areas of high traffic, such as hallways and the staircase.
– One-coat – available in satin, mid-sheen and matt finishes and thicker than standard emulsion, this is great for a quick paint job. The paint covers the surface more thoroughly and you should get away with using one coat to cover most surfaces. Because the paint is that much thicker, use a quality roller for smooth coverage.
– Light-reflecting emulsions – ideal for opening up dark, small spaces, this specially formulated, light-reflecting paint makes rooms feel brighter. Often available in pastel tones.
– Durable emulsions – you’ll get good coverage from this paint and it’s worth considering for high-traffic areas because of its durable and washable finish – you can really scrub away at those persistent stains.
– Magic white emulsions – the idea behind this technology is that we often miss areas when painting in a white tone, particularly when tackling a ceiling. Open the tin and the paint is pink, to help guide you while you paint, but it dries white!
– Kitchen emulsion – no more sinking heart when the tomato sauce splashes on the wall! The emulsion has a greaseproof formulation and can you can clean away everyday cooking stains without the colour fading.
– Bathroom emulsion – a soft, satin sheen emulsion that has been manufactured to withstand steam and water and has been specially formulated with anti-mould technology.
Traditionally gloss paints were oil-based and include resin, to make them hardwearing. You can now buy oil or water-based gloss paints.
– Liquid gloss – you’ll need an undercoat first for this traditional high gloss finish. It’s extremely hardwearing and easy to keep clean.
– Satinwood – a good compromise if you want something with a more subtle sheen, but it’s not as hardwearing as gloss.
– Eggshell – very popular now to give a flatter finish to woodwork.
– Polyurethane gloss – the polyurethane resin makes the paint even tougher than standard gloss.
– Silthane – the silicone and polyurethane in the paint gives it even more protection from knocks and scuffs.
Acrylic emulsions – acrylic is more hardwearing than vinyl and is better suited for kitchens and bathrooms. It can also be used for woodwork.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Do you like subtle tones or lots of bright colour? Do you want your walls to complement the rest of your décor in tone, or do you want statement paint that stands out from the rest of the furniture and furnishings in a room. Even in a seemingly neutral room, subtle contrasts of the palest colours, to pick up the features like woodwork and coving, can transform the way a room looks.
Light plays another important factor when choosing paint. South-facing rooms, for instance, can take warm or cool colours, while a north-facing room can make colours appear darker. Paint cards aren’t really an accurate representation of the finished colour, so use test samples to get a true idea of the intensity of the colour. Bright and strong colours tend to look much stronger when painted over a large space and pale colours can look insipid. Trial the paint on the window wall, which tends to be the darkest in a room, on the wall where the light falls at different times of day, at floor level and under lighting, to get an idea of how differently your chosen colour works around the room. Also, check that you still like the colour when you have your lights on in the evening.
If you’re buying top-end paint, try and buy enough paint to complete the job in one go. Some decorators claim that it’s difficult to get an exact colour match if you have to buy more at a later date.
Proper preparation is also key to the overall final look of your walls and can add years to your paintwork. Before you begin, take a look at the state of the walls and decide whether you need to skim the walls with plaster first. If they don’t look too bad, there are some great filler products available now. Make sure the walls are rubbed down first, rake out all cracks, fill and caulk where necessary, rub down again and then spot in before applying two coats of emulsion.
Order of painting a room
If you are painting the whole room, start with the ceiling, and work away from the main source of natural light. Then paint the walls, followed by the door and any window-frames. Finally finish by painting the mouldings, architraves and skirting boards.
Primers and undercoats
When selecting a topcoat, check out its compatibility with undercoats and primers. Problem can arise when painting over an existing paint and you should read the instructions on your paint tin or get professional advice from your supplier before starting the job. To paint over existing vinyl silk with matt emulsion, for instance, you need to prepare the surface and then use one coat of a primer sealer before you apply the new paint.
Primers – Oil or water based, and are used to seal the unpainted surface before paint is applied to avoid it soaking in. Raw wood and metal needs priming to provide a key for the topcoat. You can buy all-purpose primers which can be used for two or more surfaces.
Undercoat – Usually oil-based, an undercoat is painted on top of the prime, undercoat is used to even out the grain on wood and prevent previous colours from showing through on walls You’ll need the correct colour to provide the right colour base for your chosen finished coat. Ideally use primer and topcoat from the same manufacturer. Gloss paint will generally require an undercoat.
Fire-retardant – Paints which contain an additive to provide a fire-resistant quality. Although not completely fire resistant, they have a great flame resistance and will help reduce the spread.
Radiator paint – Can stand up to the high temperatures of a radiator without discolouring.
Posh paints – Or heritage colours, are as popular as ever, but are they worth it? Certainly interior designers rave about them, and the niche-market designer paints come in some fabulous colours, and it is the colours that keep customers coming back for more. Cheaper paints are made with synthetic pigments and pigment is what gives paints quality and depth of colour. If you do buy designer paint, make sure you buy all you need in one go. Some decorators complain that the mix isn’t quite the same with each tin. And if you love a particular colour, but can’t afford to pay the extra, many paint supply shops mix the colour using their own paints for considerably less.
Floor paint – Floors can be painted or stained to rejuvenate them or to add colour, or even a decorative paint finish. Floor paint is available in either oil-based or emulsion formulas and should withstand everyday knocks, scruffs, scrapes and spills. Shop around and you’ll find both good quality all-round floor paints, which can be used on wood, concrete and stone floors, and formulations for specific floor finishes. Oil-based floor paint will produce a harder, more durable finish, however emulsion (latex) produces less odour and can easily be cleaned with soap and water. You’ll need to use primers and undercoats for oil-based paints, and emulsions should be covered with a protective polyurethane varnish. Factor in preparation time before you begin and always check the back of your tin for specific instructions on how to prep for the paint. For wooden floors you need a smooth, keyed surface to work on and deal with damaged floorboards before you begin. Also, concrete floors can react with the paint and cause it to crack, so you may need to seal your floor first.
Don’t buy a beautiful shade of mediocre paint
Best from our tests
All of our top picks are self-priming and low in volatile organic compounds or lack VOCs, some of the noxious chemicals that can make paint smell, cause headaches and dizziness, and are linked to smog and respiratory problems.
Behr Marquee Interior, $43 per gallon. This top-rated paint from Home Depot was superb at hiding old paint and impressive at resisting stains, but not as smooth as some. The paint withstands scrubbing, but aggressive cleaning will change the sheen.
Valspar Reserve, $44. Superb at hiding old paint and impressive at resisting stains, but not as smooth as some. This Lowe’s paint withstands scrubbing and aggressive cleaning didn’t change the sheen.
Behr Premium Plus Ultra, $34. A Home Depot paint, it was excellent at hiding old paint and left a smooth finish, but wasn’t great at resisting stains. The paint withstands scrubbing and aggressive cleaning didn’t change the sheen much.
Clark+Kensington Enamel, $32. Impressive at hiding old paint, it left a smooth finish but wasn’t great at resisting stains. The paint withstands scrubbing but aggressive cleaning changes the sheen. You’ll find it at Ace Hardware.
Benjamin Moore Aura, $54. The most expensive of the top picks, it was excellent at hiding old paint and left a smooth finish, but weren’t great at resisting stains. The paint withstands scrubbing but aggressive cleaning causes the paint to lose much of its sheen.
Valspar Signature, $34. Impressive at hiding old paint, but not as smooth as some and not great at resisting stains. The paint withstands scrubbing but aggressive cleaning causes the paint to lose sheen. It’s sold at Lowe’s.
Valspar Ultra, $29. This Lowe’s paint was impressive at hiding old paint, but not as smooth as some and it wasn’t great at resisting stains. The paint withstands scrubbing but aggressive cleaning causes the paint to lose much of its sheen.
Behr Premium Plus Enamel, $28. Another Home Depot paint, it was impressive at hiding old paint and left a smooth surface. But wasn’t great at resisting stains. The paint withstands scrubbing and aggressive cleaning didn’t change the sheen much.
Our interior paint Ratings tell you the full story and you might be surprised to see what paint is near the bottom.
Benjamin Moore Receives First Green Good Housekeeping Seal
NEW YORK — Consumers have looked to Good Housekeeping for trusted advice for more than 125 years, as the magazine has crusaded for food, water and toy safety, evaluated claims, and warned readers about manufacturer deceptions. In 2009, the magazine introduced the Green Good Housekeeping Seal (GGHS), an environmental overlay to the brand’s primary Seal, to help consumers choose products that are exercising environmental responsibility on a wide range of criteria.
For more than three years, the scientists and engineers at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the magazine’s state-of-the-art product testing laboratory, have worked with Brown & Wilmanns Environmental, one of the nation’s leading green consultants, as well as an Environmental Advisory Board, to develop criteria for the Green Good Housekeeping Seal, and established the Beauty and Personal Care Products, Cleaning Products, Appliances and Electronic Products, and Paper Good Products categories. Today, the magazine announced the first product to earn the Green Good Housekeeping Seal in its Paint and Coatings category, Benjamin Moore Natura in flat, eggshell and semi-gloss finishes.
Benjamin Moore Natura is a water-based line of zero-VOC paints for interior use. The Natura paints are virtually odorless, spatter resistant and have good washability performance, and the colorants that are added at the time of purchase are water-based, providing a full range of colors without adding VOCs. In Good Housekeeping Research Institute’s environmental evaluations, the product scored particularly well in reduction of energy use and waste production in the manufacturing process, as well as for the innovative development of a tinted product with zero VOCs and the company’s commitment to improving distribution practices.
Before being considered for the GGHS, a product must pass Good Housekeeping Research Institute’s evaluations for the primary Good Housekeeping Seal, which evaluates claims and measures efficacy to ensure it performs as promised, and also represents a limited two-year warranty: If the product proves to be defective within two years of purchase, Good Housekeeping will replace the item or refund the consumer. Only then is it reviewed using comprehensive environmental criteria, including ingredient safety and potential toxicity, the reduction of water use in manufacturing, energy efficiency in manufacturing and product use, packaging reduction, and the brand’s corporate social responsibility.
Five Ways to Improve Your Paint Department
To view a PDF of this story, click here and to read a Q&A from an architectural color consultant about her insights and advice on color.
By: Jesse Carleton [email protected]
If you sell paint, you’ve got a lot of company. Specialty stores, other independent home improvement stores, farm supply stores, big boxes and even discounters like Walmart all want to sell to it.
But while many retailers can put paint cans on shelves, few are able to fully maximize the category. Doing this requires a retailer to stay on top of trends, keep abreast of the latest product innovations, create an inspiring in-store presentation and offer knowledgeable assistance.
Simply put, being successful with paint means going beyond the basics and finding ways to make your paint department stand out from the competition.
To see what separates the good from the best, we spoke with three retailers who have mastered the art of selling this category. They talked about consumers’ changing demands and how they strive to be proactive in meeting those demands. Since the best paint retailers always have an eye on fashion, we also spoke with a representative from the Pantone Color Institute to let you know what’s new and trending in color and design for 2016.
1. ABS—Always Be Sourcing
The success of your paint department depends on your willingness to change quickly with trends in the market. Last year, Jay Donnelly, vice president of sales operations at Flanagan Paint, a specialty paint storein St. Louis, Missouri, brought in a line of new products. This year, he’s working to get that same line replaced because they’re already outdated.
Owner Jim Donnelly, left, and vice president of sales operations Jay Donnelly’s customer base ranges from the do-it-yourselfer to the commercial painter.
“That’s how fast things change in this industry,” he says. “I have to update my inventory continually. But I’ve noticed that when I visit some independent hardware stores, and look at their paint departments, many of them are not staying up with the trends and they are letting their products get obsolete.” Even when distributors make it easy to return products in exchange for new items, many retailers don’t go through the trouble of swapping them out, he says, and that can have a negative impact on the success of the department.
Donnelly also serves on the board of directors of the Paint and Decorating Retailers’ Association. Being a part of an industry association, he says, helps him stay current with paint trends, especially because he has the opportunity to interact with other paint professionals across the country.
One of the hottest trends in the paint category right now, for example, revolves around specialty paints and applicators. Chalk and chalkboard paints, as well as mirror and glow-in-the-dark paints, continue to be popular.
Stephanie Hunter, floor supervisor at Wildomar Ace in Wildomar, California, says paint that creates a weathered, antique look is one of the most popular trends she’s seen. She adds that rags, chip brushes and other tools are what do-it-yourselfers are using to produce that look.
Whatever the current trend, the best paint retailers are those who keep an open mind about what specialty paints might catch on and who search trade shows and magazines for the latest product trends.
2. Create an Exceptional Shopping Experience
Before you can even start putting yourself forward as the retailer of choice in paint, you need to look the part. While it’s important to have bright light and fully stocked shelves, it’s not enough if you want to be an exceptional paint retailer.
Clear signage with premium products in highly visible locations is part of the merchandising strategy at Flanagan Paint.
Consumers generally expect a different experience when choosing colors to paint their homes than when, for example, they buy a box of nails. They want a place where they can feel comfortable browsing. And if they’re going to buy a premium product, they expect a premium shopping experience.
“If you’re trying to sell a $60 gallon of paint, you can’t have your department looking 60 years old,” Donnelly says. He laments that he’s seen too many stores let their paint departments go years without an update.
At Flanagan Paint, Donnelly doesn’t let a year pass without making at least a minor adjustment to the store layout. This year, he’s going for a larger remodel.
“We’re trying to make our business as trendy as we can,” he says, “and I’m not comparing where I want to be with Sherwin-Williams or Home Depot. I compare what I want to do here with a store like Coach or Kate Spade. People go to those stores even if they’re just going to walk around and look. Consumers want to shop where it’s fashionable, and that’s the type of experience we’re trying to deliver.”
If it’s been a while since you’ve given your paint department a makeover, you’re likely overdue. Most retailers who do well in paint focus on the customer’s paint-buying experience. That means staying current on color racks and planograms from your paint vendor. Keep new and premium products at eye level at the entrance of your paint department. Make a place that’s comfortable to sit, look at color swatches and talk with a paint consultant.
3. Get to Know Pinterest
Ask nearly any retailer what’s new in the paint department, and it won’t be long before you hear the word “Pinterest.” This social media platform has given do-it-yourselfers a whole new level of confidence about doing projects themselves, along with a wealth of new ideas. DIYers who find a project they’d like to try on Pinterest typically end up in your store asking for the products to complete that project. If you want to be a top-tier paint retailer, you should look at Pinterest, too.
“We spend a lot of time studying Pinterest, so we stay on top of what’s trending and so we’ll know how to do certain projects,” says Donnelly. Customers may know what the finished project will look like, but are not always sure how to get there, or what products to use. “We help people figure out how to do a particular project, and when we do, that customer’s going to come back. Having the patience to work with a customer like that is part of offering great customer service.”
Ed Albrecht, paint manager at Northern Lakes Do it Best, emphasizes ongoing paint education to keep in tune with trends.
Hunter looks everywhere for trends, including Pinterest and HGTV, so she can stay one step ahead of her customers. “The challenge is customers who want to use exactly what the blogger used,” she says. “We try to know what’s trending and all of the latest painting techniques so if we don’t have the exact same product, we can direct them to something similar.”
And don’t just follow on Pinterest: Lead the way with a page for your own store. Flanagan Paint has its own Pinterest page where customers can search for project ideas that involve the colors and tools found in the store. It’s also a great place for Donnelly to post project how-to information and establish his business as an authority on paint and design.
4. Be Proactive in Educating Consumer, Staff and Yourself
Waiting for a customer to ask a question about a project won’t always get the conversation started. Because of the wealth of information on the Internet, the average consumer today probably did a lot of research on the project they want to tackle, so they may not think they need your help.
Encourage your employees to start the conversation. The information the customer has may not always be accurate, so it’s important to find out exactly what they found out online, and then confirm if it’s really correct. To do that, it’s even more critical that employees are well-trained in product and project knowledge.
Stephanie Hunter, floor supervisor at Wildomar Ace, runs a strong paint department despite two big-box stores just a short distance away.
Taking the extra time to ask customers about their projects and make sure they have the correct information can help build the sale, not only with add-on products, but with the correct products. Donnelly, for example, believes that one of the most misunderstood parts of the painting project is the primer. Among the many different types of primers available, do your customers know the correct one to use? “They may initially choose a cheap primer, but if you educate them on the differences between the primers and the advantages of each, you could easily upsell them a better primer that does the job right,” he says.
In addition to being proactive in educating customers, the best paint retailers are proactive in providing ongoing education to their employees. Ed Albrecht, paint manager at Northern Lakes Do it Best Hardware in Hayward, Wisconsin, uses the slower first couple of months of the year to update himself and his employees on what’s new in the industry and refresh product knowledge. He’s tried out most of the products he sells at home, so he has firsthand knowledge of how to use them. He encourages employees to try out products too.
“I’m constantly researching new products online and forever taking classes from our vendors and Do it Best so I know as much as I can about the category,” he says.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Sell Top-Quality Products
All of the paint retailers Hardware Retailing spoke with have noticed more and more consumers are buying premium paints. “We’ve definitely seen a trend toward higher-quality paints, as people are willing to spend more for better quality,” says Hunter. An assortment that includes all price levels for each type of customer may not be that unusual for a paint department, but the best retailers are proactive in getting their customers to try the higher level of products.
At Northern Lakes Do it Best, customers have a comfortable place to make color choices and interact with staff.
Albrecht, who sells anywhere from 150 to 250 gallons of paint out of his store every week, is willing to give away a premium item if it means his customer will at least try it.
“My do-it-yourself customers used to come in and get the cheapest rollers they could find,” he says. “Then I started giving them quality roller covers for free and asked them just to try it. Now, they’re hooked on them and buy them constantly.” He might have given away a few premium roller covers, but he has since sold many more.
As Albrecht has found, usually convincing the customer to buy a premium product rather than a cheap one involves some education. Donnelly takes the tactic of the impromptu in-store demonstrations to show the differences between paints and sundry items. “Sandpaper is a good category to show a customer a quality product,” he says, “because after a quick demonstration between low- and high-quality papers, they can easily see the difference.”
Selling high-quality paint sundries may often involve demonstrating the qualities of a superior product next to one of lesser quality.
Sometimes, Donnelly finds it’s helpful to simplify the language he uses to distinguish the different levels of paint he offers. “We usually ask customers, ‘Is this paint for your forever home, your 5-year home, or your investment property?’ That usually helps them decide what type of paint they should buy.”
Don’t think that do-it-yourselfers are the only ones who need education about quality products, either. Oftentimes, Donnelly and Albrecht have to educate their contractors who have always gone for the lower-quality items, but may be willing to switch once they know the benefits of a better product. Albrecht also uses his giveaway tactic to promote new products or to hook the business of a prospective customer.
“I once gave a contractor a 5-gallon bucket of paint to try, and now he buys about 300 gallons a year from me,” he says. “He’s also with the local housing authority, so now he buys a lot of other hardware items from me, too.”