What clients look for when hiring a painter and decorator

September 28, 2023

If you’re starting or growing a painter or decorator business, a big part of your success comes down to making yourself as appealing as possible to prospective customers. Achieving this means understanding the major motivations that customers have when searching for firms, and responding to them in order to stand out from the crowd.

This guide highlights ten key things that your customers are looking out for when working out how to find a painter and decorator that suits their needs. The list comprises practical skills, business acumen and vital documentation, but all of them are critical to the long-term success and profitability of your business.


Probably the first thing that a customer will look for is information about your experience and qualifications. In particular, they’ll want to know how long you’ve been offering painting and decorating services, what your particular skill sets are, and what stands you out from the competition. They’re most likely to look for your website or social media pages to find this information, as well as any online trader directories that you’re a part of, so make sure your online footprint is updated regularly.

Customer reviews

Alongside researching your credentials, most customers will also explore any reviews that other customers have left for you in the past, and your overall star rating. If you’ve had some negative experiences in the past and received some poor ratings, then this can have a major effect on how you shape up compared to similar painters and decorators. It’s therefore more important than ever to get satisfied customers to leave you positive reviews when you’ve completed their work, to boost your rating and make yourself more attractive to prospective clients.

Estimate visits in person

Customers want to feel valued and that you’re taking your job seriously, especially if they’re looking at spending thousands of pounds with you. And that’s why a thorough estimate inspection, carried out at the location in person, can make an excellent first impression. By conducting an extensive survey and discussing different parts of the work with the customer, you can establish a common ground over what needs doing, how long it will take and how much it’s likely to cost.

Competitive quotes in writing

It goes without saying that you’ll have a better chance of getting more work if you’re able to do it for less than competitors in your local area. At the same time, it’s also good practice to give customers quotes in writing, so that they can be sure of what the price can be and that there is no risk of any ambiguity later on. This quote should take into account all materials and labour, including any extra charges incurred (for example, for working on Saturdays and Sundays).

Quick responses to enquiries

In all forms of retail and services, customer expectations are rising all the time. They increasingly expect to receive responses to their enquiries more or less straight away. In the case of an initial enquiry for a quote, many customers are likely to contact several different painters and decorators at the same time, and go with whichever one gets back to them first. Additionally, they will also expect you to keep in close contact throughout the job so that they’re fully informed.

Comprehensive service

Connected to the previous point, the best painters and decorators will be able to provide a comprehensive and fully professional service. Ideally, you’ll be able to bring several different jobs into a single quote, so that the customer can get large parts of their project done in one go without having to deal with multiple contractors simultaneously. And in professionalism terms, they will expect you to be appropriately dressed and behaved when on site, and with excellent timekeeping (both at the start and at the end of the day).

Specialist skills

General painters and decorators are ten-a-penny, and while they might be good for the basic work where the main differentiator is price, they’ll struggle to pick up the real high-value jobs. To do this, you need to look for more specialist work, such as commercial premises or even heritage conservation, which requires skills only possessed by a relatively small number of tradespeople. If you can develop your CV with skills and qualifications in highly specialised areas, then you’ll be in the running for more lucrative work, and the amount of competition you’ll face for it should be lower.

Clear information

From the start of a job all the way through to the end, clarity is vital in everything you do. Customers never want to feel that you’re pulling a fast one on them, whether that’s through knocking off early at the end of the day, or suddenly saying halfway through that there will be some extra unexpected costs. You should always be as honest and upfront as you can with the customer about the progress of the job, and give them total clarity on timeframe and costs in particular.

Additionally, when providing quotes and estimates, high-pressure sales tactics should be avoided at all costs. Not only are more customers wise to them these days, meaning they will more likely be deterred by them, but the ethical questions around such tactics can really hit your reputation over time.

Flexible payment options

Different painters and decorators take different approaches around when and how customers pay. Some like to get all the money up front, so that they have the capital to buy all the materials they need. Others, meanwhile, will take a proportion as a deposit and then the rest of the payment once the job has been completed. Either way, what is most important here is clarity: customers want to be sure exactly what they need to pay and when, and not to be met with any nasty surprises further down the line.

Proof of insurance cover

One thing that customers hate above just about anything else is uncertainty. This applies to things like enquiry response and timekeeping mentioned above, and it also applies to what happens if and when something goes wrong. For example, if a tin of paint is accidentally spilled over a customer’s carpet, then they (and you) want to be certain that they’ll be able to replace it without ending up out of pocket. The only sure-fire way to do this is with specialist painter and decorator insurance cover.

Affordable painter and decorator insurance from Protectivity

The last point on this list is especially important. Having painter and decorator insurance is not a legal requirement, and many less reputable operators in the trade may cut corners by not having it. This leaves customers liable for any damage that’s caused, even if it’s accidental, and can quickly lead to a very negative reputation being built up.

This is just one of the reasons why painter and decorator insurance is a must. Take out an affordable, flexible policy with Protectivity and you’ll benefit from cover in several areas to insulate you against any unforeseen financial impact. This includes public liability, products liability, commercial legal protection, and employers’ liability (required if you employ anyone else to work for you).

Starting at just £4 a month, we can give you financial protection for less than a multipack of paintbrushes. Find out more on our painter and decorator insurance policies today.

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.