Observations from Our Contractors: To say that COVID-19 has impacted everyone’s life is an understatement. However, unlike many other industries, the home improvement industry has soared during the coronavirus quarantine. To find out why this is, as well as how things have changed for the Nolan Painting team, here’s a Q&A with our top management at Nolan Painting.
How has COVID-19 impacted life for homeowners and their home improvement projects?
There is a shift in investments—people are no longer spending money on restaurants, entertainment like sporting events or music concerts, or even luxurious vacations. Instead, those who have been fortunate enough to keep their jobs are putting money into their homes. People are cocooning – wrapping themselves into their home, making it more comfortable and cozier. More and more, pools are being installed—in fact, there was an increase of 40% compared to last year! More cash is being saved, the value of homes has increased and people are saying that they don’t see themselves going back to that old, lavish lifestyle. Now, they have extra cash and they feel good about it. Real estate is on the rise, and people are feeling good about spending money on their home because it’s an asset that is continuing to rise in value.
Skilled craftsmen are in high demand right now, which is why there is a 0% unemployment rate in the construction industry. At Nolan Painting, we had to raise wages so that our skilled craftsmen could keep up with this demand. Leads are stronger than last year. For June, we are averaging 20 more leads per week than last year, and we currently have a backlog of work because of that. If you have a project that you want to get done, don’t wait! The home improvement industry is extremely strong right now, and we are currently booking exterior jobs for September.
Our sales estimators are noticing that people are more motivated than ever to invest in their home. Because people are forced to work at home, they are using their space differently, and thus, are making home improvements. They are making to-do lists, addressing those nagging long-term projects, crossing them off their list—they are on a roll! This has been a way for us to help them feel satisfied and accomplished, and they are so happy to see their completed projects.
Anecdotally, our sales estimator, Jim Falk, crossed off a ton of items from his to-do list when our business was shut down in April. He redid his master bathroom and painted it, and he even repainted the exterior of his home. “It’s a lot easier to spend money on an asset that is going up in value rather than going down,” says Jim. “Psychologically, you feel better about it. In 2009 during the recession, people’s homes were going down in value. They were under water. Back then, people would need to get their exterior painted but said, ‘let’s just do one side of the home,’ because they didn’t want to spend the money on it. They were just maintaining their homes. This recession is different. Now, people see the value and are fine with spending the money,” adds Jim.
Our salesforce is seeing that the average job size is bigger compared to last year and our team is doing larger projects. VP of Sales, Jon Meyer, says, “We are still painting the same things, but baby boomers who have big, beautiful homes are not downsizing, but instead, making major improvements inside and out so they can stay.” There is a high demand on repainting home exteriors, like stucco and repairing wood rot. People who have stucco homes encounter cracks and staining, as well as mold and mildew growth, so we are repairing those issues and refreshing the overall look of the home. Jon recalls that customers used to say, ‘let’s just do touch ups on the trim and only repair the crack on one side of the house.’ “But now,” says Jon, “customers want to paint it all—change the colors of the house, repaint the front door and shutters. “It’s like hitting the reset switch,” explains Jon, “‘do it right now so we don’t have to worry about it again’ is our customer mentality these days.”
Jon is also noticing that do-it-yourselfers are needing help with their home improvement projects, too. Now that they’ve been home and are trying to do specific projects, they are realizing these jobs are much bigger than they thought it would be, so now they are calling us.
Sales estimator, Jim Falk, is noticing the demand for interior painting, as well as areas that people want to freshen up their space since they are in it all day long. One customer even said to Jim, ‘I can’t stand the colors in this house and hate the thought of even coming home.’ So, there is pain there, and that pain becomes a motivator. “I’m helping her to not only solve her pain, but also to move towards pleasure.”
Jon is also noticing that people are adding on carpentry jobs, such as wainscoting, and they are adding or improving the molding and trim throughout their home. There is also a high demand to repaint kitchen cabinets, and people are choosing all different kinds of colors, such as reds and blues, aside from the popular greiges and whites.
Our salesforce is also seeing this influx across all other service industries—not just the painting industry. For instance, we have seen an increase in refinished basements, new exterior landscaping, new flooring, new patios and roofs. These are all projects that people have been wanting to do, and they want to enjoy it while they are home, and now they can!
Are people accepting painters into their homes? Are they comfortable with you in their home?
“We are being invited into people’s homes every single day. And fortunately, we have had no COVID-19 cases in our company of over 100 people,” says owner Kevin Nolan. Simply put, people who are really concerned are postponing their work.
“Customers know we are intelligent about it and we communicate it well to them,” explains Kevin. “We have implemented a lot of protocols due to the virus. We are professionals, our workers are very compliant, and we abide by all of the CDC guidelines, which are stated on our website. Every day in our safety huddle, we ask our employees how they are feeling, if they have any concerns and we check their temperatures. We have also mandated one person to a vehicle, our painters must wear masks and disinfect surfaces they touch every day, and they must have staggered lunch breaks.”
Jon adds that, “our crews get porta-potties for exterior jobs, so they don’t have to go through people’s homes. Also, when we are inside, we make sure we are not taking over the whole house and we maintain our distance,” says Jon. We are very detail-oriented with our plan of which rooms will get painted in a day. People don’t need to be there. When they hire us, they trust us in their homes. We never use subcontractors, so they know we are respectful, pay attention to details, and make sure the job is done right and on time. Because we are thorough, neat and clean, we are able to work inside and outside of people’s homes without any concerns.”
Kevin concludes that, due to Nolan Painting’s stellar reputation and attention to detail, “people were actually surprised we were shut down for seven weeks. Even back at the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine, people had projects they wanted to get done.”
If you would like to start checking home improvement projects off of YOUR to-do list, schedule an appointment with the Nolan Painting team today!