Essentially Speaking

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Feature

Brush Selling For Adults


The word “essential” gets thrown around a lot, essentially because it’s a great selling tool. If something’s perceived as essential, you’ve gotta have it if you’re going to be trendy, hip, or just get the job done right. A proper brush is essential, and from a retailer’s perspective, so is a proper brush selection. As always, you’re on the hook for great customer service to show everyone just how essential you are vs. your competition. What’s essential for you is having what’s essential for them.



“The paint dealer provides a huge service by having a good program in stock that will cater to the needs of painters, whoever they are,” said Ben Waksman, president of Corona Brushes. “The offering should include enough variety in styles, sizes, and materials to provide painters with the tool that will provide them with proper paint application.” That, combined with your knowledgeable opinion, can help. “Without being obtrusive, you can make recommendations based on your experience and expedience shared by the painters who trade with you. People look for that, whether professional or DIY,” he said.


Carl Rumpf, VP Sales at Premier Paint Roller, agrees that the more you know, the more you sell. “Dealers are very knowledgeable about the coatings they carry and are very supportive in helping customers choose the proper brushes and roller covers to use for every application,” he said. “The dealer’s extensive product knowledge is their key to success.”



Mark Francazio, Category Director, Paint & Paint Sundries, World and Main, often deals with retailers who have several departments, say hardware or larger home improvement stores. World and Main distributes the Stanley, PXpro, and GAM lines of applicators. But no matter what departments you have, your shoppers will very likely need advice about paint, he says, so you’ll want to staff your paint and brush displays with people who know their way around it.

“So many times we see consumers seeking help, especially since the paint department is one of the more ‘interactive’ selling sections of the floor,” he pointed out. “With the need for paint tinting and/or help with product selection, a knowledgeable staff is extremely important.” If you’re bringing in a new line, or upgrading either your staff or your brush display, make sure everyone knows what’s for sale. That way when someone comes in with questions, you can make sure they come out with answers and a bag full of applicators!

It’s also essential to keep on top of new products and product changes, said Francazio. “Once that interaction takes place, it’s critical that employees are well versed on the breadth and depth of the store’s offerings. Developing a training calendar in conjunction with your vendors is one way to help provide value to not only the consumer, but also to your employees. Utilizing POP and other merchandising aids is also helpful. Lastly, developing promotions on ‘focus products’ each month allows you to zero in on seasonal or higher quality items,” he said.


Well, Well, Well

“A good display is essential,” says Waksman. This time he said it before we did! This means your display is well laid out, well stocked, well suited for your market. Your dealer friend out west might have a great display for Tucson but can fall on its face if you take it home to Rhode Island. “Some markets do more in stain brushes than others,” Ben described. “Some customers prefer round sash tools. The West, for example, seems to like rattail handle thin angular brushes.” On the other hand, some brushes and rollers are popular throughout the Northern Hemisphere in both the U.S. and Canada. “These constitute a core program in most stores in both countries,” he noted. “These include the double stock angular brushes with the flat long handles and the 3″ flat beavertail handle trim brush. Also, the woven white roller covers are popular for interior finishing.”

It’s also essential that people can find it, and that your display doesn’t look like Wal-Mart the day after Christmas. “Everyone wants to shop in a clean store that takes the time to have nice displays. It shows you are proud of your business and lets the consumers know they are being taken care of by someone who is detailed and knowledgeable,” said Carl Rumpf at Premier.

If you haven’t seen a YELP review that talks about messy displays where no one can find anything, just put out a messy display where no one can find anything, and you will. And if we beat our readers over the head with product knowledge, it’s only because we care. If your customers trust your knowledge, they’ll be more inclined to buy that more expensive product if you recommend it, vs. thinking you’re just reaching deeper into their pockets.

Some customers may have checked out your brushes online before they get to your store, so your display will confirm their interest in a purchase. “In-store displays make a significant impact in the selling story, and continue to be effective at point of purchase,” said Francazio with World and Main. “The ‘Paint Desk’ makes it easier for retailers to have these available for consumers as they shop, or while they wait for their product to be mixed. These displays typically lead to further questions that should tie into your ‘sell up’ story.”

What a perfect time to talk about brushes, while the mixer is doing its thing!


All for One, but…One for All?

But…it says, “for all paints!” so I should be able to use it no matter what! Well…just because a hat says one size fits all doesn’t mean it looks good on you. So when someone self-assuredly puts a for-all-paints on the counter, you still want to make sure it’s the right one. “The consumer still needs to know if the brushes and rollers are right for the surface, texture and other varying conditions of their painting project,” said Carl Rumpf.

Mark Francazio agrees. “The term ‘for all paints’ is widely used nowadays, and for the most part that’s true,” he said. “With that said, depending on what someone is painting (trim, doors, walls), the characteristics the customer is looking for, or what kind of paint they’re using, you can give them a better product for their particular job.”

As we like to say, if one brush fit all, everyone’s job would be a lot easier. In many cases, an experienced contractor might know a thing or two, and can in turn help you help others. And don’t tell the painter he’s wrong—at least more than once! “The painter preference overrides all rules,” said Waksman. “As manufacturers, we make tools for the painters and we have some knowledge to impart, but in the end it is up to the painter. For example, we recommend our natural bristle tools for solvent based finishes only, yet we do hear of painters who use them in waterbase coatings. We do not recommend this, but it happens. We recommend our soft-flex Champagne Nylon brushes for interior latex work but we know of many painters who use them for exterior work as well.”

So, essentially, there you have it!