In God We Trust: The Rest Need Data!

During the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, the price of a barrel of oil rose over 400%, taking my father’s blood pressure up with it! Tremont Paint-my family's paint stores stores in the Bronx-was a busy place at the time, and heavily dependent on oil. Suddenly, the price of paint (most of which would have been oil-based), paint thinner and gas were rising violently; out of my father’s control! Fortunately for Billy, the energy consumption of his two children was very much in his control. He appointed himself the energy czar of 11 Woodlands Avenue and enforced the rules as ruthlessly as his new the title would suggested he would! Access to the thermostats by minors was cut off. Billy set the air conditioning high, the heat low and the lights off! In an act of grace, my sister Marci and I were allowed to turn some lights back on but if we really needed them! And as long as we turned them off when we left the room! To hold me and Marci accountable dad levied fines: leaving a light on after we left the room would cost us $.25. And he collected it! I'm sure I paid the mortgage that first month! I would have been ten-years old at the time and a package of baseball cards, about the only thing I bought back then, would have been $.15, so a quarter was NO JOKE! Which was fine, because Billy was not joking! And he wasn’t trying to make a point either. He was trying to change a behavior! He did! And fast too! A pandemic is another way to change behaviors quickly. Over the last number of weeks I have (vigorously at times) shared my view that consumer behavior in our segment is changing at a remarkable pace. I have expressed my view that if your business is heavily dependent on (and your marketing is geared towards) the residential repaint contractor that you need a “Plan B” for the next few quarters. For those whose stores have a heavy DIY mix (aka: the lucky ones), I shared my view that you will have to change to a different supply model if you want to keep your customers happy and calling you! But why am I making these very specific suggestions? And why am I pushing these topics so hard? Simple; data! Right now there are two groups, the PDRA and The Farnsworth Group who are collecting or sharing data on our channel. Data which paint dealers (and manufacturers) will require to begin charting their new post-covid courses. While just in the data collection stage, the PDRA is looking to get a clear understanding of the financial impacts on paint dealers from the coronavirus outbreak. This data will be crucial in helping the channel survive this economic event. At a time when many of us are asked to stay home for weeks at a time, every paint dealer reading this should be able to find 8 minutes to help the PDRA collect this crucial information. You can take the survey here. If you are an independent retailer, its important that you take this survey.


Not for you, for us!


If you work for Benjamin Moore, PPG, Rustoleum, Wooster, Allpro or any of the other large players in our channel, forward this blog or just that link to the dealers you know. Please don’t assume they read this blog or got the email from PDRA asking them to take the survey. Dealers are managing some complicated issues at the moment and a survey request may not rise above the din enough to get noticed. No problem has ever been solved until it was understood! Dealers will need this information and I applaud the PDRA, their board and their CEO LeAnn Day for collecting it! The Farnsworth Group began collecting channel data on the impacts of this crisis before many of us even knew it was a crisis! The data that they have collected on consumer behavior and the economic impact of Covid-19 on the residential repaint market is outstanding. It points out some problems which are concerning for dealers but the data also highlights concrete paths that dealers can travel towards success in this environment.


In a time when dealers need the unvarnished truth, that is what data delivers! It’s my opinion that their research shows independent paint retailers may be sitting on their greatest opportunity in over 30 years to grab significant market share! At least the ones who survive the crisis! Yes, the world is THAT complicated right now. Grant Farnsworth does an excellent job explaining their data and what it says . I think you’re going to both enjoy listening and also learn a lot from this episode. As always, you can listen here on my own site or you can listen on Soundcloud, Stitcher, Blubrry or iTunes!



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© Mark Lipton 2020