Long Days and Talladega Nights!


“America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed!”


Or at-least so says Will Ferrell in the 2006 movie, “Talledega Nights.”


In the movie, Ferrell plays race car driver Ricky Bobby. A buffoon with a penchant for speed, Ricky overcomes the challenges of the competition and his own ineptitudes and in doing so teaches us that being fatuous can be an advantage! At least on a racetrack!

But in the banality of Ricky Bobby there was some wisdom as well: there is only one winner!

Watching the news and announcements from our segment over these last few weeks I see a number of companies trying to be “first” in the new post-Covid world. Early in the outbreak, as shortages of disinfecting products became a concern, Rustoleum announced that several of their existing products kill the Covid-19 virus. And recently, Graco introduced the SaniSpray HP line of sprayers-for applying disinfectant.

Ricky Bobby would be proud!

Paint dealers will have to be as fast as Ricky Bobby if they want to capitalize on their current opportunity or even just stay relevant, as the country emerges from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

As data from the effects of the Covid outbreak continue to become known to us, it is clear that consumer behavior has already changed. Dealers will have to adjust rapidly or risk seeing their businesses suffer even further, even after the virus is under control.

The reopening of American has begun in some regions and stores will soon start to see consumers walking back in (hopefully). The problem is that it’s unlikely that in-store traffic alone will be enough to support you.


Meet Your Customers Where They Are!

While not from the lips of Ricky Bobby, that’s still wisdom. Customers are going to shop where they want to shop and buy where they want to buy. As retailers, all we can do to attract their attention is understand what consumers are looking for and then remind them (constantly) that you offer those services!

And the data on this topic is clear: consumers are shopping online for their home improvement projects and there is general consensus that it will stay that way for a while.


Maybe forever.

While there are many stories of dealers struggling right now, there are also many success stories among our ranks. Dealers with a strong DIY business continue to at least stay afloat in these challenging times with many doing much better than just staying afloat.

I don’t need a marketing study to tell me why!

People all over the country are stuck inside with little to do and are deciding to paint-and they don't want a painter in their homes so they are doing it themselves. That’s a GREAT choice of course, but will just having a local DIY business be enough to reach them?

A recent survey by the Farnsworth group showed that 75% of consumers who began a home improvement project recently made that purchase online. And 86% of those consumers said they shopped that way for reasons associated with health concerns.

Those are big numbers to overcome!

While the desire to paint or do other home improvement projects bodes well for independent paint and hardware retailers, not all of us will benefit from that windfall equally. Dealers who have a significant online presence: active social media AND a website which can handle the commerce, will gain the majority of that share.

Social media is the best way to spread the word in your area that you exist, and that offer the products and services that consumers want. On social media, local retailers have an advantage over the big boxes and chains who treat social media as a national initiative.

But in the post-Covid world with an active social media presence, you’re only part-way there!

Completing the Sale

When people decide to paint, they do it in the theoretic. They think, “I’d like to paint the living room,” NOT “I need a gallon of Manor Hall Eggshell in Gosling Grey with a 1/2 inch nap Wooster Super-Fab and a roll of two-inch Frog Tape.”

The details of the paint job; which gallon, which roller and which tape all happen in your store. So not only do you need your social media presence to get consumers attention, you need a robust website (or app) which can shepherd your customers through the paint purchasing process AS IF they were in your stores!

From inspiration on color and finish through the recommendations for the tape and roller.

There are already applications in the marketplace which can do that and so if you don’t do it, someone else will! That means that before the consumer even gets off the couch, you’ve lost the sale.

Will fully reopening help? Sure it will! But it will not bring anywhere near 100% of your business back.

Many of the behavioral changes which consumers have adopted will be permanent!

As retail begins to reopen in the coming weeks and months, you have a lot of work to do to get your stores set up to succeed in the post-Covid world.

And you’d better move fast because in the words of the Ricky Bobby-THE Oracle of Talladega;

“You can’t have two number ones!”





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© Mark Lipton 2020