While it's almost impossible to calculate the real cost of callbacks to your business, there's no question that over time they take a toll on your bottom line and, in all likelihood, your reputation. While you'll never be able to eliminate callbacks completely, there are some steps you can take to reduce their frequency.
Step One: Establish shared expectations
Before you shake open a tarp or tape a window, make sure that you and your customer are on the same page about the scope and desired outcome of the project. Provide a detailed list of the paint to be used (including color and finish), and note the extent of the prep work you will do and how you will treat identified problem areas such as water stains. This is your chance to be clear on exactly what prep and products can and can't do to solve any problems.
Step Two: Materials matter
One of the keys to doing any job well is choosing the right materials for the surface, its condition, and the desired outcome. A surface that's not prepped and primed properly is certain to yield less-than-stellar results. In other words, don't skimp on prep. Paying a little extra up front for the right primer, stain and/or paint is far less expensive and time-consuming than coming back later to do the whole job over.
Step Three: Prep and protect with precision
We all know it but we don't always do it. However, prepping and protecting surfaces carefully and thoroughly upfront is a surefire way to keep working at pace, finish faster, and minimize cleanup and touch-up time.
Step Four: Warranty your work within limits
We've all had callbacks where the problem is not with our work but rather with the condition oof the home or its materials. Old Plaster, structural settling or defects, and re-emerging stains are common causes for callbacks, where no amount of good work or paint will fix the problem to the customer's satisfaction. To protect yourself from being asked to take on the impossible, coonsider offering a warranty with limitations. Outline the specific types of problems your warranty won't cover as well as what is will. Attach the warranty to your project contract and to any and all additional contracts issued in relation to the project.
Step Five: Keep an inventory of callbacks
Every once in a while, you should review the principal reasons that you're getting callbacks. If there's a recurring issue, it's a sure sign that you need to make a change in how you're addressing that type of issue. Done with regularity, a callback review turns your past problems into a solution for working smarter in the future.
Without a doubt, how you approach a job today will determine where you'll be tomorrow--a new job site or a touching up an old one. Handling every aspect of every job like it's the most important step will always pay off. After all, doing it right the first time costs less that doing it over.