I just put together a bid for a potential customer. He found me through my website, which is cool because that lets me know local people are finding us on the internet. That’s huge.
So I went out to the prospect’s condo a few days ago. This guy is not a referral, so I don’t know what to really expect. I washed the company van and put the spit shine! on the rims, took a shower, put on my best uniform and headed out. Y’all know, first impressions, ya dig? Photo: picturesofsmileyfaces.net
Turns out, he needs the subfloor in his kitchen leveled. I took measurements, yapped up a decent conversation with him, and he seems to be interested and ready to sign. The subfloor is off by about 2 inches in the lowest spot. I climbed into the crawl space under the floor looking for answers.
I recommended we jack the floor up from below; this is a no-go. It happens that the condo association doesn’t want to disturb the framing because of potential problems that could arise in the other units, like cracking walls, due to fooling around with the stuff. So that’s fine; I went home to think about solutions and I would get back to him.
I thought and thought. I researched a little and came up with the solution: I will add self-leveling compound, then finish with backerboard over the entire floor. The guy wants two bids; 1 for the subfloor leveling and 1 for the finish floor; probably ceramic.
We are supposed to converse Monday morning; which, I think he is expecting to hear my price.
I never talk money over the phone.
I’ll discuss in great detail my plan for his problem. I’ll explain all the scenarios and get input from his side. Then I’ll suggest to him that we should meet in person to discuss the issues and the all important nitty-gritty: price. I inform him that I’d like to meet with him and do a follow-up walk-through of his project and that I don’t discuss remodeling costs over the phone; 10 to 20 minutes of his time is all that is required.
So why wouldn’t I just throw the price out there over the phone, you ask?
Because if I spit out the price over the phone, it gives him a way to wiggle out or delay closing the sale, when I have garnered his attention in this last leg of selling the job.
Many of us have gone through this and have learned from past experiences:
“Uh, I’ll call you later” or something along those lines.
He may never call — if it is over the phone when he hears your price. He might even use your price as ammunition for bargaining with another remodeler.
It’s just too easy to forget you and call someone else once the customer has the information that he seeks. Especially if he’s actively seeking many bids. So, I make sure to leave an expectation in his mind until we can meet face-to-face. That’s when you gauge a person’s temperament and, perhaps close the sale. You’ll also want to meet physically to get a feel for their body language: what is it saying to you?
Finally, meeting face-to-face will give you an opportunity to make a second impression; although first impressions are the one’s customers usually remember. Above everything, we make our jobs worth our time and profitable. I never lost a penny on a job I didn’t get.
I’ll also have a printed contract ready for signatures — another reason for the second meet-and-greet. I’d like to go over the details in printed form with him. The plan is to blow him away with good ‘ole professionalism — related to our clean vehicles, our uniforms, having a solution to his project, to the way the contract is written; tailored to his individual concerns and wishes.
Near the end of this meeting, the client and I will discuss price and any issues he may have, then I’ll ask for the project. Simple, right?