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Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at sends e-mail) or 301.275.0208.

Money Talk

Why it's so hard for remodelers to talk about money, and tips for getting over it 

February 27, 2017

Remodelers like to talk about remodeling ideas. They get excited when solving design problems or discussing construction details or researching innovative products. But one topic I have found that most remodelers aren’t so comfortable or masterful talking about is money.

After many years of experience developing sales processes and training salespeople, it’s clear to me that the step in the sales process that’s always the weakest is the money step. Call it whatever you like—budgeting or cost consulting or pricing—but mastering this step is often the difference between good remodeling sales folks and great ones.

So why is it so hard to talk about money? I can think of five reasons:

1] Fear. Discussing the cost of the project can be the “moment of truth.” It can dramatically change the dynamic of a new relationship and may even become a conversation stopper. Most remodelers are so fearful of this moment that they would rather slip into “unpaid researcher” mode than address the budget head-on. They either avoid the conversation or put it off as long as possible.

2] Inexperience. Knowing how to transition into a money conversation is a skill that must be learned. There’s a technique to asking leading questions to uncover a client’s comfort with a level of investment. And knowing how to answer money questions that clients commonly ask (Can you give me a breakdown? Can you give me a detailed estimate?) just takes practice so as to avoid being defensive or wasting time with unnecessary research.

3] Knowledge. It’s been said that, “Knowledge breeds confidence, confidence breeds enthusiasm, and enthusiasm sells.” To master talking about money, it’s important to know what things cost historically. And not just knowledge about the cost of general projects, such as kitchens or bathrooms, but also about the factors that influence cost, such as the amount of glass or the level of customization. The more you know about the cost of remodeling, the more comfortable you will be discussing it. 

4] Ignorance. I find that when I ask a remodeler who is trying to close a deal, “How is the client going to pay for it?” they often aren’t sure or haven’t even addressed the subject. This may be because they don’t know much about different types of financing vehicles (line of credit, cash-out refinancing, construction loans, etc.) and don’t understand the processes involved. You don’t need to be an expert, but if you lack basic knowledge, you will tend to avoid the subject.

5] Mom. Growing up, my mother taught me it wasn’t polite to talk about money. Whenever my curiosity led to questions about what something cost or someone’s income, she would immediately remind me about not being impolite. We all come from different backgrounds, but I know this strikes a chord for many.

Starting the Conversation

Some of these obstacles may play a larger role than others. But you need to overcome whatever is holding you back from mastering the ability to talk about money. Here are my suggestions for how to get started.

1] Think of the money discussion as a way to better serve the client. Just as real estate agents need to know buyers’ budgets so they can determine which houses to show them, remodelers need to know what level of investment clients are able to make in order to be able to plan a project. Without that knowledge, everyone’s time is wasted. 

2] Remember that the discussion is about the homeowner’s budget not your price. Don’t judge, just guide them to a solution that delivers the quality they want at a price they can afford. 

3] Make money visual. Most people are visual thinkers, so draw diagrams and use visual examples to better communicate where the money goes. If homeowners can understand it, they will get it. If they get it, they will often buy it.

Knowing the why (or the why not) is the first step to taking your acumen about money to the next level. 

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