An efficient escape from the poor house

There once was a time when you thought that if you built the best room addition, remodeled the best bathroom, installed the best windows you would be guaranteed success. But little by little, job by job, you began to realize that it's difficult to get your clients to pay the kind of money you need to have for the quality of work that you do.

November 30, 2004

There once was a time when you thought that if you built the best room addition, remodeled the best bathroom, installed the best windows you would be guaranteed success. But little by little, job by job, you began to realize that it's difficult to get your clients to pay the kind of money you need to have for the quality of work that you do.

There is always someone out there willing to promise the customer the moon for an unreasonably low price. Your competition may keep you in the poor house unless you create systems that allow you to sell more efficiently.

If you have a marketing system to generate more leads than you can handle, you can work smarter by focusing your sales system on the best leads. Screen your leads on the phone using questions crafted to uncover the prospect's levels of need, ability and trust. Higher levels of each element generally make the sale easier.

Questions designed to divulge need uncover how anxious the prospect is to see you, the level of urgency involved, and the effort which the caller has gone to fulfill their wants or needs:

  • How soon were you thinking of having the work done?
  • How long have you been considering this kind of project?
  • How long do you see yourself living in this house?

Questions designed to divulge ability expose the financial capability of the caller and his or her knowledge of the realities of the remodeling process.

  • How long have you owned your home?
  • Are you interested in financing or paying cash?
  • What remodeling have you done before?

Other questions are designed to divulge trust. Callers who are repeat clients or referrals inherently bring with them a higher level of trust. These questions will also tell you what effort the caller put forth in order to find your phone number. Notice that each question is open-ended. Think of them as essay questions that can't be answered by a simple yes or no.

  • How did you get our name?
  • What research have you done?

The next step of the sales system is to educate qualified prospects about how to make a wise choice of contractor. This educational process can happen in a conference room in your office, your showroom or in customers' homes. Remodelers with multiple salespeople should produce standard presentation materials and train each sales person to re-tell the company story to each prospect. This approach gives everyone similar talking points and helps create more uniform expectations among clients. Information and sample materials to cover include:

The Company

  1. Company history and philosophy
  2. Resumes of key personnel
  3. Trade references
  4. Certificates of insurance
  5. Business licenses
  • The Process

    1. Work order or scope of work
    2. Contract with payment schedule
    3. Sample job schedule
    4. Change orders
    5. Application for financing
    6. Right of rescission
    7. Lead-based paint disclosure brochure
    8. Pre-construction conference form
    9. Jobsite communication
    10. Quality control checklist
    11. Homeowner's manual
  • Clients and projects

    1. Client and/or referral list
    2. Map locating completed jobs
    3. Before-and-after project photos
  • Performance

    1. Testimonial letters
    2. Awards, honors and articles
    3. Your guarantee or warranty
  • Your estimating system should give you the capability to generate specifications, contracts and any other paperwork necessary to sell simple jobs during your first visit. For more complicated jobs, a design/build contract gets a commitment from the client before you devote more time and energy. Either way, your goal is to minimize the hours performing the free estimate.

    E-mail Mike Gorman at mgbok@aol.com, call 800/218-5149 or visit his Web site at www.techknowledgeonline.net.

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