The construction industry is tough in 2019. People are holding off making decisions due to Brexit, customers are getting quotes from many different builders and most want the lowest price.
It can be frustrating to spend weeks visiting clients and producing detailed estimates and getting nowhere.
Any of the following excuses sound familiar?
• You are too expensive
• I don’t want the job done just yet
• I haven’t bought the house yet, I never got it in the end
• My brother is going to do it
What can you do to sift out the time wasters?
The first thing you can do is pre-qualify them at the time when they call up to arrange a quotation.
Create a list of questions and ask these each time. You can use some of the questions below
• Find out where the project is and what they want to have done
Right from the initial call get lots of information, is it in an area you are happy to travel to? Is the job the sort of work that you want to win?
• Find out their budget
Lots of builders I talk to don’t like asking this question, but it is a vital one and many customers are happy to give this information. If they don’t want to tell you what their budget is, then give them a ball park figure of what your job prices start from for the type of work they are after.
• Do they own the house?
If someone does not own the house yet, then they are much higher risk of the house sale not going through, they could change their mind and not purchase it or they could be just weighing up their options. Either way it’s more likely that the job will not go ahead.
Why not considering charging for quotations in this instance so it’s not a waste of your time? You could even offer to refund them the quote if they go ahead with the job. This will also put off any time wasters and if it doesn’t go ahead at least you have had a fee to cover your time.
• When are they looking to have the work done?
There is nothing more frustrating than quoting for a job, following up to see if they’d like to go ahead and they say they don’t need the work done for another year.
How can you avoid people like this? Ask when they are hoping to have this work done. If they say not for another year, then you can give them a ballpark figure if you wish, but tell them to come back to you nearer the time as materials & labour are constantly on the rise.
• Where did they hear about you from?
This is an important question for a few reasons – 1) knowing this helps you target where you should advertise 2) you can get an idea of how pre-sold they might be to your company.
For example, if they were recommended by a friend have visited theproject you carried & they want something similar, they will already have an element of trust in you. Or perhaps they saw something on your website that you said you specialised in and that is what they are looking for, again you already have a selling point.
But if they are going through their Yellow Pages in the area and you were the next builder that came up, you know they are getting quotes from any builder. This does not mean they are a waste of time by any means, but this will be where you need to establish what is important to them so you can sell to them later.
• How many other builders are they getting to quote?
It’s common for people to get quotes from three builders but if they say 10 is it worth your time completing against 10 other builders at this stage. Perhaps at this time suggest charging for the quote.
If you get the feeling the person might be a time waster but are not 100% sure, then charge them for the quotation but tell them you will refund if they go ahead with you. Many will reject this but if they do go ahead then you know they are serious.
Do not be afraid to turn someone down. If it sounds like they might be wasting your time, go with your gut, you are probably right.
Whilst pricing the job
The good thing about meeting a customer and pricing for a job is you can get a feel for them and if they are the right sort of customer for you, just as much as they are trying to decide if you are the right builder for them.
At this point explain how things will work. If you have a contract, will take a deposit, discuss how payments will work and make sure they are OK with that before they have even accepted your quotation. If the customer starts at this point to be argumentative, cause tension or refuses to adhere to the way that you work, it might be worth considering walking away from the job. There is nothing worse than having a difficult customer. Do not be afraid to turn down work as it will cost you a lot more in the long run to deal with problematic customers.
Another danger sign to look out for- are they asking you to take over from another builder’s job?
Of course, the customer will tell you how bad the builder before was and that could be totally true. But sometimes it’s the customer that is the real problem. Or what if the previous builder was really bad and has now left you a whole host of unforeseen problems to clean up.
Personally, in my experience I avoid these jobs altogether.
There are a lot of time wasters out there and people who just get quotes for information purposes, but as you will have read in this article there are ways to sift out the time wasters right from the initial call so that the quality of the projects you are quoting for are of better quality and you are more likely to make sales conversions.