Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers

 
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Old 10-22-2017, 11:54 AM   #1
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Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


Hi all, im a Builder, ive had my license for about 8 years and have come of age and am planning on using it. I havnt won any jobs yet, ive been at it for about 6 months now.

Ive been quoting jobs and the problem ive come across is time waisters, i cant tell who is legit or not. I did one quote for a guy, a home extension about 75sqm, i even had a Quantity Surveyor write up a BoQ, i came in cheaper than the QS, so i sent of the quote and the guy says "thats too much, my budget is half that".

Im not sure what to do, ill get some plans come in now and i cant be bothered waisting my time quoting the job. The last one i started to quote, i opened up the engineering plans and there incomplete, so i think to myself this is going to be a waist of time as the client is ill informed and isnt serious.

Im starting to get the feeling i should ask some confronting questions like "when do you want to start the job" or "how much is your budget". The latter question i tried on a guy and he said "you quote first" that call deteriorated quickly, he ended up hanging up one me. Funny thing is he did call me again so i referred him onto the guy im using as a manager he's better at dealing with people than i am.

Are there any builders that can offer up some advise on screening customers?
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Old 10-22-2017, 04:44 PM   #2
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Re: Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


We all deal with it. Your business model is a bit different then mine (my projects are smaller than yours and turn over quicker), but here's whats working for me and how I train my staff: http://www.coreyphilip.com/naturally...he-first-call/

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Old 10-22-2017, 05:50 PM   #3
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Re: Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


Charge for these estimates you will quickly find out who is serious and who is just a tire kickers watching to much HGTV

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Old 10-22-2017, 06:03 PM   #4
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Re: Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


Quote:
Originally Posted by SectorSecurity View Post
Charge for these estimates you will quickly find out who is serious and who is just a tire kickers watching to much HGTV
/\ This.

That said, if you're trying to grow quick and have sales people you can't come out swinging with "$100 estimate charge". I don't mention it in the blog post I wrote, but if someone goes through the wringer and we don't feel like they're a fit, we offer a 'paid on site consultation'.... generally though if they are cool with it, we don't actually charge them.
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:12 PM   #5
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Re: Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


Quote:
Originally Posted by prowork View Post
/\ This.

That said, if you're trying to grow quick and have sales people you can't come out swinging with "$100 estimate charge". I don't mention it in the blog post I wrote, but if someone goes through the wringer and we don't feel like they're a fit, we offer a 'paid on site consultation'.... generally though if they are cool with it, we don't actually charge them.
I can see the point of charging $100 because there are a lot of people who would literally not use a builder who charges $100 for a bid. But I would never bid a house for $100 at this point, or a serious remodel. I used to not charge generally after they accepted my fee, it was just a qualification. Now I keep the money.
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Old 10-22-2017, 10:53 PM   #6
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Re: Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


Go on enough BS calls, you WILL get good at vetting people. But you need to get experienced with BS first.


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Old 10-23-2017, 11:27 AM   #7
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Re: Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


Going through same thing still. The reason I reflect on it so much is that at the moment I need all the work I can get. Still (relatively) new in business. Which means every sale counts and we focus on these things. If you need any advice or any questions definitely feel free to shoot me a PM. Would love to talk to someone in same position.

For this exact reason, I began my journey and research into sales and how to close. Just picked up and read " The contractors closing success blueprint". It mentioned a few topics that I wanted help with. Such as standing firm on cost arguments or being more formal in sales and followup methodology. The book is really short and sort of gives a quick fly by.

The next book I have sitting to be read is "Spin Selling".
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Old 10-28-2017, 05:09 PM   #8
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Re: Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


Quote:
Originally Posted by Californiadecks View Post
Go on enough BS calls, you WILL get good at vetting people. But you need to get experienced with BS first.
That looks like how its going to be.

Ill add with the little xp ive gathered so far, here are some things ive picked up


1. If the customer isn't putting the effort in, thats a bad sign
2. If there slow to reply to simple requests, bad sign
3. Give an estimate, before a contract price, that way if there decent they'll let you know if they can afford the work.
4. If there vague or withholding of information, bad sign
5. Where the prize


Reading what i just wrote, these points seem obvious but i seem to be trying to please too much, thats why i added number 5.

I thought i was getting better at screening customers but the goal posts keep moving, i have a feeling at the moment im quoting a job for a customers mate, who is a builder. I found this out when i spoke to his engineer regarding the plans, engineer thought i was customers mate, a builder.
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Old 10-28-2017, 05:49 PM   #9
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Re: Builder Starting Out Need Help Screening Customers


I do free estimates but keep things short and sweet. I collect basic info on what they want done(I spend maybe a 45-60 minutes,tops), go home, punch my numbers then give them a ballpark guessimate and shoot it to them in an email. Along with the estimate is my payment system, 50% upfront, 25 % at mid-way and the last 25% almost at completion. I don"t wait for the last 25% when I'm done because I've been ripped by some HO"s, so now I leave a few things undone, get my last 25% and finish it up after that.

In the email, I tell them if they are interested in having me do the work, I'll schedule an in-depth consultation at their home to hammer out all the details, sign a contract and at that time I collect 50% to get the ball rolling. That right there says it all. It says this is all I am doing. It says it's just a rough estimate. And it says when the money is layed out, we'll disciss things in detail. I also based my estimates in 3 categories and I find this ut from the HP on my visit. Low-grade, mid-grade and high end. Currently I'm mostly doing bathroom and kitchen remodels.

On some estimates I can tell the HO is going to be a royal pain in the butt so I shoot them an email saying thank you but I've looked at my schedule and I'm much too busy to take their project on at this time. Some people I just don't want to work for and I can smell them out in a minute.

Obviously your approach isn't working, time to change it up. You can charge to do your estimates but IMO, if you're quick, a guy can spend an hour with the HO and another hour putting together a rough material and labor estimate. No need to get into specifics until money is on the table. Remember, it's just an estimate and you're not locked into a fixed price (just let them know that). At one time I charged for the estimate but if they had me do the work I waived the estimate fee.

I kinda like this option...some guys, first off the bat, have the HO fill out a pre-qualification form. This wil quickly reveal if the HO actually has the funding for their project or if they are just dreaming..it also shows you're not gonna mess around. A lot of times I'll just straight-out ask the HO how they plan to finance things.

Avoid HO's looking for the lowest bid too. I actually tell HO's, I'm most likely not going to be the lowest bid but they'll get quality work.

If you're building homes they have some pretty slick software out there to ballpark the numbers. That may help but really, like the others said, you just got to meet a lot of people and get the feel for things. And don't spend countless hours on estimates until they commit.

Never back yourself in a corner and go so low that you lose money. Again experience is key and having a sound contract that allows for "what-ifs" and unforeseen circumstances.

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Last edited by kirkdc; 10-28-2017 at 06:13 PM.
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