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Qualifiers For New Customers

 
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:27 PM   #1
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Qualifiers For New Customers


I was interested in everyone's two cents on how to deal with new customers. As far as dealing with new customers and tire kickers. I bet I have wasted 60 + hours this year if not triple , on getting estimates for people that can't afford what they want or , are looking for the cheapest price period, regardless of quality, time frame, ect... It would be great to develop a method that would eliminate fruitless efforts on my part. I would hate to be rude and say " It's going to be about this much, Can you afford it." Truthfully, In a nutshell that is the way it is, but I would like to be a little more tactful.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:52 PM   #2
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


60 hours this year? Heck, that's barely an hour a week, I'd say you were doing good. I'm small time, and I probably spend at least 5 hours a week talking to people who will never hire us.

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Old 12-23-2012, 09:56 PM   #3
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


you need to develop a series of questions to ask..

a system that will help you develop your "feelers" for people and determine if they are worth while..

probably easier sad than done.

ex.

How o you plan to finance the project?
loan. cash..
have you considered a budget..(which most wont reveal.

what is important to you in the project?.

i think a question like that can reveal who you are dealing with.

someone who will put in a cheap heating system so they can have a 2000 faucet may not be worth entertaining..

throwing a reasonable budget number and then asking if this seems like something they can do..

you get the picture..

I do flooring, so it a little simpler for me, but the concept is still the same..
there no real good way of answering this..

that needs to come from you..there will always be a certain level of time wasted when dealing with people.
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:06 PM   #4
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


I don't think you can prequalify anyone to be honest. I deal with people who are wealthy and people who are far from poor complain about prices all the time.

Depending on the trade these people will complain about any price. Electricians get the most grief because it's not a luxury item they can see like granite counter tops, new floors things like that.

It's just how society is. They will spend on luxuries without hesitation but necessities like a safe electrical system will take a back seat until a problem starts. They rather take a chance over preventing an issue and just deal with it when it happens.
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:17 PM   #5
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


Quote:
Originally Posted by TxElectrician
60 hours this year? Heck, that's barely an hour a week, I'd say you were doing good. I'm small time, and I probably spend at least 5 hours a week talking to people who will never hire us.
That is realistic to where I actually am, I just didn't want to come off as a total dummy in the opening thread. I am just thinking , going into the new year , How to be more efficient at the qualifying part of the opening conversations. At 5 hours a week that is a easy couple of months of no pay, during the course of the year. I could spend that time doing a million other things. I can look back at 3 new houses and 4 additions this year that was a total waste of time. I keep file of all the bids I submit over the year, and its kinda thick.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:24 PM   #6
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


qualifying people is hard .
I can pick winners most of the time .
But my wife takes the calls and sets the appointment so i get to check them out at our first meeting .
Things have been slow for me this year , we have worked almost every day this year but my sales/profit is way down .
I'm getting fed up with the hole game .
The truth is i pitch to every one , You never no whos doing to bite.
I had 4 good jobs go this year that I never thought would happen .
these days its hard to figure whos a customer.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:41 PM   #7
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


This year has kinda went like this. Go look at the job, don't want the job for 100 different reasons, bid high thinking they won't take it, customer calls and what's to know when we can start. The good clean jobs just don't want to happen it seams.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:42 PM   #8
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


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Originally Posted by 5starbuilders
This year has kinda went like this. Go look at the job, don't want the job for 100 different reasons, bid high thinking they won't take it, customer calls and what's to know when we can start. The good clean jobs just don't want to happen it seams.
It's always the jobs you don't think you will land, that you do land.
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:06 PM   #9
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


I have said this trime and again CHARGE for estimates, CHARGE for the 2nd revised estimate.
$10-$30 it gets rid of 90% of the ding dongs who just need to hear their bell ring. You'll lose 1 or 2 who cares, your closing rate will increase 10 fold. People have BOUGHT from us because they respected the fact that we did charge. NOW MAN UP AND GET CHARGING
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:49 PM   #10
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


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I have said this trime and again CHARGE for estimates, CHARGE for the 2nd revised estimate.
$10-$30 it gets rid of 90% of the ding dongs who just need to hear their bell ring. You'll lose 1 or 2 who cares, your closing rate will increase 10 fold. People have BOUGHT from us because they respected the fact that we did charge. NOW MAN UP AND GET CHARGING
I am actually going to do this from now on. Quality customers will not have a problem with it. Only the ones who play games or don't have money anyway will bark about it.

I will charge a trip fee and I will waive it if I am awarded the job. I don't understand why that wouldn't be fair? I'm using my time, fuel, and wear and tare on my vehicle.

The only thing I would kinda feel like crap if they just paid me a trip fee and decided to go with someone else. When people don't call you back is one thing but handing you a small fee and basically showing you to the door...ouch
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:28 AM   #11
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


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I am actually going to do this from now on. Quality customers will not have a problem with it. Only the ones who play games or don't have money anyway will bark about it.

I will charge a trip fee and I will waive it if I am awarded the job. I don't understand why that wouldn't be fair? I'm using my time, fuel, and wear and tare on my vehicle.

The only thing I would kinda feel like crap if they just paid me a trip fee and decided to go with someone else. When people don't call you back is one thing but handing you a small fee and basically showing you to the door...ouch
never feel bad, all the sobs who called you just to waste your time didn't, i pick up 1k a week from march till august just doing estimates.
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:14 AM   #12
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


Quote:
Originally Posted by 5starbuilders
I would hate to be rude and say " It's going to be about this much, Can you afford it." Truthfully, In a nutshell that is the way it is, but I would like to be a little more tactful.
why would you think it's rude? If you tell them you need to charge for an estimate that will take up a good chunk of your time, then you will screen out most of these tire kickers who are wasting your time. If they're too cheap to pay you a small fee for your time, then your price would have been too high for them anyway, assuming you are charging your jobs correctly. You're not only saving your time, you're saving their time too. And if you are screening out these tire kickers then theoretically you can charge your customers less and make the same overhead and profit, because you are saving a lot of valuable time.

I told a guy recently that I needed to charge $75 for an estimate on a house lift and renovation. Which meant I only would have made about $4 an hour writing the estimate, I even told him the fee would be refunded if I was awarded the job. You know what his response was? "Let me talk to my other contractors and I'll get back to you". I never heard back from him but I didn't want to, he was price shopping and would have waste my time and his. You are doing yourself and your customers a favor by charging for estimates, in no way are you being rude.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:40 AM   #13
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


I would think specialty services are the hardest to sell. Putting a pen and a contract in the customers hands would be my first choice to sell that. Design/build is more complex, I have a process that I wont deviate from.
1. Meet with customer, sketch addition(s)
2. Discuss products and start date
3. Ballpark price
4. Discuss financing
5. Sign design agreement
6. Measure and video interior and exterior
7. Deliver plans
8. Bring first sample of contract and review
9. Amend and sign contract, usually on their computer/printer.

If I cant close on #5, pack up video equipment, pitch book, sketches and leave. I am often called back.
Rule #1 Never leave anything if i cant close the design agreement . Rule #2 Always leave the door open for future business
Rule #3 Learn where I failed to close.

If customer has their own plans, I ballpark job and move on. This is where my closing ratio is really low, less than 10%. Design/build sales close around 2/3.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:18 AM   #14
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


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Originally Posted by KennMacMoragh View Post
why would you think it's rude? If you tell them you need to charge for an estimate that will take up a good chunk of your time, then you will screen out most of these tire kickers who are wasting your time. If they're too cheap to pay you a small fee for your time, then your price would have been too high for them anyway, assuming you are charging your jobs correctly. You're not only saving your time, you're saving their time too. And if you are screening out these tire kickers then theoretically you can charge your customers less and make the same overhead and profit, because you are saving a lot of valuable time.

I told a guy recently that I needed to charge $75 for an estimate on a house lift and renovation. Which meant I only would have made about $4 an hour writing the estimate, I even told him the fee would be refunded if I was awarded the job. You know what his response was? "Let me talk to my other contractors and I'll get back to you". I never heard back from him but I didn't want to, he was price shopping and would have waste my time and his. You are doing yourself and your customers a favor by charging for estimates, in no way are you being rude.
But your website says "Get a free estimate" on the home page. How do you handle that one?
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:37 AM   #15
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


The first thing I ask after the small talk is "What is your budget?" Then I say after the dead air time, "I know you don't want to tell me because then you think I will spend all your budget, but you're right, I will. That's your budget. So I will get you the best things I can within your budget. Giving me that number helps both of us. I have built $20k kitchens and I have built $100k kitchens. If you want to spend less, have a smaller budget and I'll see what I can do" That usually gets me a number, and then you can decide if they are realistic and go from there.

Sometimes it's really small and you can just move on.

Sometimes they want you to figure out their budget for them.

I like the idea of charging for estimates even though I haven't ever done that. I would guess 90% of contractors don't charge. I'm still on the fence a bit on that one.

Last edited by skcolo; 12-30-2012 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:55 AM   #16
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


Quote:
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But your website says "Get a free estimate" on the home page. How do you handle that one?
I know, I've been trying to get that off of all my advertising. "Free Estimate" attracts people that want something for nothing.
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:32 AM   #17
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


So what is everyone's thoughts on how much to charge for a estimate? Home Depot and lowes charges around 25.00. This doesn't really cover any cost , but like everyone has stated, if someone won't spend 25 on a estimate, then you don't Need to go visit the tire kicker
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:33 AM   #18
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


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I know, I've been trying to get that off of all my advertising. "Free Estimate" attracts people that want something for nothing.
I have been getting that off my advertising too.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:40 AM   #19
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


I agree with Killer Decks we are moving towards charging for estimates and this has worked for us and has increased the close rate for our sales people.

Another great way to get a budget out of people is this trick. You say to the client "What is the number in your head for this project?" typical answer "Yes I do but I do not want to tell you because I want to see what number you come up with" I say "I can almost guarentee the number in your head is less and most likely alot less then the number I will come up with. I do not want to waste your time or mine. How does $30,000 to $35,000 sound to you." Always start at the top end of what you think the project will cost. They say" That is too much" "How does $25,000 to $33,000 sound to you." And so on and so forth until you arrive at the number in their head.

This has worked very well for me and my sales people to not design a project that far exceeds their budget.
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Old 12-30-2012, 01:22 PM   #20
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Re: Qualifiers For New Customers


For those who charge for estimates……what do you charge for your typical trade and what exactky does the customer get? Drawings? Specs? Layout? Contract?
Ad what percentage of your business is estimate fees?

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