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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Do you think it is possible to educate a customer too much during an estimate?

I try to uncover aspects of the job that the homeowner and more importantly what my competition might miss or not consider and discuss them with the homeowner, not only because they can effect the project and the costs associated with it, but also in hopes of separating myself from the competition and justify my outrageous prices.

On jobs I get I of course attribute this education process as part of what went right.

But on jobs I don't get sometimes I wonder if all I did was educate the homeowner so they know what to ask the next guy they are getting an estimate from.

An example of this: I was doing a quote yesterday and the homeowner had concerns about whether any of the subfloor in the bathroom would need to be replaced do the leaking tiled shower wall that was creating the remodel. Turned out the husband had cut open the drywall ceiling below the leak in the garage so access to the sub-floor was available. I poked it all around and it was solid so I explained that "most likely" no the sub-floor was fine. I had just educated the customer that one of their concerns was no longer a concern and the homeowner now has been educated for free.

Do you think there is a fine line? Do you hold back some things or go over them without detail, or do you go into everything you can think of?
 

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You're right it is a fine line. I have found myself worrying about the same thing.

I like to speak like a professional and say technical things about the work that needs to be performed. For no other reason than I want the potential customer to have faith in my abilities as a professional. When I arrive on an estimate I can't help but wonder if the person is surprised by my age (I'm 26, my partner 23). Most people when they think about a contractor they picture a wise old tradesman.

At what point are you giving up too much is a very good question. I always want to handle my customers in a strategic fashion but this too could turn out to be a detriment, especially if they think you are sizing them up.
 

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Mike Finley said:
Do you think it is possible to educate a customer too much during an estimate?
Yep! You can confuse a customer right outta a sale.

In one of my sales tapes the trainer tells a story. I shall paraphrase.

Salesman A and B went to the same sales training by a manufacturer who shoveled all sorts of technical data into their brains. As fate would have it Salesman A & B ended up selling against one another a few weeks later.

The customer asked salesman A if this product would fix her problem and salesman A went into all sorts of technical reasoning, discussing how the product is manufacturered etc...

The same customer asked salesman B the same question, if the same product would fix her problem. Salesman B froze up, forgot all the heaps of technical data that the manufacturer shoveled into his brain and in a panic answered: "Yes". The customer asked when salesman B could begin work.

I am ALL FOR customer education but it takes experience dealing with people knowing how thick you can and should pour it on. Engineers want to know every little detail about every piece of the products I am selling. Engineers want to know how and why. Elderly women usually just want peace of mind, and want to know that my products won't fail. My sales presentation is very different for each type of customer.
 

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Humble, When I show up with a couple of my specialists, we make the TOH crew look like youngsters. Nate is amazingly blond although he just turned 60 just as Dennis is amazingly bald at 58. We are simply honest with what we find, how it will be repaired/upgraded and unforseen circumstances. If we lose the job, WTF?
We seldom lose. Age has some benefits in construction.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Nope, not talking about talking over their heads or talking yourself out of a sale by giving them too much information that clouds their decisions.

Talking about resolving too many of their questions/issues for free and making it very easy on the next guy.

The homeowner's conversation with the next guy after you could go like this "We originally thought we needed x y and z done, but now we know that x and y are not an issue or that y can be taken care of in another way, just give us an estimate on z."
 

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I think Grumpy summed it up perfectly.

You can talk yourself out of a sale if you confuse them.
A simple yes or no can go a heck of a long way.

There are times that if you HAVE to present how professional you are, you can do it during the discussion of the product you are pitching.
As far as install related, chances are they will not know what the heck you are talking about, and they will buy from the person who sums it up the easiest.
 

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I'm often suprised by who knows what.
This week I did an estimate on a home in a VERY exclusive neighborhood. Quite a bit of water damage to the ceilings, some old, some new. Older home with some vents that we couldn't trace.
The ladies husband was in the hospital and absent. As we described the procedures and uncertanties, the lady was hanging with us. She asked all of the right questions and understood everthing that we said. Makes me wonder where she was earlier in her life.
 

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Makes me wonder where she was earlier in her life.
Or when your competitor left her house before you got there :)
 

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I agree Mike. When your not hungry, people seem to sense it. I'm to the point where I don't care if I lose a few jobs, actually, I could retire tomorrow. I couldn't be more relaxed when dealing with customers, many times we are equals, sucessful businessmen.
 

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Mike, sounds like we're two peas in a pod, just can't stop.
I have a customer that was the largest manufacturer of industrial abrasives in the US. Jack is well into his 80's and still dreaming up new ventures.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm going to start calling you two Akbar and Abdul since you are such good hijackers. :cheesygri

Can we all pitch in and get you two a room so you can continue your love fest? :cheesygri
 

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I have gotten into trouble overeducating customers. If I tell them too much all the competition has to do is say yes (whether its true or not) to all of the homeowners questions, and present a price that is whithin $2000 either way of mine and he has the sale.

I soon learned that if you just make the customer comfortable with you, give them the info that they want (benefits) and underpromise and overdeliver, you will make them happy.
 

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Teetorbilt said:
Humble, When I show up with a couple of my specialists, we make the TOH crew look like youngsters. Nate is amazingly blond although he just turned 60 just as Dennis is amazingly bald at 58. We are simply honest with what we find, how it will be repaired/upgraded and unforseen circumstances. If we lose the job, WTF?
We seldom lose. Age has some benefits in construction.

I agree. I am always trying to make our age work for us also. We do try to learn as much as possible from the older business owners in the trades. Honesty is always going to be apreciated by a customer regardles of age.

sorry to get the thread sidetracked...
 

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Funny thing you mention this, I have 2 supply houses with show rooms for my customer to go and select fixtures from.

The first 1 is from what I call a mega firm, and of course there show room is huge. They sell everything from the plumbing fixtures to lites, fireplaces, hot tubs, and complete kitchens. All sorts of wall coverings and floor coverings.

The 2nd supply house has what I call a mom & pop type setup with enough room to sell just plumbing fixtures with a small show room.

Of all the times I send people to either one, they always seem to prefer the small one, as they do not become overwelmed with materails.

BJD
 

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I belive you should go over every detail as best as possible. The more client thinks you know the better chance of getting the job. Price isnt always the winner. I try to set some traps for the home owner to use on there next contractors estimate when I can. Ae: If its a plaster job I tell the client if the contractor mentions drywall you shouldnt be using him as with plaster you need imperial gypsum board or blueboard. If he dosnt know the difference don't use him.

The more facts you bring up the more questions they have & if the contractor dosn't mention them then the client dosn't think they have sense enought to ask. Why let them work on my house.
 

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I belive you should go over every detail as best as possibl
Maybe not every detail, but enough at least.
We are pro's and we know why there are good reasons to do things. Sometimes you can confuse the customer.
It takes experience to determine when to hush up and just offer your thoughts, and when to keep talkin.

The more facts you bring up the more questions they have
exactly.
 

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You have to be able to identify each customer's needs.
That's really the point here.
The best salespeople just know how to communicate with different people on different levels.
If you tell alot about a person after a few minutes of speaking with them, you can talk in a way they can easily understand.
I have had more than one client that really just wanted me to tell them what they need.
Some had a hundred questions..........ahem...........*engineeres*.........ahem........
I mean really....do you really need to know the details on aluminum oxide finishes and acrylic urethane...or is it good enough to just tell you it better than some other finishes...
Do I look like I know the absorption rate of Nylon compared to Olefin? Or the dimensional stability of Amtico?
I know alot but jeeeesh!

Then again...they build dams...let them ask what they want eh?
 
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