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Program Director
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Before committing to face-to-face appointments for estimates, which questions are most important to ask homeowners up front?

I have my own set of questions, but I'm interested to know if anyone else has their own "qualifying factors." It's impossible to eliminate time-wasters and tire-kickers, but having a solid phone conversation beforehand should help minimize the chances of you wasting your time.

Any thoughts or feedback?

-Alex
 

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Program Director
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I got some feedback (obviously not from this thread)... They are all good questions, but I would only ask certain questions depending on the project/situation. Let me know if you would add or remove anything from the following list.

1.) Are you the owner of the property?
2.) Do you have a particular deadline to complete this project?
3.) How soon are you looking to get started?
4.) Do you have a specific budget set aside for this project?
5.) Have you already received any other estimates for this project?
 

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How about the obvious one.. What is your budget?

This requires you to know your numbers and be able to offer a ballpark. $15000-$20000 in that range depending on finishes, etc.

If they baulk at that, then They can't afford you.
 

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Is there anyone else that will be involved in the decision making? I'm afraid that in my early years I wasted quite a bit of time talking to the non decision maker about dreams. I've since learned to ask that question, and also ask if both parties will have equal input into the project. A lot of times, you have the setup where one person is interested in the details, and all the other person is interested in is how much it will cost them. That can be awkward, as it puts you in the bad guy position rather than the cheapskate who won't pay for their partner's dreams.
 

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Program Director
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Digging deeper to know about all decision makers and ensuring they are all present the FIRST time you meet to discuss the project will help avoid multiple, unnecessary trips requiring you to have the exact same conversation over and over again. Time is your most valuable asset.

If you don't ask this question up front, you also risk losing the job all together because details can easily be lost in translation. You don't want to be put in a position where you are relying on the non-decision maker to sell you to the decision maker. You want to sell your services directly. Awesome feedback!
 

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I got some feedback (obviously not from this thread)... They are all good questions, but I would only ask certain questions depending on the project/situation. Let me know if you would add or remove anything from the following list.

1.) Are you the owner of the property?

I am not going to ask that...because, unless you are a handyman service, why would anyone call unless....but, I do a title check online before starting work. Also a background including court filings....if they have been in court suing or being sued, I am not going to even talk to them. This is pre-screening.


2.) Do you have a particular deadline to complete this project?

Sure...ask, usually they ask when how busy I am, as to a start time. The danger with talking deadlines, especially at the preliminary meeting, is that we work in construction....and like the dominoes in the the movie "The Toy", when one gets accidentally knocked over, they all fall. Schedules and construction are tough, and deadlines are typically for commercial projects, with caveats.

3.) How soon are you looking to get started?

See above....I never let anyone know what I am doing in regard to other jobs, because again, schedules are tough....but, I will tell them if it is a desirable project, I can find a window to start the job.

4.) Do you have a specific budget set aside for this project?

Only ask if you can see the their questions lead you to believe that at a preliminary meeting you may want to actually "qualify" the project. I have told a lot of potential customers what the true project may cost, and can gauge right away if either of us are wasting our time.


5.) Have you already received any other estimates for this project?
Never, and I don't care. They called me for a price or to discuss the project, and I don't care what other guy's may price it at...my price is my price, and if they want the other guy, or the lower price, then either I am not good enough to sell the job, or I am not going to come down anyway. You don't really waste your time by going to a meeting when you are not the low bidder....because 9 out of 10 times, unless they have someone tell them they were lucky not to use you, then they will wonder or wish they had used your company, and if there is anything wrong with the contractor they pick, I promise they will not only tell everyone, but they will usually say who they wish they would have hired. The only exception would be if you want the job, and they lead you down the path of letting you know you are high...then you can determine if it is daytime TV or working for wages. I have done steel erections for half price to keep the bills paid, no profit, and it led to other profitable jobs.....no one wants to hire a contractor who is sitting at home.
 

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I listen for keywords and phrases when their talking to me...if I hear anything that has to do with $$ in the first sentence or 2 I immediately throw them a rough price over the phone...many times they almost hang up on me....I find due to my advertising that I am often the 1st plumber they call....so I like to get the sticker shock over with and move on if their budget is 1/2 of what it needs to be

I have found that if a person budgets $x and they find out it costs 2x that for a project they don't double their budget...they just find someone who will do it for $x ....whether its a handyman or a sidejobber

100% of my focus is on getting these 1/2 price customers gone as quickly as possible......

I rarely win larger homeowner projects....all the people with $$ to do it right hire a prime contractor....so when someone calls me to remodel their bathroom or kitchen im leery right from the start....im listening to everything they say....I win almost every referral for small projects...but rarely win anything large for homeowners


I used to have a list of questions to ask the customer...I don't anymore....its all about the $$...getting into their budget is all that matters...its always the stumbling block
 

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1.) Are you the owner of the property?

We ask that. We have a trip fee for anything under contract or for sale.

2.) Do you have a particular deadline to complete this project?

We ask that.

3.) How soon are you looking to get started?

We never ask that. It is rare that we can start when they want to start so I focus on the drop dead date and not the dream start date.

4.) Do you have a specific budget set aside for this project?

We ask that.

5.) Have you already received any other estimates for this project?

We never ask that.

We kind of go with the flow of the conversation though so other questions depend on where it goes.
 

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General Contractor
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Do you have money or you just calling me because you got nothing else to do?

Believe it or not, but that is the first question I been asking for the past 4-5 years and it surprises the s*^t out of me that most people find that funny and hire me to do the work...
Most would add that they're so tired of the sales pitches and that they had so many bad experiences with people who know how to sell, but don't know how to perform.
 

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I got some feedback (obviously not from this thread)... They are all good questions, but I would only ask certain questions depending on the project/situation. Let me know if you would add or remove anything from the following list.

1.) Are you the owner of the property?
2.) Do you have a particular deadline to complete this project?
3.) How soon are you looking to get started?
4.) Do you have a specific budget set aside for this project?
5.) Have you already received any other estimates for this project?
Pretty much all of this. Most of the time though people only know the answer the the first one.
 

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The Finisher
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We only care about 2 things. We want to know that a prospect is looking to start the project within 90 days, and that we are going to meet with the decision makers during our estimate before agreeing to go.

The exact questions are:

1. When do you expect to start this project?

2. As you may know, we will be meeting to discuss the project. Our estimator will have questions, and will probably need to answer many of yours. That being said, will everyone involved be present during our scheduled estimate?

The questions like price, competition, etc... can all be dealt with during the estimate.
 

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The Finisher
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I listen for keywords and phrases when their talking to me...if I hear anything that has to do with $$ in the first sentence or 2 I immediately throw them a rough price over the phone...many times they almost hang up on me....I find due to my advertising that I am often the 1st plumber they call....so I like to get the sticker shock over with and move on if their budget is 1/2 of what it needs to be

I have found that if a person budgets $x and they find out it costs 2x that for a project they don't double their budget...they just find someone who will do it for $x ....whether its a handyman or a sidejobber

100% of my focus is on getting these 1/2 price customers gone as quickly as possible......

I rarely win larger homeowner projects....all the people with $$ to do it right hire a prime contractor....so when someone calls me to remodel their bathroom or kitchen im leery right from the start....im listening to everything they say....I win almost every referral for small projects...but rarely win anything large for homeowners


I used to have a list of questions to ask the customer...I don't anymore....its all about the $$...getting into their budget is all that matters...its always the stumbling block
Huggytree,

Sounds like you have a serious marketing problem my friend. Without getting off topic, I encourage you to dig up some of the older marketing threads in this forum.

Nice Shelby Cobra, BTW. I have a 2013 model with over 830 RWHP :thumbsup:
 

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I ask leading questions which get the leads talking. There is nothing wrong with asking if they've had a price before. This opens them up and they sometimes offer who the other estimators are. Do try not to "dis"qualify a lead that could be good.
 

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No offence here to the sir who started this thread, but please take note you are not a Contractor you actually never work onsite. This was based on the info that I looked at with the website attached to your profile, your scheme is similar to HandyMan Connection, and you are the reason all of us as Independent contractors have difficulty with customers who believe/think their is price gouging involved when dealing with them. You are the car salesman of Contracting making money off our hard earned effort.

I you what I have seen here from other as a paper pushing GC, but you are never even show up on site during the process, you are just the suit trying to get a piece of the pie.

I call a spade a spade and you sir are just a suit trying to turn in an extra dollar on the backs of others.
 

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No offence here to the sir who started this thread, but please take note you are not a Contractor you actually never work onsite. This was based on the info that I looked at with the website attached to your profile, your scheme is similar to HandyMan Connection, and you are the reason all of us as Independent contractors have difficulty with customers who believe/think their is price gouging involved when dealing with them. You are the car salesman of Contracting making money off our hard earned effort.

I you what I have seen here from other as a paper pushing GC, but you are never even show up on site during the process, you are just the suit trying to get a piece of the pie.

I call a spade a spade and you sir are just a suit trying to turn in an extra dollar on the backs of others.
GOOD CATCH CM:thumbsup:
 

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Program Director
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
No offence here to the sir who started this thread, but please take note you are not a Contractor you actually never work onsite. This was based on the info that I looked at with the website attached to your profile, your scheme is similar to HandyMan Connection, and you are the reason all of us as Independent contractors have difficulty with customers who believe/think their is price gouging involved when dealing with them. You are the car salesman of Contracting making money off our hard earned effort.

I you what I have seen here from other as a paper pushing GC, but you are never even show up on site during the process, you are just the suit trying to get a piece of the pie.

I call a spade a spade and you sir are just a suit trying to turn in an extra dollar on the backs of others.
:no: Don't be so quick to judge...

I have been in the construction business for many years, and got started by helping my father scale his business. I've negotiated countless deals and worked on-site for many projects - I can build a house from the ground up with my own two hands (not to brag).

With that being said, my contractor referral business developed from helping my father find new business. Although he was a very skilled contractor, he did not know anything about marketing or how to get new business outside of the traditional "word-of-mouth" routine.

There are many amazing contractors out there who deserve more business because they are great at what they do, but they don't know where to start or how to hunt down their next job.

...And what's wrong with wanting a piece of the pie? If I can help you get more projects and scale your business, why wouldn't you want to share a referral commission? Maybe it's not for you, but there are 100 other contractors in your area that would love to have that opportunity.

I started this thread because I wanted to share the feedback and best practices with all of the contractors I work with... And by the way, I run a business... My goal is to be profitable, just like you.
 

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Well..... You have some good points.... but I think alot of us feel that some internet organizations similar to yours are just an unnessary third party intermediary.... who are falsely advertising that they are performing more of a service than they are.

The internet game in many instances, not just the trades, is to capture the possible buyer on the front end and exact a referrel fee from the contractor. Those sites are not generating work to the profession. Work would have flowed to the profession without your involvement.

Some of the internet organizations are performing no service to the ultimate buyer. They have no idea about their referrels, their competance, quality,reliability. They will refer any contractor/hack that pays their fees.... but they have fooled the public with a glossy website.

If one of these sites is skimming a % (10-15), generally they are referring to contractors who are willing to work for less.... and normally that breeds a referral service that diminishes a traditional referral system that is primarily based on a contractors/tradesmens past work quality.

Quite frankly, if your service, as your site advertizes, saves the ultimate client the time and inconvenience of soliciting three bids, and is consequently valuable to them,then collect your fee from the client for your three phone calls and see how well your business does.

Many of these sites could be seen as parasites trying to prey on the underemployed contractor and the ignorent homeowner.

But, I'm sure you are just helping tradesmen and contractors to "SCALE" their business.

Just some thoughts for your consideration.

(Edit: I'm sure there are 100 hacks you can refer an unsuspecting homeowner to. What have you actually added to economic well being to the country. I do understand you are in the business to make money/profit... so was Enron, Bernie Madoff, ZZ Best and a whole breed of people trying to get a "piece of the pie" without adding, actually detracting" from many different professions. )
 

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Program Director
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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Perhaps there are many contractors out there who feel services like this are unnecessary and disruptive. The bottom line, however, is that more and more homeowners are searching for contractors online and they see value in a service that can match them with reputable contractors in their community.

Yes, work will still flow to the profession without my involvement but I can still help a contractor earn new business that would have otherwise gone to someone else. That's what real value is when it comes to marketing.

Let's not forget that there are plenty of contractor crooks out there that prey on unsuspecting homeowners. I think it is important to coach homeowners on the bidding process and provide expectations for hiring a professional contractor.

By the way, I could charge the homeowner for the services and value I provide but I choose to do it for free. The contractor, however, profits financially which is why I ask for a piece of the pie. :thumbup:
 

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Perhaps there are many contractors out there who feel services like this are unnecessary and disruptive. The bottom line, however, is that more and more homeowners are searching for contractors online and they see value in a service that can match them with reputable contractors in their community.

Yes, work will still flow to the profession without my involvement but I can still help a contractor earn new business that would have otherwise gone to someone else. That's what real value is when it comes to marketing.

Let's not forget that there are plenty of contractor crooks out there that prey on unsuspecting homeowners. I think it is important to coach homeowners on the bidding process and provide expectations for hiring a professional contractor.

By the way, I could charge the homeowner for the services and value I provide but I choose to do it for free. The contractor, however, profits financially which is why I ask for a piece of the pie. :thumbup:
Al31...

So Just in all honesty...

1) Yes.... Many people are searching the internet. I understand that presents a money making opportunity.... but what productive are you adding to the customer. ie: How do you qual "reputable" contractors/tradesmen for the customer. Do you offer a guarantee against your qual.... HD does.

2) Yes.... Marketing is valuable... and directing customers to your contracting business has extreem value.... but, as your site states (perhaps most honestly) "receive three bids". The contractor/tradesman
is not assured of anything, not even a good lead, nor is the customer assured of anything, as best as I can see.

I'm sorry, it appears to me that many of these operations are just a skimming operation. " If I send you a job, and you compete with three parties for a bid, and by chance you get it, give me X%".

3) You say that your service is provided to the customer, I guess for making three phone calls and alot of "coaching as to the bid", but somehow you decide to "profit" from the contractor because he performs a service and has a financial incentive.

That my friend is an admission of a "skim"., where the party to whom the service is provided does not pay.... rather the party charging the customer pays you. Nice disguise.

I seriously am skeptical. If your service was valuable (not a facade) to the customer, that customer would pay you.

But if your costs/profits are hidden in either increased margin by the contractor, or inferior service provided by the contractors, THAT bubbi is where your profit is coming.

Sorry.... I think your internet game is just more of "skimming a piece of the pie" .... either from underemployed contractors or from ignorent HO's.

Just my opinion....... maybe you are providing real marketing to certain reputable contractors... or a service to distressed HO's who can't make three telephone calls, but tell me honestly what you are honestly providing of value to the customer, or just a non-qualed referrel of business to any hack that pays your fees.

Now I do applaud that you have come on here to see how other contractors qual their clients.... presumably to better represent and make better referrals to the contractors that have subscribed to your services... paying you your "piece of the pie" in your words..... so tell me the truth.... have you ever turned down a call-in and not referred it out.... regardless of it being a poor lead.....

because your business model profits by taking your best shot.

If I'm wrong, I apologize.... but I do not see anything economic beneficial in your business, to either the customer nor the contractor who is headed out to compete with three others (maybe hacks) and any others the customer has called on his own.

A smart customer is going to have you supply any information, as that customer has no vested interest and no cost.....I would suggest your leads are going to be crap.

You write well... and dress nicely... and I'm sure you are personally an accomplished builder....,. But I think your internet idea/site is worthless as snake oil... You will skim for awhile... untill people/reputable contractor's catch on...


Peter
 
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