A regular poster on contractortalk.com (Welterweight, he doesn't post any identifying information) started a thread with the "Don't be stupid" heading, and these observations: (I've fixed some spelling and grammar here).
BamBam5144 (Siding, Milwaukee, WI)Here is some sales advice
"Be honest, but don't be stupid"....
That is something that was told to me years ago. I now bring this up because another home improvement contractor mentioned how honest he was and how he always encourages his potential customers to get at least three estimates.
I looked at him and said that was the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Why in the world would you tell a homeowner to get a few more bids? Because you are such an honest guy? if that's the case, become a priest not a contractor. Of course we need to be honest and have integrity but my G-d,why in the world would someone say something like that!
Bottom line: Offer a high quality product, make sure its installed properly, treat your customer with respect (it's their home you are in), and then charge whatever you think you need to make. if you need to make 5k from a siding job then charge accordingly, 10k, the same thing.
But never say, "Mr. and Mrs. Jones, it was an honor showing you my products and discussing all the solutions that would fit into your home. However,before you decide to go with us, get a few more estimates...
What the hell is that all about!
The responses are worth reviewing.
Tinner666 (Albert's Roofing, Richmond, VA)
I get many that say they're getting more estimates. I say "That's fine. I can assure you I'm going to be the highest" If not, call me and let me know so I can see what I missed and add it in."
And, I've said ' Get more estimates if you care to. I'll still be the highest, and give the best job."
DaVinci Remodel (www.DaVinciRemodeling.net, Denver)
We listen carefully on the initial call. If we here the word "bid", we ask "are there other contractors looking at the project?" We then let them know that we do not "bid" projects and our real competitors - who are at our level of craftsmanship and service - also do not "bid" projects.
We explain that the "bidding process" is designed to identify the best price not the best value. "If you were to use the bidding process for your dinner plans, you would eat fast food all the time!" "You would never enjoy a great steak and bottle of wine."
We further ask them: "If me and my real competition (those that offer our level of craftsmanship and service) do not do bids, who is bidding on your project?"
"We would love to help you with your project, but bidding is not something that we do." "Good luck and please call us if we can be of service."
Pcplumber (Leonard Megliola, Bestline Plumbing, Los Angeles)
It is very annoying when a sales person answers and argues every question. It becomes a 'battle of the words."
When a customer tells you he is getting 1,000 bids, just ignore the statement like you never heard it. It doesn't matter because the majority of contractors I run into give terrible bids. The bids don't make the scope of the work clear and on and on.
Stop worrying about what other contractors are doing and just do your own thing.
I disagree with most of the posts that say they try to pre-qualify a customer. We spent several hours with customers and we knew we were not going to get the job, but because we are so professional many of these customers still recommended us to other customers.
We went to many homes where we knew we were not going to get the job and we sold a job to a relative or neighbor during the same visit.
I started this year off with a post that stated my New Years Resolution. It was to never turn down an estimate and go to every customer's home even if they want a light bulb screwed in.
Good Reading. It is always nice to prescreen. I love being the first guy out there to give them my information first. Then right off the bat they have something to go off of. Usually they do say "I am getting other estimates" in which I always reply, "that's good you really should. I can promise you though that you will find cheaper prices but they may not be the same high quality products, have the same warranty we can offer or have an owner who limits his installers to nothing but the highest standards. In order to compare prices, make sure you compare apples to apples."If you read through this thread and wonder: "Is there more than one right answer to this question?" you are getting closer to the truth. I agree with the original poster that you don't need to set up and encourage price-sensitive competition, but if a person makes it clear that there will be competing bids, you need to be in a position where you are both first and last in their mind, and you need to prepare them mentally for low bids.
If someone says I need an estimate and they've already received four or five, I push them off unless I have nothing else to do, or I mention to these people that there is a 130 dollar estimate charge that will come off the price of the job once a contract is signed. That helps get rid of these people right away.
And if you have someone who is clearly bid-shopping for the absolutely lowest price where you don't have any previous relationship, as a rule, it may make sense to pass. (Though note Leonard Megliola's "never pass" posting; I've found as well that when I apply subjective screening criteria I've lost far more sales than if I take every inquiry within my service area seriously.)
So, you think, scratching your head, which suggestions in this thread should I follow, and which should I reject. Here, I cannot give you a simple answer, but suggest you align your response to the successful contractor whose practices most closely match your personality, values, and client demographics. Then consistently follow your own system.