Looking for a way to boost your business? Start by overcoming the challenges of the quoting process, writes MICHAEL REID.
The quoting process is an essential component of any healthy construction business, but getting it right can be a challenge. Many tradespeople are often faced with a barrage of consumer questions, queries and objections to the amounts charged, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.
While it might seem like the customer is not always right, in reality, a negative response to a quote is most likely a result of something going wrong on the tradies’ end. If you can get those issues ironed out from the very beginning, the process is much more likely to run smoothly. Here's how.
First things first
First impressions count, so make sure you appear professional from the very beginning. Showing up late to a quoting appointment is a fast track to an unhappy customer, as is walking in with dirty boots or with a scruffy appearance. A lot of the time, objections can be overcome by simply giving off a better first impression.
It's also important to address commonly asked questions before they are even asked by clearly explaining what goes into a quote, what customers get for their money and the next steps and timeframe if they want to go ahead. It's important to manage expectations from the start.
A question of cost
One of the biggest issues in our industry is cost overrun. What looks like a 'cheaper' quote is often very expensive when extras are added on top. While you might view extras as an innocent addition, customers will group you into the same category as those airlines who offer a super cheap quote only to charge you a crazy amount for baggage. No one responds well to this tactic, and customers inevitably get wise to these tricks. Once that happens, a reputation for cost overrun is a hard one to shake.
In order to combat cost overrun, make sure you remain diligent when quoting, especially when doing so for a new customer. Make sure you’ve accounted for every potential cost and try to stick to the original quote where possible. Building strong customer relationships is all about trust and that’s impossible if your customers can’t even trust your initial quote.
Communication is key
Another essential building block for trust is clear communication. A quote filled with construction jargon will always be seen as an attempt to pull the wool over the customer's eyes - especially if they think the quote is expensive. The quote might make sense to you, but it's the customer's interpretation that matters. Make an effort to list every item as simply as possible and avoid acronyms like the plague.
Remember to focus on communication beyond the quoting stage, including before, during and after works are completed. While in-person reporting is always best, electronic communication is a great solution when it comes to setting your customer’s mind at ease throughout the process. Handwritten notes with poor information and bad handwriting are a thing of the past as customers come to expect more transparency from their tradespeople.
In our digital age, speed is of the essence. Email, apps and project management tools speed up the quoting process and help provide much-needed transparency around delivery and timeframes. Many solutions on the market provide digital copies and the ability to approve, track and pay for work. My own app, for example, speeds up the quoting process by automatically calculating material costs as it measures.
Finally, make sure that once a quote is accepted, customers are clear on what the next steps are. There’s nothing worse than a job that floats in that awkward stage between being accepted and getting started.
While it might seem like a lot to consider, fitting the quoting stage smoothly into your workflow is critical to the success of your business. In order to grow, make sure that each stage of your process is as transparent as possible and that you’re communicating clearly with your customer in their preferred manner. Embrace technology where possible and educate yourself on the wide range of apps and tools on the market. Once everything’s in place, awkward quoting and hostile questions will be a thing of the past.
Michael Reid is the managing director of Australian Independent Lining Distributors and the creator of Measure and Quote AR.
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