Want high value customers with profitable extension or new build projects? Then you need to know their likes and dislikes. First off, what you think customers look for in a builder and what they actually look for are two very different things, so making assumptions is a risky business. We work with Better Business Group (BBG), who mentor building firms through customer research, competitor analysis and internal assessments, and they’ve taught us everything we know about expectations and perceptions.
The big news? The cheapest doesn’t always win – the bigger spenders are weighing up other factors too. We share what we’ve discovered to be true from BBG’s vast experience of surveying homeowners with higher value building projects. Want to know what will set you apart from the competition? Read on!
Tip 1. Voicemail
Let’s start with the simple but important measure of professionalism. Jokey answering machine or voicemail messages, or no message service at all are the first turn-off. Customers want to hear an efficient, clearly spoken message with good instructions – and then a prompt response!
Tip 2. Email address
Hotmail, Yahoo, Blueyonder, Talk21… you get the idea. Basically, personal email addresses just don’t give savvy homeowners the impression that you mean business. Presenting the right persona such as firstname.lastname@example.org will require you to buy a domain name and a hosting set-up, and since there are plenty of cost-effective online services available now – it’s quick and easy to put in place. Much better for your business card… you have got a business card…?
Tip 3. Website
Which brings us on to the website itself. If you want the well paid jobs then you need to have a professional looking website ‘shop front’ that gives an overview of your business, your experience, the team involved, examples of projects, perhaps some case studies, and clear contact details. At the very least it’s worth having a professional-looking single page. Again, there are lots of companies who can build your site cost-effectively. (Oh yes and don’t let it go out of date – keep adding fresh material – or if you can’t – don’t put dates anywhere).
Tip 4. Social media
If you have a Facebook page, a twitter account, Instagram account or Linkedin profile then make sure it’s giving the right impression. Don’t include too many personal photos and messages; finding the right balance to show that you’re friendly and engaging isn’t easy… And again, keep it up-to-date. If you stop using a social media channel then it’s better to take it down rather than leave the customer wondering whether you’re even in business still.
Tip 5. Appearance
Scruffy clothes, work boots, mud-splattered van…is a no. You might think you’re saying ‘I’m a busy, hands-on builder who’s come straight off the site keen to meet the customer’, but we’ve got news. BBG assures us that homeowners, ready to part with large sums of money, want to see someone who is wearing clean clothes (polo shirt/fleece with company logo?), tidy footwear and a vehicle (properly branded?) that’s been jetted recently. You know the saying ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’ well your appearance is already giving them a hint of what to expect when the project is underway.
Tip 6. Recommendations and reviews
Reviews are actually considered sceptically by many people. The press have highlighted various scams that show that reviews can be fictitious. To the point where people just won’t believe a five star rating. And that’s a shame if you’re genuinely getting rave reviews. The best approach is to offer the customer the opportunity to speak with past customers and even visit their property. This means you need to remember to get the OK from a customer as a job is completing to get their support in the future – and of course give them good reason to recommend you!
Tip 7. Ask questions, take notes and photos
Making suggestions and observations can set you apart from your competitors. The level of interest you show is a clear indication that you want the job and you’re going to invest the necessary time and effort in winning it. Taking notes on a tidy looking notepad or on a tablet says that you’re on the ball and won’t forget any of the points that have been raised as soon as you walk out the door. As far as photos are concerned ASK PERMISSION! Explain that you would like to take some reference photos, and expect the homeowner to go round with you.
Tip 8. Deadlines
Under promise and over deliver – never the other way round. Saying you’ll have the quote back in 24 hours might sound great, but not if you can’t get it done in that time. In fact customers are more likely to be happier waiting a week if a good, comprehensive quote arrives on the agreed date, or if you want to ‘over deliver’ – a day early. Don’t give them reason to wonder whether you can be relied upon to hit the completion date. The same goes for future correspondence. If they ask a question, reply promptly and if you can’t, apologise when you do go back, explaining the reason for the delay. It’s worth it to win the job.
Tip 9. Quote presentation
Then there’s the quote itself. This is the crunch point and is why the HBXL Estimating Service does what it does. How you are going to approach the project, how efficient you’re going to be, the level of attention to detail you’re going to give the job – all of this can be assessed in advance by your quote. Anyone spending five figures, and most definitely six, is going to look long and hard – not just at the bottom line but at the presentation. Not a single sheet of paper, not a handwritten note, not a basic Excel spreadsheet… They will be looking for a cost breakdown and a clear understanding of where the money is being spent. Even diagrams that make the different stages of the job clear could tip the work in your favour. We’ve seen clear evidence, that if your quote smacks of professionalism, customers are more likely to conclude you will be the right fit for the job. You can see samples of the professional-looking estimates we produce for our customers here.
10. Policies and contracts
Make it clear from the quoting stage that you will be producing a contract that will protect the customer as well as the builder, that you’ll make clear when payments are due and so on. Again it says you’re a professional business. The same goes for Health & Safety. Demonstrating that you take site safety seriously and will produce relevant policies and risk assessments, will be a massive reassurance.
And that’s it…
No matter how good a building firm you are, your first visit and that first impression, and your subsequent quote are all the customer has to go on. Even referrals only go so far in reassuring someone of your credentials. So employing as many of these tips as possible could be the difference between a win or lose.
Details about the HBXL Estimating Service partnership with Better Business Group are here.
Better Business Group
The Better Business Group actually helps businesses charge typically 15% more – and convert more work – on average 13% more. So how do they do this? Well for starters by taking the speculation out of the process! They analyse the building firm, they speak to their customers, they investigate their competitors, and they go on to provide an on-going mentoring service.
Give us a call on 0117 916 7894 to put you in touch with the team at Better Business Group. They can find out who your competitors are, what they’re quoting and what your current customers like (or dislike) about you. Using this invaluable information they can help you convert more enquiries into profitable projects.