The secret to closing a tough sale? You need to win a customer's trust by alleviating their biggest fears when it comes to investing in your home improvement service. Consider five fears most customers have about home improvement and contractors themselves:
- It will take far longer to complete the job than what's been promised
- You'll tack on lots of hidden fees and costs
- Your work won't live up to their expectations in some way
- You'll use inferior products as replacements
- You'll make a mess while working, and leave a mess behind
To close that tough sale, check out some tips that will reassure your customer and alleviate these fears, building their trust in your work and you as a contracting professional.
Fear #1: It will take far longer to complete the home improvement service job than what's been promised
Putting a completion date in your contract is an obvious way to alleviate a customer's fear that you won't complete the job as expected. However, your potential customers may have had bad experiences with other contractors who ignored their promised completion date, even when outlined in a written contract. Just telling your customer when the job will be done, even if it's in writing, may not be enough to alleviate this concern and build their trust in your abilities.
Note, too, that customers may have unrealistic expectations when it comes to how long it takes to complete a job. For example, a potential customer may know of a friend who had a similar job done within a given time frame, so they expect their work to be done on that same schedule, not realizing that their friend has a much smaller roof to be repaired, or that they had a shorter driveway to be poured, and so on.
Customers also may not realize how peak seasons often mean delays in product delivery and a shortage of workers. A customer may even not understand how far behind you can get when lousy weather hits; you may need to wait for materials to dry out after a rainfall, for example, so that you can't merely resume working once the rain has stopped.
It's good to listen to your customer's expectations when it comes to the time you need to finish a job and address those expectations patiently and politely. Be honest with a customer about all the steps necessary to complete certain repairs or installation work, and explain to him or her how the current season might affect your job schedule. While a customer may not be happy to hear that a job will take longer than expected, your honesty alone may go a long way toward building the trust needed to complete the sale.
You might also create a program that compensates your customers for a delay. For example, note an expected completion time on an estimate, giving yourself an allowance for delays in product delivery, inclement weather, and so on. After that, compensate your customer by reducing their bill a certain percentage for each additional week your work is delayed; if your work takes a full week after your estimated completion date, their invoice is reduced by 3%. If your work is delayed another week after that, cut the bill by another 3%, and so on.
It can also be good to write out anything that might cause delays so that your customers won't face surprises once the job begins. For example, you might note that you can finish the job within two weeks "if our supplier on such-and-such a date fulfills product delivery." You can then also note, "if the product arrives on this date, our completion time would then be estimated at…"
Listing anything that might delay your work, including weather, work strikes, delays in getting permits, and time needed for inspections while the work is being done can put a potential customer's mind at ease, as they know you're honest about your time frame. Even if they don't like seeing these possible causes of delays, your honesty with them can quickly win the trust needed to move forward with your proposal.
Fear #2: You'll tack on lots of added and hidden fees and costs
As with a time frame for a job's completion, merely putting an estimate in writing may not be enough to alleviate a customer's fears and win their trust in your work, as they may be afraid of hidden costs and added fees, meaning those that are not included in your original estimate!
An excellent way to alleviate this fear is to include all potential costs on your estimate, and sort these by fixed costs versus potential expenses. As an example of what this means, if you're giving a customer an estimate for roofing repair, note the charges they'll face no matter the condition of their roof; this might include the cost of supplies, the minimum time it takes to complete the work, and so on. Then, note any additional fees you might need to charge for items like damaged flashing, crumbling roof rafters, algae under the roofing tiles, and anything else that you might not be able to evaluate until repairs begin.
You can also note any potential added labor charges for work that might be delayed, or for work you're not sure will need to be done until after the job is started. For example, you might note an additional labor charge if you discover damaged flashing, indicating the hours it would take to replace that material.
By writing out your estimate this way, your customers know they won't face any surprises once the job is done, and that you won't "discover" needed repairs halfway into your work, to inflate your original estimate. When you're honest with them upfront about any additional fees they might face, and tell them exactly why they might have those added costs, this can help alleviate the fear that you'll tack charges onto the bill as you go along.
Fear #3: Your work won't live up to their expectations in some way
One of the best ways to build customer trust is to be honest with those customers about their expectations of what your work will accomplish, and how their expectations may need adjusting. This isn't to say that you should discourage your customers in any way, but by being honest, you can win their trust so that they're not disappointed when your work is finished.
As an example, a customer might assume that fixing a water heater will result in more hot water available to them for longer showers; this can be true if the heater has a damaged heating element that isn't heating water as quickly as it should. However, a water heater tank will only hold so many gallons of water no matter your repairs, so understanding your customer's expectations about that heater and telling them how much hot water they can get from the tank can ensure they're not disappointed with your work.
As another example, a new roof might reduce a customer's heating and cooling bills, since they won't be losing so much cooled or warmed air through holes in an older roof. To ensure they have realistic expectations about those savings, you might note that the repairs you'll be performing can reduce their energy bills by just a certain amount, such as 5% or 10%. This way, your customers won't assume a repaired roof will somehow cut their energy bills in half!
If the work you'll be doing affects the appearance of a customer's home in some way, it's good to have lots of photos that present a realistic idea of what the completed work will look like; this can include a painted concrete driveway or a landscaping feature you'll be adding to their property. By showing your customers an excellent portfolio of this work, they can have a realistic expectation of a specific color of concrete or new water fountain size and appearance.
Fear #4: You'll use inferior items and products as a replacement
If you need to replace specific items for your customer while performing repairs, they might be worried that you'll use something inferior or low-quality, just to cut your costs. This worry is especially genuine for work that they won't be able to examine on their own; for example, how will a homeowner know if you use thin, low-quality insulation in their attic if that insulation is covered with drywall after installation?
To alleviate these fears, you might note specifics about the products you use for replacement at a customer's home. This information can include brochures from that company's product page; even if you need to print out web pages yourself and add them to your quote, this can help to build a customer's trust in the products you'll be using.
You might also include the brand name, the composition of the product, its size, its expected lifespan, and so on, in your quote or estimate, so customers know what will be used, and that there is no "leeway" for you to use something inferior. You can even offer to have customers examine the product when it arrives on the job site, or include copies of packing slips for those products, so they can confirm what's being used in your work.
Fear #5: You'll make a mess while working, and leave a mess behind
Remodeling, renovation, and even landscaping can be very messy, and sometimes there isn't much you can do to reduce that mess while you're working. You also may not want to continuously stop your work to clean up debris, dust, and the like.
However, it's good to put yourself in the place of a homeowner, who may not want to see their home or yard torn up during a renovation or repair job, and who may be concerned with how construction dust, dirt, water or oil spray, and other such debris might damage their home or yard. A homeowner also doesn't want to be left with a mess of construction scraps and dust after you're gone!
Note a few ways you can reassure your customers when it comes to containing any potential messes on the job site:
- Include photos of how that mess is contained during work; this might mean pictures of plastic sheeting that is erected around areas of the home to be renovated, or that is put over shrubbery and flowerbeds during a roof repair job.
- Note any additional means of containment you use during your work, such as heavy-duty air filters that pull dust and debris from the air, or chutes and containment bins that are used to collect waste from upper stories so that construction scraps are not scattered all over a customer's property.
- It can also be helpful to include before and after photos of jobsites so that customers see that things might be a bit messy during your work, but that you also take great pains to clean away construction scraps, dust, and the like. This information can assure them that any mess they experience during the project is only temporary and that their home will be adequately cleaned once your work is over.
Note, too, that it may not seem very polite to note how you and your crew will use the restroom while working, but many homeowners appreciate knowing that you will provide portable toilets for yourself and your team. This information will assure them that they won't have construction workers or landscapers going in and out of their own home, using their facilities, potentially messing up their guest towels and leaving dirty streaks all over their beautiful bathroom tiles!
If you follow these tips but find that you're still not closing those tough sales, let LeadsForward works with you to keep fresh leads flowing, so you always have an abundance of potential customers who are ready to hire you, no matter your industry. At LeadsForward, we only get paid on leads that become customers, so call us when you're ready to improve your overall bottom line with lead generation services that work for you, no matter your service or industry.