We have interviewed 3 Professional Remodeling Contractors the past few weeks, and we were very surprised with the questions that they asked us. It almost seemed like they were interviewing us, and not the other way around. Why do they need to ask all those questions?
That is exactly what they were doing. They were qualifying you. Remodeling is not like a retail business where everyone who walks into the store is a customer, like Sears or McDonalds. Remodeling is a service business where you form long term relationships with your clients. After all, Contractor and client practically live together for a number of weeks while the project is in process. It is almost a marriage of sorts. Would you marry someone, even for a short time, that you couldn’t get along with? I don’t know how many times I have heard Remodeling Contractors say “I knew they were going to be the customer from hell, why did I take that *#^+# job!?” I am not saying that it is the fault of either side completely though, sometimes personalities just clash.
Contractors learn from that experience, and the next time they are more reluctant to take a job in a similar situation. That is where all the questions come in. It’s really all about saving time, which is money. Contractors have the potential of wasting so much time chasing dead end leads that they must weed out window shoppers, or they would go out of business in a hurry. The questions are also about selecting their client. Yes, Contractors actually select their clients as much as they are selected themselves. Here are samples of a few questions Contractors might ask, and why they ask them:
- What is your budget for this project? Everyone has a budget. Everyone knows how much they can and will spend on any purchase. The Contractor needs to know that figure in order to design a project that has potential for purchase. This question seems to strike a nerve sometimes though. Some People fear that if they expose their budget, they will somehow get less for the same price. This is hogwash. All the Contractor is trying to do is design what the client can afford, so they can get the job. If the Contractor simply designs the client’s dream job without discussing budget, more times than not, it will end up costing more than they want to spend, and everyone will end up back at square one discussing budget anyway. Only by that time the Contractor has umpteen hours into a project that won’t be built. Ouch.
- Have you talked to any other Contractors? Unfortunately, this question really strikes a nerve. It is a very logical question though. All the Contractor is trying to find out is if they are being compared to similar Contractors. If the caller is not comparing apples to apples, time is being wasted once again. Time the Contractor could be spending on a better prospect. If the caller states that they are comparing similar Contractors, but will not reveal who, In my opinion this is a sign of a communication problem. And if there are communication problems on the first call, what’s going to happen during the heat of the remodeling process?
- What are you looking for in a Contractor? Contractors can discover a lot by asking this question. Is the caller looking for low price? Do they want a Company with a well known name? Is prompt completion important? Are they looking for service or economy? This question more than any other may determine whether the caller and Contractor are a good fit.
- Where did you hear about our Company? Obviously, this is a marketing question. But it is more than that. Certain lead sources will bring in quality leads, and others will not. For instance, one Contractor may think that a yellow pages lead is a good prospect, and other Contractors may feel that yellow page leads are mostly price shoppers. If the caller was referred, that is usually the best quality lead. Either way, it is valuable information, and will give the Contractor a clue as to how much effort to put into that prospect.
- How long have you considered this project? Sometimes if a Contractor is unfortunate enough to be the first call, they are at a disadvantage because they may have the unenviable task of giving that caller sticker shock. This may give that Contractor a black mark, whether they deserve it or not. Or, sometimes the call might be on a whim – a call for immediate help for an immediate need, but not a serious prospect for the future.
Most Contractors would prefer discussing a project with someone who has shopped around, and already knows the realities of remodeling, including pricing. Let’s face it, No one Company can be all things to all people. Contractors ask these questions simply to select the right client for their particular Company. In my opinion, any Contractor that doesn’t qualify callers to some degree will struggle to make a profit, and therefore will struggle to stay in business. Then, when the story hits the newspapers about another remodeling Contractor going out of business, everybody wonders why. Qualifying the client is simply good business.
Answered by: Patrick Benkowski, CR
President – Roadrunner Custom Remodeling Inc.