The most successful remodeling companies court potential clients, they don’t try to seduce them. A client’s “yes” is just one step in a longer process, not your ultimate goal. If yes was the goal, then seduction might be an effective strategy. But since the signed contract is followed by the nitty-gritty of construction, a manipulative sales process risks leading to the “client from Hell.”
Seduction seeks quick commitment without taking the time to qualify, educate, or create realistic expectations. Courtship respects the other person and shows confidence in you. Courtship is patient, taking the needed steps to verify compatibility. Its goal is relationship not conquest. The relationship sought is a partnership to create a great project at the best price. And the best price is one that is good for the contractor as well as for the client.
Many contractors are seeing an increase in competitors offering unsustainably low prices. Low price can be seductive to homeowners, especially those who are financially anxious.
As a full-service remodeler you cannot afford the luxury of being the low bidder. Therefore you must communicate why it is smart for homeowners to pay more to work with you. Their questions are legitimate. Will they truly get more value? What will that look like? Sincere questions are stepping stones to solid relationships. Rather than being insulted, courtship responds to questions (and even anticipates them) with information, explanation, and education.
Responsiveness to client concerns does not mean letting them drive your bus. As an experienced professional you have boundaries and policies. Whether it’s not offering “free” design, or the way you present your pricing, you must have the professional confidence to stand by your policies. Thoughtful explanations will set you apart from the competition and will build trust. Just last week a remodeler client told me, “The clearer we are about how we do things, the more people seem to want to work with us.”
One of the first rules of courtship is to focus your attention on those who honestly want what you have to offer.
Some potential clients are not really interested in a good relationship with a reputable contractor. They are looking for a steal and an offer they can’t refuse. It is your task to recognize them before wasting time and energy courting them. Courtship without pre-qualification only leads to disappointment.
Your target clients are not adversaries to be conquered but potential partners. They will respond to your sincere interest, your professionalism, and your respectfulness. Woo your target clients and you will find the percentage you win steadily increasing.
—Richard Steven, president of Fulcra Consulting, specializes in helping remodeling companies create and implement effective management plans. fulcraconsulting.com