Too often, when a prospect calls in, remodelers use a blank sheet of paper and ask random questions, says remodeling consultant Kyle Hunt, president of Remodel Your Marketing and creator of the group-based consulting business The Excellence Club. But Hunt knows that the most successful remodelers use a more systematic approach and ask the questions they need to ask of clients sooner rather than later.

Hunt developed this project discovery sheet, a loose script, for responding to that initial call. “Your first contact with a homeowner is important,” he says. “You know the saying, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ It’s true.”

The sheet is divided into four steps and a series of questions designed to help the listener learn about the prospect and his or her project, teach the prospect about the remodeling process, and guide him or her to a first meeting. “A good initial conversation is 70% them talking and only 30% you,” Hunt says.

Steps 1 and 2 are usually done by a receptionist and then, if the job is worth pursuing, steps 3 and 4 are done by the salesperson (although those two people could be one and the same). In time, the initial responder may be able to cull out worthless leads right away, say for a roofing job when that’s not your specialty.

The most important information gleaned from this document is actually what happens after it’s filled out. “Remodelers often don’t ask, ‘Is this a client I want to invest my time and energy in?’ Hunt says. “If it isn’t, turn it down respectfully.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.

A. Discussion FrameworkLet the prospect know up front that youíll need three to five minutes of their time. Itís important to get their e-mail address, but often people donít want to give it out for fear of spam. “Give them a reason why you need their address. Frame it like this,” says remodeling consultant Kyle Hunt. “ëWeíre going to send you an e-mail that contains a document titled ëWhat to Expect at our First Meeting.í When you get it, please review it before the meeting.í Then ask for the e-mail address, and youíll get it nine out of 10 times.”B. Two-Way LearningLet the prospect know who will be calling them back and when. Then ask a few questions about how they found your company. This will help you figure out whether that postcard campaign or radio ad is working.If they donít know anything about your business, youíve just learned that youíll have to get them to “know, like, and trust you,” Hunt says. “If they were referred by a previous client, this should trigger another action: Call or write a thank you to the referrer.”C. Drawing ConclusionsHow people answer can lead you to understand what they value and what their expectations are. If they have remodeled before, find out who they worked with. They may tell you that during their previous project the up-front quote and how the job turned out were two different numbers. Or they might say the carpenters never cleaned up after themselves. “This question is loaded with information,” Hunt says. “These are things you can address up front and help to qualify the prospect.”D. Decision TimeIf itís a desired lead, let the homeowner know your process and set a time for an initial visit. If youíre not interested, itís easier to turn down the lead over the phone than it is once youíre at their home. “Tell them, ëThe project isnít a good fit for us, but I have a trusted colleague you could work with,í” Hunt says. “Turning down non-ideal work helps you protect precious time and focus on the projects that are right for you and for which you can deliver the highest service.”
A. Discussion FrameworkLet the prospect know up front that youíll need three to five minutes of their time. Itís important to get their e-mail address, but often people donít want to give it out for fear of spam. “Give them a reason why you need their address. Frame it like this,” says remodeling consultant Kyle Hunt. “ëWeíre going to send you an e-mail that contains a document titled ëWhat to Expect at our First Meeting.í When you get it, please review it before the meeting.í Then ask for the e-mail address, and youíll get it nine out of 10 times.”B. Two-Way LearningLet the prospect know who will be calling them back and when. Then ask a few questions about how they found your company. This will help you figure out whether that postcard campaign or radio ad is working.If they donít know anything about your business, youíve just learned that youíll have to get them to “know, like, and trust you,” Hunt says. “If they were referred by a previous client, this should trigger another action: Call or write a thank you to the referrer.”C. Drawing ConclusionsHow people answer can lead you to understand what they value and what their expectations are. If they have remodeled before, find out who they worked with. They may tell you that during their previous project the up-front quote and how the job turned out were two different numbers. Or they might say the carpenters never cleaned up after themselves. “This question is loaded with information,” Hunt says. “These are things you can address up front and help to qualify the prospect.”D. Decision TimeIf itís a desired lead, let the homeowner know your process and set a time for an initial visit. If youíre not interested, itís easier to turn down the lead over the phone than it is once youíre at their home. “Tell them, ëThe project isnít a good fit for us, but I have a trusted colleague you could work with,í” Hunt says. “Turning down non-ideal work helps you protect precious time and focus on the projects that are right for you and for which you can deliver the highest service.”