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Contractors spend a lot of time getting leads. But unless they can convert those leads into appointments—and paying customers—they’re dead in the water.

That’s why having a proven appointment setting sales script is so crucial. Yet many contractors lack this basic sales tool, said Randall Soules in his Remodeling Business Blueprint podcast. “It’s all about setting expectations and staying in control during the job from start to finish,” said Soules. “If you’re not in control, you can’t control your business.”

Soules is a partner in Remodeling Business Blueprint with David Hawkes. In one of their recent episodes, the two reviewed a sales script that Hawkes said results in 90 percent close ratios of jobs he wanted. Soules also said the script creates a smoother overall job—and higher profits.

“So many contractors lowball prices to get into things,” he said. “If you give the customer confidence in you, they’re going to be much more willing to give you money…You don’t have to lowball anymore. You have no competition when you have [a script] like this.”

Here are the eight components of the setting appointment expectations script Hawkes and Soules recommend—and how it builds credibility while moving you closer to the sale:

1. Establish first contact
When you call the customer back, let them know that you’re excited about their project and subtly compliment them. Then explain that you want to spend a few moments going over how the initial consultation will go. Soule said this step begins to set expectations and sets up professionalism. “If you set expectations on first contact, you’re going to have a much smoother project,” he said.

2. Give timelines and explain presentation book
Next, you’ll want to let the customer know about how long the consultation will take. This is a good time to tell them that they can review your presentation book —a binder of your licenses, contracts, change orders and other business materials so the customer can see how professionally you run your business. If you don’t have this binder, create one, Soules recommended. “Every time I use that, they say, ‘That is just so professional,’ because nobody else did it,” he said.

3. Show interest in the customer and project
After the second step, it’s time to let the customer know you’re interested in their ideas. Explain that you’ll want to be shown around the house so you can get a feel for how they live. Let them know you want to hear about their hopes and dreams for this project—including any idea books or websites where they’ve been collecting images—and how they expect to use it. “Communication is really the key to selling any project,” said Hawkes. “If they feel like you understand them, you’re going to get that job.”

4. Explain the initial estimate
At this point in the script, it’s time to get to what most customers want: an estimate. This is when to set expectations for how the estimate will be formed and remind the customer that’s it will only be a ballpark estimate. Be sure to inform them that no one can give an accurate price at this stage. But you can give a firm price for any design work that will be necessary. Soules and Hawkes agreed that contractors should charge for design work. “Very subtly, you’re saying, ‘You’re going to pay for this design,” Soules said.

5. Explain the design phase
Once you’ve established the initial estimate and design fees, it’s time to explain how the design phase works. Soules tells customers that “after you sign,” not, “if you sign” a design agreement, a designer will come to the house, take pictures and measure areas affected. He also provides built home drawings as well as before and after drawings as part of the design phase. He said it’s important to tell customers how long the designer will be there — four hours in his case — and that their time won’t be required. “They’re starting to salivate at this point,” Soules said.

6. Emphasize value
Now is the time to reiterate your professional background and commitment to value. Assure the customer that you do this kind of work everyday, and that you strive to provide your clients everything they want at the best prices possible. This kind of language doesn’t just affect the customer, Hawkes said. It’s “going to make you feel more confident, too.”

7. Get initial sign off from customer
This next stage is crucial: it’s time to get buy-in from the customer. First find if they have any questions, then provide answers. Once the customer is done with questions, Soules simply says, “Does that sound like a good plan to you?” If the customer says yes, contractors have all but sold the project—and set expectations going forward. “They just bought into every condition you laid out for them,” he said.

8. Reiterate the appointment time and make yourself available
The final part of the script is simply reminding them again of their appointment time, which Soules said is “just a professional thing to do.” Next, provide your cell phone number and email address to encourage customers to reach out with any questions. Soules likes to tell customers “not to hesitate” to contact him. He also encourages them to email any photos of similar projects that the customer liked. “You’re showing interest in them,” he said. “When they’re spending $100,000 on a project, they have a right to call you.”