Neidner Construction/Remodeling
Montgomery, Texas
Big50 1999

I take all the calls and screen prospective clients. I feel them out and see what kind of personality they have.

Money's not the major issue. I like to make sure they're nice people to work for, know that they're organized. I ask, “What do you plan on spending? Do you already have plans? Have you had other bids?” I want to know the answers to see if I'd be wasting my time or theirs. If we're too far apart on our first conversation, then there's no need to go out to their house.

Metropolitan Design & Building
St. Louis
Big50 1992

Qualification begins with the first introduction — either by phone or a direct meeting. I listen first for what the potential client is interested in and assess if it seems like an opportunity for us. If it does, I give a brief explanation of the type of work we are involved with and, in the case of design/build remodeling, which is one facet of our services, explain that our work is design driven and is primarily, but not always, driven by contemporary design principles.

I explain that we believe that inspired design has the ability to transform and enhance the quality of life for our clients and I listen again to find out if that view resonates with our prospect. Beyond that, I explain our average project budget size.

If they are still with me, I set up an initial interview showing our portfolio and working methodology. I confirm that the client is interested in continuing; if so, we sign a two-page agreement that financially commits our client to exploring initial design and pricing concepts with us. Taking that step places a prospective lead on the path to becoming a committed client.

TCM Remodelors
Mobile, Ala.
Big50 1996

The first thing we do in qualifying leads is to ask a few basic questions. From there, I post an initial grade, or number, that will determine my urgency in the follow-up call to set an appointment.

At the first consultation or site visit, I work on my most important technique of qualifying customers — listening. I am interviewing them as much as they are me. I'm also trying to understand their expectations, needs, desires, and if all these components will fit within their proposed budget. By the time I've left the potential client, I've already made up my mind whether to pursue the project or to run like hell.

Silent Rivers Design + Build
Urbandale, Iowa
Big50 2006

We strive to refine our company's brand identity to attract the clients and projects where we can be successful. Once a prospect calls, our general manager, Stacie Phillips, explains that we are a design/build company that offers professional design as well as construction services, and asks the prospect if that is the type of service they are looking for. This gives them the opportunity to bring up concerns or objections about our services, and it helps set expectations while preparing them to meet with a designer.

When an active lead results in an initial meeting, design staff review our “design + build” process and discuss potential budget ranges. Thus, we further define expectations for the process and establish the rules of the relationship in order to move into a contract for design services.

Michael von Behren Builders
Springfield, Ill.
Big50 1999

Our office manager (who also answers the phone) pre-screens clients by asking questions. I decide the next step. If the prospect is getting multiple bids I return the call and politely explain that we don't do competitive bidding and decline the invitation.

If I feel that they are a good prospect, I try to get them to commit to a budget number over the phone. An estimator and a designer visit the site and get a budget amount. They qualify whether the work requested can be accomplished for that number. If they feel the budget is not in line with the work required, we write a nice letter explaining that we don't believe the work can be done for what they want to invest in the home. Sometimes we hear back and the clients raise their budget; sometimes we never hear from them again.