If you want the job, give your customer a quote to do their work!
Contractor tip of the month
By Damian Lang
A few years ago, I decided to purchase a tractor big enough to pull 11-foot rotary mowers behind it, to mow the 30 acres of grass I maintain. Having good luck with the Kubota tractor I already owned, I called the local Kubota dealer for a price on a larger one. It was a Thursday afternoon, still within regular store hours, when the Kubota salesmen on the other end of line gave a swift reply, “I am the only one working this afternoon; I have parts orders to fill; and I need to get out of here within an hour. Can I call you next week, and get you a quote?”
That response never aligned with my goal of owning a tractor by the end of the week, nor did it make me feel very important as a potential customer. I said to a friend, “I can’t believe I just called for a price on a Kubota tractor, and it looks like it could take five or more days to get one. I just might buy a John Deere, instead of a Kubota.”
My friend told me that when the salesman called back the next week, I should give him some of his own medicine: “Tell him you are glad he called, so you could tell him what color tractor you bought.” We laughed! When the salesman finally called back, I told him the tractor was green as I purchased a John Deere instead of a Kubota.
This happens all the time in the construction world. Contractors often lose good customers by following up with requests for a quote for work. I have a friend who kept asking me for the opportunity to do the cleaning work on our jobsites and my properties. When I’d see him at a social event or in passing, he’d ask when I was going to give him a chance regarding cleaning. Recently, one of my rental properties became vacant, so I decided to give him a chance to do the work. I got his answering machine and left a message telling him that I have a big warehouse and office space that needed a major cleaning, right away. He did not call me back. Instead, I got a text message that read, “I am in Vegas; can Howard (my property manager) call me next Tuesday?”
I thought about the wording in the message I left him. I did say that it was a large space that needed a major cleaning in a swift time frame. It brought me back to my green John Deere experience years earlier. I called Howard and told him to hire someone else to do the work. It has been three weeks, if my friend ever does call back, I will tell him the other contractor got right back with a quote to do the work, so he got the job. Can you imagine losing the opportunity to lease this large facility, due to waiting for someone to follow up with a quote to clean it?
I am in the process of building a new house. While some of the sub-contractors make us feel important through prompt follow-up, others are slow to respond to our calls for prices to do the work. Usually, as long as the quick responders are qualified and we believe their price is fair, we never even get a second quote.
Make sure you and your people are not too busy to get back to requests from new customers. Prompt follow-up will make your customer feel important to you, and can increase your future workload immensely.
About the Author
Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-749-3512.