THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS

Ask A Pro – Q: How do you keep communication lines open both before and after a bid?

by Aaron Steininger

A: Because the biggest objection we get on sales calls is usually price, we make a big effort to create a connection with customers before every sales call and give them reasons to feel confident we’re the company for them before we even bid their job.

To do this, we use the online scheduling tool YouCanBookMe.com, which automatically sets up a chain of email communications with prospects.

The first email goes out immediately after an appointment is scheduled. It just restates the date and time of the appointment, and notes that I will call the number they provided when I’m on my way.

A second email goes out two days prior to their appointment. In addition to confirming the date and time of the appointment, we’ve customized this email to include a bit about our company history and our commitment to customer satisfaction. It also includes a checklist of things we’ll cover in the appointment—a discussion of scope, a guaranteed price, start and completion dates, and documentation of compliance. We also suggest things they might want to have handy, such as color samples and a calendar. Then I thank them for giving us this opportunity and outline our commitment to be an honest and dependable contractor.

We send a third email the day before the appointment that includes 20+ questions every contractor should be able to answer. This includes questions about who will actually do the work (employees or subs), insurance issues, materials used, warranty, etc. The fact that we’re putting these questions out there before we even show up suggests that we’re not afraid of these questions because we’re doing everything aboveboard.

They also get a final reminder email one hour before my arrival.

And, of course, in every email we include contact information and the means to reschedule or cancel their appointment if needed.

The next step is the appointment itself. In 90–95% of cases, we prepare and provide bids on the spot. I use Estimate Rocket to build the estimates and present them on my iPad. I like it because I can incorporate changes on the fly, include any photos I take in the walk-through, and I know the math is always right. Plus, it offers automated email follow-up; the first goes out before I even leave their property, thanking them for the opportunity to bid and includes the estimate and our references.

Two days after the quote, another email goes out. Additional follow-up emails then go out 9, 16, 30 and 60 days after the quote. If, at any point, we seal the deal or they indicate they’re going another route, I end the email chain. The system is also set up to send a thank you email one year after the job closes.

Since adopting this approach a year ago, I’ve seen our close rates go up. I think the organization and systemized communication that both Youcanbook.me and Estimate Rocket have brought to my business have helped us achieve a level of professionalism that not only helps things run more smoothly, but also gives our customers confidence that we’re an established company that really knows what they’re doing.

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Aaron Steininger started painting in 1998 while attending college. He later went from applying paint to selling it to contractors as a sales rep for PPG Paints. He founded Sunlight Housepainting outside of Columbus, OH in 2008 and has grown the company from a solo shop to now employ eight+ full-time painters. SunlightHousepainting.com

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