OK, it’s a dumb title. If you’re in the home improvement industry, you either learn how to sell your services, or you go out of business. Here is the key point: Some contractors do this better than others. In this market, with all the changes taking place, sales is something you better be good at. John Henry is good at selling himself. He credits Michael Stone’s book Profitable Sales: A Contractor’s Guide with giving him the direction he needed. John runs Majestic Fences and Decks just outside Austin, Texas. He is staying busy. Very busy. I called to ask him about his ability to sell so successfully, and here are some things he reviewed with me.
To be specific, he has had success working with online leads, and he is a stickler for good customer service. When he receives an online inquiry, he gets an instant text message letting him know of the inquiry, and he calls the homeowner immediately. He wants to hear them say, “I’m still sitting at the computer. How did you respond so quickly?” Responding this quickly allows John to speak with them when they are still thinking about the project they want done. The Internet-based text message to his phone maximizes his response time and adds to his effectiveness.
With this quick response, he reviews the work they want done, and lets the homeowner know that when he gets back to the office that night, he will e-mail them pictures of past work he has done on either fencing or decks, depending on the project they want done. After sending the pictures that evening, he follows up with another call to make sure they received his e-mail. He also includes company information in this e-mail along with the project pictures.
At the initial sales call with the homeowner, he brings his laptop computer and reviews a 22-slide PowerPoint presentation he has put together on his company. In the presentation, he addresses many of the questions/concerns a potential client might have:
- Designing and crafting custom-built fences and decks with your budget in mind
- Company licensing and insurance
- What you should expect from a professional contractor
- We will be on time for every appointment
- We will return your phone calls the same day or by 9 a.m. the next morning
- While on your property, we will be respectful to you and your neighbors (no loud music, no vulgar language, etc.)
- At the close of each work day, we will leave your property clean and free of safety hazards
- Above all, we will have great communication with you throughout this process and keep you updated on the status of your project
- Clear project specifications
- Fixed price quote
- A firm completion date, weather permitting
On every slide, along with the talking points, are pictures of the custom decks and fences he has built in the previous 14 years. Each of these pictures demonstrates the quality and variety of his work.
During the sales call, he gives each homeowner a package of information that includes additional pictures, homeowner testimonials, and copies of actual forms that he uses in his day-to-day business:
- A sample change order form
- A sample punch list form
- A copy of his completion certificate
He reviews each of these forms to show the potential customer how he manages each project. For example, no changes are made to the scope of work without a signed change order. In addition, the final payment is not due until they have both walked the project, agreed that everything has been done to project specifications and the punch list is complete. They must be 100 percent satisfied with their project. When they are satisfied, they sign the certificate of completion, and he gets his final payment.
John doesn’t sell the job. He sells himself. His actions, from the first phone call to the at-home sales call, demonstrate a high level of proven professionalism to each client. He differentiates himself from the competition. Apparently, homeowners like this level of professionalism. He stays very busy.