Jerry, Ruth, Bill, Warren, Nancy and Jennifer ... six prospects,four converted to clients. My business is growing, again. Some credit goes to a more upbeat attitude in the macro economy. However, I credit the lion’s share of a dramatic increase in my current prospect-to-client conversion rate to two shifts I’ve made. One shift is to my sales process as a result of what I have learned from the “ones that got away.” The second shift is my renewed commitment to using a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) as a tool for bringing a clear ending to the sales process and a beginning to the client management mode of custom building.
At the end of last month’s column, “Thrill of victory, agony of defeat,” I pointed out that as a custom builder or design/build architect, you should have three areas of expertise: design, budget and construction. If you are a custom builder/remodeler, you are accustomed to selling and getting paid only for the third area of expertise: construction.
When you hit the wall again and again and you get as tired as I did with the time and energy expended trying to convert prospects to clients, you may share my conclusion: The quicker a prospect tells you “No, thank you” the better off you are. Consider that you can stay in control of your prospect sales process by committing to selling not just construction services but design and budget services, also. My new commitment is to finish my second face-to-face meeting with my remodel prospects with a written proposal that gives them two choices: Sign and fund my PSA so we can start working together; or, tell me “No thanks.”
Jennifer invited me into her home to gut and remodel her powder room. She also spoke about redoing her kitchen shortly thereafter ... ahh, the lure of more work. I asked her what budget she had allocated for the powder room and she replied she did not know what to budget. Being cavalier does not work for me ... nor does appearing too expensive when I am on an initial sales call. So, I resisted telling her on the spot a budget number she would need.
Nancy and I had the same discussion in her home about her master bathroom.
For both prospects, I spent less than one hour each with my designer, estimator and my spreadsheet with all my phases and allowance reminders. Then, I prepared a PSA for Jennifer, whom I met with the next day. When I showed her the preliminary budget for her project, you might have thought she saw a ghost by how quickly she almost literally ran out of my office. Susan and I actually laughed, and then we congratulated ourselves for being free to move on without any more work to do for Jennifer. Total time invested was under three hours. The next day, I called Nancy to tell her the cost range of her project and suggested she confer with her husband before we met a second time. A few days later, her email thanked me for my time and candor and she cancelled our follow-up meeting.
These two and the other four case studies I refer to earlier in this column were homeowners with remodeling needs. Do not confuse this process with selling a new custom home. The focus herein is on closing remodeling and renovation prospects.
Two and done
What does this mean? It means you adopt a procedure and a commitment for figuring out how to conclude your second meeting with your prospects by giving them what you can to conclude by saying, “Thanks for your time. Please let me know if you want to proceed with my proposal to work together on this project.”
Jerry, Ruth, Bill and Warren did just that. They hired me at the end of the second meeting.
Jay Grant, president of Grant Homes, a residential design/build firm in Mendham, N.J., focuses on building luxury custom homes and renovations/additions. He is the recipient of more than 20 industry awards including best website for granthomesusa.com. Grant is available for business consulting. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read past columns at ForResidentialPros.com.