Can you do it cheaper? Can the project be done any sooner? Why aren’t you doing this the same way the expert did it on TV?
Thanks to the internet and home remodeling and DIY shows, your customers have access to an endless amount of information. Sometimes that leads to more engaged, educated customers. Other times it can lead to difficult questions that can potentially derail your project.
Keep these tips in mind as you answer difficult questions from customers:
There are a lot of “experts” your customers may reference when asking you questions. If your customer asks why you’re doing something one way when they saw it done another way in an article or on a show, be sure to sell the expertise you have in the industry. For example, “There are a few different ways you can approach this type of work. Based on my professional experience and these XYZ factors, my opinion is to …”
2. Be Careful What You Agree To
Above all, contractors are in the business of people, so it can be difficult to say no to extra customer requests. However, sometimes saying “no” is the right thing to do if your client isn’t willing to pay for the added service, or you simply don’t have the expertise to tackle a specific task. For example, how do you handle projects where your customers ask you to remove and reinstall their satellite dishes? Some contractors may have the experience and resources to do this on their own, and some might not. Either way, be upfront about your capabilities to avoid issues down the road.
To prevent difficult questions about costs later in a project, take time to walk through your scope of work before a job begins. And if you notice trends in the types of requests you get during a project, consider including disclaimers for what you are and aren’t responsible for throughout the lifetime of a project.
Can you install gutters? Can you install windows? When your customers start making requests that are outside your scope of work, you or your crew may feel pressured to say yes without discussing additional charges. But as you know, time is money, so don’t get in the habit of giving away work for free.
Instead, train yourself and your team to respond to these customer requests in a way that shows you’re accommodating but won’t perform the favor for free. For example, “Yes, we’re happy to take care of that while we’re here. I can provide you with an estimate for the work right away.”
If the extra work will take your team off their timeline, be clear about that upfront and be careful not to spread yourself and your crew too thin: “Because it’ll take a few hours for us to complete that, we’re not going to get through everything we planned for today. It may push the completion date of your project back a little bit. Are you OK with the added cost and a later project completion date?”
With clear and upfront communication, you can maintain a great relationship with your client without hurting your budget or timeline. If you are regularly asked to perform tasks outside your original scope of work, like installing gutters, windows, doors or decking, diversifying your service offerings could be a way to turn these customer requests into business opportunities.
4. Take Time to Inform Your Customers
Can you get the project done faster? Why do you recommend one product over another? Can you do it cheaper? When answering these questions, it’s important to take time to explain the reasoning behind your actions.
Consider showing your customer product samples or digital renderings that help them envision the end result. ABC Supply’s Solution Centers are a great place to start because they give your customers hands-on time with actual materials and color options. Our Pictureit software allows contractors to create virtual photo renderings that can show customers exactly what they’re getting before a project begins. It can also be helpful to walk your customers through your timeline, so they understand all the steps that need to happen.
5. Train Your Team When to Respond (and When Not to)
You may not always be on-site, so it’s important your team can answer customer questions appropriately. Make sure your crew knows how to handle different kinds of questions, and when they need to pass requests along to you or a project lead.
Regardless of the type of questions you receive, always remember to be thoughtful about the way you respond and put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Check out our blog for more tips on guiding today’s more-informed customers.