I’ve been reading advice in a few construction magazines on how to sell to millennials, and I don’t understand the fuss. While it’s true that every generation and every decade has its peculiarities, I believe folks today are pretty much the same as they were sixty and seventy years ago.
Believe it or not, I have experience with millennials. I even have a few living in my home. It’s true that their opinions on many issues are different than mine, but they still need the things everyone needs, like food, shelter, running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity. They also like the finer things in life, just like everyone else.
Millennials are loosely defined as the generation born between about 1982 and the mid-1990’s. That puts them in their 20’s and 30’s right now, and it’s estimated 30-40% of them are homeowners.
One thing that is different about millennials is that they won’t call you unless they can find you online. Even if they learn your name and phone number by seeing your vehicle in town, they’ll look at your website or your Facebook page before they call. When it comes to marketing, they consider the Internet the source of all wisdom and if you can’t be found there, you don’t exist.
Many of the articles I read stated that millennials are better informed than previous generations. They know more about products, how jobs should go together, and how to pick a good contractor. They are also supposed to know more about how jobs are priced.
I’ll label most of that as a myth. There are things they know more about, like product choices and design options, because they have the internet and they use it. The Internet is a huge catalog, and they know how to use the search function to find products or materials available to build their jobs.
They have a basic idea on how jobs go together by watching YouTube videos. Or they’ve watched reality shows that don’t resemble reality, those shows where they remodel a home on a tight budget in a week.
Beyond that, what they know about construction is usually only someone’s opinion they’ve read online.
What they don’t know is how to choose the right materials, and that the best materials don’t always come from the local Home Depot or Lowe’s. They don’t know how weather or subs not arriving when expected can affect your job schedule. You don’t learn how to remodel a home or hang drywall by reading the instructions. There are a lot of details and fine points that aren’t discovered until you’ve done the work.
Do they know how to pick a good contractor? No. If they did they wouldn’t pick a contractor based on price. Yet article after article talks about how they should get three bids, how to shop for the best price, etc. Time and again, they talk about price.
Do millennials know how jobs should be priced? No. They don’t know how to estimate a project, and most of them don’t understand the overhead requirements that your business has, regardless of the type of construction work you do. I’ve read posts on forums where millennials insist on price breakdowns from contractors, and then chastise them because their markup is more than the 10% overhead and 10% profit they believe is correct. Why these contractors share their proprietary information is beyond me.
Their lack of knowledge isn’t because of their age; it’s the same lack of knowledge most homeowners have about what’s required to build a job or run a construction business. The only difference is that millennials might believe they know what’s right because they read it online.
I could go on but let’s cut to the chase. How should you conduct your sales call? The same as with any other age group: make sure they qualify to buy from you.
They have the same three basic fears every other client has when it comes to spending a large sum of money on one of their most important financial assets, their home. Will you do the job they want done? Will you do the job in a timely manner? Will you do the job at a fair price?
Ask the four basic questions outlined in our book, Profitable Sales; A Contractor’s Guide. You must get a start date and a budget for the job, or you won’t get a contract.
When it comes to sales, it doesn’t matter how old your potential client is or what they know. The basics don’t change because they’re based on human nature, and human nature doesn’t change. Learn to sell, conduct business like a professional, and you’ll have all the work you can handle.