If you’re a remodeling or new home contractor, how can you get clients to make their selections before you write the contract?

Homeowners get all excited about their project. It’s as much fun for them as buying a new planer or table saw is for me. But while you’re busy putting the project together by getting plans drawn, estimating the project and getting subs lined up, your client has selections to make. And this can be stressful. There are a ton of new products introduced every year. Plumbing fixtures, floor coverings, light fixtures, roofing materials, siding, windows, doors and the list goes on.

If you make life easier for your client, they will make life easier for you. One way to do that is by taking the stress out of making selections.

Back in the day, we did this by putting together a classy binder customized with our company name. Today it can be done with an electronic document. Some of you might consider the binder low-tech and old-fashioned, but pay attention to what will work best for your client. If you don’t have the computer savvy or desire to create electronic documents, there isn’t anything wrong with a binder they can touch and feel.

Create a list of all available showrooms in your area that you personally have visited with products and materials on display. Include the key people that work those showrooms, with names and phone numbers. The showrooms should be listed by type of business and indexed in the front of your binder.

We know that most clients will check things out online before making their selections. They won’t choose a range without checking out the reviews to see what’s good and bad. You might want to provide a list of websites where they can narrow down their selections. But most clients will also want, if at all possible, to touch and feel their selections before ordering, and colors are best chosen in person. That’s why showrooms still matter today.

Locate the showrooms on the map by a number or letter so that when the customer finds a showroom they want to visit, they can look on the map and drive right to it. Giving them landmarks to look for as they approach the showroom also saves time. Be sure the showroom hours and phone number are listed beside the business. Now, I know that with GPS systems most people don’t use printed maps, but you’ll want a master map of your area so they can consolidate their trips efficiently.

Next, create generic selection sheets for each type of job you do. As a particular job approaches, take the selection sheet that comes closest to matching your new job, fill in the items that need selections, delete the ones you don’t need and put your client’s name on it. The selections should be prioritized so they know which selection needs to be made first, etc. This can help them focus on the most important selections and decide which showrooms to visit first. And don’t forget measurements where necessary, to insure they don’t choose a refrigerator larger (or smaller) than you have in the plans. (Remember to include the height on the refrigerator if there will be cabinets overhead.) Put a deadline on each selection.

Last but not least, start this process early enough so the selections can be made before you finalize your contract. If all selections are on the contract, there are no disputes or questions about exactly what the customer wants. And you can eliminate allowance items and pin down the exact price for the job.

The process of getting your clients to make selections before you write your contract is a safety net for you and your company. It is also one way to prevent job delays in case the selection is not readily available.

Make the selection process as easy for your clients as possible. It helps to take the time to review the list and tell your client what you think will work best on their job. Removing the stress from making selections results in much happier clients. And happy clients = referrals.

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