We've gotten an early start on storm season, which means many of you have or will be getting calls for insurance repairs. Insurance work can be good business, but it can also waste your time if the insurance company is playing the three bids game. A letter we received:
I have been getting flooded with calls for quotes and am wondering how you would approach this.
Here's the scenario; A new customer will call me and tell me of a problem and that their insurance company said they should call and get 3 quotes from local contractors. (my guess is, the insurance company is low balling the cost of repairs and the owners are probably "shopping" around trying to find a contractor that will "work" with them or give them a bid that is very high in an effort to get more insurance money).
I am sure that most of these clients are not the kind of client that I want to deal with, but a few (say 1 or 2 out of 10 calls) might be a legitimate lead.
My problem is this, they tell me right on the phone that they are looking for 3 quotes and all they want is the estimate. Should I tell them right up front that I charge "design fee" to do the estimate? Normally, I cover our procedure during the initial sales visit. With the current amount of work we have on the books I am not forced to take anything, but I want to keep the pipeline full. Are there more questions that I could be asking during the initial phone call that might "weed" out some of the tire kickers versus potential clients that may not fully understand how insurance projects tend to work?
How would you approach this situation?
When I first started taking leads for insurance claims I would sell maybe one job out of thirty calls. That got old really quick.
Once I started using this form, my sales-to-leads ratio improved to about one in three for insurance claims. That I could live with.
When the lead came in, over the phone I would explain that before I would give them a quote, either verbal or in writing, they'd need to sign a form that assured me that if I didn't get the job, they would pay me a fixed amount. It was usually between $350 and $750, and was payable within three working days of their settlement with the insurance carrier. If they agreed, I'd set an appointment to see the job. If they didn't agree, I wouldn't go.
This form greatly reduced the time spent driving around time and giving out numbers. I was assured that I would either get the job or get paid for the time spent estimating. If the customer complained to the insurance carrier about the form, my answer was simple: I don't work for free.