Should I Change My Markup If I’m Not Making Sales?

By Michael Stone – (Oct 13, 2021)

Should you change your markup method if you aren’t making sales? Don’t spend hours fiddling with numbers; invest the time in your sales skills.

It’s All About Sales: Gaining a Commitment

By Michael Stone – (Sep 29, 2021)

Can delayed job starts impact material prices and profitability? Not if you gain a commitment first. It’s all about the sales process.

Beliefs That Limit Your Profit

By Michael Stone – (Jul 7, 2021)

Owning and operating a construction business requires a strong will and self-direction, but those qualities can also lead you to hold on to beliefs that limit your profit.

Paying a Salesperson: Commission on Sales, not Profit

By Michael Stone – (Jun 2, 2021)

If you employ a salesperson to help you sell something, you need to pay them for their services. I am a firm believer in paying sales people by commission

Price Proposal Deadlines

By Michael Stone – (Apr 14, 2021)

All price proposals need a deadline because you never know when material and labor costs will increase rapidly.

Construction Sales: Make Time Count

By Michael Stone – (Mar 31, 2021)

Construction sales take time and your time is valuable. Avoid these common time-wasters when selling construction services.

Design Agreements and the Budget

By Michael Stone – (Feb 17, 2021)

The purpose of a design agreement is to get a commitment from your client to design the project so you don’t have to do the design for free. How do you keep the design within the budget?

Lowball Pricing in Construction

By Michael Stone – (Oct 14, 2020)

It’s not unusual to find a contractor who sells by deliberately underpricing or underbidding jobs and making up the difference with change work orders.

Remodeling Sales: Setting the Budget

By Michael Stone – (Sep 16, 2020)

A business owner in the UK asked a question that illustrates that remodeling sales challenges are the same regardless of your location.

You Have Better Things to Do than Estimate

By Michael Stone – (Jul 22, 2020)

Getting a commitment from potential clients is critical if you want to save yourself a ton of time and work putting together an estimate that won’t go anywhere. You have better things to do with your time.

The Sales Call: Budget and Design

By Michael Stone – (Jun 10, 2020)

Budget doesn’t need to be a major worry during the design and build of a project if you handle it properly during the sales call.

Four Diamonds of Communication

By Michael Stone – (Mar 18, 2020)

Sales is about communicating and interacting positively with others. Those skills make life easier in any delicate conversation.

Clear Sales Communication; It’s Your Responsibility

By Michael Stone – (Nov 13, 2019)

I want to share a recent phone conversation with a contractor concerning a problem they were having with a client.

About Your Exorbitant Markup . . .

By Michael Stone – (Oct 23, 2019)

From a contractor: “I am definitely going to do a better job in pre-selecting my clients after this one.”

Words from an Expert on Hiring Contractors

By Michael Stone – (Oct 9, 2019)

A contractor sent us an online article written by a real estate investor with the purpose of educating you on “how to develop a fair relationship with your contractor.”

On Politely & Confidently Qualifying Leads

By Todd Milton – (Sep 11, 2019)

A guest article: How do you avoid going out on sales calls to look at jobs for folks who obviously do not qualify to purchase from your company?

Missing the Sale

By Michael Stone – (Sep 4, 2019)

Is there anything you can do about the sales you miss?

Focusing On Price

By Michael Stone – (Jun 12, 2019)

“The #1 reason I lose jobs is ‘your price is too high.’ What am I doing wrong?”

Spare Topics

By Michael Stone – (Jun 5, 2019)

It’s time to catch up on some spare topics I have lying around. These aren’t earth shaking but they can and will impact your bottom line.

Sales: Have Options Ready

By Michael Stone – (May 29, 2019)

Give clients options when you quote the work they want done.

Transparency and Partnerships

By Michael Stone – (May 8, 2019)

What do you do when your partner is listening to someone who knows nothing about construction, but still thinks they knows what’s best?

First Time Homeowner, Uncommunicative Builder

By Michael Stone – (Apr 10, 2019)

We’re aware that homeowners also visit our website. This letter is from a first-time homeowner who’s ready to buy, but his builder isn’t cooperating.

Design Agreement Fees

By Michael Stone – (Mar 13, 2019)

The last thing I want to do is cause a family problem, but apparently I did with one family.

Homeowner Advice: Some Misguided, Some Correct

By Michael Stone – (Mar 6, 2019)

Flaky contractors make us all look bad. But not all advice given to homeowners to protect themselves from fraud is good advice.

Protect Your Business – Get Paid

By Michael Stone – (Feb 13, 2019)

Avoid losing money by recognizing some of the games that building owners play to avoid paying.

You Can’t Ask Too Many Questions

By Michael Stone – (Jan 30, 2019)

When something seems amiss, don’t stop asking questions. A contractor shares his experience on a recent sales call.

Give Them What They Need to Make a Decision

By Michael Stone – (Jan 23, 2019)

Clients are changing, and if you want to stay in the game and make something more than a living, you’ll need to change with them.

Stop Giving Free Estimates

By David Lupberger – (Jan 16, 2019)

You should stop providing free estimates. It’s called free consulting, and you won’t be successful giving away your time. (Guest Article from David Lupberger, Remodel Force)

Design Agreements Gone Awry

By Michael Stone – (Dec 12, 2018)

We discussed design agreements last week; today we’re going to look at them from another angle. The first step is setting the budget with the client.

Training an Architect

By Michael Stone – (Nov 7, 2018)

A contractor we’ve known and worked with for many years sent us a note about his experience working with a new architect. Ideally, the architect would have been working with the contractor from the beginning so he could have educated the client as well.

Avoiding a Potential Pain in the Assets

By Michael Stone – (Oct 16, 2018)

A good guy we know was recently working with a potential client when he ran into some concerns.

Avoiding Jobs That Don’t Fit

By Michael Stone – (Sep 19, 2018)

It’s smart to specialize on the work that makes you the most money. It’s even better if you know contractors who can pick up the leads outside your specialty.

Unrealistic Price Expectations

By Michael Stone – (Aug 29, 2018)

If they called you, doesn’t that mean they need or want the work done?

Family Fights

By Michael Stone – (Aug 22, 2018)

The topic is uncomfortable but if you’re involved in residential sales, you’ll see family disagreements. It helps to know what to do.

Make Every Possession Count

By Michael Stone – (Aug 15, 2018)

Many contractors who write us are having a problem with their business, and in many cases, it’s because the contractor has lost focus on what’s important.

Clients Working on Their Job

By Michael Stone – (Aug 8, 2018)

Should you let a client work on the job they’ve hired you and your company to build?

Breaking Down Price Detail

By Michael Stone – (Jul 25, 2018)

Since the end goal for both the architect and the contractor is a satisfied client, how about working together from the beginning?

Looking for a Deal

By Michael Stone – (May 16, 2018)

It’s amazing the things a potential client can think of to get you to lower your price.

Sales: Ask Questions and Get Answers

By Michael Stone – (Feb 7, 2018)

The one question too many salespeople stumble over is the budget for the job. They are worried that it looks bad to ask.

Transparency – Or Maybe Not

By Michael Stone – (Nov 29, 2017)

Is transparency the way to go when selling? Be careful who you listen to.

Planning for Profit

By Michael Stone – (Nov 15, 2017)

We recommend setting goals every year, beginning the process about now. If making a profit is one of your goals, Michael outlines practices that will help.  

Selling Your Services Online

By Michael Stone – (Oct 11, 2017)

We were recently asked about an online service designed to make it easier to handle sales calls.

Resolve Their Challenges, Make The Sale

By Michael Stone – (Aug 9, 2017)

A survey outlines the challenges homeowners say they’re facing when they remodel or renovate their home. It’s valuable info, because it tells you what they need help with. It’s your job to show them you can provide that help.

Pricing Fears

By Michael Stone – (Aug 2, 2017)

A recent Houzz survey confirmed what you need to know if you’re in sales; it’s not all about price.

Last Minute Requests Before Closing the Sale

By Michael Stone – (Jul 26, 2017)

What do you do when a potential client waits until the proposal is together to request itemization on the project?

Objections Book

By Michael Stone – (Jun 7, 2017)

An objections book is a history of your sales calls. It includes everything you said and did, right or wrong. I have only met two or three others in my thirty-plus years of direct selling who took the time to compile a book, but each one became outstanding in their profession.

An Opinion on Itemized Estimates

By Michael Stone – (May 31, 2017)

A building owner challenges our statement that contractors shouldn’t itemize their estimates.

Setting the Budget First

By Michael Stone – (Apr 19, 2017)

In our book, Profitable Sales, A Contractor’s Guide, we discuss the need to set the client’s budget for a project. One of our clients sent a note recently that explains why setting the budget up front is important.

Strengthening Your Business

By Michael Stone – (Apr 12, 2017)

I’ve been around the construction industry long enough to know that it isn’t always rosy. When a recession hits, construction is one of the early victims.

Let Them Know What to Expect

By Michael Stone – (Apr 5, 2017)

If you’re doing service work, make sure your client knows what to expect before you start.

Generational Differences

By Michael Stone – (Jan 25, 2017)

I’ve been reading advice in a few construction magazines on how to sell to millennials, and I don’t understand the fuss.

Alternatives to a Bad Deal

By Michael Stone – (Sep 28, 2016)

Some business relationships turn out badly; with experience, you can identify and avoid them.

Sales Issues: Leaving Your Paperwork

By Michael Stone – (Jul 6, 2016)

Generally speaking, when potential clients don’t want to make a commitment but want to keep your paperwork, they intend to shop it around.

Sales Issues: We’ll Be Getting Three Bids

By Michael Stone – (Jun 29, 2016)

Too many homeowners believe they need three bids for their project. The intent, of course, is to compare proposals so they can make the best decision.

Sales Issues: We Want the Lowest Bid

By Michael Stone – (Jun 22, 2016)

Some clients want the lowest bid for their project, and nothing else matters. It’s your job to try to educate them.

Subs or Employees – Are Subs More Expensive?

By Michael Stone – (Jun 1, 2016)

Does subcontracting raise the price of the project?

The One-Legged Sales Call: Find Out If They’re Serious

By Michael Stone – (Apr 27, 2016)

One-legged sales calls. Frankly, this is much to do over a problem with a fairly simple solution.

Bidding or Selling?

By Michael Stone – (Apr 13, 2016)

Are you bidding on jobs, or are you selling them? There’s a difference.

Free Estimates

By Michael Stone – (Mar 23, 2016)

What you do has value. Respect your time and your knowledge.

Keep Your Head, Get Paid, Protect Yourself

By Michael Stone – (Mar 16, 2016)

Sometimes a potential client expects you to work for free. That’s not a smart route to take unless you have a lot of money in the bank and time on your hands.

Are Your Clients Thinking “So What?”

By Michael Stone – (Feb 17, 2016)

On a sales call, if you’re speaking and your potential client is thinking “so what?”, you’ve lost them.

When Your Client Sets the Price

By Michael Stone – (Jan 27, 2016)

When your client wants a lower price, something has to change. It shouldn’t be just your price.

Your Sales Presentation

By Michael Stone – (Oct 14, 2015)

Given how valuable leads are, once you get one, you need a sales procedure to help make the sale.

Know Before You Quote

By Michael Stone – (Jul 22, 2015)

It’s cheaper to ask questions than pay for mistakes. A coaching client is trying to fix the problem created by an former salesperson’s expensive omission.

Can You Be Too Professional?

By Michael Stone – (Jul 8, 2015)

Can you be too professional? A contractor shares the story of a sale that he was told he lost because he was dressed too professionally and responded to questions too confidently.

The Salesperson’s Real Job

By Michael Stone – (Jun 3, 2015)

When I think about major influences on my sales training, I think of Tom Hopkins. He was an outstanding salesman who become a gifted sales trainer, and I still receive and read his newsletters.

Make Sales Happen

By Michael Stone – (May 20, 2015)

A design agreement is nothing more than an agreement to work with the client to design their project. That’s not the final goal of a remodeling contractor; your business is about building projects.

Referral Fees and Sales Commissions

By Michael Stone – (Apr 15, 2015)

A referral fee is what you pay to the person who provides you a lead. A sales commission is what you pay a salesperson to close a sale.

Wasting Time: Red Flags on a Sales Call

By Michael Stone – (Apr 8, 2015)

A potential client wanted to get a bid on some work at her home. Our coaching client was pretty sure the lead was dead, and wanted to know if she should have done anything differently to have made the sale.

Penciling a Salesperson

By Michael Stone – (Feb 11, 2015)

If salespeople know the business owner will back them up and pay them fairly, they’re motivated to produce profitable sales. If they aren’t motivated to make sales, the business is in trouble.

Client Outrage

By Michael Stone – (Jan 28, 2015)

Real or fake outrage can be a client’s attempt to elicit an emotional response from you to get what they want. It often puts you in the position of questioning yourself and your company, not dealing with the subject at hand.

The Downside of Commission Sales

By Michael Stone – (Jan 21, 2015)

I’ve long been an advocate for paying salespeople on straight commission. Not everyone agrees, not even all the experts, but in my experience straight commission is the best way to go.

They Want a Bid Today

By Michael Stone – (Oct 15, 2014)

Every once in a while, your phone will ring and the potential client on the other end will tell you they want a bid today. What should you do? 

Final Payments, Emailed Quotes

By Michael Stone – (Oct 1, 2014)

Never let your final payment exceed 2% of the sales price. And your contract should include a finance charge clause for payments not made on time.

Pay Salespeople Fairly: Commission Sales

By Michael Stone – (Jul 30, 2014)

There are lots of opinions on how to pay a salesperson. Your salespeople have to be able to make a good living and provide for their family.

Subcontractors or Employees?

By Michael Stone – (May 7, 2014)

Sometimes they request you use employees instead of subs, or work on a T&M basis. Clients don’t understand how the construction world works. It’s your job to educate them.

Let’s Not Talk About the Backlog

By Michael Stone – (Feb 19, 2014)

A major mistake contractors make is to tell a client they can’t start the job for 3-4-5 months. “We are backlogged, can’t possibly start your job before then.”

We Want To See Your Receipts

By Michael Stone – (Oct 2, 2013)

What if you agreed on a price, now customer wants all receipts for material? Without a clearly written fixed price contract, it's a problem waiting to happen.

Race to the Bottom, or “How Low Can I Price This Job?”

By Michael Stone – (Sep 25, 2013)

Cutting your price to get a job is a money losing approach. Over time, you won’t be making a profit and you’re only working yourself into debt.

Making it Work, Profitably

By Michael Stone – (Sep 11, 2013)

My clients are constantly chiseling me down, everyone makes money on the jobs except me.

How Much Should a Contractor Charge?

By Michael Stone – (Sep 10, 2013)

Many of our website visitors aren’t contractors, they’re clients looking for help with a Cost Plus project gone wrong, or wondering if their contractor is overcharging.

Making Selections for Their Project

By Michael Stone – (Jul 17, 2013)

If you're a remodeling or new home contractor, how can you get clients to make their selections before you write the contract?  Make it easy for your client.

What’s the Average Price of . . . ?

By Michael Stone – (Jul 3, 2013)

What’s the average cost per square foot for a remodel? Average contractor markup? Average contractor fee? There is no average anything in construction, and here’s why.

It Isn’t Your Price. It’s You

By Michael Stone – (Jun 5, 2013)

Address their fears so they feel safe purchasing from you.

Hire Your Own Subs

By Michael Stone – (May 3, 2013)

From time to time, you will go out to see a potential client about doing work for them and they’ll ask if they can choose their own subs for their job.

Ten Cardinal Sales Rules

By Michael Stone – (Feb 24, 2013)

Ten Cardinal Rules for residential construction sales.

I Have to Be Competitive!

By Michael Stone – (Feb 5, 2013)

You don’t have to be competitive. You have to be profitable. If you aren’t profitable, your business won’t last.

“I Work in a Competitive Market”

By Michael Stone – (Oct 30, 2012)

Don’t worry about what “the other guy” is charging.

Your Price is Too High

By Michael Stone – (Oct 30, 2012)

“Your price is too high” means you haven’t done your job as a salesperson.

Contract Cancellations

By Michael Stone – (Sep 17, 2012)

Cancellations happen, even with the best of salespeople. Clients have all kinds of reasons to cancel an agreement, and you need to be prepared.

Pass those savings along?

By Michael Stone – (Jul 1, 2011)

I read an article where the author talked about passing savings on to clients. This sounds well and good, but place it low on your priorities when putting a job together.

Learn to Paint Pictures

By Michael Stone – (May 31, 2011)

Construction (with the exception of new homes) is a service business. Your focus can't be on putting pieces together to build a job, it has to be on your clients.

The Job Price Isn’t Negotiable

By Michael Stone – (Feb 24, 2011)

I wrote a Blog post for another company recently stating that I didn't think it very smart to negotiate the price of your work. A reader agreed with me and said:

Cleaning Up After a Low Bid Contractor

By Michael Stone – (Dec 14, 2010)

This potential client had a house built using the “lowest bid” contractor. The builder cut corners, leaving out little details like collar ties on the roof rafters.

Should Salespeople Have to Generate Leads?

By Michael Stone – (Aug 23, 2010)

Someone asked me recently if I thought a salesperson for a construction-related company should help provide leads, and how many. Yes, they should help provide leads.

Who Asks the Questions?

By Michael Stone – (Aug 10, 2010)

Most contractors I talk to believe their neck of the woods is different. They believe their clients are more difficult to sell to than anywhere else in the country.

Price Your Services Fairly – Then Hold Your Ground

By Michael Stone – (Dec 28, 2009)

She got a call from a guy about cleaning 300 feet of his driveway. When she told him her minimum trip charge ($300), she heard the famous, "Your rates are too high!"

Selling On Price Alone

By Michael Stone – (Sep 3, 2009)

I was reminded again recently of the need for in-house training on what it takes to pay the bills in a construction related company.

Practicing What We Preach

By Michael Stone – (May 16, 2008)

One of our goals is to improve the image …

Practicing What We Preach Read More »

Free Estimates: when you don’t give your work away

By Michael Stone – (Mar 18, 2008)

The contractor presented a design agreement with a $3,000 fee to design the job, 1/2 of the fee would be credited back when a contract was signed for the final job.

Fixed Price Quotations or Itemization?

By Michael Stone – (Feb 26, 2008)

I read an article telling general and specialty contractors to give itemized estimates. Oh joy. It talks about goodwill, trust, comparing estimates, and other tripe.

Upselling: Give Them Options

By Michael Stone – (Mar 3, 2007)

If you are in business, you are in sales. No rationalizing, you are in sales. If you don’t sell something at a profit, you are going to go away.

Charging for Estimates

By Michael Stone – (Feb 3, 2007)

If you’ve been in construction sales very long, you’ve met potential customers who ask for an estimate, but after a lot of work you learn they were just shopping.

Cost Plus, Cost+, Time and Materials, T & M

By Michael Stone – (Aug 21, 2006)

A coaching client was working with a potential customer who wanted a remodeling job on a cost plus basis instead of a fixed fee contract.

Estimated Time for a Construction Project

By Michael Stone – (Jul 6, 2006)

If your employees consistently take longer than you estimated, you need to change your method of estimating. The human body can only work so fast.

Getting Paid for Quotes – Part 2

By Michael Stone – (Apr 27, 2006)

Respect your time – get paid for the work you do.

Getting Paid for Quotes – Part 1

By Michael Stone – (Apr 26, 2006)

Design agreements, letters of intent – get paid for written quotes.

Proposals for Construction Work

By Michael Stone – (Apr 18, 2006)

Just a quick reminder. Be sure to put a limit on the length of time your proposals are valid. That time should be a maximum of 3 working days, no more.

Customer Looking for Quotes

By Michael Stone – (Sep 9, 2005)

As a relatively new contractor, how do I win over prospects that are “looking for quotes” – homeowners who are “getting three bids” for their construction project

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