A Guaranteed PriceBy Michael Stone
When selling construction services, quoting a guaranteed price protects homeowners from the price increases that happen with a too low price.
Business SurvivalBy Michael Stone
I often start the year with a reminder to check your business practices, and this year I think it’s more important than ever to get on top of and make sure you have your business in order.
Educating on QualityBy Michael Stone
Home and building owners need to know that hiring the least expensive contractor often means compromising on quality.
Sales: Setting Ground RulesBy Michael Stone
Michael shares a few situations you’ll run into when selling construction-related services that provide the opportunity to set ground rules for the relationship.
After the Sale; Pre-Job LayoutBy Michael Stone
The pre-job conference or pre-job layout is when all the details get ironed out that can easily be forgotten. It’s when the job is handed from sales to production. After this meeting the production manager is in charge.
In Construction, Communicate the DetailsBy Michael Stone
Are you giving your clients the information they need to be confident you’re building the job they want?
Sales Issues: Leaving Your PaperworkBy Michael Stone
When a prospective client “wants to think about it,” should you leave your paperwork? What can you do to close the sale?
Sales: Are You There to Help?By Michael Stone
When selling, are youhere to find out how much money you can make, or to provide a service and help?
Doing Things RightBy Michael Stone
Michael shares a valuable tool that will improve both your sales and your relationships.
Should I Change My Markup If I’m Not Making Sales?By Michael Stone
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 CommitmentBy Michael Stone
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 ProfitBy Michael Stone
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 ProfitBy Michael Stone
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 DeadlinesBy Michael Stone
All price proposals need a deadline because you never know when material and labor costs will increase rapidly.
Construction Sales: Make Time CountBy Michael Stone
Construction sales take time and your time is valuable. Avoid these common time-wasters when selling construction services.
Design Agreements and the BudgetBy Michael Stone
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 ConstructionBy Michael Stone
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 BudgetBy Michael Stone
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 EstimateBy Michael Stone
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 DesignBy Michael Stone
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 CommunicationBy Michael Stone
Sales is about communicating and interacting positively with others. Those skills make life easier in any delicate conversation.
Clear Sales Communication; It’s Your ResponsibilityBy Michael Stone
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
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 ContractorsBy Michael Stone
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 LeadsBy Todd Milton
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 SaleBy Michael Stone
Is there anything you can do about the sales you miss?
Focusing On PriceBy Michael Stone
“The #1 reason I lose jobs is ‘your price is too high.’ What am I doing wrong?”
Spare TopicsBy Michael Stone
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 ReadyBy Michael Stone
Give clients options when you quote the work they want done.
Transparency and PartnershipsBy Michael Stone
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 BuilderBy Michael Stone
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 FeesBy Michael Stone
The last thing I want to do is cause a family problem, but apparently I did with one family.
Homeowner Advice: Some Misguided, Some CorrectBy Michael Stone
Flaky contractors make us all look bad. But not all advice given to homeowners to protect themselves from fraud is good advice.
You Can’t Ask Too Many QuestionsBy Michael Stone
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 DecisionBy Michael Stone
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.
Design Agreements Gone AwryBy Michael Stone
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 ArchitectBy Michael Stone
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 AssetsBy Michael Stone
A good guy we know was recently working with a potential client when he ran into some concerns.
Avoiding Jobs That Don’t FitBy Michael Stone
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 ExpectationsBy Michael Stone
If they called you, doesn’t that mean they need or want the work done?
Family FightsBy Michael Stone
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 CountBy Michael Stone
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 JobBy Michael Stone
Should you let a client work on the job they’ve hired you and your company to build?
Breaking Down Price DetailBy Michael Stone
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 DealBy Michael Stone
It’s amazing the things a potential client can think of to get you to lower your price.
Sales: Ask Questions and Get AnswersBy Michael Stone
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 NotBy Michael Stone
Is transparency the way to go when selling? Be careful who you listen to.
Resolve Their Challenges, Make The SaleBy Michael Stone
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 FearsBy Michael Stone
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 SaleBy Michael Stone
What do you do when a potential client waits until the proposal is together to request itemization on the project?
Objections BookBy Michael Stone
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 EstimatesBy Michael Stone
A building owner challenges our statement that contractors shouldn’t itemize their estimates.
Setting the Budget FirstBy Michael Stone
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.
Let Them Know What to ExpectBy Michael Stone
If you’re doing service work, make sure your client knows what to expect before you start.
Generational DifferencesBy Michael Stone
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 DealBy Michael Stone
Some business relationships turn out badly; with experience, you can identify and avoid them.
Sales Issues: We’ll Be Getting Three BidsBy Michael Stone
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 BidBy Michael Stone
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
Does subcontracting raise the price of the project?
The One-Legged Sales Call: Find Out If They’re SeriousBy Michael Stone
One-legged sales calls. Frankly, this is much to do over a problem with a fairly simple solution.
Bidding or Selling?By Michael Stone
Are you bidding on jobs, or are you selling them? There’s a difference.
Free EstimatesBy Michael Stone
What you do has value. Respect your time and your knowledge.
Keep Your Head, Get Paid, Protect YourselfBy Michael Stone
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
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 PriceBy Michael Stone
When your client wants a lower price, something has to change. It shouldn’t be just your price.
Your Sales PresentationBy Michael Stone
Given how valuable leads are, once you get one, you need a sales procedure to help make the sale.
The Salesperson’s Real JobBy Michael Stone
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.
Referral Fees and Sales CommissionsBy Michael Stone
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 CallBy Michael Stone
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 SalespersonBy Michael Stone
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 OutrageBy Michael Stone
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 SalesBy Michael Stone
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 TodayBy Michael Stone
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 QuotesBy Michael Stone
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 SalesBy Michael Stone
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
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 BacklogBy Michael Stone
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 ReceiptsBy Michael Stone
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
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.
How Much Should a Contractor Charge?By Michael Stone
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 ProjectBy Michael Stone
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
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 YouBy Michael Stone
Address their fears so they feel safe purchasing from you.
Hire Your Own SubsBy Michael Stone
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 RulesBy Michael Stone
Ten Cardinal Rules for residential construction sales.
I Have to Be Competitive!By Michael Stone
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
Don’t worry about what “the other guy” is charging.
Your Price is Too HighBy Michael Stone
“Your price is too high” means you haven’t done your job as a salesperson.
Contract CancellationsBy Michael Stone
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
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 PicturesBy Michael Stone
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 NegotiableBy Michael Stone
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 ContractorBy Michael Stone
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
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
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 GroundBy Michael Stone
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 AloneBy Michael Stone
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 PreachBy Michael Stone
One of our goals is to improve the image …
Practicing What We Preach Read More »
Free Estimates: when you don’t give your work awayBy Michael Stone
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
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 OptionsBy Michael Stone
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 EstimatesBy Michael Stone
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 & MBy Michael Stone
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 ProjectBy Michael Stone
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 2By Michael Stone
Respect your time – get paid for the work you do.
Getting Paid for Quotes – Part 1By Michael Stone
Design agreements, letters of intent – get paid for written quotes.
Customer Looking for QuotesBy Michael Stone
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