BOB HEIDENREICH: Customer Education (part 2)
Part 2 of 3: Emphasizing urgency when making customer appointments.
Deck building is a detailed process with plenty of aspects to consider. Occasionally, purchasing a deck may be a new experience for certain customers. For that reason, it’s crucial to educate them throughout the entire procedure, including walking customers through the sale process and following up about deck safety.
When dealing with prospective clients, you want to make sure to seal the deal and select the appropriate date to schedule the appointment. In fact, I won’t write out a contract for a customer until I have first chosen a date. Urgency is key. If customers think too long about the decision, they might decide to walk away. On the other hand, picking a date that may be convenient for them—but not for you—could cause you to lose out on other opportunities.
The first thing to consider when emphasizing the urgency of a sale is to never negotiate a price. When you go to a car dealership to buy a car, you more than likely negotiate the price. If you’re about to sign the contract and you say, “I’ll sign if you take an extra $50 off the final price,” and they agree, then you know you haven’t hit the rock bottom price. Similarly, some customers like to negotiate the price of their deck. If you go back and forth, they will continually attempt to bring down the price until they’re satisfied. It’s like the saying, “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk.” However, if you stick firmly to your price the first time, they know that’s the lowest you will go and it’s time to move on to scheduling an appointment.
When scheduling, explain that your schedule fills up quickly—especially throughout spring and summer. Anticipate that multiple customers will want the same dates. Most people want a new deck for summer events, such as graduations, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Remember that the one thing you do have control over is selecting the right date. If customers aren’t sure when they would like their deck completed, then set a deadline. Tell them your busiest times and see if a later date (perhaps August or September) would work for them.
While urgency can help close a sale, it’s important to not create a false sense of urgency. Being respectful and honest with the customer allows you to gain his/her trust throughout the process. As I have said in past columns, customers may walk away and go to a competitor with a lower price, but they may not get the same quality and service. Customers respect not being hoodwinked in a sale, and they’re usually willing to work with your schedule.
Finally, being in this industry for a long time has allowed me to develop a system that works well for my business. As I revealed, there are certain dates throughout the spring and summer seasons that create a plethora of business—especially graduations and holidays. Because I know these dates are going to fill up the fastest, I specifically reserve them for last-minute appointments. And because these dates are in high-demand, I charge more for the urgency. For instance, I usually reserve the week before Memorial Day, because people will come into the store wanting to buy a deck for a picnic they have planned—not thinking about the condition of their current deck. A rule of thumb is to always book the toughest scheduling dates first, and reserve your best dates for last-minute scramblers who are willing to pay more to get what they want—when they want it.
Next issue, I will discuss the importance of using premium products on a deck to ensure safety. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.