Tire Kickers, Show Roomers, Price Shoppers - whatever the term you go with, it can be tough to deal with these types of individuals when you have a packed schedule and busy techs. Field service business owners often will wind up giving estimates to people they know won’t wind up buying from them. It can be time consuming giving estimates and it is frustrating when you’re simply used for their plan to talk another service provider’s price down.
Plus, you’re losing money while you’re giving estimates to people who aren’t going to buy from you. You have to make the trip out; fuel costs. You have to spend time driving out to the estimate; windshield time. You have to be onsite to estimate; unrecoverable time. So how do you deal with these types of customers? What can you do to battle the price shoppers and also turn them into good customers? Here are 6 tips to win them over... or not!
Set a Minimum
For many field service businesses, they have a large range of services they provide. The cost of one of their services, let’s say pruning shrubs, would normally cost a residential customer about $30. However, those types of services are usually intended to be an add-on to a larger job. A customer gets their lawn mowed regularly, but wants their shrubs trimmed twice in a season.
If you receive calls or emails from prospects requesting estimates on these smaller, lower profit jobs, it might be smart to set a minimum amount that you charge. I’ve seen some contractors charge a minimum of $35 per trip and they’ve said about half of the price shoppers won’t even have you come out for an estimate.
Be Careful with your Discounts
Clearly communicate your discounts and special offers and use them sparingly. The reason being is that once a customer gets used to a particular price for a service, they’re going to expect it going forward. If you gain a new customer through a special you’re running on lawn maintenance, ensure that they understand the terms of your offer. You want to take any surprises away, so if you wind up charging your usual price after the promo has ended, they won’t complain.
Also, make sure you aren’t throwing around promotions constantly. It is a bad habit to get into, even if you know they're an easy way to gain customers. Discounts lose their effect over time and they could eventually bite you if they’re overused.
Value Over Price
Before you talk price with customers, convey your value effectively. Educate your customer as to what jobs you are going to perform and why. If you’re going to use a certain fertilizer, trim a tree a certain way or mow their lawn with a certain mower, explain why that will be a good fit for their property.
Customers want to be reassured that their money is going towards a quality service. If you take time to explain upfront what your benefits are as a business, you’re building a relationship that is more likely to last than one where you simply provide a price right away.
Always be Helpful
Even if you know you’re going to be losing a job due to price, be helpful. If you know of companies in your area that are cheaper than your services, you can even recommend one. The reason being is that you never know when someone might be calling you up again because they realize what they got was exactly what they paid for - a cheaper service.
Know When to Fold ‘Em
Being helpful doesn’t mean that you have to give into price objections. You have a bottom line to hit and you can’t waver on your minimum price. Know when to walk away from jobs. If you’ve done your best to explain your value, you’ve been helpful and the prospect is still not happy with your pricing, walk away.
One Thing Not To Do: Charge For Estimates
I was reading this article from TurfMagazine.com about dealing with price shoppers. There was an awesome analysis from a LawnSite user on why you shouldn’t charge for estimates. He broke down the cost of missing out on customers vs. the cost of providing free estimates. Just some food for thought!
We would love to hear how you have dealt with price shoppers in the past. If you’re a field service business owner, let us know how you battle this common issue!
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