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Old 09-06-2008, 07:46 PM   #1
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Default "Several Estimates"

Several times this year customers have called in for an estimate and made a point to tell me right up front that they are getting estimates from several paint companies. At that point, I have trouble engaging.

As a consumer, I would not say this if I was calling someone for an estimate. I dont think its relevant. I want their honest proposal, without regard for my shopping practices. When a customer reveals this, it makes it really easy for me to decline. Dont get me wrong, I will go look at lots of different kinds of homeowner jobs. I don't have a terribly rigid screening process on the phone. But when I hear this, there is that part of me that says: "Well, we don't really need a job of pulling 48 mildew stained window sashes, cleaning and refinishing them right now." Maybe one of the several other paint companies really needs the work, and certainly they will be competitively priced.

Brian made a point the other day that painters often think of being a salesman in the same negative light as being a used car salesman. When a customer tries to frame the relationship by stating this in the very first conversation, I think they are approaching us as if we are used car salesmen. That is not a relationship I am motivated to pursue, because it is an indication that they are shopping hard for price.

Thoughts?



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Old 09-06-2008, 07:52 PM   #2
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I agree they are shopping hard for price and too me its a strike against the whole proposal process. That's why its nice to have someone call you from a good referral. I do understand the process of getting cold calls and they have to be handled accordinally.

Also there's a difference between shopping for prices and shopping hard for prices.
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:14 PM   #3
 
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This is peoples built in way of saying two things to you:

1.I want your best price
2.I am not going to make a descision today so don't try and pressure me.


I've had customers tell me when i arrive at the house, Your my first of 3 estimates.BLAH BLAH. Then when we sit down to discuss the price, "Wow you're high, my other estimate was $400 less." me "Oh, I thought I was your first?"

Buyers are Liers.
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:16 PM   #4
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First thing I think when I hear that is their decision will be based on price. Then it is an opportunity to educate them on what services I can provide and how to make the decision based on what best fits their needs and budget. I find that most customers do not really understand what differentiates one painter from another, they can only compare price.
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:21 PM   #5
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I disagree all these people are only price shopping.

Last year when I got quotes on major pool renovations, I thought I was giving each contractor the courtesy of letting them know I was considering others. I wanted to know what each was offering for their price. I then seriously weighed each proposal. I did NOT go with the least expensive.

If someone is up front about this to me, it will make me more diligent about spelling out what I will do for the cost. I appreciate them being honest.

Yes, many are price shoppers, but many others are VALUE shopping.

Your Mileage May Differ



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Old 09-06-2008, 08:48 PM   #6
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I think alot of times they are using it as a scare tactic. They watch all these shows & here all the stories of rip off contractors. So they call you boldly stating they are shopping around thinking it will lead you to give them an honest price. Most of the time they are simply uneducated when it comes to things like having their house painted. That's when your smooth talking comes in to teach them a bit & land the job.
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:09 PM   #7
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Six posts in this thread and a variety of opinions on what the customer means. Maybe one of those opinions is correct, but who knows? Why would anyone guess at the customer's meaning?

If a customer says to me, "I'm getting 3 estimates" I take it to mean that he is getting 3 estimates. Nothing more, nothing less. And I expect the customer to generally get more than one estimate, so it's not a huge surprise. If there is any other meaning in the statement, I am not going to guess what it is.

Now, if a customer says he is getting 12 other estimates, I would take that as a red flag. But that's another issue entirely.

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Old 09-06-2008, 09:19 PM   #8
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[quote=Brian;39205] Why would anyone guess at the customer's meaning?

I am not guessing at the customer's meaning. I shared what the customers' comments sometimes mean to me. As I said, I dont have a rigorous phone screening process, but that comment, no matter how many estimates they mention soliciting, is a red flag. If someone is shopping that hard for price, I will not be super interested in acquiring them as a customer. This may be a flaw in my business, who knows. Maybe this is a case where your low price guarantee can really go to work for you in putting the frugal mind at ease.

If a customer says to me, "I'm getting 3 estimates" I take it to mean that he is getting 3 estimates.

When the customer says to me, "I'm getting several estimates" I take it to mean that he is getting several estimates. I can't imagine a situation in which I approach a service oriented business and reveal to them in the first 60 seconds that I will be getting several estimates. Its probably just me, but I think thats interesting.



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Old 09-06-2008, 09:39 PM   #9
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I believe the situation Scott is describing is different then just saying we are getting three estimates... There are certain people who sound as they are saying "I am not paying the high price" right off the bat
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:05 PM   #10
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I understand the feeling, but that sort of stuff does not bother me
I will often encourage getting other estimates if it's brought up by the prospect
I absolutely tell them I have no intention of being the cheapest, or that I'm sure they can always find someone to do the job cheaper, if that's what they want, if I feel they are price shopping
I also use that opportunity to point out what to look for, and what to avoid
It's easy to do w/o bashing
I don't mind the conversation about these things
I know some are "just looking" (<-any salesperson will tell you this is never true)
I know some are price shopping
I know some simply have no idea whatsoever if my price is 'reasonable' for the work, and are just checking to see if 3 others bid it at 1/4 (or 4X) what I did

Hopefully I did my job well while I had my salesman cap on, and they'll sign or I'll hear from them soon
If not, then they either just were hiring by price (not my target customer), or I'll have to work on my technique or presentation some more
I am by no means high pressure or "salesman" like, but I believe in my "product" (service) and don't mind questions about it, or having to "sell" it
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Old 09-06-2008, 10:38 PM   #11
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What I don't like more and more - is homeowners getting multiple estimates for work done less than $1,000. It's one thing driving around making your sales pitch to potential prospects when the reward is great 6k+. But when folks want multiple estimates to paint 2 walls or a small bathroom - that's when I get fed up. Either they want you or they don't - I do pressure washing more and more. And you'd think that folks would be happy with the relative cheapness of vinyl - never having to get their home re-painted every 6-7 years. So what do they do? They go and get multiple estimates for a house washing that is like 20-30 times cheaper. They're never happy.
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Old 09-07-2008, 06:55 AM   #12
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Scottt

I Feel you, I think a company over time grows and matures in certain way, When I first started i would go do estimates any time even on sunday, now I usally try to do them mon- thurs any time, fri up to 1:00 and never on the weekends.

It sounds like you have a very strong client base, and have created a niche for yourself, imo a great thing. Over the years you have probally created a sixth sense, for tire kickers, and price shoppers.

I get those feelings to, but I try to just look at it, as a numbers game, the more No's I get the closer to a yes I am.

The one's that really piss me off are the one's that keep saying how they can do it themself's.

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Old 09-07-2008, 10:40 AM   #13
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When people tell me they're getting more etimates I always tell them I don't mind, as long as I'm quoting them for the same work as the rest. I tell them I will detail the work out and if they get a cheaper estimate then to make sure they're getting the same deal. I also emphasize the fact that I won't be cutting any corners and will qoute for the work required to be done properly.

It's okay giving an estimate form something if they're getting others but,, to be fair, it has to be on the same playing field.

Thankfully, the majority of people I do work for are regulars or recommendations and just want a rough idea and tell me just to go ahead.
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Mac View Post
The one's that really piss me off are the one's that keep saying how they can do it themself's.
Yes, many believe that if they only had the time they could do just as good of a job as you...ha. Some even go so far as to ask if you can price it so that they do all the low and easy stuff. I have had that happen twice this year on exterior estimates. Sure, we will do the pressure wash, all the trim prep and painting, all the upper ladder work on the siding and leave all the siding from 6 feet down to the ground. I will gladly discount about $200 and void the warranty if you want to save a few bucks.



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Old 09-07-2008, 11:32 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vermontpainter View Post
Yes, many believe that if they only had the time they could do just as good of a job as you...ha. Some even go so far as to ask if you can price it so that they do all the low and easy stuff. I have had that happen twice this year on exterior estimates. Sure, we will do the pressure wash, all the trim prep and painting, all the upper ladder work on the siding and leave all the siding from 6 feet down to the ground. I will gladly discount about $200 and void the warranty if you want to save a few bucks.
I have had similar instances also and I have always pass on that work.. Maybe some here would take it. But I have no time for that stuff.
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Old 09-07-2008, 07:10 PM   #16
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my personal favorite just happened to me two days ago Scott. I was in that "feng shui'ed" bathroom about to vomit and my phone rings for the 300th time that day.

Me: Hello?
Caller: Is this Tsunami?
Me: Yes it is, what can I do for you?
Caller: How much do you charge?
Me: Uhh mm What do you mean?
Caller: What do you charge per hour? I am calling several painters in the paper to see what they charge.
Me: (At this point I really did not want to spend the time educating this prospective customer for what ever reasons) Well, its usually around $40 an hour.
Caller: Ok, that seems like what most people are saying (this statement really doesn't mean anything).
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:32 PM   #17
 
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Referrals have been my best friend, no BS, just we have heard you do good work, lets talk and come up with a price and do the project! If they announce they are shopping I add 25% to the bid to account for the eventual headaches. By the hour question is also 15% higher then I usually figure, because 9 times out of ten these people are nothing but problems.
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Old 09-08-2008, 12:17 AM   #18
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people shop,,,,this is the free market at work,

not everyone is shopping price,,,,,how many times have people called you and said "we are using you because you are the cheapest"????

im a broke azzed house painter, and id never have the lowest priced guy work on my house.
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:10 PM   #19
 
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When I know I'm bidding against others I always tell the person to get all their bids and throw out the low one because theres something wrong there,and go for the guy in the middle or atleast not the highest.They always seem to get a kick out of it and remember me for that line.
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