Providing estimates has long been a part of the home services process. Finding, scoping and bidding on jobs is how many companies hope to win business. However, there is an undeniable opportunity cost that comes with building and presenting estimates. The time, energy and overhead that comes with developing estimates, whether they’re free or at a cost, still comes at a price for your business.
There are best practices home service companies can take advantage of to make sure they capitalize on estimates and convert them into sales. Having an estimates policy in place before the phone rings or meeting with a prospective client can go a long way toward saving valuable time and frustration. In our experience with home services clients, we’ve found certain best practices have helped contractors give estimates in an effective way that increase install conversion rates, build trust with prospects, help increase average ticket value, and improve your overall sales process.
Rethink your sales language
There is a big difference between an estimate, a bid, and a proposal. However, a prospective customer may think they all mean the same thing. Estimates and bids should be defined as a rough calculation or approximate value. Prospective customers need to know what they are about to receive from your company before estimates or bids are agreed to, and they may want to negotiate price at this point.
Once further due diligence has been completed and a price has been agreed upon, your team should feel more comfortable with providing a defined proposal. Since the prospective customer has already given you a commitment on the dollar amount, it should make it easier to close the sale. Make sure you have defined the differences internally and with your sales team in order to set proper customer expectations.
Provide any estimates on site
After your contractors agree to provide an estimate to a potential customer, it’s important that the estimate be delivered at the property. This creates an opportunity for your company to get some face time with the prospect and walk through good/better/best options which can organically create upselling opportunities.
When home services contractors deliver estimates to customers, it gives you and the prospect a more accurate estimate being on site and allows you to set expectations about the project. If at all possible, try to avoid solely giving estimates over the phone or email. Your chances of converting them to a customer dramatically goes up when working through the details face to face.
Book estimate appointment on the initial call
There’s nothing more aggravating as a consumer than being pushed off to the next person when you’re just looking for some customer service. The same can be said for your prospective customers looking for a estimate. Home services companies need to have a degree of urgency from sales teams once a prospective client shows interest in receiving an estimate. Make it a company goal to get the appointment booked during the initial call.
To further remove steps from the process, never get a phone number from a prospect and say you’ll have sales reach back out to schedule. In doing so, you run the risk of the customer starting down the path of a competitor and losing interest in your service. By booking the appointment the first time you speak with people, you will increase close rates and keep prospects from getting a competitor to swoop in and book them from under you.
Block out appointment times for external sales team
In the spirit of speed and setting estimate appointments on initial calls, home services companies will need to know when their external techs are available to make appointments. The only way you can guarantee your field teams are available is to block their calendars and dedicate time to book estimates.
This lets your internal team know when external sales team members are available and allows for prospects to be scheduled during their initial call. Depending on the geographical reach of your home services company, you may want to use territories for your external sales team to keep appointment locations in the same vicinity. This will cut down on the amount of drive time for technicians allowing them to provide more estimates each week.
Create a reminder cadence to avoid no shows
Life can get in the way of contractor meetings with prospective customers. Often times, the prospect forgets the appointment time which can lead to rescheduling and delaying the sales process. To help with estimate appointment sit rates, home services companies should build a reminder cadence.
The process doesn’t need to be sophisticated – it simply needs to keep your appointment top of mind so the estimate can happen. For example, you could schedule a call reminder from your internal team one day out and then send an email reminder the day of the appointment. Want to add another layer of engagement? Text your prospects when your team member is en route or one hour from appointment time. These simple reminders will keep your company and your appointment top of mind with potential customers.
Don’t forget to mention annual maintenance agreements
Whenever you have a team member at the home of a prospective customer, it’s important you talk about any maintenance agreements your home services company provides. This is a great upsell opportunity, and it allows you to stay top of mind throughout the year. Seeing a technician at least twice a year opens up the door for brand relationship building, referrals and future business.
If you don’t have a maintenance agreement or another type of yearly agreement, you should consider creating one. They are a great brand lifter and keep your company top of mind with the customer throughout the year.
Just like with anything in your home services business, it’s important to have a process for your contractors to follow when delivering estimates to customers. Setting clear expectations helps make your entire team feel prepared and can ease the minds of your potential customers.
If you are the owner of a home services company looking for more ways to increase revenue, schedule a time to talk with one of our marketing experts today.