What Message are You Sending?

Think carefully about every part of the sales process.

My family recently had the always enjoyable experience of having our home remodeled. Actually, the remodeling itself actually was relatively painless. The frustrating part was finding the right remodeler, and that's where the lesson lies for you.

As you know, more and more often these days, homeowners are coming directly to concrete contractors looking for projects to be done — anything from a simple gray driveway to incredibly complex decorative floors.

If that's a part of the market you're going for, you need to think carefully about every part of the sales process. Everything you do from the time the prospect calls your office makes an impression, positive or negative, that will shape the final decision. In our case, we were having new windows and siding installed, but the lessons are still applicable.

We talked to three companies about our project. The three estimates were basically the same, so the decision came down to some things that the companies did — and didn't — do to win our confidence. One of the companies we didn't choose made an immediate negative impression by coming into our home with dirty boots, leaving footprints throughout the front hall. Maybe a minor infraction, but that, along with other things, raised red flags about how they would treat our home.

The second company also made some mistakes. After making his measurements, the estimator promised to get back to us the next day. Instead, after more than a week, I had to call him to get the numbers. The problem here wasn't the delay. It was the promise that he didn't keep.

In the end, though, what set the companies apart, was the professionalism of the company we chose. He immediately offered references and nearby homes we could visit to see his work. We had to ask the other two for this information. He laid out the timetable and told us exactly what we could expect along the way. Again, we had to elicit this information from his competition. In the end, it was an easy decision because he made it that way. Try to do the same for your clients.

Jonathan Sweet

Correction: In the article "Managing cross-cultural crews" in the April/May issue a photo of Jim Emmons, safety director for Structural Group, was misidentified as Peter Emmons, the company's chief executive officer. Concrete Concepts regrets the error.