How to keep the pipeline full when the work drops off.

It’s predicted 2023 will see a decline in the volume of work, so we need to hone our winning skills to feed the pipeline and keep our share of the market. Dropping your profit margin is NOT the answer. The only way to win and stay profitable is with customer service.

Straight off the bat it is most important you make a good impression. Answer your enquiries swiftly. Don’t let the client wait more than 24 hours to hear back from you. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to return that call promptly. It’s a simple rule, and it doesn’t take any longer than returning the call three days later, however it does build a lot of trust with the client.

Second, build on that good rapport with a prompt quote. Prioritising quotes sucks, especially when you are busy, but it will ensure a strong pipeline of work. Not only does it build on the trust and reliability you’ve gained from the initial enquiry, but it ensures you are pricing enough work to keep the pipeline full. When the work dries up it’ll be hard to quickly win projects, and it’ll take longer to get them across the line, so make sure the outstanding quote pile is high.

When you do the site visit don’t be afraid to impart expert advice and information for free. It may sound counterintuitive, but giving expert advice not only builds trust in you, it shows you have more skills and experience than your competitors. Everyone wants to award the contract to the smartest person, especially if he/she has been so helpful solving problems.

Show your client the value you are offering. Don’t focus on the dollars, unless you are a LOT more expensive it’s not going to matter. Instead focus on the extra value you are offering. Where possible, deliver the quote in person, so you can run through it and explain the value of each item. When a quote is explained in detail (I’m not talking about a breakdown of individual material costs; I’m talking about what/when/why/how you are going to do the work) the client is far more likely to see the value in it and not focus on the cost so much.

On a side note, I am a big fan of presenting detailed, itemised quotes (again, I’m not talking about a breakdown of materials and labour) for the following reasons:
• They build the client’s confidence in the quote and in you
• They cover you against excluded work (you and the client both know what’s included and excluded. No grey areas), and
• They show professionalism. The client is unlikely to show the quote to a competitor, which is an illegal act anyway.

Make sure the client understands all the value you have to offer:
• Prompt and attentive customer service – demonstrate this with your actions
• Outstanding workmanship – refer the client to your Instagram page or put them in touch with a satisfied customer. Make sure they understand quality workmanship takes time
• Reliability – show up when you intend to. If you are going to be late, even by 15 minutes, let the client know. That way they know you are a person of your word, they’re more likely to trust you will get the job done promptly and not leave it unfinished for months, and
• You’re an expert in your field – help the client solve problems and give free advice during onsite meetings.

Good value for money is a good job done at a reasonable price, not the cheapest job. Most clients know this and are looking for good value for money, not a cheap job that comes with headaches attached. And, a happy customer will recommend you to more clients looking for ‘value for money’.

This should keep the good enquiries flowing in your direction.

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