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How to Give Estimates for Home Improvement Projects

May 27, 2022

Sticker shock is real. Whether it’s a new car, new furniture or appliance, customers are often surprised when something is more expensive than they thought it would be. Losing a prospective client because they weren’t prepared for the cost of a home improvement is no different.

A standardized estimation approach that addresses concerns over pricing, time and insight, can help homeowners and prospective clients understand the big picture by making them a part of the process. This accountability and relationship building will go a long way in turning more leads into customers, improving your sales process and growing your bottom line.

Retool your sales language

As a home improvement professional, you know an estimate, bid and proposal are all very different things, but a prospective client may think they’re the same. Create clarity for your customers by first ensuring you have defined the differences with your sales team. That could be a short-term sheet with essential definitions or a full-blown style guide that breaks down how to speak about all of your home improvement offerings step by step. Whatever route you go, providing your team with the resources they need to both master and clearly communicate essential business terminology will keep you ahead of any misunderstandings.

When communicating directly with clients, reinforce that estimates and bids are rough calculations, which are open to negotiation. Giving prospective clients a chance to discuss and agree on a price at this point in the project estimation makes them part of the process and less likely to feel surprised by more finalized numbers. Once you or your team has had an open dialogue with the prospective client, you can send a concrete proposal with confidence, reducing the risk of surprise or a disagreement on the final price.

Rethink your booking process

In the competitive world of home improvement a client-first mindset is crucial to setting your business apart and converting leads into customers. For prospective clients, that journey starts with your booking process. While booking a home project once meant phone calls and follow-ups, today’s homeowners are looking for a more digital and direct approach to booking a potential project.

Consider using a third-party service provider for bookings. Introducing a dedicated, digital system can guarantee your field teams are available, block their calendars and reduce overhead when it comes time to book these appointments. Your internal teams will also have better insight into your external teams’ (designers, specialists, contracted employees) availability, creating efficiency and reducing any lag between the initial contact and estimation appointment.

Provide estimates in person and on-site

While booking may have gone mostly digital, there are some things that will always require that personal touch, like estimates. Resist the urge to distribute them via phone or email. By delivering it in person (preferably at the property) you and your team get some valuable face time with a prospective client. This in-person process not only gives you the opportunity to showcase your team’s expertise, it also creates a more organic setting for negotiation or even upselling.

On-site delivery also allows all parties to understand the reasoning and physical property characteristics driving pricing decisions, setting the right expectations for the project. The rationale and details of big-budget decisions aren’t always clear over the phone or digitally. Your chances of closing a deal go up substantially when you can work through the rationale and fine points face to face.

A transparent, personal approach is essential in home improvement. That’s just one of the reasons, Ally Lending is now adhering to a Full Consumer Apply (FCA) and Agent Assist application process. This new measure ensures compliance with regulations to protect borrowers and providers from unfair, deceptive and abusive lending practices. Any-time customer authentication, clearer loan details and better signature verification protect both you and your clients, and help to keep your business running smoothly.

Set reminders for customer appointments

Life happens, and in today's busy world, prospective clients can often forget appointment times. While no-shows are a part of the business they can be a hassle to reschedule and cause overall delays in the sales process. The solution? Get ahead of calendar mishaps with scheduling best practices and automated reminders.

Reminders don’t need to be complicated, simply standardized and frequent enough to keep an appointment top of mind. That might mean scheduling a notification to be sent via email, text or phone call (whatever their preferred method of contact) one week out, one day before and the day of. To go above and beyond, you could even text your potential customers when a team member is en route or one hour from the appointment time.

These multiple touches can go a long way in creating accountability for your team and keeping it top of mind with potential clients. Many third-party booking solutions also have options that send automatic reminders at predetermined intervals, which can take the logistical weight off your internal teams as you revamp your booking process.

Forget sticker shock

When it comes for a significant expense like a home remodel, it’s only natural for homeowners to balk at those early estimates. That’s why it’s essential to create a transparent approach that helps your teams feel more prepared with the correct language and process to keep potential clients’ minds at ease. By implementing best practices to provide an estimate across your engagements, you can build a relationship of trust, understanding and accountability, improving your sales process, closing more deals and growing your business.

Learn more about how Ally Lending financing solutions can improve your sales process by making projects (and estimates) more affordable for your clients.

Visit Ally Home Improvement Financing

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