Turns out we need a new roof over the sunroom, so Susan started calling around for references, then invited contractors in to look it over. It's not a busy time of the year here, so most came within a week or so.
They all brought ladders and climbed up on the roof, then climbed down and gave us their initial thoughts. I think we've had five come by now. One we crossed off almost immediately because of some intangibles. I'm not really sure why, maybe it was something in his non-verbals. In any case, his price came in close to double the average.
Bear in mind that the estimators dropped by over something like a ten-day span. All but that one I mentioned seemed credible candidates to get our business.
But then not much happened for several more days; we waited for them to send their estimates. Now they are finally coming in. But it's hard for us now to put a face with the paper estimate. Was AlphaBeta Roofing the guy who suggested . . . Was Aaardvark Roofing the guy who pointed out . . .
On that, these thoughts.
1. Put your mug shot on your business card, and leave one of those cards when you make the first call. Doesn't matter if you're not movie-star handsome or any of that. It's just to help the prospect remember you. Send another photo business card when you send the proposal (even if that second one is just copied in and attached to the email).
I first saw photo business cards when I did a couple of consulting projects with Kodak (obviously that was a while back, long before family friend Kodak started the final fall!), and everybody had a photo card. Even now, when I look at those old cards and see the faces,a clear memory of the person and how we worked together comes up.
Most of these contractors left us business cards, but generic ones from Staples or Office Depot with their name and maybe an image of a trowel or hammer or ladder– instantly forgettable.
2. Get that proposal out ASAP. If you promise "by the weekend," mean it. First, the prospect is paying attention to your credibility–do you follow through as promised? If you're poky just in getting a one-page estimate off on time, what does that suggest about your follow-through if you get the job? I've seen neighbors tied up for weeks when the workers leave the materials in the yard and cut off to do another job somewhere.
Another good reason to be fast in sending the proposal: a prospect with a leaky roof may not wait. By the time Pokey Joe finally faxes his estimate Speedy Pete may already have gotten the work permit and delivered the shingles.
Yeah, you're busy running around making those sales calls, but maybe it'd be best to pass on one of those calls at the end of each day and use that time more productively.
Just my thoughts from the perspective of a prospect.