Stop being weak. Trades you need to qualify your potential customers!

Quite frankly providing quotes to customers is a pain in the arse – unfortunately it is a necessary evil.
Most customers have no concept of the amount of time it takes to schedule an appointment to meet them, drive to their place of residence, talk through their requirements, sit down after work and prepare a quote and get it to them. After all that, the vast majority of them never get back to you to let you know whether you ‘won’ it either way.


Above is a whatsapp picture we received from a good Flobot customer. As the estimator arrived on site the guy handed him this piece of paper. We all had a good laugh about it but this guy turned out arrogant, pretty rude and he’s not likely to buy from my client who isn’t a ‘discount’ kind of company – which probably isn’t a bad thing because I don’t think anyone will really want to work for him.

But what it goes to show is that this guy could probably be ‘qualified out’ before anyone had wasted a trip and 2 hours preparing a quote. This is really important because you can waste hours and days on people that are never going to buy and miss opportunities with those that will because you are too busy. It goes on all the time and a lot of tradespeople I know are ‘busy fools’, accepting the offer of a potential customer without asking even rudimentary questions. Then generally they visit, realize it is a waste of time because the customer has no budget and unrealistic expectations or they look like trouble so they don’t want to do the job or whatever.

But they promise to send a quote and be in touch and then – they never send the quote. So, the potential customer is now upset because often they have no idea that they are a bad customer with no money, then they slag the contractor off because he ‘couldn’t be bothered to send the quote’. They may continually chase for their quote and this just adds extra pressure and nuisance factor. And now everyone is unhappy.

Generally, I find that brutal honesty is the best policy. People may not like it but they respect it and that’s the last you’ll hear from them.

So, ask tough, direct questions and if you don’t like the answers be polite and tell them that this is not a job that you are suitable for, perhaps recommend they contact someone you know (and don’t like if they are a pain in the arse) and wish them good-luck with their project.

Those questions should be:

1) What is your budget for this project? (Like a belly button – everyone has one)
2) How many quotes do you need before you make a decision?
3) How many have you already had? (And what’s the best price if you can get it out of them)
3) When are you making that decision?
4) When do you want the project to begin?

You can soften these up a bit. You can say ‘I’m not trying to spend all your money but what is your budget for this project? It will help me determine what samples / brochures etc to bring with me.’ etc. or ‘I’m really busy at the moment, so what’s the best price you’ve had and I’ll tell you if it’s good value for money’.

If they are not for you, let them know. If you visit them and they are still not for you let them know straight away and don’t promise them a quote. Don’t end up on these forums!

Mumsnet whinge about traders
Chasing a tradesman for a quote
General moaning about tradespeople in Sheffield