There are a few processes that are very important for any contracting business, and one of these that's applicable virtually across the board is the realm of consultations. Many or even most contracting clients will want to sit down with you for a consultation before they confirm any project order with you, and knowing how to approach these consultations successfully can make a big difference.
At Contractors School, we're happy to assist a variety of Utah contractors with all their business needs, from obtaining licensure and starting their business to several areas of maintaining their existing business. Here are some simple tips for how to approach consultations with clients that will lead to purchases of your services, plus will allow both parties to be clear on what's needed moving forward.
First and foremost, as you're getting started with the conversation, you'll want to have a clear idea of what your client wants. This sounds almost too simple, but it's key - if you don't understand their goals for the project in question, you won't be able to offer them what they need. Do they simply want a thorough consultation? Do they also want an estimate or price quote? Are they seeking recommendations or referrals for other contractors, if needed? Or perhaps it's a more high-level goal that involves improving their bottom line, whether in terms of efficiency or income.
Whatever the case may be, it's important to understand what your client is looking for from this meeting so that you can adapt your presentation and ultimately achieve success.
Next up, it's time to get some simple details from your client, such as budget and project scope. How much are they looking to spend on the project? Are there any particular requirements or restrictions that come along with it? These factors can help you tailor your presentation further and give your client a realistic idea of what they're getting, while also making sure you're capable of meeting their needs within those areas.
For instance, let's say you're talking with a client about creating a new website for their business. If they have an established budget of, say, $5,000, it's important to emphasize the fact that you can build them a great site at that price point, but if it's higher than that or even significantly lower than that, there may be some trade-offs in terms of performance, design, or other factors. So it's important to talk about these constraints upfront and make sure that both parties are in agreement before you proceed with any project work.
Once you have the basics out of the way, it's time to get into more specifics on what your process will be like for this project. In other words, are you going to provide them with a preliminary design? Do you provide estimates or quotes for these kinds of projects? If so, how do you go about estimating and what factors will be involved in your process? And so on.
Another key area here is ensuring clients understand how communication will be handled. Whether you use email, text messaging, a phone call, or another method of getting in touch again, it's important that both parties are on board with this approach and can respond accordingly.
No client wants to feel like they're being run over while they're in a consultation with you. Make sure that they have an easy time asking any questions or voicing concerns as they arise. This can help keep the conversation flowing and prevent misunderstandings from cropping up later on down the line.
Furthermore, never treat a question like it's silly or irrelevant; you want to demonstrate your willingness and ability to listen and adapt, rather than coming across as inflexible or condescending.
You're an expert in the contracting field; most of your clients are not, and won't be. Talk about things in simple terms and avoid using excessive jargon or technical terminology if possible. This will help you reach a broader audience, whether it's people within your field who are unfamiliar with some of the processes involved in contracting, or even average people looking to hire someone for their home renovations or other similar projects.
For example, rather than using the industry's most technical terms for building equipment or renovation work, simply use phrases like "high-quality tools" or "professional grade materials." This will help you illustrate your points in a more direct and clear manner for the people you're trying to reach. And if any client requires more specificity, all they have to do is ask.
For many clients, it can be very helpful to present them with visual aids. Whether it's a slide presentation, a set of visuals or diagrams that show or explain your process, or even an actual physical example of what you're aiming to achieve (such as a mock-up of the website you'd be building for them), this can add an extra layer of clarity and efficiency to your consultation approach.
By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your consultations with a client go as smoothly and successfully as possible. This will set you up for a smoother collaboration process overall, and may even lead to more referrals or repeat business in the future.
For more on how to approach consultations with new clients, or to learn about any of our programs or resources for Utah contractors, speak to our team at Contractors School today.