Every tradie, no matter how good they are, will regularly suffer from the curse of the ghost customer; you know the one, the one you went round to do a quote for who seemed really enthusiastic and keen to get on with the job but who suddenly goes silent. Have they found someone cheaper, have they forgotten about you, or are they waiting for you to show your enthusiasm by following up on your quote? It can be hard to know when and how to follow up a quote without looking as if you’re trying to pressure the customer, so let’s look at a few ways we can effectively but courteously check whether they still want the work done.
Follow the steps we have laid out, always showing consideration and courtesy to your customers, and you will have a good chance of landing the job. Once you’ve got the job, give yourself peace of mind by making sure that you have the best liability insurance in place just in case something goes wrong. Make sure to get the right Tradies insurance packages to protect your business.
The first thing to do is to remember what work the customer wanted done. That sounds obvious, but if you’ve got a lot of quotes on the go, it’s easy to forget the exact details; even before you draw up your quote, take time to note down a few details about the conversation you had with the customer and the work required. Try to note down a few personal details as well, for example if the customer said the work couldn’t be started until they got back from holiday, note that down, then when you call them to follow up your quote, you can ask them how they enjoyed their holiday. Personal touches like that can often be what swings the job in your favour.
It’s important to follow up your quotes at the “Goldilocks moment” – not too early, which makes you seem either pushy or desperate, and not too late which makes you look like you don’t care enough. Obviously you can’t hit this moment unless you remember when you actually put the first quote in: that’s where your business organisation skills need to help you out. Keep a digital diary on your phone or computer, and when you enter in an appointment for a quote put in a reminder for whatever you feel is the best time, two weeks, three weeks, a month ahead, to follow up your quote.
Nobody likes being bothered by follow-up calls when they’ve got other things on their mind, so make sure you contact your customer at a time and with a method that suits them. Ask them how they’d like to be contacted when you give your quote; some people hate email, others will only communicate by text message, and so on. Make a note of their preferred communication method in your diary reminder (above). Try and think about what time of day the customer might be most receptive to communication and ready to pay attention to what you have to say: if they work long hours, they probably don’t want to be bothered in the evening, if they have young children, it’s probably best to phone during school hours or after bedtime, and so on.
One good way of following up a quote without looking too pushy is to simply enquire whether the customer received your quote. It’s perfectly possible for emails to end up in spam folders, or post to go missing, so after a suitable period there is nothing wrong with a polite enquiry checking your quote arrived. This can serve as a gentle nudge to the customer to start thinking about how they want to proceed, and they might give you useful information – for example yes they have received your quote but someone else has quoted lower – that allows you to modify your offer and improve your chances of being accepted.
It’s a good idea to always have a reason for a follow-up call so it doesn’t look like you are simply nagging or trying to put pressure on the customer. When you call them, maybe let them know about your availability and when you can start the job, or ask them if there’s any extra explanation you can give them that can help them make their minds up. Having a reason to call stops you looking pushy and turning the customer against you.
As above, your follow-up times should be adapted so that they suit each customer best, but you should have a rough schedule of the times for follow-up in mind. A good framework might be a call to check the quote has been received three days after you sent it, a call after a week to check whether they need any questions answering, and a call after three weeks to see if there’s anything else you can explain and to ask if they are planning on going ahead with the job in the near future. If after all these calls the customer still won’t commit but hasn’t definitely told you you’re out of the running, put them in your long-term file and call them every month or so to see if they still need the work done.