What To Do With The Price Question
After the last issue of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report, a reader contacted me and asked a great question. It’s such a great question that I decided to take a break this issue from covering how to present the various benefits of metal roofing to instead dig into their question.
Their question was about how to handle prospects who, either on the phone or at a home show or perhaps even via email, just want a “ballpark price” rather than to have you come out and visit them for a product presentation and quotation. That certainly is a very common situation to run into and I have some suggestions for you to try.
First, try to create a situation where that question never arises. If from the moment you first engage a contact, you explain your system of doing business including how each house must be inspected on its own merit, you can often head off this question. If you explain that your product may or may not be right for their home and that each home has nuances which must be considered carefully, that is a big help. So is explaining the importance of inspecting their attic to fully understand their current roof assembly as well as their possible ventilation needs.
You can explain that standard shingles often fail prematurely because of the lack of ventilation. Because most homeowners feel that their shingles have failed prematurely, they then realize that an attic inspection is important for their home. You can explain that poor ventilation leads to mold and other problems that are often invisible until they are big concerns.
By explaining how important the inspection of their home and roof are, you can often head off the “I just need a ballpark price” question. You also present yourself as knowing more than the competition because they never said anything about things like an attic inspection.
However, you will still have some prospects who just insist on a price. When this happens, the number one thing to remember is that you have nothing to gain by giving them a ballpark price. Doing so may prevent you from being invited to their home. If you’re never invited to their home, then you never have a chance to present the value of your product. That is a huge loss for you. Remember — never ever will it happen that you give them a ballpark price and they say “Fantastic, let’s get started right away!”
Author and speaker Robert Terson provides the following script for dealing with prospects who insist on a price before you visit them.
Thank you for your interest in our metal roofing; it’s much appreciated. However, simply giving you a price without being able to talk to you, without being able to ask you the vital questions necessary to completely understand your unique situation, your specific wants, needs, and problems that you’d give almost anything to solve, is in neither of our best interests.
All you’ll receive is a number, which will not differentiate any of the other vitally important aspects of why you should (or shouldn’t) do business with me and my company, and I won’t get the opportunity to serve you in the professional manner that I demand of myself. That’s just not how I do business.
If, however, you’ll give me the opportunity to spend a few minutes with you, to discover if doing business with me is the right choice for you, well, I believe that’s time you’ll find is well spent and worthwhile. I hope you’ll give me that opportunity. I’ll tell you this flat out: If at any point you think your time is being wasted, I’ll be glad to leave.
I take a lot of pride in how I serve my clients, how I better their lives. If that’s the kind of individual you enjoy doing business with-someone you can completely count on 100% of the time-I’m someone you want to get to know. If, however, you just want a price without the kind of professional interaction I’ve described, then I probably am not your guy.
While his script is good, there are other situations when much shorter responses work well. The important thing is to “read” your prospect in order to determine which response will resonate best with them. Below are some other possible responses.
“Really, our product has so many variables that we just can’t give a price without coming to look at things and discussing what options best fit your needs.”
“Where did you say you’re located? You know, we have done jobs in your area. I remember one job and it was $45,000 but that was a really complicated roof. I am sure yours won’t be that much but we really need to come out and do some measuring and discuss options with you.”
“It’s important that we meet so that we can make sure our products work on your home and that they fit your needs.”
“Most of our customers plan to stay in their home through at least one re-roofing cycle, which around here is 15 – 20 years usually. Metal roofs do cost more initially but, it’s like any investment, the payback comes over time. It’s really important that we come and assess your home to make sure our products are appropriate for it and then talk through the options to make sure our products are appropriate for you.”
“Well, that’s a good question and, fact is, if you don’t like our product, it doesn’t cost you anything. However, to know whether you like the product and whether it even makes sense for us to figure a price, we really need to meet. It is a rather involved roofing system and we must review your roof and talk things through a bit before we can give a price.”
“That is an important question, isn’t it? We just can’t be fair to you or ourselves in answering that question if we don’t come take a look at things.”
“Metal roofs do cost more upfront but we really need to come evaluate things in order to know how much more. Plus, like anything we buy, customers aren’t willing to pay more until they understand why the product is worth more. We really can’t explain that to you without reviewing your roof and meeting with you.”
“Well, it’s always interesting to try to compare ourselves to contractors who sell standard asphalt shingles because their prices are all over the place. We will be anywhere from 2 – 4 times their cost typically, but the payback comes over time through freedom of worry, energy efficiency, increased home value, and not being back in this exact same situation in another 15 or so years.”
“There are several things that we do as part of the process of reviewing your roof that must be done in person. For example, we will need to look in your attic to inspect the roof deck and also to make sure that you do not have any mold or rot up there. Most contractors don’t care enough to do that but we do. What we find can really impact the price of the roof so we really can’t even guess at a price until we come take a look.”
“You know, we have tried some of those satellite imagery systems and, while they may be close enough for an asphalt shingle roof, they just don’t work for what we’re doing. Plus, when we come out, we do a lot of things that satellite images can’t, such as take a look in your attic for rotted decking or mold and ventilation issues that we often find need to be addressed as well.”
“I know that a lot of contractors have started quoting prices over the phone but then they end up short changing the quality of their work if they later find they missed something. We care enough about you that we really need to inspect your roof and attic, as well as discuss the options offered by our products, before we can provide a price estimate. Contractors who don’t do that are just looking for a short cut and we promise that, before or during the job, we won’t short cut anything.”
“While I understand your concern over cost, and I’d be asking the same thing, there are just too many things we could end up short cutting or not doing right if we don’t come and take a good look at things before we give a price.”
“As a ballpark price, it will be 2 – 4 times the cost of standard shingles. Our customers though quickly understand and appreciate the value of paying extra now in order to have a better future. It’s important that we meet in person so that we can fully explain the benefits of our product because I think it’s safe to say that no one will pay anything extra if they don’t see the value of it.”
So, there are several options you can consider…the important thing after you say one of these is to assume their answer will be “Well, okay”…And even before they respond immediately say something like “Mike can be out to meet you at 3:00 on Wednesday, will that work?”
In any event, your best method is to have a process of engagement with prospects which, right from the start, does not encourage them to go down the path of seeking a ballpark price. If they see from the start that such a thing is not in their best interest and is not how you do business, then all of these other responses will never need to be uttered!
Thank you for reading the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com whenever I might be of help.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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