Quoting a price to a customer is an integral part of winning a job. Naturally, there are a few pitfalls (5 in fact!) that you might be in danger of stumbling in to...
Whether it's for an important contract or routine work, the way field service companies approach quoting shows a lot about their level of professionalism and dedication to high standards.
To paint a clearer picture, here’s a story for you today:
Rachel just bought a new flat and she’s very excited about it. She decides she’d like to rewire the plugs and move them around since the place was built before people had to have their phones attached to them at all the times and battery life was shown in weeks rather than hours.
She calls Company A, explains her wishes to them, and they agree to send someone down the same day to assess the situation. She’s quite impressed with their promptitude and they even agreed to come around when she’s back from work. They stay true to their word and an installer comes down, writes up some details and takes photos, then promises to send a quote as soon as possible. Rachel’s very happy, bids the installer goodbye and relaxes for a day or two knowing that things are taken care of and it’s only a matter of knowing the price. At this point, she's pretty sure that even if there might be cheaper options around, she'd rather go with Company A to avoid any hassle.
Except a week passes and then another one and Rachel still doesn’t have a quote. When she calls them, they apologise and promise to send the papers soon. Another week passes, Rachel simply gives up on chasing them and calls Company B. They also send down someone on the same day but this time the installer assesses the situation, takes a few photos then inputs everything on his phone. His software returns a ready-made quote template. Rachel receives an email on the spot, opens it and finds the quote and an e-signature portal. She accepts then schedules the installer’s next visit immediately, giving her time to ask for a day-off from work.
Now it’s time for the real question: are you Company A or Company B? If you chose the latter, click here to view your free infographic. But if you didn't, keep reading to identify the 5 mistakes you're making when sending quotes:
- Slow and steady does not win this race.
- Adding unnecessary steps to a process.
- Not being honest with your customers.
- Not knowing your audience.
- Sending plain quote sheets and expecting customer advocacy.
1. Slow and steady does not win this race.
The first mistake company A made was send mixed signals to the customer. By sending an engineer immediately, they set expectations for a certain speed of service. Generally, this would be the best course of action - you want to prove to your customers that you are reliably fast when it comes to acknowledging their issues. But this also creates an expectation that the rest of the service will be just as high quality. When you fall short, the disappointment is proportional.
Speed is always key in impressing customers. It’s the reason why digital solutions have pervaded every industry these days. Everyone has gotten used to the convenience of technology and especially to the speed of it. From having the sum of all human knowledge at your fingertips to Amazon delivering batteries the same day you order them, the Internet has made everyone a little bit less patient.
Company B wins this round because they remain consistently fast in getting the job done. They follow-up with a similarly quick approach to quoting then schedule in the customer immediately.
The simple fact that they don’t offer the customer time to look up other competitors means that Company B has much better chance of clinching the job rather than losing out to competitors. It also means that they can have higher prices. If you don’t compete on the lowest number and offer people convenience, you don’t have to have the cheapest service too. More often than not, people won’t even care if it’s a job they want done now.
2. Adding unnecessary steps to a process.
Another consequence of tech being an ever present element in people’s lives is also getting used to the lack of friction. Amazon style “one-click-order” actions eliminate the middle stages of a purchase, giving customers fewer chances to change their minds. Company B achieves this by offering a visit, a quote, and a schedule all in the span of an hour or so. Company A loses out completely by stretching the process over 3 weeks.
Let’s say that the behind the scenes, Company A is swamped with jobs and that is why they can’t attend to Rachel immediately. But at the same time, this is not an urgent appointment so even if Company B is similarly swamped, the fact that they schedule a job the very same day (even if this actual appointment is next month) gives them a great advantage.
At the end of the day, the more step you can eliminate in your process, the better. When it comes to digital solutions, quoting software expert, Bethany Fagan from PandaDoc, summed it up nicely that by using a tool with "integrated CRM, payment, and invoicing options as well as built-in legally binding eSignature technology, you can completely streamline and shave hours off of your quoting process".
3. Not being honest with your customers.
The truth of the matter might be that Company A didn’t really want the job to begin with. Being too busy is a fortunate position to be in but this won’t last forever. As we’ve mentioned in the previous example, Company B might be overwhelmed as well at the moment but they’ve already secured a job with the customer, even if it’s one or two months in the future.
It might be the case that this job is simply too small for Company A and it’s not worth the effort. In this situation, it’s better to be honest with the customer and let them know that you are unable to complete the job. You can even recommend a fellow engineer that you trust who could take over. The customer will be a lot more inclined to call you again than if you tell them you’ll do the job then string them along for weeks. It will also help you avoid negative online reviews which can seriously affect your business.
4. Not knowing your audience.
Truth be told, Millennials get a lot of flack from the media these days. They expect instant service, have little patience for excuses, and will do their best to find every social media platform possible to complain if something goes wrong. But at the same time, do right by them and Millennials are some of the most loyal customers. They will act as ambassadors for your company and recommend you via every channel they have. According to a CrowdTwist study, 43.5 percent of Millennials use social media to talk about the products and services they’ve enjoyed.
It might seem like too much effort at the moment since many Millennials are renters (will this stop them from slamming you on social media? Not really.) but this situation will not last forever. It’s better to win them over now and going digital is the way to a Millennial's heart.
5. Sending plain quote sheets and expecting customer advocacy.
Having a digital quoting feature means every quote could be a marketing tool. If you're still sending plain quote sheets, you're losing out on a great chance to etch yourself in the customer's memory. Knowing how to write a professional quote is not a skill you gain overnight but it is something any business manager should know.
Don't forget to use this chance to flex your digital muscles and send a low cost, medium, and high-end option, as well as stamp your logo on each and every one. Add accreditations like your GasSafe badge to let them know you're properly trained and experienced.
When you create a quote, you can specify the costs of both labour and parts (with the appropriate price markup) so you can check the profitability of a potential job. Don’t worry, if you use the right software, your customer won’t have access to the cost breakdown when they receive the quote for approval.
These 5 mistakes are easily avoidable with quoting using a digital system. At the end of the day, there’s no reason for you to do it manually when there are many software around that can do it for you.
In the meantime, our sales expert, Kaylee White from Salesforce, has kindly provided this free infographic detailing 9 Steps for Building a Useful Price Quote Template: