Article by Ryan Shantz
If you have a minute, do a quick Google search for “painting quotation,” click on the images and take a glance at your screen.
I’m sure I don’t need to describe for you what this looks like. Every image looks almost identical: a single page with a logo, some line items, and a price.
Is there a better way?
Let’s back this up and think about it for a minute. What is the purpose of a quote? To give somebody a price for their job, right? To let them know the type of paint being installed, and the warranty being provided?
While those things can be included, I suggest that the purpose of a quote is to gain the trust and engagement of your potential client while showing them how you differ from other contractors.
Ultimately, if you can connect with your client via trust, education and engagement, you will leap miles ahead of the competition.
Are you customer-friendly?
For example, Apple creates amazing devices that people love because they are intuitive to use but offer a depth of features.
They solve a problem and make it easy for people to work with them. If intuitive features and engaging design are at one end of the spectrum, 90 percent of painting quotes would be at the exact opposite end of that spectrum: difficult to understand, with no thought given to engaging homeowners.
Rather than clarifying a problem and introducing a solution, painting quotes typically introduce a whole new set of problems laced with confusion. Quotes end up being loaded with industry jargon, difficult to understand terms and a price that feels pulled out of thin air. Standard paint quotes really aren’t much to boast about.
Making it better
Having run a large residential contractor sales team for more years than I would like to admit, we wrestled continuously with how to gain an upper hand in the sales game.
Finally, we completely changed the quotes that we shared with homeowners and were blown away by the results.
Rather than our quotes being all about us, the products we use, our warranty details, the price we were offering, etc., our quotes focused entirely on our clients. How? We developed quotes that demonstrated our ability to:
- Understand their home
- Identify with their challenges
- Provide solutions
- Establish our competence and ability to help them
We did this by inserting a photo of the client’s home on the cover page, writing about specific details of the project to educate them and going a step further by including photos to show issues we would need to correct.
To put the icing on the cake, we got clients excited about the project by showing how incredible their chosen product looked in other homes, and most importantly, we hired a professional graphic designer and communications expert to make the quote sharp, and give the entire presentation intuitive, easy to understand messages.
“Customers don’t generally care about your story; they care about their own,” explains Donald Miller, host of the Building a Story Brand podcast. “Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand.”
In other words, we aren’t Luke Skywalker in this story, swooping in to be the hero, we are Yoda. When Luke was overwhelmed, inexperienced and didn’t know how to win the battle, he turned to Yoda, a guide that could lead the hero to success.
The result of our change to this focus was an increase in our retails sales of millions of dollars. Specifically, we saw a 67 percent increase in our retail sales from 2016 when we started using these presentations to our most recent year.
Additionally, with the web app we developed to build these sales presentations (sumoquote.com), our sales team was creating exponentially superior quotes faster than they ever had. Once the quantities of materials had been calculated, a sales presentation could be built in as little as three to four minutes.
A success story
One of my salespeople shared this story with me the other day. He sat down with a potential client who said, “Your quote is a bit more expensive, but I’d like to move forward with your company. After seeing how detailed your quote is, I know you’ll do a great job!”
Now here’s the ironic part: a competitor’s quote was visible on the table and it actually went into far more detail than ours. It was full of all sorts of technical details and jargon that overwhelmed the client.
By contrast, our quote was designed to impress, communicating in a way that was easy for the client to understand. We share photos and images, while our competitor tried to make them read an essay. We clearly broke out pricing and options, while our competitor just gave a price. Ultimately, our quote was about the client and their problem, while our competitor’s quote was just about themselves.
So, what can you do to change? Start thinking about the sale from a client’s perspective. Engage them, make the process about them and ensure that every message in your quote is shared to make life easier for them.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of PPC magazine. Written by Ryan Shantz, owner of Epic Roofing & Exteriors in Calgary, Canada, and founder of the SumoQuote app. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.