My Two Cents: Make Purchasing a Pleasant Event

June 30, 2008
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Butch Welsch

As contractors, we count on people buying from us for our company to be successful. Hopefully, with that in mind, we make the process of buying a pleasant experience. The concept becomes a little frightening to me because of experiences I have recently encountered in making a couple of purchases.

The first involved our purchasing a new car. The mere thought of purchasing a vehicle is enough to make me decide I can get another year’s use from my present vehicle. But we already did that and went an extra year, so this was the year to make the purchase. It had been five years since we had gone through the process and so we thought maybe the process had changed.

No. The overzealous sales personnel still asked the “Are you going to buy tonight?” question and had the usual, “Let me talk to my sales manager” reply; all of the same annoying issues were still present as they have been through all of the times I have purchased a vehicle.

Why is it that making the second largest purchase that most people will ever make is such an unpleasant experience?

As we endured the process I am thinking, “Boy, I sure hope our customers don’t feel that buying from us is this bad.” Eventually we did purchase a vehicle. It was a tolerable experience only because that salesman was brand new to the auto business. He had been a real estate salesman and we all know how that market is. The good part is that he hadn’t yet learned how to be a “car salesman,” so the process wasn’t too bad.

SECOND NOT MUCH BETTER

Our second buying experience had to do with some tuck-pointing work we needed done at our home. It seemed like a pretty straightforward job. Our front walk of about 20 feet is flagstone with mortar in between and after several years the mortar needed replacing. We obtained a couple of names from building contractor friends and thought it would be easy to obtain bids.

Wrong! They were difficult to reach. One made an appointment, but never showed up. After finally having them look at the walk, the two bids were $350 and $1,350. With that difference, we decided we better obtain another bid or two. After several days of trying to reach the contractors and arranging appointments, all of the bids were in. The range of bids stayed the same so we reviewed what had happened.

All of the contractors were very unprofessional in their approach. Most had something negative to say about the walk and how it had been installed. All had some type of pressure mechanism to attempt to get us to make a decision right then. (“My men are available now, but in a couple of weeks, I may be months behind.”)

Only one of the four left an actual written (hand written) proposal. The others all just wrote a price on the back of their business card. Since they had not really spelled out what they planned to do on the back of the business card, I had to contact them and write down their actual proposal as I talked to them.

It turns out the one with the highest price, who was the most professional (or the least unprofessional) of the group, was high because he included two trips and planned to put on a heavy duty sealer after their work.

There was no way my wife could remember what each of them said, and since his price was just a number on the business card, if I hadn’t called for a clarification, we would have discarded him without hesitation.

A LESSON LEARNED

As I thought about these experiences, I related it to our business. Here are some of the important points we should remember:

• Set an appointment at the convenience of the customer and be on time.

• Don’t spend your selling time speaking negatively about existing conditions or your competitors.

• Explain in detail what you plan to do and then provide a written proposal which outlines all of the features and benefits you will be providing.

• Don’t attempt to utilize high-pressure tactics to force a quick purchase.

Remember, a purchase of an HVAC system, while not typically as large as an automobile purchase, is still a major purchase for our customer. Do everything you can to make that purchase experience a pleasant one.

Publication date: 06/30/2008

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