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Measure New Job10/25
What do you take with you when you go to meet a new customer and measure a new job? Do you write notes on just a standard legal pad, iPad, or a custom notepad that you had made so you can fill in customers information and a place for notes ext? Do you bring an iPad or anything to show pictures or examples or other work?
To measure I need to know I have the job, so it's already sold. I bring a tablet and I use Photo Measures app. I take photos, and the app let's me plug in wall dimensions, notes, etc. Not bad for $5. I use a laser measuring device plus a tape measure as needed. I will bring a level to check walls and floors.
To sell a job is a different story. Usually I get most info through email from the customer so I can give a price without going to the house first. Sometimes I get the signal that I should go to the house and meet the customer, and see the space.
Hopefully the prospective customer has seen a lot of pictures on your website gallery section before you even show up. I hate having people looking at iPad photo folders. Lots of time wasted zooming in and out, and swiping back and forth. First visit just requires a tape measure. Accurate dimensioning to check the home goes on after you get the job. I can't type fast enough on a lap top to do the notes, so still carry a pad and pen.
I used to have a laptop and would let the client scroll through pictures but I found them very hesitant to do so. I then made a very nice photo book on shutterfly that shows my work, special details and accessories I can refer to and some door styles. I hand them the book to look through while we talk. Has been the best $100 I ever spent but it did take me many hrs to put together. other than that I still use a tape measure, legal pad and lots of digital pictures
What is your experience level of woodworking ? Are you looking to get a job ? Did you had any business experience ?
when you going to meet a customer at their home to look at the job and give them a quote please follow below fundamentals , i am an expert salesman and engineer builder doing this over whole my life.
1- Be clean and wear nice.
hopefully this is help for what do you take with you, there is more let me know where do you fit on what i write.
You are onto something with the custom note pad for collecting customer information.
One of the key dimensions that is easy to forget is how big the smallest doorway is that you need to get your cabinets through. A list of standard dimensions that need to be collected would go a long ways later.
If you are doing design work you need to remember to verify where hood fan will discharge. There are code restrictions to how close this can be to a bedroom window.
There are a lot more questions that show up. How level the floors and ceiling are make a difference in how complicated crown molding will be to install and how high the hood fan needs to situate to produce combustible clearance at stove.
Remember to ask whether or not any of the framing will require plywood shear walls. This can subtract 3/4 inch from a tight space.
How wide does the refrigerator door swing? How close can it get to the wall and still allow for full access to crispers? How much clearance will it need to adjacent cabinetry for heat to dissipate?
Where does the shut off valve for gas cooktop situate?
Does the crown molding want to be caulked to the ceiling?
Will cabinets collide with head casing or door knob projection on exterior doorways?
How far does window or door casing project from sheetrock? Will the new casings have any additional back band moldings?
How far does the window sill project from face of sheetrock? Will the faucet collide with window sill projection?
This is a fairly long list of questions but the good news is it is a more or less finite list. If you number the questions it is very easy to follow up with an email to get the answer to Question #7. The number format lends structure.
One other thing to note:
A list like this is tedious to make but you are already probably paying for it. There is nothing more tedious than having to re-build something, especially if you caused the problem and have to fund it.
You could probably make an exhaustive list in less time than you would spend just driving to the job site and back.
I take a tape, a laser measure, and I've started wearing a go-pro camera. I just record everything on that, and go back later and go through the video. We typically do whole house projects, and its working out pretty well. The other subs laugh at first, but they catch on.
A clip board with some blank white paper, a mechanical pencil and tape measure.
I talking about the ones who just want to pick my brain with no intention of buying.
So I qualify them so as not to waste time on people who are not going to buy.
If they are genuinely interested then I go through the hoops.
Sort of like a Ferrari salesman who spends 90+% of his time qualifying people.
Do you go to every customer that wants you to go to their house?
Of course I don't go to everybody's house but when I decide that I want a job I am all in. Showing some enthusiasm is very confidence building for the customer.
I generally try to have 3-4 interactions with a customer before we hire them. I want first off make sure I'm not working for Jeffrey Dahlmer then I want to collect as much information as I can.
I do end up spending some time with customers that I don't end up going to work for but usually this is a fairly small amount of time. Certainly it is less time than I would surrender if I end up working for a bad customer.
There are very few customers I work for that I would not want to work for again. I think this has to do with my screening process. I have an extremely high referral rate. This is because I try to make sure the customer has a great shopping experience.
Every now and then the customer will spook me a little bit after I have them signed up. When this happens I make sure they like me in the end. Is much easier.
What is the criteria for you going to their house?
For boutique shops like my own we are really selling time more so than product. While it is convenient for the contractor to think of us as a SubZero refrigerator we are really more a service just like him. Like the contractor our pricing is predicated more on opportunity cost than actual cost. Think of it as like the UBER peak load pricing model.
How aggressively we pursue jobs is a function of what we have on our plate and what the customer has to offer. I am as interested in a good photograph as I am in a good profit margin because I can turn that photo into money downstream.
Sometimes I am in the middle of negotiating a project with one customer and so will aggressively pursue another. If I know that I have some revenue lined up from one source it bumps the price for another. The sooner a customer gets in line the less it costs.
I also look for jobs that are easy to build. Sometimes this is because the site it self is easy to ascertain measurements for. If I can measure your job now but you don't need it for a while I can put it in my pocket and use it as fill in work while I am waiting for information (or windows) to show up on another job.
I have learned over the years to be grateful for every job. There have been many customers who I was pretty sure I didn't want to work for when I first met them. Whenever I would actually work for these people it usually turned out I was very appreciative of the revenue when it showed up.
I don't have a hard and fast rule for when I do and don't go to a customer's house before having the job. As Woody Allen says, half of success is just showing up. Manifesting enthusiasm is an easy way of showing up.
A good shopping experience is a rare thing and when it happens it really stands out. The same thing goes for the reciprocal. If we come across as aloof our customers pick up on this as well. I never found it to be a good strategy to tell a girl that she's not the prettiest one I have ever met but I would still be willing to go out with her.
It seems like a lot of you don't go measure a job until you are almost sure that you are going to do it. We are medium size shop about 12 people and we have way more work than we can do already and we have people call all the time and want us to come out measure and give them an estimate. I sure don't have time to go out and measure and do estimates when we won't do a lot of the work because it seems right now with the economy good so many people want new cabinets but have not idea how much they cost.
Some observations about the landscape:
The customer is not going to hire you until they know what your work is going to cost.
You aren't going to give them a price until you know what it is that they want.
You don't want to spend much time engaging with someone who is not going to hire you.
You have a lot more experience with this kabuki dance than they do. You do this often they maybe only do it once or twice in their lifetime.
Who do you think is the most qualified to put a tail on this kite?
How would you go about doing that?
Well said Tim
In any case it seems that not qualifying people would result is a lot of wasted time.
You can almost go by geography, I have seen plumbers do that and refuse certain cities as the customers never close. And I would agree in the beach areas, they seem to be house poor.
The affluent get referred to you.
After getting done with a lawsuit on the West Side (of Los Angeles) my lawyer said do not contract jobs in that area unless they are referrals.
The consensus is that you will get 1 out 10 cold calls. Seems like you can improve your odds with a little qualifying of the prospects.
It is sort of like hiring employees in that you want to look for genuine interest. If the prospect is glib or lacks genuine interest your odds of getting the job go way down.
The successful cold calls generally are easy and fast with little drama or posturing.
When you go to a trade show the people working the booth can tell a genuine prospect and ignore the rest. This is a similiar deal in that regard.
My shop used to be in a trendy part of old-town. Over the years it gentrified to where there there was more night life than cabinet shops. One summer evening our garage door was open and a man & woman wandered in.
They said they were planning to do a kitchen so I chatted them up a bit. We had a bead & quirk project in the shop at the time and she announced that one of the beads was a different size than the other. I told her this was not possible because they all went through the same powerfed tooling.
She turned to one of my guys to ask if she could borrow a tape measure. I made a mental note to add $10K to her project price and indeed did just that. They brought some drawings to the shop the next week and asked for an estimate of cost. I figured this was a $20K project so priced it at $30K.
I should have priced it at $50K.
I would have too had I have taken a trip to their house and spent a little more time getting to know them before I put my number on the table. The house was a museum. Every horizontal surface, each & every window casing or header above a doorway displayed tiny jade figurines from the orient. This place was filled with art looted during World War 2.
That was the okay part. The really weird part was the million year old mother in the basement who communicated by knocking on the ceiling with a broom. It was like something out of the Adam's Family.
The woman who hired me was a micro-manager that wanted to not only how I was doing everything but why. The best part was when she would offer up an alternative method.
On install day I went up to coach the contractor's employee. We were working out a small nuance with this woman standing shoulder to shoulder with us. She was freaking this kid out. I pointed to a kitchen chair and told her to take that chair into the dining room and sit on it.
This is all new stuff to our customers. You have to realize that they just occupy a point on the spectrum of possible responses. In the last year I worked for one of the stupidest people I ever met. She did not even understand the questions that she asked, much less the answers (kind of like an architect). During the same year I worked for the smartest man in I ever met.
Both of these customers took an intense amount of hand holding. I would, however, work for both of them again and probably will.
We handle this issue by explaining to the customer that design is a product and should be treated as a separate service than the cabinetry. Pay for the design and its theirs to keep. Furthermore I cannot give them a price until they have a design. Unfortunately I do not have a cabinet designer on staff, but I am happy to refer one. They can choose to pay this professional designer for a valuable service or they can go to Home Depot and get one for free. If they bring me professional designs then I know they are serious. If they bring me Home Depot drawings, then I know they can't afford me. Either method is effective at qualifying customers with little effort from me. If stated correctly, they will actually appreciate you for having their best interests in mind. Such things as "an independent designer will not steer you towards one product or another, they are your advocate".
The designs don't need to be exhaustive or expensive, but they do need to cost something. Find someone who is good with a pencil and knows a little bit about the business and you've found your designer. You can work out the finer details later once the customer has been qualified.
"Design is a product"
That is a great way to describe this.
Tim if only diatribes were a product...
They will be soon.
at do you take with you when you go to meet a new customer and measure a new job?
Do you write notes on just a standard legal pad, iPad, or a custom notepad that you had made so you can fill in customers information and a place for notes ext?
Do you bring an iPad or anything to show pictures or examples or other work?
I have used iPad before but find that it’s easier to flip through a binder.
If you are still in selling phase is useful to keep your pictures in a loose format, something that customers can pick up and peruse at will.
If they are in a binder or on an ipad you have to steer the presentation. You will learn more by watching which pictures your customers gravitate towards. They will pick up and stare at the ones that resonate with them.
as like many others, these days I don't go near a job until I have done some "qualification work" and get a good feeling about the customer. In my experience customers who ask the question "when can you come out and measure" within the first thirty seconds of a phone-call are the worst customers. An alarm bell is going off saying this person does not appreciate your valuable time!!!
These days i insist on some commitment from the customer before we engage. Whether it be a set of architectural plans and a specification schedule or a hand sketch with a few notes is fine.
Enough about that. When the lead is qualified I take to site.
- Galaxy note phone with S pen