Consumer attitudes to construction and trade businesses are still stuck in the 20th Century – and symptomatic of these attitudes is the fact that over 87 percent of business owners in these sectors report that a customer has tried to haggle over price in the last year, according to Alison Warner of Evolve and Grow Coaching.
Alison, who is also the author of Amazon bestseller Build and Grow: How to go from Tradesperson to Managing Director in the Construction and Trade Industries, has been working with trade businesses for eight years.
She said: “As a business coach for this industry, firms generally fall into one of two categories – those needing more customers and those overwhelmed by demand and struggling to cope. I quickly noticed two things – first that lots of trade business fall into the overwhelm category and second that, despite all the rogue trader and cowboy builder noise that we’ve become used to hearing, many of these businesses are actually extremely open to finding ways to professionalise what they do and to improve the service they offer to their customers.”
Look past the price
“Yet despite their efforts, consumers still think that haggling with trades, or trying to ‘knock them down for cash’ is acceptable. Part of the issue seems to be that homeowners don’t always look past the price at what is included, the materials being used, skills or qualifications of the tradesperson or any available assurances and/or guarantees. Which essentially means that they’re not comparing like with like.”
Scot Mochan, Managing Director of SE London-based Mochan Roofing agrees. Scot says that his firm is sometimes asked by customers to reduce prices. Scot comments, “The danger in going with someone cheaper is that they invariably will have had to cut corners somewhere or would be using cheaper materials. It is often a false economy, they may not be fully insured or have undergone the proper training.
“By knocking the price down, you are also kind of admitting that the price was too high in the first place (even if it wasn’t),” Scot adds.
Alison Warner works with trade and construction companies to respond to haggling customers professionally and turn the situation to their advantage. She runs online, face to face, group and 1-2-1 mentoring for businesses in the construction and trades industries. She also manages a thriving facebook group where businesses can share ideas, best practices and the occasional gripe and build relationships with likeminded firms.
Alison takes business owners through the BUILD system which was specifically designed for trades and addresses five key areas to help them get off the tools and start working on their business rather than in it.
With regards to haggling with customers, she has this specific advice: “It’s always a good idea to have a leaflet of ‘Top tips when choosing a roofer/builder.’ Have this in print or as a PDF – to go out with your quotes – and also on your website. Often consumers think they know about your trade but most of the time they don’t so this useful document positions you as the expert and educates your customer. This builds trust and credibility, which converts into sales.”