We don’t understand how serious the customers are that come into our stores and it costs our businesses thousands of dollars. If your company is anything like mine, it is all too easy to get tunnel vision and forget the big picture. So often, business owners slip into an infectious pessimism when they talk about their customers and it drips down to their employees as well. It’s not uncommon in these summer months to hear things like: “Well, there are a lot of ‘Lookie Lou’s’ out there”, or “Everyone in here just wants to look around”, or “They just weren’t that serious”.
I’ve got news for you: Your customers are way more serious than you think they are. I’ve found firsthand that we underestimate this and as a result, don’t quote the way that we should. If you would have asked me 4 years ago about my quoting habits, I would have said, “I am really good at reading my customers; I quote the serious ones and let everyone else walk so I don’t waste my time”. Your answer might be similar to mine, but it’s actually dead wrong. An objective translation of my answer would be: “I am really good a putting my customers into a box based on my own (often wrong) assumptions. I quote the easiest customers because I only pay attention to low hanging fruit and I have no idea how many millions of dollars (literally) are walking out my door every year”.
By the time a customer has made it to our showroom floor they have already spent some time online being confused by insider language and technical jargon on a manufacturer’s website. Not to mention, they have checked out a few different dealer websites (which are often poor) to double check what they think they know. Lastly, they have taken time—that they don’t have—out of their day to drive to your location and spend an hour with your sales team… and you are telling me they aren’t that serious?
We have made a profound change in our approach to customers over the last four years. We treat everyone as if they are serious, and guess what? They don’t let us down. Not only that, but we set a goal for the percentage of customers that we want to quote and we measure our progress towards it. When we first started, we were terrible—less than 50%. I was shocked at what a low percentage of customers received a quote (you might find similar results if you measure as well), but the good news was that it gave us a diagnosis of what was wrong. Since then, we’ve been able to work intentionally on increasing our quote rate and the results have been amazing.
I challenge you to measure the percentage of customers that your team quotes for one week. The results will be surprising.
In today’s world, people are strapped for time. No one wants to waste time and no one walks into a fireplace store by accident—the fact is that they are in your store because they are interested in buying. There is data out there that says the average customer goes to less than two fireplace stores before making a decision to buy—we have to take advantage of that. After a customer has gone through all of the hassle that it takes to make it into your store, the least that your team can do is offer them a quote on what their project will cost. Trust me, it is a service to your customers.
The amount of open quotes that we have out there is the pipeline for our book of business and we want that be as big as possible. Even if a customer isn’t ready to buy on the spot, a quote gives them some skin in the game and it gives you the opportunity to follow up as needed. Now, that’s a subject for a different post, but my point is that nothing happens without a quote.
Since we have changed our philosophy on quoting we have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of business that we do. I would argue that most companies could grow by 30% in a single year if they worked intentionally on raising their quote rate. It’s up to you, but trust me, your customers are more serious than you think.
They are just waiting for you to believe it.