What if, on the next 5 estimate site visits, instead of going in with a mindset of 'How can I get this job?',
we asked ourselves...'Is this my ideal customer?'.
It may be a more difficult question to answer, but it is the more important question for the success of our business and our personal well-being.
05/2017 Update: After using Easy Invoice App for over a year and appreciating it's value, I have stopped using it due to a change in their pricing. It may still be a viable option for your business, but for now I have chosen to go back to using a template on my MacBook. A little more work, less utility, but cheaper and not held ransom by a 3rd party app.
The calendar can be an effective agent of change. For the past 11 years I had been generating almost all my sales documents by hand. That means hundreds and hundreds of pages worth of estimates and invoices, all painstakingly hand-written. The thing is, I had experimented with Word and Pages and dabbled with various apps, but nothing seemed to meet my needs. I felt like it was simpler and that it gave my business a craftsman feel. But maybe it was fear of change, laziness to learn a new method, or pure procrastination. Either way, the time had come to try something new.
This past January I decided that it was time to commit to switching to digital estimates and invoices. After 2 months of using this particular app to create all my estimates and invoices, I think I found an effective new tool that is an asset to my business. I'd like to share it with you in case you are looking for a simple way to manage this aspect of your business...
Last week on the blog we looked at Red Flags - signs that the project ahead may get stressful.
This week let's consider what could be another early sign that your prospective client may not be a good fit for your business.
If your client right away attempts to turn your service into a commodity by asking what you charge per square foot, or how much you charge per hour, this could be a clear sign that their project won't be a good fit for your business.
After over a decade of dealing with a variety of customers and situations, I've learned the hard way to recognize 'red flags' that potentially pose a risk to my business and peace of mind. The best protection I have found is to avoid working for certain prospects and projects. The 3 main red flags that I pick up on are:
1. Unreasonable expectations. A year a half ago I received a phone call that perfectly illustrates this red flag. In the middle of peak season a lady called and asked if we are available to paint the interior of her house in short order. She needed it done in two weeks. But there was a catch - she was on a very tight budget. Normally I like to look at every job, but I didn't think there was any way we could squeeze it in and the low margin was not an incentive to even try. Out of curiously I asked what the size of the house was. She replied 5000 square feet. That was pretty much the end of the conversation. For our small and busy business there was no way we could even think of taking this on. Going any further would have been a complete waste of both of our time.
When I started my business I had a very keen desire to help everyone and try to take on every job. This was not modest and it exposed me to quite a bit of stress and risk. As a rule of thumb a job consists of three factors - quality, scheduling and cost. I can usually accommodate 2 out of 3 (as long as one factor is quality). If someone expects all three, or makes other unreasonable demands, it's time to reset expectations or walk away...
WHY: PROFITING FROM THE RIGHT APPROACH
This week I met a new colleague, a fellow painter and business owner. He mentioned that he has been busy working 7 days/week in order to catch up on work prior to an upcoming family vacation. He is midstream on a small housing development of 10 homes that is progressing quickly. His phone is ringing with more work from the install department of a big box retailer. He was in the paint store at dinner time waiting for colour matches for the next day so he could keep his crew of seven guys running steady and keep the client's project moving forward. Then he said it...
'I've got 3 estimates waiting for me when I get home.'
Boy do I know that feeling. There goes the rest of his evening. A whole day dedicated to his painting business. A whole week. A whole month...
I've had a love, hate, love relationship with estimates...