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Old 02-19-2014, 01:10 AM
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The time I let my guard down

So a topic that frequently comes up is the art of pre-qualifying prospective clients. And often time people will post to "do this" and "do that" and all will be peachy perfect. And I always respond with "there is no fool-proof way to pre-qualify, there will always be a few to slip through the cracks".

This past July a lady calls me for an estimate for a stone walkway. She called on like the 4th of July and I answered the phone. She was so excited to have me come out for an estimate. She told me they just bought a house in Olney MD. Well, all I've ever seen in Olney MD is older homes, so I didn't bother asking her if the house was a min of 12 months old, as I usually do ask that question.

She wanted to schedule an appt with me as soon as they settled on the property. OK, fine, no problem. So she sets up an appointment with an estimate for about 30 days later.

The day comes for the estimate and my 10 yr old son usually goes everywhere with me, so he and I go to meet with this lady. I plug their address into the GPS and nothing came up. I start driving in the direction of their town and I call the husband and he gives me all these cross roads, and still nothing came up. After about 30 minutes, and after calling the husband about 8 times for more help, I ask him "is this a new community?" He responds "yes, it's brand new, we're just moving in today and the movers are here".

After hearing that my blood is boiling. But since I went to all the trouble of getting directions and since we were already half way there I continued to drive to the appointment. I tell my son "this is a waste of time, the property is brand new, we can't do a walk yet, and the movers are there, they won't have time to talk to me".

We get there and sure enough....it's a huge brand new house on a postage stamp size lot. Movers are there carrying furniture into the house. The Mr comes out and greets me. And the MRS that was so anxious to have me come meet with her was extremely busy telling the movers where every piece of furniture goes. The Mr was interested in doing a nice formal walkway, and the Mrs just wanted the 3' wide builder walk that hugged the foundation of the home to be veneered in stone. She was so busy with the movers that she was very short and snippy with me. So I proceed to be nice and I get measurements. (yeah, kill them with kindness)

We leave and I tell my kid "I don't want to work for these people, I'm not going to price the work". And he's like "I know, that lady was mean". I was so mad at the crabby lady and mad at myself for letting my guard down on pre-qualifying them when she initially called. I was thinking to myself "I pride myself on pre-qualifying callers and this time I really screwed up".

A month later I get a speed camera ticket in the mail from when I drove to that house!



.
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Old 02-19-2014, 01:47 AM
TTS TTS is offline
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How much was the ticket?
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Old 02-19-2014, 07:22 AM
clipfert clipfert is offline
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That's is why we are fortunate in owning our businesses. We don't have to work for everyone. First impressions are a two way street.

DVS-Looking back what you have done better to prequalify or disqualify this potential client?
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Old 02-19-2014, 07:38 AM
recycledsole recycledsole is online now
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lol I know where you got the ticket they are ruining our county.
Do you know back in 2012 they were making $1million PER month off speed camera tickets alone? I wonder what they are making now off us.
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:26 AM
New2TheGreenIndustry New2TheGreenIndustry is online now
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Was the need to wait 12 months so things could settle?
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clipfert View Post
That's is why we are fortunate in owning our businesses. We don't have to work for everyone. First impressions are a two way street.

DVS-Looking back what you have done better to prequalify or disqualify this potential client?
Like I said, a standard question I ask is "how old is the property". A majority of the time I will turn down an appointment for a brand new property. When I do turn them down, I chat with the caller for a few minutes and I explain to them the settlement process/issue, and I tell them to call me back 12-24 months later. When she called and told me where the house was I presumed it was a house built in the 60's or 70's. And in reality they were not in the town, they were on what I would call the far outskirts.
__________________
"It's You vs. You"

"People Throw Rocks At Things That Shine"


My Equipment Brag List:

-1 CAT hat
-16 pairs of Hanes socks (the Heavy Duty model), many with holes.
-12 pairs of underwear, ranging from Joe Boxers to Jockey, many are in need of replacement. (no more photo requests please)
-hundreds of t-shirts. Some w/ grease stains, some torn & tattered.
-7 pairs of jeans, ranging from Levis to Polo to GAP. 1/2 of them have holes in 'em.
-1 belt
-1 pair of old worn out Nike shoes.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:48 AM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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That's what happens when we shortcut prequalifying because we think we know the area. Just had the same experience a couple weeks ago. Guy called me from a town where a number of my higher end customers are and wanted to redo a failing patio, put on a new deck, and deal with drainage and some plantings. Given the town I didn't prequalify him all that hard and didn't apparently get into the design process, fee structure, etc. Just got the info and got back to what I was working on.

The morning of the appointment I mapped the address and was reminded that there's the OTHER end of that town where it's all crappy little brick ramblers. Turns out the guy's getting sent overseas and he wants this work all done on the cheap so they can rent the place. When I walked him through how the process works and what the design fees would be (the drainage was actually a HUGE issue and was going to take some serious time to work out and still look good) he not only balked at the idea of paying for anything but started saying that if I didn't give him a free design and estimate that I was dishonest and he'd see to it that it impacted my business. WTF dude, at this point you're out 15 minutes on a Saturday morning. Take a pill. So I sent him the design proposal anyway and of course he replied with how he's never had to pay for an estimate even when he built his own house blah blah blah. Told him that's the way I do business and it's not for everyone but I'm happy to refer him to someone who can do "just an estimate" if that's what he wants. Haven't heard back, hope it stays that way. Jeez.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:49 AM
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DVS Hardscaper DVS Hardscaper is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recycledsole View Post
lol I know where you got the ticket they are ruining our county.
Do you know back in 2012 they were making $1million PER month off speed camera tickets alone? I wonder what they are making now off us.
I forget what road it was on. But the house was in a Winchester Home community by a (high?) school, on the outskirts of Olney, closer to Rockville, and I came in from 270.

I do not think MoCo is making as much money off the cameras today, as they did in the beginning. Everyone knows where the cameras are now. (except for those of us rushing to get to an appointment!!) Also, we all know that they set the cameras up on roads with speed limits of 35 mph. I've never seen a speed cameras on any 40 MPH roads or 25 MPH roads.
__________________
"It's You vs. You"

"People Throw Rocks At Things That Shine"


My Equipment Brag List:

-1 CAT hat
-16 pairs of Hanes socks (the Heavy Duty model), many with holes.
-12 pairs of underwear, ranging from Joe Boxers to Jockey, many are in need of replacement. (no more photo requests please)
-hundreds of t-shirts. Some w/ grease stains, some torn & tattered.
-7 pairs of jeans, ranging from Levis to Polo to GAP. 1/2 of them have holes in 'em.
-1 belt
-1 pair of old worn out Nike shoes.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:53 AM
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DVS Hardscaper DVS Hardscaper is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New2TheGreenIndustry View Post
Was the need to wait 12 months so things could settle?
Yes. But even 12 months isn't sufficient time. 24 months is more realistic. Although my home still had settlement around the foundation when it was 5 years old.
__________________
"It's You vs. You"

"People Throw Rocks At Things That Shine"


My Equipment Brag List:

-1 CAT hat
-16 pairs of Hanes socks (the Heavy Duty model), many with holes.
-12 pairs of underwear, ranging from Joe Boxers to Jockey, many are in need of replacement. (no more photo requests please)
-hundreds of t-shirts. Some w/ grease stains, some torn & tattered.
-7 pairs of jeans, ranging from Levis to Polo to GAP. 1/2 of them have holes in 'em.
-1 belt
-1 pair of old worn out Nike shoes.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-19-2014, 10:01 AM
DVS Hardscaper's Avatar
DVS Hardscaper DVS Hardscaper is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaperCutter View Post
That's what happens when we shortcut prequalifying because we think we know the area. Just had the same experience a couple weeks ago. Guy called me from a town where a number of my higher end customers are and wanted to redo a failing patio, put on a new deck, and deal with drainage and some plantings. Given the town I didn't prequalify him all that hard and didn't apparently get into the design process, fee structure, etc. Just got the info and got back to what I was working on.

The morning of the appointment I mapped the address and was reminded that there's the OTHER end of that town where it's all crappy little brick ramblers. Turns out the guy's getting sent overseas and he wants this work all done on the cheap so they can rent the place. When I walked him through how the process works and what the design fees would be (the drainage was actually a HUGE issue and was going to take some serious time to work out and still look good) he not only balked at the idea of paying for anything but started saying that if I didn't give him a free design and estimate that I was dishonest and he'd see to it that it impacted my business. WTF dude, at this point you're out 15 minutes on a Saturday morning. Take a pill. So I sent him the design proposal anyway and of course he replied with how he's never had to pay for an estimate even when he built his own house blah blah blah. Told him that's the way I do business and it's not for everyone but I'm happy to refer him to someone who can do "just an estimate" if that's what he wants. Haven't heard back, hope it stays that way. Jeez.

Yep, I think we're all guilty of "short cutting" the lead based on location.

That lady was so short and snippy to me when I was there, but I didn't blame her for my wasted time. I was kicking myself for my lack of pre-qualifying.

It was a disaster. So after the meeting and since I drove the distance, might as well make something good come from venture, so me and the kid went to Carrabbas. I love their fresh bread!
__________________
"It's You vs. You"

"People Throw Rocks At Things That Shine"


My Equipment Brag List:

-1 CAT hat
-16 pairs of Hanes socks (the Heavy Duty model), many with holes.
-12 pairs of underwear, ranging from Joe Boxers to Jockey, many are in need of replacement. (no more photo requests please)
-hundreds of t-shirts. Some w/ grease stains, some torn & tattered.
-7 pairs of jeans, ranging from Levis to Polo to GAP. 1/2 of them have holes in 'em.
-1 belt
-1 pair of old worn out Nike shoes.
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