Screening customers calls.

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by adrianvbarrera, Jun 4, 2003.

  1. adrianvbarrera

    adrianvbarrera LawnSite Member
    Messages: 163

    Does anyone have a list of questions that they ask a prospective customer before setting up a meeting. My real questions is what are the signs that a prospective customer is just price shopping.

    Just a thought.

  2. Auroris

    Auroris LawnSite Member
    Messages: 155

    Good question Adrian,

    So far I've run into some that I didn't think would go for my prices, but then ended up being a regular account - and some that I thought were a piece of cake that never called back.

    It's about like a call I got today where they've got 10 foot blackberries & 4 foot weeds all through a 1.5 acre lot that's been abandoned for several years. The fellow wanted to know as close as possible just what it would cost him - right then & there over the phone. I kindly remind them that I specialize in lawn management and maintenance, and refer them to a "field mower" with an old rotary mower.

    I always tell people over the phone that I will not (cannot) give them my "best price" over the phone, without seeing the property and walking it to get a good idea of the job. When they say "it's a half acre and I just want a rough cut - no trimming or anything fancy" that's when I know I do not want the account anyhow! :rolleyes:

    When I call shopping around for prices, I usually tell the person on the other end that I'm shopping around, thinking that if at all possible, it might give them an incentive to give me "the good price" right then.

    It seems that experience might be about the only thing that can help to tune-in to what a potential client is thinking. ;)
  3. MasterForm

    MasterForm LawnSite Member
    Messages: 83

    What I've seen work:

    After getting vitals: Name, address, phone:

    Q1: How did you hear about us?
    Referral? From whom? (Don't ask Q2)
    Phone book, flyer? Then ask Q2

    Q2: How many quotes are you getting?

    Time is money, better asking the right questions on the phone than chasing quotes with little or no potential.
  4. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    I get the general info, then asked how you heard of me. Ask the size of the property if its small I tell them my minimum price right away. Lot of times they say they have called a few others, I tell them I can come look at it but I am rarely the lowest bidder. This saves me time usually. Contracts I usually get are customers unhappy with current provider and will pay more, referals, and neighbors.
  5. adrianvbarrera

    adrianvbarrera LawnSite Member
    Messages: 163

    Thanks for the response. Now I know that I am not the only one struggling with this issue.

    I will take your advice and come up with a similar script to run through my prospective customers.

  6. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    I resurrected this old thread because I want to refine my screening process when we get calls from a prospective new maintenance customer.
    Typically we ask:
    1. How did you hear about us?
    2. Do you have a current service provider? if so, would you mind telling me the reason you are looking for a replacement?
    3. What is most important to you in choosing a service provider?
    (this can often speak volumes volumes about what they are looking for)

    I want to get into the issue of the fact that we are almost never the lowest cost so if the lowest price is what you are looking for, we likely won't be the one for you. But this is an awkward issue to get into yet I have no desire run around chasing price shoppers.

    Any of you get into the cost issue on the first phone call? I like to do as much screening as possible over the phone but theres a fine line to walk in not asking too many questions and scaring them off.

    Any other ?'s you have found helpful would be appreciated.

    Yo Jim Lewis...with your large customer base any input you could provide would be also appreciated.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    As far as discussing the price, I usually throw out a general range based on the area they are in. I'm sure I've been on every street in the county at least 100 times, or so it seems, so I'm not going out on a limb. At least then if they were expecting you to mow for $10 you won't be wasting your time.
  8. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 4,771

    One simple thing to not overlook is their zip code. I have a zip code map posted in my office. Some jobs just arent worth even looking at. Also, as mentioned above, I will give them a bare minimum...higher if the zip code is furthur away.
  9. Utah Lawn Care

    Utah Lawn Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,555

    Finding out how they heard about you.
    Find out what they dislike about their previous providers.
    Find out what they are looking for from a company.

    After asking a couple questions to find out their concerns you can literally go down the list addressing their concerns to help them realize you're credible and they will likely be safe going with you. Even this little bit of conversation can create a small bond and trust that will give you a leg up over the other guys that just get a name and address. It gives them something besides just price to go on.

    Obviously somewhere in there you need to get their basic information as well.

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