Consumer attitudes to Construction and Trade businesses are still stuck in the 20th Century. With over 87.5 percent of business owners in these sectors reporting that a customer has tried to haggle over price in the last year.
Alison Warner, 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 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.”
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, skill or qualification of the tradesperson or any available assurances and/or guarantees. Which essentially means that they’re not comparing like with like.
Sarah Bioletti, from plastering firm AMJ Contracts, said: “We provided a client with a properly costed quote but were told that they’d had another quote for an amount that wouldn’t have covered our labour costs. When quotes come in at 50 percent you’d hope that alarm bells would ring but there seemed to be no consideration of what was included or the fact that you often get what you pay for and if it goes wrong then they will have no redress with the Contractor. It is so disheartening, and it costs us money and our weekends to go and quote”
Alison runs online, face to face, group and 121 mentoring for businesses in the Construction and Trades industries. She also manages a thriving Facebook Group where they can share ideas, best practices and the occasional gripe and build relationships with likeminded firms.
She takes business owner 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 plasterer/electrician/plumber/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.”