There’s a simple way to differentiate yourself and win more jobs: improve your quote presentation and your estimate format. That’s according to Ryan Shantz, who implemented this simple tactic as owner of Calgary-based Epic Roofing and Exteriors. He also streamlined it for the masses as founder of SumoQuote, a quote-building web app for building contractors.
Shantz says there are two common mistakes that contractors make with their quotes and estimate formats. The first is that they look identical to every other company out there. The second is that they speak to the contractor’s needs and not the homeowner’s.
We connected with Shantz to get more insights on the issues he sees with quoting and learn what contractors can do to improve.
Q: First of all, thank you for sharing your expertise! We know that contractors all over need to account for every minute of their time. Is this something that’s really going to show results? Is it worth it to put additional effort into their quote presentation?
A: One of my salespeople at Epic Roofing shared this story with me the other day. He sat down with a potential client who said, “Your quote is a bit more expensive, but I’d like to move forward with your company. After seeing how detailed your quote is, I know you’ll do a great job!” Now here’s the ironic part, a competitor’s quote was visible on the table and it actually went into far more detail than ours. It described all sorts of industry details that we hadn’t bothered to mention. The difference? The quote focused on details that a roofer cared about, but no homeowner would ever understand. The competitor’s quote was obviously built in a word processor or spreadsheet, or some generic CRM. It was a logo with a huge amount of text and a price. In contrast, our presentation was designed and built in such a way that it was intuitive and easy to understand. Our quote focused on the client, while our competitor’s focused on themselves.
Q: It seems like addressing the client’s needs is something that everyone knows they should do, but could benefit from a reminder. What should building pros think about when putting together their quotes?
A: Let’s back this up and think about it for a minute. What is the purpose of a quote? To give somebody a price for their job, right? To let them know the type of siding being installed and the warranty being provided. While those things can be included in a quote, I would suggest that the purpose of a quote is to gain the trust and engagement of your potential client while showing them how you differ from other contractors.
Ultimately, if you can connect with your client via trust, education and engagement, you will leap miles ahead of the competition.
This was our struggle as a large roofing & exteriors company. We had grown to a significant size but were losing too many jobs because our price was higher than competitors. We knew that we could provide a superior experience, but it was difficult for us to demonstrate that to the client at the sales stage. We wrestled continuously with how to practically differentiate our business in the sales process. Finally, we tried completely changing our quotes and were blown away by the results.
Q: What specifically did you do to amp up the engagement level of your quotes?
A: Rather than our quotes being all about us, the products we use, our warranty details, the price we were offering, etc., we changed the focus of our quotes to being on the client. We developed quotes that demonstrated our ability to:
• Understand their home
• Identify with their challenges
• Provide solutions
• Establish our competence and ability to help them.
Practically, we did this by inserting a photo of the client’s home on the cover page, writing about specific details of the project to educate them, and going a step further by including photos to show issues on their home and how we would correct them. To top it off, we hired a professional graphic designer and communications expert to make the quote visually appealing with easy to understand messages.
Q: You said earlier that you were blown away by the results. Can you share some details?
A: Yes. The results for our company was an increase in our sales by millions of dollars. Specifically, we saw a 63% increase in our win rate, going from 27% to 44% in won deals. Additionally, the web app we developed to build these sales presentations enabled our sales team to create exponentially superior quotes faster than they previously built generic ones.
Q: That sounds like an ideal result. What advice do you have for contractors who want to improve their quote presentations?
A: Think back to your own quotes again. How much does your quote focus on your own company, why it’s awesome, your price for the job, etc.? Do you include any specific content about the client and how you can solve their problems? If not, that’s a major issue.
Start thinking about the sale from a client’s perspective. Engage them and make the process about them. Ensure that every message in your quote is shared to make life easier for them.
James Hardie has more resources to help your building or contracting business. Check out these tips to build your virtual business, or these apps to help you work smarter, not harder.