25 Keys to Winning the In-Home Service Bid and Stealing Your Customer's Heart

Do you want your business to make way more money while you work less? Do you want your customers to be so loyal that they wouldn't dream of calling anyone else?

If you just answered yes, (and I know you did) read on...

Before I share my secrets for bidding on in-home service jobs and building customer relationships, do you mind if I tell you a little bit about myself?

At the time of this writing I have over 32 years experience creating, building and eventually selling service companies.

Currently, I own and run a nationwide carpet repair company with locations in nearly every major city across America. In addition to building and running my own companies, I've been trained by several well known sales trainers.

When providing personal training to outside sales people their revenue increases by an average of around 25% - 50%.

Here are the 25 keys I promised you.

1) Enrollment

First of all stop being a salesperson. Stop it right now and never go back to selling your service. Take the word sales out of your vocabulary and replace it with enrollment. Aspire towards greatness in the art of enrolling prospects into choosing your service. Nobody wants to be sold anything. People want you to understand their problem and be the solution to their problem. When you solve a persons problem you won't have to sell anything. Help someone out and they'll never forget you... when they need help.

2) You don't have a service company.

In actuality you have a marketing company that enrolls people into what you have to offer. Everything you say, write and do for the prospect or customer should be all about enrollment.

3) You aren't "a" contractor, you're "their" contractor.

When you become an enrollment expert, you cease to be just another face in the crowd. You're not just another contractor that wants your prospects money. Instead, you're promoted into their inner circle. You become "their" good friend, "their" expert and "their" advocate in your field.

In the prospects mind you're no longer a carpet cleaner or a plumber or a contractor. You're now part of their lives as "their" contractor or "their" carpet cleaner or "their" plumber. If you really care about your prospect, they'll know it and will always call you first and wait for you when you're busy.

4) The two most important questions.

With every statement you make to your prospect, answer one or both of these questions that your prospect is always thinking:

A) What's in it for me?
B) What's so great about that?

For every service or product you want your prospect to want to buy give him several benefits. For example: "We offer Scotchgard to protect your carpet. When you use genuine Scotchgard instead of what most guys are selling, your carpet will release dirt and sand easier when you vacuum it. This in turn will make your carpet last longer because sand cuts through the fibers of the carpet. removing sand from your carpet on a regular basis will save you a lot of money in the long run as well as keep your home looking and feeling cleaner."

When you answer the two questions that your prospect is thinking to his satisfaction, you will have turned him into a customer.

5) Be a fishermen, not a hunter.

A hunter stalks his prey, a fisherman makes himself attractive. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be proactive. Quite the contrary, you do need to advertise and promote yourself but when you get the prospects' attention, stop hunting and become the fisherman.

Here's a great homework assignment for you. Make an avatar of your best customer and then put yourself in his shoes. Write down what that customer is attracted to. Write a long list of everything that customer is looking for. Then become the type of company that your best customer is seeking. Bait the hook, set the lure and attract them to you.

Note: Women have been doing this to attract men for thousands of years, now men, you can do it to attract your customers.

6) Authenticity

What people crave from you is your authenticity. Your potential customer is a real person. As a real person he wants to be heard, acknowledged and treated with respect. Before they care about your service, they want to see your genuine self and know that they can trust you. The potential customer wants to know that you are honestly a caring person and that as a caring person you have their best interest at heart. A very old expression is, "I don't care what you know until I know that you care."

7) Promises, promises. Keep them!

Promise to be at their home on time. Give your prospect a window of arrival and tell them that you'll call them first to let them know that you're on your way.

Always be on time and always call first. It is okay to call two or three times during the day to let them know what to expect from your schedule. People understand that you're a busy person but nobody likes to be left waiting. Most people are sick and tired of contractors being late.

I can't tell you how often people greet me and thank me (the first time we meet) for calling them and letting them know I was running late. Isn't it great to be thanked for being late? It is all about being in integrity with your word.

8) Honesty

Don't lie to your prospect. Don't even embellish the facts. It is not good for sales and not good for your spirit. You may think you're getting away with it but in the long run you won't. Deep inside of all of us we have a B.S. meter. Most people make emotional decisions and if you are a dishonest person, that internal B.S. meter will register. The prospect may not realize consciously that you're a liar but he will know in his gut that something doesn't feel right.

Once a prospect realizes that you're a good person and that you care about him, he'll want you to solve his problem. To think that you need to sell something by stretching the truth is the wrong approach.

When people trust you because of your honesty, integrity and authenticity they can see that you are genuine and will trust you to become the solution to their problem.

9) Earn the right by being their expert.

Before anyone believes that you're the solution to their problem they need to respect that you know what you're talking about. You don't get their respect without earning it. Listen carefully, repeat what you've heard and then explain in detail how you will solve their problem. Take whatever time is needed to teach the prospect a few things that they don't already know or understand. This will set you up as the expert.

10) Build the relationship on a solid foundation starting with the first phone call.

From the moment the phone rings the relationship is building. If it's done right, the customer starts to have a good feeling about you and the business from the moment that the very first phone conversation starts.

To build a relationship, it's a good idea to speak at the same speed as the customer, don't interrupt, repeat what you hear, be a sympathetic listener and friendly. Use the same words as they do. If they call a run in a Berber carpet a pull in a Berber carpet, they you call it a pull in a Berber carpet too. If they call a carpet ripple a bunched up carpet, then you refer to it as a bunched up carpet. Be sure to speak the same language as the customer by using the same words.

11) Meet and greet

Most people are a little or a lot suspicious when they answer the door. They don't know you. You're a stranger and you want to come in their home. When your prospect answers the door he should see a clean cut, properly dressed professional, smiling a gentle, authentic smile.

Tip: Don't arrive with a phony smile. When they see you for the first time. Have a faint hint of a smile, then allow your smile to grow naturally after you have eye contact. Be real about it. Be happy to meet them. Let the smile be real. Let the smile start at your heart and work it's way up. There are not many things more disturbing, than a big phony smile.

12) Identification

Don't be a stranger. By being easy to identify (and identify with) your prospect feels comfortable with you. Why do you think Doctors wear lab coats? Why do policemen and firemen wear uniforms? All to help you instantly identify them as the authority in their field. So wear a company shirt with the logo and your name on it and hand the prospect your business card right after you say hello.

Note: Don't hand your business card over while saying hello. It takes away the chance you have to make eye contact and disarm your prospect with that winning smile of yours.

When you call before you arrive your prospect has at least heard your voice once. If you've called two times plus you've scheduled the initial appointment, then the prospect has talked to you three times before he's ever laid eyes on you. This way you don't seem to be a stranger.

13) Courting

Getting to know the prospect is a lot like a man getting to know a woman. A wise man will take his time. When the prospect answers the door, make yourself comfortable being outside for another moment. Introduce yourself and wait for the prospect to open the door to let you in. Before you actually step inside say, "May I come in?" Don't assume that you can walk in the house. Don't make any forward motion towards entering their home until they've given you the okay. Little by little you can become more familiar with the prospect. Take it slow.

14) Tribe mates.

Become part of the same tribe as your prospective customer by discovering what you have in common with your prospect. Pay attention to the details of his home. As you walk up to the house and as you enter their home, notice what they're interested in. Break the ice with some small-talk for a minute or two about what you have in common.

If they have a Ford Mustang and you like Ford Mustangs, talk about that. If they have a koi pond and your grandmother loved koi, talk about that. If they have little ceramic figurines, talk about how you or your mother or your best friend loves those things. Talk about their dog or cat and make friends with the pet.

I'm not saying to be phony or make up something that's not true. It only takes a few seconds to find some things that you honestly do have in common with them. The more you have in common with your prospect, the more they'll feel like you come from the same tribe and the more comfortable with you they'll become.

15) Build value

Explain how your are the solution to their problem in detail. Educate your prospect about your product and how great it is. Remember the two most important questions and continue to answer them. Let your customer know how difficult your task will be by talking about the special tools you'll be using or the amount of effort required.

In my business, people often call me to patch a carpet. In the customers' mind there's only one thing that they need me to do, just patch the carpet. I build value by explaining how I patch their carpet. It's not a one-step process, it's more like ten different processes that need to be accomplished before their carpet will be patched to their satisfaction. Ten steps has more value than one step. By the time I've explained all of the different steps required to patch their carpet, the customer really believes that I know what I'm talking about. By taking this time with the customer, he also has a chance to see that I genuinely care about him and his home. In addition, he also sees that it's not as easy as he thought and that it's going to take work and skill. By realizing that it will take more effort than he thought, he becomes willing to pay more for the job. Most people are willing to pay extra for a job when they understand how much work is required.

16) Expectations

The easiest way to have a satisfied customer is to give him reasonable expectations from the beginning. When you explain how you'll solve his problem, make sure to explain the downside. In my case, with carpet repair, I'll say something like, "We can do this... but you'll probably see the patch. I think it'll look a lot better than what you have now, but again, you may be able to see the patch when it's done." Then write what you said on the agreement so that there's no misunderstanding.

17) "Raise your money thermostat." Phrase taken from Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker.

Remember that your money issues aren't necessarily your customers' money issues. For example, you may believe that $125.00 is a lot of money, so you're not comfortable charging that much. In reality, your prospective customer may be more than happy paying double that amount.

My suggestion is to raise your rates by 10% - 25% and test the results. You will probably notice that your prospects are more than willing to pay the higher price.

Wait a couple of months, then raise your rates again. Your money thermostat will raise as your prices increase. You'll know you've gone too far when you start losing bids.

18) Giving the bid

The first thing that comes out of my mouth when it's time to talk about the price is "I want to give you a discount but first let me figure out the total cost of the repair."

I estimate the highest amount that anyone would normally charge and then write "Full Price" and put that figure on the agreement, circle it and then draw an X through it.

Under the full price I write, "Discount." Have it be substantial. Write the discount amount in a dollar figure not a percent.

Under the discount I write "Total Discounted Price" and write the total.

19) The discount

When I approach the potential customer with the written agreement, (notice that I don't call it a contract) I repeat that I want to give him a discount. Then I explain to him why I'm giving him the discount. Make the reason honest.

20) Getting the okay

I show the potential customer the written agreement and say something like this.

"Okay, so I have this all figured out now. I do want to give you a discount because I don't want to walk away empty-handed. It seems to me that the full price for something like this would be around $450, but because I want to make sure to get this job I'm taking $75 right off the top so that I can do it right now."

Never ask for a signature. Simply put an X at the bottom where you want the customer to sign and say, "All I need is your okay right here and I can get started." People want to say okay when they trust you. Remember, he called you to solve his problem. Don't make a big deal about getting him to sign a contract. Simply giving you the okay with his John Hancock is a lot easier to swallow than entering into a legal and binding contract.

21) Guarantee

Give a 100% unlimited lifetime labor guarantee. Put it in writing and be sure to explain to the customer that the materials will wear out before your workmanship fails.

22) Mark your territory.

If you can't do the job right then and there, at least do something to start the job. In our case, we may pull up the edge of the carpet and flip it over to check the condition of the padding or the condition of the tack strip. The thing is... once you've started the job, it's unlikely the customer will cancel. The downside of doing it this way is that if the customer does cancel the job, you'll need to return to put things back.

23) Quality

When you are the best at what you do, your confidence shines through. People are attracted to that confidence. Not only will prospects be attracted to you and your service, but you'll feel good about yourself and your work.

24) Follow up

When the job is finished, call your customer back to follow up. I call and say, "Hi, this is Steve from Creative Carpet Repair. I'm just calling back to ask a couple of quality control questions." I then ask if they're happy with the job. If yes, would they refer us if they get the chance. The customer normally says, "Yes," and I then ask if I can send them a few business cards. Send the business cards along with a thank-you letter the very same day if possible.

25) Repeat business

I normally wait a year before I call them back to see if they need my services again although in your case it may by wise to send them a note every six months. Repeat customers have most of the relationship work already built in from the last time. When you talk to them on the phone, they'll be happy to hear from you and when you go to their home, it'll be like you're old friends. Everything goes much smoother with repeat customers.