I’ve made a presence telling people to change their rates and charge more. It’s a basic message. When you look at the complaints of most installers, they always say the rates are from 20 years ago. Well, in order to change that, CHARGE MORE! It all seems pretty simple when looked at like this. This is not how you become profitable, and there is only so much you can charge before your bids won’t be accepted anymore.
Your rates will only climb so high when you are charging solely based on price. You have to decide what else you bring to the table. Craftsmanship, cleanliness, a warranty, pleasantness, promptness, clear communication? What value are you actually offering the client? In order to get someone to part with their money, they have to value the item they are buying more than the money they have in their hand. It doesn’t matter if it is food, a stereo, a car, a floor or a shower. So how do we do this?
Soft skills go the furthest in my opinion. Learn how to talk with people. A classic read or listen on this topic is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Being able to walk into a client’s home and pick up on their interests and having the ability to listen to them talk about their problem instead of telling them what you can do will go a very long way. Make small talk. Maybe they have some photos up of a family vacation spot you enjoy as well. Ask about it! People love doing business with those that they know, like, and trust. Building a good rapport is going to go a long way in not only closing a sale but also being able to communicate effectively.
Being punctual will be a huge boost to your bottom line. Even just answering the phone and returning calls goes a long way. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told that I am the only one who called back or that they are surprised I confirmed with them and then truly showed up when I said I would. If you tell a client 4pm, then be there at 4pm. If you are going to be late, even a minute, let them know. Over communicating is better than no communication. If no one else is calling back, showing up or delivering an emailed bid when they say they will, it quickly becomes obvious who the choice needs to be despite the price. I always let potential clients know when they will receive a bid. Most times it is the same day because I hate having work laying around to do later. I would rather just get it off my plate, and they usually don’t take too long. Old school methods of being a man/woman of your word will always go a long way with people.
Sadly, craftsmanship is assumed by buyers. You are supposed to be the professional, why would you not be doing a nice job? Craftsmanship isn’t just in the finished work though. It’s in knowing what to look for to get the project from point A to point Z. It’s in knowing more than how to stick one thing to another or click something together. I can teach my 12-year-old son how to click LVP together or trowel out adhesive and put down engineered hardwood. Can you properly assess for moisture, subfloor flatness, provide knowledge of how to properly care for the floors and what may ruin them? How many times do you see a desk chair with wheels in a home and then put down LVP without telling the client that the chair will void their warranty if any damage occurs? Yes, doing a beautiful installation matters but getting to the point of installation to ensure a successful one for years to come matters even more. That knowledge needs to be communicated and presented as something that makes you stand out from others in your area. Everyone else is just coming in and measuring the space quickly. Don’t be that person.
When you raise your rates, always try and find a way to provide more with what you are charging.
Lastly, cleanliness matters. You are in someone's home or workspace. Even if it is a new build, a clean workspace is an efficient workspace. Keep your tools organized; keep an orderly pile of empty boxes as you pull product out; and keep a nice pile of scrap. All of this goes a long way. You could sweep at the end of the day and blow off your tools and their yard with a leaf blower. Pack them all back into your trailer, a corner in the home or the garage with permission. Don’t leave stuff strewn about everywhere. If you are not taking care of your things, how well will you take care of their home? Keep your trailer organized. The neighbors that may need a project done can see inside your trailer as you work and go in and out. I don’t want the disorganized guy or gal with things all over the floor. Show up with a decent shirt and pants on. Fix your hair. Keep your face cleaned up (I’m horrible at this one), and official uniforms always go a long way even if you work by yourself.
Combining all of these things into a solid presentation can allow you to close at higher rates. You will be presenting value to people that goes beyond what the others are offering. You can charge more because you are actually worth more and provide more. When you raise your rates, always try and find a way to provide more with what you are charging. At one point I raised my rates and included sweeping up with sweeping compound to minimize dust creation. It was a simple value add and homeowners love it. No one else is offering that and if they are, they don’t advertise it. Stand out with offerings everyone has but don’t sell. With these tips, you can start working your way towards being truly profitable with higher rates than others in your area.
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