Remodelers are likely already familiar with the many objections they hear from clients about why they want to postpone a project. What they may not understand is that these objections really boil down to a few essential components. Once a professional grasps the fundamental problems underlying the hesitations, they can take control over the situation. Mark G. Richardson has seen the path that amateurs take and can tell you exactly how to avoid the common pitfalls. A professional remodeler can usually persuade their clients to stay on schedule rather than delaying the project or abandoning it entirely.
Mark G. Richardson is well-known for presenting to thousands of business and sales leaders across the country as a business advisor. From construction to healthcare, manufacturing to retail, individuals from countless industries have found Mark’s wisdom relevant and delivery powerful. Mark is a Fellow at Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies, lectures at MBA programs and writes columns for Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler. Mark was named Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006 and is a member of NAHB’s Hall of Fame. Mark and his family live outside Washington, DC.
Mark G. Richardson’s experience and credentials makes his advice not only relevant to remodelers today but crucial to their success. He sees the underlying thread that ties successful remodelers together, and he shows you how to implement these tactics to your advantage.
How to Handle Homeowner Objections
From cost concerns to zoning fears, objections in remodeling are extremely common. If a remodeler can’t properly address these objections, they risk delays or even outright cancellations of projects. To streamline the process and fight inefficiency, remodelers need to crack the code of objections so they don’t waste time or forego profits.
Step One: Know Your Strengths
Despite the rise and fall of markets, the overall home appreciation rates are steadily rising (even if it’s a gradual climb.) Interest rates are also strong when it comes to home improvement, creating a minor sense of urgency to borrow sooner rather than later. With the demand for new housing rising and the labor pool declining, it’s left a gap that home remodelers can step in to fill. As we can see from the stock market, the wealth effect is pushing more people toward new standards of luxury. If they can’t buy a new home, they can at least remodel the one they have.
In addition, low unemployment rates are creating higher levels of consumer confidence. Homeowners begin to fantasize about how they can improve their biggest asset, spiking interest in remodeling. However, just because the consumer is easily caught up in their imaginations, doesn’t always mean they’re committed to following through with their plans. Instead, they may raise three main objections to their prospective remodeler.
Step Two: Examine the Nature of the Objection
An objection is usually just a question wrapped in a small amount of defensiveness or fear. Homeowners may be overwhelmed by the scope of the project, the time it requires, or the money they need to spend. Remodelers who treat these questions as stop signs rather than tiny bumps in the road will have a difficult time growing their business. This is the main crux of separating the amateur from the professional remodeler.
Amateurs Vs. Professionals
A professional sees an objection for what it is, and they’re proactive about addressing the question early in the project. An amateur may run through a practiced spiel at the sound of an objection, which can lead them to come across as a shady salesman with something to hide. An amateur remodeler will be confused and surprised when a client backs out at the last minute while a professional will have already prepared for this possibility long beforehand.
A professional is empathetic and fleshes out the objections as soon as they’re raised. An amateur fears an objection and can quickly become defensive, causing clients to question their motives or competency. Even if the objection is real and the answer is no, a professional can identify it as early as possible so they’re not wasting their time on a project that will never materialize.
The Three Most Common Objections
About 80% of homeowners are going to raise some variation of the following three objections:
- The price is too high
- They need to think about it
- They want to speak to someone else
Step Three: Tackle Each Objective
When remodelers hear the three main objectives, it’s their job to tackle the problem by posing their own questions to the homeowner:
- How does the homeowner feel about the advice and suggestions they’ve been given?
- Is the budget consistent with what they want to spend?
- Does the homeowner believe the remodeler is a good fit for them?
When it comes down to it, the vast majority of homeowners are concerned with the price of the project, even if they’re not voicing their concern directly. They don’t understand the remodeling process and may feel uncomfortable with the scope of work. Asking them questions about how they feel about the project gives homeowners permission to address their own fears so they can confidently move forward.
Remodelers are free to use these questions at any stage of the sales process, depending on the tone and direction the conversation is taking. Because they’ll almost certainly find it’s the cost that is the stumbling block for the homeowner, they can then ask if they’re open to suggestions about how they can raise or lower their level of investment. It’s important for remodelers not to strictly talk about lowering the budget (even if they know this is what a client wants.) The client should view the remodeler as a professional, not as an opportunity to haggle.
Most clients are open to hearing specific ideas about how they can adjust the scope of work, quality of materials, or the complexity of the design to fit their personal budgets. They may even choose to raise the level of their own involvement in the project. When they have the options and the knowledge, they’ll feel more in control. This confidence can be exactly what they need to make a positive decision to move forward.
The 3 E’s
Professionals should get used to practicing the three E’s with every client:
- Easy: Making the remodeling process easy for a client to understand is crucial to their final approval. It’s often their ignorance that stands in the way.
- Early: The old adage of ‘time kills deals’ is especially true in remodeling. A remodeler asks themselves why a homeowner shouldn’t complete the project rather than why they should. By reframing the question, they can get in front of objections and address them as early as possible.
- Every time: Practicing these standards every time is a great way for remodelers to ensure they address their main points. It’s also the only way to become a master at handling objections without becoming flustered.
Step Four: Watch Your Tone, Watch Your Words
The client needs to view the remodeler as hungry and not desperate. By keeping the pipeline open, remodelers can ensure they don’t sound desperate for new business. Remodelers can ask a client what other research they’ve been doing (i.e., what other companies they’ve contacted) in an effort to explain their own process and benefits. Weave in as much logic as possible (e.g., expected ROI, potential interest rate hikes, etc.) to establish why they’re making the right decision. Finally, ensure these habits are instilled in everyone on a team by reinforcing and prioritizing the importance of handling objections correctly.
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