How Should You Respond To a Prospect You Just Can’t Serve?

Posted by David Chism | Mon, Jun 4, 2018

Respons­es, like veg­eta­bles, are always bet­ter fresh than canned.

Most qual­i­ty home improve­ment con­trac­tors are run­ning more leads than they can han­dle this time of the year. And, when your com­pa­ny gets an abun­dance of leads, offer­ing a marketing tips for contractorstime­ly response to inquiries isn’t easy!  Con­se­quent­ly, I typ­i­cal­ly see an uptick in neg­a­tive reviews this time of year as well. Con­sumers are more and more demand­ing, and expect faster respons­es than ever before. One solu­tion to this issue is to set up an auto-response that helps weed out the tire-kick­ers. The prob­lem with this strat­e­gy, how­ev­er, is that most of these quick respons­es are not very gen­uine or ser­vice-ori­ent­ed — the con­trac­tor is just hop­ing that those who aren’t seri­ous will move on, and those who are will take the time to fill out their form (you know they’re seri­ous if they fill out all 35 pages, right???).

A Bet­ter Way To Respond To Peo­ple You Can’t Serve

So, how can you respond to these inquiries with­out cre­at­ing a poor expe­ri­ence for the inquirer? Here are a few ideas!

Per­son­al Response

Per­son­al is always best. Sure, it takes a lit­tle extra time, but it also keeps things gen­uine and friend­ly, and may lead to future work. Or, at the very least, it avoids receiv­ing a neg­a­tive review and dam­ag­ing your reputation. It all comes down to time man­age­ment, and coach­ing your team on the impor­tance of explain­ing WHY you can’t take on their project: too small, too far, tim­ing, a full cal­en­dar, etc… 

Cus­tom Auto-Respons­es and Templates

If there is no pos­si­ble way to pro­vide a per­son­al response, you may need to try an auto-response or tem­plate. Just please don’t copy, paste, and send (this is what hap­pens most of the time).  Find a hap­py medi­um by thor­ough­ly read­ing the project inquiry, copy­ing in your pre-writ­ten response, and then mod­i­fy­ing it just slight­ly so that it’s cus­tomized and per­son­al­ized with­out tak­ing much of your time. Mod­i­fy­ing a sen­tence or two takes only a moment, but it make all the dif­fer­ence for a savvy con­sumer who can smell a canned response a mile away. The end goal (whether you can serve the per­son or not) is to make them feel heard and important.

Be Help­ful

This one is also chal­leng­ing when you’re already busy, but it’s worth it: try to help each prospect find a solu­tion. If you’re booked, for exam­ple, refer them to some­one else, demon­strat­ing that you’re putting their imme­di­ate need at the top of your pri­or­i­ty list.  This is infi­nite­ly bet­ter than tick­ing peo­ple off by telling them you’re too busy, you’re booked 12 weeks out, or (worst of all) that you just don’t work in their neigh­bor­hood.” How much bet­ter does THIS response sound? Your project sounds great — I wish I could be involved! This is our busiest time of year, and we’re cur­rent­ly booked with sched­uled work for the next 12 weeks. Would you be able to wait (we’re worth it!)? If not, would you like me to rec­om­mend a few oth­er rep­utable local com­pa­nies who may be able to fit your project in sooner?” Don’t work in their area? How about: Thank you so much for reach­ing out and shar­ing your project goals with us! The vision you have for your space sounds fan­tas­tic. Cur­rent­ly, our ser­vice area doesn’t include your neigh­bor­hood, but I would be hap­py to refer you to anoth­er con­trac­tor who could help.”

Keep It Fresh and Keep It Personal

The moral of the sto­ry? A small invest­ment of time in your respons­es can pay a big div­i­dend. It’s ALWAYS worth it!  So, how do YOU han­dle those prospects you can’t serve? Let us know!

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.

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