Do Your Customers Qualify?
Hopefully those race motors you build propel your customers to not only qualify, but to win. But we all know to win will take much more than the most horsepower. And you should make sure your customers have more than just a desire to win or just engine problems to present to you.
By Dave Sutton
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If you’ve been following along the past couple years, you know that when I say qualify, I’m referring to the act of “qualifying” your potential customer.
First and foremost, can they afford to pay for the work and the parts you will provide. The best test for this is to require a deposit. A down stroke. The front money. No matter what you call it, it is a necessity.
If your client can’t afford approximately 50 percent of the job up front, what makes you think they will be able to pay twice as much a day, a week or even a month latter? In this down economy, it can take very little to happen for the average person to find they don’t have the money available that they might have thought they had. Or worse, they may not even have the job they had yesterday.
Don’t put yourself in any position to have to carry a customer’s burden. It was their lack of maintenance, their desire to go racing or their desire to restore their high school ride that brought them to you in the first place. Not yours.
Two other great things happen when you get a good deal of money up front. First, the customer is a lot more likely to get down to your place of business to pickup their job if they are vested in it financially. Second, once you’ve negotiated a price on parts and labor, and money has exchanged hands, the deal is sealed.
Your customer has turned it over to you and released themselves of the burden. Now, it becomes anticipation for the job to be completed. If the deal is still open, the customer is a lot more likely to become a shopper. They are now in the “power” position. You’ve done the work, but they have the money. No transaction is complete until you’ve turned this around.
But we also need to qualify more than just the customer. Let’s take a close look at the job. Hopefully, you are not being asked to do something you know is wrong. Or, as is so common today, only a portion of the job that you know needs to be done to fix the problem correctly.
Yes money is tight. But no one wants to do the job a second time. It is your job to remind the customer of this. This is for your own protection as well. Somehow, it seems, when that corner is cut it is not the person who chose for the work to be excluded who takes fault. Oh no my friends, it somehow becomes a comeback for the shop.
You know what I mean. You find yourself in that position known as customer satisfaction. If the customer is a regular bill paying client, you’re going to bend. You’re going to put other good paying jobs aside to fit this comeback in and get the past job, the one where you allowed the customer to talk you into cutting corners, out of your life. As much as possible, you should try not to go down this path.
Now you say, “Great advice, Dave, but these are the customers and the jobs that seem to come my way. What can I do about that?” This is a little trickier. A little more work. But it will pay dividends in your future. If you qualify your jobs and now you find you have no jobs, maybe we should upgrade.
Upgrade our customer base that is. I am lucky enough to get to meet all kinds of shop owners, employees and business people. All different, but all seeking the same common goal. That is, to produce a profit at the end of the day. Let’s face it, that is the bottom line profit.
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