Residential Contractors: How to Make Initial Consultations More Time-Efficient

Bernd Wolfram
Bernd Wolfram
Mar 15, 2022 | 4 minute read

Better_consultation_blogMany remodeling and restoration contractors feel as though they never have enough hours each day to get everything done. They are always busy, often working into evenings, and frequently looking for ways to save time. Can you relate?

Well, one way to make the most of your time is to streamline customer meetings – particularly those often-lengthy, but necessary, initial consultations with homeowners. By completing these obligatory in-home appointments faster, you can free up precious time to work on other business priorities.

So, we have compiled a list of tips below to help you do exactly that. Read on to discover several ways to make your consultations more time-efficient.

Reduce Travel Time by “Batching” Two or More Meetings in the Same Area

When you are scheduling in-home appointments, try to minimize the amount of time you travel away from and back to your home office. You can do this by scheduling (batching) back-to-back consultations at homes that are located fairly close together. This time-management technique allows you to allocate your out-of-the-office hours with greater efficiency.

Communicate Key Information Days Before You Arrive

  • Convey an Approximate Meeting Length: Tell the homeowner about how long your first consultation meeting should last. That way, you establish control over the amount of time you spend onsite.

  • Highlight What You Will Talk About: Provide a list of topics you plan to discuss during the consultation. This will help you have more power over the length of the discussion that will take place. You also can reinforce that objective by mailing some sort of printed guide that explains your planned talking points ahead of time. Perhaps this could be a kitchen remodel guide, a bathroom remodel guide, a general tip sheet for planning other types of home renovations, or a pamphlet that describes a specific home restoration process.

  • Instruct the Homeowner to Prep Before You Meet: Advise that customer to write down a “wish list” of project goals ahead of time, so they can articulate their wishes more succinctly and quickly during your consultation meeting. Instruct them to collect photos that represent what they want – either magazine clippings or online images gathered in digital folders or Pinterest boards. Also, tell them to view your website gallery of past projects, to understand your capabilities and to get additional inspiration for their own project. All of these steps will help make your onsite discussion more productive and efficient.

Create a List of Questions You Want to Ask

This is a great method for preparing how to talk to clients for the first time, because it will help you gather all the information you need in a time-efficient manner. Ideally, your list of questions should help you clarify each customer’s expectations, goals and pain points. Your questions also should help you gather any other important details that are necessary for planning the new project being discussed.

While a solid list of questions may take some time to develop, it’s a worthwhile step that can save a lot of time in the long run. Plus, homeowners will be impressed that you genuinely want their input.

Kitchen remodelers: See a sample list of questions here.

 

Arrive with Handouts Neatly Organized

Be prepared to share printed information with the homeowner at the end of your in-home meeting. Create a branded pocket folder or packet that contains all materials you want to hand over before you leave, such as:

  • A business card

  • A business-overview brochure or pamphlet

  • Proof of insurance

  • References

  • Warranty details

  • Past issues of your newsletter

  • References

  • Other general information or customer-education resources

Start the Meeting by Going Over Your List of Questions

Before you can make any recommendations, you first must know what your customer wants.

Hopefully, the homeowner has already given some thought to project expectations and goals, and has prepared a wish list. Nevertheless, you will probably have to do some additional prodding to find out exactly what they want. Or, you may discover the homeowner is having a hard time articulating what they want, and you’ll have to do a lot of prodding.

In either case, proceed to go through your checklist of questions that you prepared ahead of time. This will serve as a good dialogue starter to get the conversation going. It also will help you maintain control over the pace of the discussion.

Be Prepared to Respond to Common Concerns or Objections

If you are going to present recommendations or even a rough proposal before you leave, you may have to spend a bit of time addressing particular concerns or objections that your customer mentions. (For example, you may hear “That’s more than I was expecting to pay for a remodel” or “I’m worried about how long this restoration process will last.”)

So, anticipate how you will respond. Practice what you will say. Then you will be ready to address homeowner comments quickly and concisely.

Speed Up the Appointment with Time-Saving Tools

  • Use your mobile device’s photo app as a visual aid: Display photos that compare different options or approaches, to accelerate the homeowner’s decision-making process.

  • Use a Bluetooth laser distance meter to capture really precise measurements. Then upload those instantly to a floor-plan app on your mobile device.

  • Use your mobile floor-plan app to create a floor-plan sketch in a matter of minutes, instead of drawing a floor plan slowly by hand. The sketch can serve as your keystone for project planning and development.

  • If your floor-plan app has a 3D option, use that to help a hesitant homeowner visualize the work you recommend. This can help you win them over and get their buy-in faster.

  • If your floor-plan app also has a reporting function, use that to save time as well. You can develop and email a meeting summary report or a rough proposal before you walk out the door.

Conclusion

Your productivity is tied directly to your ability to manage time well. So, don’t let long initial meetings with homeowners bog you down. Follow the steps listed above to create a more focused and streamlined contractor consultation process.

Continue reading our guide on how to accurately estimate the costs of a bathroom remodel.


Or find out more about how to manage costs properly as a residential contractor business due to increasing inflation.

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