The business of custom cabinet making is very competitive. I read a blog complaining about prospects who (ab)use a commercial cabinet maker by getting that company to do up a design and shop that design around for a better price. Everyone knows this. Few know how to stop it. One guy wrote in saying he thought he closes only about 5% of the designs he prepares!!!
Many people had suggestions — charge for design, charge for design and give credit back when the customer buys, hide the detailed drawings… What about reputation, quality, deliver-ability, craftsmanship, relationship building???? Would $100 or even $300 help seal the deal?
At one point in my ‘professional’ life I sold very expensive software. The practice at the time (a long time ago) was to pound the phone until someone (sometimes anyone) would see you – or more realistically the engineer you would surely bring along to talk technical. There were many such visits (running the meter $$$) and a certain number of sales would pop out. Discounts were passed around – the contract was signed – and everyone seemed happy. But the cost of sales was very high, the close rate pretty low, and the sales cycle (time to get my commission check) was long.
We developed a new approach. It required that sales people completely understood the customers problems and how we solved them. We were completely committed to talking about customer problems. The thing that happened is that the prospect would come to understand that we knew what their problem was and we knew how to solve it. A relationship was built.
Many SketchList 3D commercial users report that their prospects are ‘blown away’ by the 3D photo rendering that the cabinet making software provides. I think there is more to it. I think that the ability to ‘design’ the custom unit in the prospect’s home – with all the give and take there is — provides an excellent opportunity for the craftsman to demonstrate his or her expertise. It provides and ability to communicate and build a trusting relationship that says to the customer — “I will deliver what you want.”
But go a step further and make a list of problems you solve for your customers.
- Certainly you clean up and take away your trash. Basic.
- And probably you have a cell phone, email, and web page for communication. Funny? Not really.
- Perhaps you are willing to provide some duration in which you’ll come back at no charge to make adjustments or small fixes.
- How about a ready list of references and access to your work portfolio?
I’m not saying these are problems / solutions that you provide – or maybe that are the most important. I am saying that you should create a long list of problems your prospects may face (from your experience) and bring them up in conversation (E.G “A lot of jobs get into trouble when initial measurements are wrong. What we do to prevent this is to….” or ” Pine is really too soft for this and lead to dings and dents. What we use is…..” ). And of course you need to have the solutions. If not you better develop them. You probably have them – just package and present them professionally. When a prospect agrees about a problem and your solution – write it down and use it in your proposal.
Do this and you’ll pull your services away from the competition. And price will be less of a driving factor.
Feel free to leave behind all sorts of 3D renderings. In fact with SketchList 3D you can create an interactive 3D model to give to your customer. As far as detailed shop drawings, parts lists, purchase lists, layout diagrams (SketchList 3D standard reports) – the customer really has no need for these anyway!!!