For any retail-adjacent business, customer inquiries and interactions are part of the bedrock of company success. Without customers, most businesses would cease to exist. The pre-engineered steel building industry is no exception.
But how does a business determine which customer inquiries are serious and which ones are ‘just looking’? Although treating each customer as a potential buyer is important, it’s also necessary for companies to avoid wasting time and effort creating estimates that don’t translate into sales.
Addressing Quote Request Overload: Filtering Non-serious Prospects in Steel Construction
Businesses that manufacture or construct steel buildings daily are fielding inquiries about pricing, customization, and construction timeframes. Steel buildings have numerous uses, whether for an indoor horse riding arena or covered riding arena, an industrial manufacturing warehouse, farming, agricultural buildings, or even aircraft hangars.
Unfortunately, some potential customers will never progress past the planning stages. These same customers may even ask for detailed estimates and blueprints to be drawn up before ultimately stalling out. How can these customers be identified and avoided without driving away actual serious inquiries?
Ultimately, each potential client must be appropriately vetted during the initial inquiry process.
- Have customers solidify their intent by completing a questionnaire. Companies can capture some personal buyer info and gauge the seriousness of the inquiry based on a few strategic questions. Ask about a building location, the intended uses, specific customizations, and a budget range. By assessing actual customer needs in the beginning stages, businesses are less likely to spend valuable time creating a quote that won’t become a sale.
- Schedule in-person meetings once the questionnaire is completed. When a customer shows enough interest, the company and client can proceed with the project. During this meeting, the customer and the company can discuss more specific needs and requirements for making the plan a reality, including a more detailed budget. This also gives the company another opportunity to gauge the seriousness of the inquiry.
- Require a deposit or down payment before creating a final estimate and set of blueprints. Money is almost always a deciding factor for a construction project. Understanding what a customer’s budget looks like is critical. Having the customer literally “buy in” to the process is also essential.
Understanding the Challenge of Uncommitting Quote Requests
Gauging the seriousness of customers can be a tricky proposition. Some very excited customers can suddenly lose interest overnight. Various factors can be the culprit, with money and time constraints often leading the pack.
General contractors often have clients ready to build but need help with their budget or available real estate. In these cases, the contractor wants the job but is hamstrung by forces outside their control.
There are also GCs whose ambitions outpace their labor force. To generate earnings, some contractors promise more than they can deliver. Ultimately, both the customer and the GC lose out in this scenario.
For these and other similar situations, communication is key. Maintaining regular conversations with contractors can guide their next steps and stay on the same page with both client and contractor.
Uncovering the Causes of Non-serious Quote Requests in Steel Construction
Clients and contractors can have various reasons why a project stalls or doesn’t move forward. It is possible, though, to recognize some of the early warning signs during the quote-building process.
- No definitive plan- This can be a red flag when a client or contractor approaches a steel building manufacturer but doesn’t seem to have any definitive plan for their project. Most serious customers will have some idea of what they’re looking to purchase and have built.
- A lack of budget- If a customer doesn’t know what they’re willing to spend, or if they declare that money is no object, beware. Most serious customers will have a relative dollar amount or range they wish to stay within.
- The customer is shopping- Another common scenario involves customers receiving multiple quotes from different manufacturers or builders to compare and contrast. Offering relative details of the manufacturer’s products on a website can help avoid wasting time building a preliminary quote.
- The customer hasn’t been properly vetted- If a GC isn’t determining the seriousness of their customers before building a quote, they may end up feeling like a revolving door.
- The plans are too big- Some potential clients may ask for too much; five buildings, all the bells and whistles, and customization throughout. Overwhelming enthusiasm and oversized needs may result from a customer’s imagination or hubris getting the best of them.
The Impact of Uncommitted Quote Requests on Steel Construction
Each potential client represents potential revenue. This can make fulfilling quote requests seem much more necessary and urgent, especially for growing a business. At the same time, non-serious inquiries can play a significant role in derailing positive motion.
Wasted Time and Resources on Non-serious Quote Requests
One of the more detrimental results of non-serious quote inquiries is the time and resources which are squandered. Some quotes can take days to prepare, only to be cast aside in an instance. Make sure the workforce used for these requests will actually bear fruit.
Impaired Efficiency and Missed Opportunities
If employees spend time creating dead-end quote requests, real customers can go unnoticed or be serviced. Excess paperwork and files are also being developed, which can further bog down a company’s front office.
Impact on Morale and Productivity
For employees who spend valuable time on quotes only to see their hard work result in no net gains, frustration and lowered morale can begin to creep in. When employees don’t feel as if their work matters or is appreciated, they’re more likely to become complacent. Productivity and a positive attitude also suffer. Then, when presented with a real client, their lackadaisical or flippant attitude could undermine potential sales.
Strategies to Alleviate Non-serious Quote Request Challenges
To avoid these and other employee pitfalls, it’s best to train and prepare employees for potential challenges.
- Ask detailed questions. Find out as much as possible within 15 minutes of talking to a potential customer.
- Direct serious customers to complete informational requests. Explain that this is the next step toward a finalized quote.
- Talk about the budget. Most customers will have a realistic dollar amount in mind before getting started.
- Ask for an in-person or phone call meeting. Most serious inquiries won’t mind discussing what their overarching plans entail.
- Give your own timeframe. Explaining to customers their potential spot in line for a new steel building can also be an effective and nonconfrontational method for vetting clients.
Coastal Steel Structures: Your Solution for Addressing Non-serious Quote Requests
Clients who work with Coastal Steel Structures quickly recognize their commitment to quality steel structures and excellent customer service.
Coastal Steel Structures: Building Excellence in Steel Construction
With decades of experience in the steel building industry, CSS is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios and situations. Past and present clients can attest to the professionalism and attention to detail each customer receives. Our portfolio also exhibits the various possibilities for steel buildings.
Resolving Non-serious Quote Requests
Coastal Steel values all of our customers. We also realize that choosing a steel structure can be a daunting challenge for many. We offer quotes through our website, which assists the client, manufacturer, and contractor in transforming a plan into a reality.
Meeting Prospects’ Needs
Our associates are available to answer questions and help clients to formulate real plans for their next moves.
Guided Purchasing Process
Once a customer receives a quote or meets with associates to begin designing their steel structure, our team carefully examines the customer’s plans and resources to understand which models and/or systems will best meet their needs.
Delivering Exceptional Customer Service and Support
Coastal Steel Structures values every customer and strives to positively impact the lives and livelihoods of all clients, past, present, and future.
Offering Competitive Pricing and Transparent Quoting
When meeting with potential clients, presenting a clear and honest representation of the entire building process is vital. Our customers should feel welcome to ask questions and always have an open line of communication with the team. As a result, there are no surprises, just solutions.
Coastal Steel Structures: Building Excellence in Steel Construction
At Coastal Steel Structures, we are confident that our professional design team will meet the needs of any and all seriously motivated clients. Steel buildings’ strength, durability, and customization options make them excellent choices for numerous industries and interests. Give us a call today to plan your new space.