What information does your company’s estimator need/get to be able to do their job well? I was asked this question several years ago, and it’s just as relevant today. What follows is a process that makes it more likely than not that the info needed will be collected and the prospect’s needs will be well understood by all on the sales team.
- The Lead Sheet—including all the notes taken by your “Director of First Impressions” and the salesperson's calls to the prospect—should be a treasure trove of info. The prospect's pains/problems with their home as well as that potential client’s hot buttons should be noted there. By getting this info super-clear, all in the company are likely to help make the project serve the needs of the prospect better.
- At the initial meeting of the salesperson and the prospect, the salesperson should take notes, best done room-by-room. These notes are usually close to worthless (this is a bit of an over-statement!) if the salesperson is good at sales because I’ve found that good salespeople are bad at detail-collecting. Instead, they excel at building relationships and creating confidence.
- If the prospect and salesperson decide to take the next step, the salesperson would meet with the designer (ideally an in-house employee). The designer then drags out of the salesperson all the info the designer needs to be able to understand the prospect and the project.
- The prospect signs a design agreement.
- The salesperson then meets jointly with the prospect and the designer to review the project. In front of the prospect, the designer should be formally handed responsibility for the project.
- The designer takes photos of all relevant areas of the house and carefully looks for work which will have to be done so the prospect will get the entire job that needs to be done, not just what the prospect is thinking about.
- The designer prepares floor plans and elevations, as well as a scope of work that is meaningful to the prospect, the salesperson, and the estimator.
- The Sales Person reviews the designer’s plans, approves them, and the attends the meeting with the prospect in which the designer presents the plans to the prospect. The scope of work is best if it is laid out room-by-room as opposed to trade-by-trade, as the prospect looks at their home room-by-room.
- The prospect approves the plans.
- At this point the estimator is introduced to the prospect. The estimator is formally responsible for taking the room-by-room scope and creating a trade-by-trade breakdown of the job. Further, the estimator is responsible for finding all the "cracks" through which profit will flow if he/she does not do a good job building the project mentally while the estimate is being done.
I have described a process that suggests what might be created by each person at each step of the way. Consider this as a basis for working out in-house how you might want to handle it at your company.
Do you wear most or all of the hats mentioned above? Then just keep in mind the variety of perspectives you must bring to the fore when handling each respective responsibility.
In any case the main goals of a successful process are:
- Each player knows what is expected of them.
- The idea is to sell and package a project in a way that makes it easier for production to succeed.
- When presented a contract based on the design and the estimate the prospect is converted to a client!