Decorative Concrete | Can You Tell Me More?

talkingAre you guilty of doing all the talking when you visit a decorative concrete job prospect?

Too often that’s the case when (1) you’re a bit nervous, (2) you want to assure the prospect you know a lot about decorative concrete, or (3) the prospect doesn’t readily engage in the conversation and you feel obligated to fill in the gaps of silence.

Whatever the reason, time and again we talk, talk, talk. So much so, in fact that the prospect zones out from information overload or pure and simple boredom.

Successfully landing a job, as well as completing it to your customer’s satisfaction, involves a lot of two-way communication.

So how do you facilitate this much-needed dialogue?

Present a bit of information and then ASK QUESTIONS to get the prospect involved with what it is you’re trying to communicate.

Say for instance the job is a stained and engraved basement floor. Give a couple of suggestions about patterns and then ask the prospect what he likes or doesn’t like about those ideas. If you get a one or two word answer, don’t be afraid to use the “Can you tell me more?” response often heard on talk show interviews.

And then wait, silently, until they answer.

Then, use their answers and your decorative concrete knowledge for a natural progression into the next design phase – color perhaps.

People tend to remember what they say, not what you say to them. If you keep them answering your  questions, they’ll remember what they said and you’ll get the information you need to submit a good bid for a job you’ll both be satisfied with.

Powerful Words |Decorative Concrete Dialogue

MP900309615In a recent article “10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day” on Inc.com, Jeff Haden discusses the power of words to change everyday life.  Let’s take a look at some of Haden’s principles and how they apply to your decorative concrete business.

1. “Here’s what I’m thinking.”  Rather than making all the decisions yourself and barking out orders to your employees, Haden believes you should justify your major decisions with logic. This opens up discussions and ultimately leads to collaboration.

Could allowing your employees to give input on critical decisions lead to increased creativity and job success? Or, how about using this phrase when working out a design with a customer?

2.  “I was wrong.” Everyone is wrong sometimes. Haden believes you gain respect by admitting you’re wrong without making excuses.

This applies equally to admitting to a customer that you made a bad decision, and then making it right. Often you get better reviews from the customer for whom you’ve corrected a mistake than from one who got a perfect job the first time. Your credibility rating soars when you stand behind your work.

3.  “That was awesome.”  Haden says, “Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient.”

Give only GENUINE praise. Sometimes you may have to look for something to compliment, but it’s usually there. It may be something as small as, “I really like the way you prepped that surface today. Good job!” It’s still praise, and the recipient will feel good about it. So will you.

Avoid undeserved praise. It cheapens the whole concept.

4.  “You’re welcome.”  Haden discusses how to accept thanks. He believes you take away some of the joy of the person complimenting you when you act uncomfortable or awkward accepting appreciation.

Don’t take away from the giver with a statement such as, “It’s no big deal.” Or worse yet, “No problem.”   If it’s a compliment, respond with a simple, “Thank you.” If it’s thanks, you need only say, “You’re welcome.”

5.  “Can you show me?” Haden believes that when you ask others to teach you, you’re showing respect to that person and trust in his/her experience, skill and insight.

For example, you may have an employee who has a special knack for applying artistic shading to a decorative pattern. Asking him to teach you his technique does not show weakness on your part. Instead, you gain from his knowledge and he is gratified by your confidence in his ability.

To read “10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day” in its entirety, go to http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-things-extraordinary-people-say-every-day.html?nav=pop  .

Regular Marketing |Four Tips for Success

dollar calendarRunning your own decorative concrete business can be a bit frightening nowadays. We hear reports daily that the economy is down. Or up.  Trading on the stock market is brisk. Or not. Building is on the rise. Or it isn’t.  It’s no wonder you might be feeling a bit insecure.

It’s more important now than ever for you, the decorative concrete engraving business owner, to have a solid marketing routine. Consistency in your marketing efforts is the key to producing good results.

Here are four tips to help you develop a successful marketing strategy.

  1. Keep going. Regardless of how you send out your message – print, television, radio, flyers, business cards, etc – if it only goes out once, you’re just wishing, hoping and praying it will reach the homeowner or business owner who’s looking for a decorative concrete installer right now. Wishing is not a good strategy. Repeated effort is.
  2. Develop a plan, make a list, check it off, repeat. Marketing strategies must be carried out on a regular basis. Take a look at this monthly plan as an example:
  • Week one –  focus on your website. If you don’t have one, get one. That’s how people roll these days when they need a service. If you can’t afford a professional, then make your own using an online site builder. If you already have a website, use this week to add new job pictures, update info or add an informative blog post.
  • Week two – focus on print. Whether it’s an ad, putting out or collecting signs from your job site (You are using these, aren’t you?), or handing out business cards, this is the week to do it.
  • Week three – focus on networking. Of course this one goes on all the time as you meet perspective new clients, but seek out new places this week to tell others what you do.
  • Week four – Call one past customer every day. They’re your best salespeople and they can provide you with some good leads.
  • Every week – Post about your work on Facebook, Twitter and other social media at least every 2-3 days. Post pictures of jobs in progress or tweet about how great a stain color turned out. It should not be a sales pitch, but a reminder that you’re out there working hard to produce good looking work. Every reader is a potential prospect, so keep your company’s name in front of them. And above all, make every post positive. This is not the place to complain.
  • Repeat the cycle every month. No skipping! If you’re going on vacation, assign the tasks to someone else.

3.  Keep the cash flowing.  A regular marketing strategy is the secret to a regular cash flow. When you engage in start and stop marketing, you’ll see start and stop profits. Make marketing a top priority, even when business is good.

4.  Evaluate your efforts. Keep records of where your leads are coming from and which ones are converting into sales. This will help you streamline your strategy and get the most from your marketing dollar.

21 Tips for Home Show Success

Home Garden Show 1What a marketing opportunity! Home Builder Association Shows, Home & Garden Shows, Farm Shows… spring and summer shows are perfect places to show John Q. Public just how awesome you are at transforming boring concrete into spectacular surfaces.

 

Here are 21 tips to help you get the most from your Home Show marketing dollar.

PLANNING

Jared Hubers Home Show Booth1. Have an attractive backboard. Buy or rent, but get the largest one that fits into your booth size. Jared Huber of Concrete Revival LLC built this attractive stand from 2 x 4 lumber and painted it black.  Make your business name and contact info stand out and use poster-size pictures. Your local sign company can help you with this. Check our website for professional quality poster-size decorative concrete pictures.

2. Use real concrete. Pictures are great, but prospects need to see your staining and engraving skills on real concrete. See the article How to Make Sample Slabs to make awesome samples like those pictured below.IMG_2146 Be sure to use safe, sturdy stands.

3. Create a Wow! factor. You have only the amount of time it takes an attendee to walk past your booth to catch their attention. Make your display of slabs and backboard really pop with color and design. We don’t suggest using something cheesy like invisible fountains or making balloon animals. Those do attract people, but they fill your booth with bodies that aren’t good prospects for decorative concrete while potential customers may shun the crowd and walk on by.

4.  Mock up the space before you go. This gives you a chance to see what looks best and how to make the most of your space. Set-up at the venue is quick and easy when you have a plan.

SET-UP TAKE ALONGS

5.  Dolly. Most venues don’t provide a means for you to move your items to your booth.EAC trade show It’s up to you.

6.  Adhesive backed Velcro. Allows you to reposition or re-hang display items as needed.

7.  Extension cords. Venues don’t provide cords. Bring plenty so you don’t get caught just shy of electrical power.

8.  Safety-pins. A lifesaver in case of drooping curtains, etc.

9.  NO wastebasket. A wastebasket takes up valuable space in your booth, and you’ll end up collecting trash that should go in the large venue trash cans. A small broom and dust pan may come in handy in case of accidents or when cleaning up for the night. Stow them where they don’t show.

ON THE MARKETING SIDE

10.  Info slips. These days people are often reluctant to add their contact info to a list that’s visible to everyone. We suggest using small slips of paper that the prospect can fill out and drop into a fishbowl. (You should have some slips already filled out and in the bowl so it appears that you have a lot of interest.  And you will get lots of interest when people see how you can change their concrete from awful to awesome!)

The jury is still out on whether or not you should use a contest to collect contact info. We have found that it results in you wasting a lot of time chasing down leads from those who signed up simply to win something but have no intention of purchasing your services. If you do decide to use a contest, make the prizes Percent-Off Certificates for your services. For instance, “10% off your next one-color stain job of 400 sq ft or more.” Use care when determining  the figures you use.

11.  Hard copy planner/calendar. When a prospect expresses interest in a bid, say to them, “When can I pen you in?” Get it? Pen not pencil. Pen is permanent. Pencil isn’t. Neither are cell phones or tablets. The prospect needs to know that you aren’t going to forget them, and that they’ve made a commitment to you to be available at the specified time. Be sure they see you write down the appointment. With a pen, on paper! It makes a difference.

12.  Video. Running a loop of Before and After pictures of decorative concrete transformations is an excellent video choice that will stimulate questions and conversation between you and the prospect. Avoid video with a lot of talking or text because it takes away the personal communication factor.

IMG_214713.  Brochures and business cards. Have plenty, but don’t put them all out at once. Having only a few available makes them appear to be special and in high demand.

14.  Helpers. It’s good to have at least two people manning a booth at a time, meaning your business makes contact with twice as many people.

15.  Don’t use S.A.L.E.S. software. Save it for the job evaluation/bid appointment. If it’s in your booth, you’ll  get “hang-arounders” who just want to play with it and not buy a thing.

AND NOW ABOUT YOU

16.  Dress the part. NO, not a salesman in a business suit. NO, not a laborer in dirty, worn work clothes. YES, a trustworthy Joe in nice clean jeans, clean shoes and a polo shirt with your company’s logo on it.

17.  No chairs. If you sit down, you run the risk of looking (a) lazy, (b) not in good health, (c) indifferent, or (d) all of the above.  Not the image you want to project! (You’re right, our pictures show chairs in the booth, but we chucked them before the crowd arrived.)

18.  Body language. Avoid negative body language such as crossing your arms at your chest (making you appear unapproachable) or lounging against a table (making you appear careless and unmotivated.) Positive body language, on the other hand, includes a welcoming smile and a firm handshake.

19.  No cell phone. Don’t answer, or even look at, your cell phone while a prospect is visiting your booth. It implies that you think the person on the phone is more important than the prospect. Return the call or text later.

20.  No food. There’s no bigger turn-off to visitors than your half-eaten cheeseburger. Have a helper man the booth if you need to visit the concessions.

21. Toothbrush, toothpaste and breath mints.  You know what we mean.

Now that you’ve made your way through the list, here’s the most important part of securing decorative concrete jobs – FOLLOW UP. You or your staff should contact everyone who left their information within a few days. “Hot” leads get extra attention.  If you do everything else on the list well, but blow the follow-up, then you’ve wasted your marketing dollar.

You’re Too Expensive! – 5 Steps To Resolving Decorative Concrete Price Differences

You’ve met with your client to determine what he wants in his decorative concrete staining and engraving project and you’ve crunched the figures.

You hand him your estimate.  He frowns and says, “Too expensive.”

How do you answer?

Geoffrey James, author of the Sales Source column on Inc. com has these suggestions for handling the situation when a customer tells you that you’re charging too much.

  1.  Uncover the real objection. James says to ask the customer a question like, “If we set price aside for a moment, do we have the products you want to buy and the support organization that you want to buy from?”  This helps uncover whether or not price is the real problem. If not, ask more questions until you get to the real objection.
  2. Find out: objection or condition. According to James, you can determine this by asking if the concern is big enough to stop the sale. If the answer is no, then it’s an objection and can be negotiated – such as price matching a competitor. If the answer is yes, then it’s a condition – such as the client has no money – and can’t be negotiated. The deal is over for now.
  3. Show empathy to the customer. If you’ve determined that the problem is an objection, empathize with the customer as you negotiate so no one loses face.
  4. Identify the problem to be solved. James suggests saying something like, “Let’s put that objection on the table and see if we can work together to find a way to get you what you want.” This eliminates the winner/loser battle.  Both of you become winners.
  5. Brainstorm possible solutions.

To read the entire article, go to www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/how-to-sell-answering-it-costs-too-much-html.