Don’t Let Price Shoppers Slow Down Your Service Business


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As the owner of a business, you know you deliver great value to your customers. That’s the only way to succeed in this competitive space, after all. If you don’t deliver value, the negative reviews will add up and your competition will take over.

Delivering value to your customers might be something you already do well. But do you do a good job of explaining that value to your target market? Maybe not. This is where many companies fall short, and this area represents a great opportunity for growth. If you can do a better job of explaining how much value you bring to the table, booking jobs will become easier than ever before.

The Dreaded Price Shopper

The first step in booking a new customer or client is having that individual pick up the phone and give you a call. Your marketing efforts are likely geared around getting that initial call. New leads are the lifeline of virtually every business. Of course, getting that call doesn’t make you any money, as you aren’t ringing the register until this new lead books a service. And, when the person on the other end of the phone asks about prices, you and your team might freeze in your tracks. What are you supposed to say?

After crunching the numbers and examining real-life scenarios, we can say one thing with confidence – you shouldn’t answer the pricing question. Companies who offer prices over the phone tend to book appointments at a lower rate than those who will only give an in-person quote. This might be counterintuitive at first, but it makes perfect sense when you think it through.

Remember, everything in this business comes back to delivering value. If you are asked for a quote on a new project and you give over a flat rate, you are turning your service into a commodity. In this way, you are doing nothing different than selling milk at a grocery store. You set a rate for your service and take away the flexibility that is inherent in this line of work. And, most importantly, you undersell the service that you are providing.

The Value is the Service

If all you are selling is the nuts and bolts of your service, you’ll always be limited in your growth. Rather, what you should be selling is expertise, attention to detail, reliability, etc. In other words, it’s the service you provide around the repair or improvement that is the key to the whole business.

That’s why you don’t want to commoditize what you are selling. When you give a flat rate over the phone, the lead sees your business as the same as everyone else. They are going to call around to find the lowest price and pick a winner based on that number alone. That’s no way to run a business, and it’s certainly no way to make money. You aren’t selling the same thing as everyone else. You are selling the service that only you can provide.

Handling the Calls

The line of thinking above makes all the sense in the world, but how do you put it into practice? Callers are still going to ask about prices, and you are going to have to step around the question in a way that makes them want to learn more (and not hang up the phone). The answer here is the same as it is in most situations – honesty. You and your team need to be transparent about why you can’t provide a price over the phone, and why you’d like to book an appointment to offer a quote.

  • Every job is different. This is a great place to start. Sure, a plumber will deal with countless toilet problems, but each is a little different from the rest. A flat quote over the phone might not capture the details of that given case, so the price could be way off in the end. An in-person quote is going to be much more accurate, something the average homeowner will appreciate.
  • Relate and sympathize. Simply bringing a friendly, understanding tone to the conversation can go a long way. Most likely, this person doesn’t want to be dealing with this issue right now, but they are faced with it and want to get it corrected as soon as possible. If the person answering the phone for your business acts like an understanding friend rather than a bored employee, you’ll be much more likely to form a connection.
  • A quick introduction. Another conversation to have over the phone is a brief intro to the company and why your business would be the right choice for the job. How long have you been in business? Is it a family-owned operation? What ties to the company have to the community? It’s all about creating a new relationship where none existed previously.

It will take some time to dial in the perfect response for your business. A talented service representative will be able to turn the pricing conversation away from dollars and cents and onto the matter of what your company can deliver.

A Few Will Be Missed

When you make the decision to avoid giving quotes over the phone, you need to accept the reality that some percentage of your callers will not come back. They will demand prices over the phone and will keep calling different companies until they get those rates. And that’s fine. You can’t control their behavior, but you can control the plan your company follows. In the end, those kinds of customers are not the kind that will grow your business in a meaningful way. By committing to the plan of optimizing for in-person quotes it’s likely you’ll see the desired results over the long run.

Matt Buchanan
Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses.


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