Last year I wrote an article that the ants were marching. More and more, smaller cabinet dealers are cropping up and blitzing in with square foot pricing that they give to the prospect right in the home. Of course these guys had their own manufacturing operation out of the back of their garage, but it didn’t stop them from winning heavily.
Most dealers selling brands in our industry measure their turnaround time on quotes in days, not minutes. And with the recent uptick in the market as buyers start to spend again, it seems like it’s just getting worse. Brent (@BrentJaxon) and Nick (@NickRitota) visited one cabinet dealer in the Midwest recently who was running a backlog on quotes of six days.
Six Days? Are You @#$! Kidding Me?
Six days? Would you wait six days for a bid? If you’re like me, probably not.
Over the 4th of July, I jumped on a waverunner for just a few minutes (I can barely move my neck today). It’s sad, I know, but I’m officially an “older guy” now. And as much as I reflect on how much more patience I have now than I did at age 20, I don’t think I could wait six days for a bid. It’s been about six days on getting pricing for an office expansion we’re working on and I feel like it’s the longest movie I’ve ever watched in my life. All I want to know is a damn ballpark figure and I can’t even get that.
And you can’t help thinking completely unfair thoughts like “Should I buy that guy a calculator? Does he need help formatting his Word document?”
As it turns out, it’s really frustrating when you want something that you’re ready to buy, but you can’t get it. It’s even worse when you think (correctly or not) that there are fabricated roadblocks being created (i.e. delayed quotes) that stand in the way of you getting what you want.
My Sad Condo Door Story
I had a guy stop up to quote doors on my condo. I was impressed with his ability to build trust and make me feel like he really knew what he was doing. It was a Tuesday. I had 4 condo doors to replace. These are like the most basic doors on the planet. Nothing fancy, just a door that opens and closes.
It was a Tuesday. He told me he would have a quote to me by the end of the week. I remember being surprised that it would take that long – but I figured he was really really really really really busy. And I liked him so I made myself a promise that I could wait.
Guess when I received my quote? Four days late – that’s 96 hours past his promise to me. In 96 hours I could have flown to Vegas, gambled, had dinner, watched an in-room movie to dull the pain of losing at craps, flown back, showered, shaved and napped with plenty of time leftover (or so we often think). Here are the sick things that went through my head over those 96 hours (I’m embarrassed, but I feel like blogs are more interesting to read when they’re confessions once in a while).
The Stages of Grief
In those four days I went though all the stages of grief. First I was in Denial – there was just no way he could be this disorganized, I mean come on – it’s four doors that are all the same. Then I became Angry. He was just screwing with me trying to play games so I would be able to justify some ridiculous price he gave me. Then came depression – I was really really sad that my doors wouldn’t be replaced and I wouldn’t have the project completed before my new baby boy, Christian, arrives. I think I remember sulking once or twice.
Finally there was Acceptance. Cold, hard acceptance. I realized I just didn’t care anymore if he ever even responded. When I did receive the final quote it really wouldn’t have mattered what it was. If it was high or low or right at my budget – he had already lost.
So what do you do when your competition is karate chopping bids out like Bruce Lee while your sales staff is stuck in the equivalent of Ralph Macchio’s 1984 frozen “Crane” move from the Karate Kid?
I think Brock Cabinets in Fayetteville, NC put it best when Aaron Brock said, “Our new quoting policy with Equilibrium is that customers receive their bid packages in their inbox before they make it home.”
You may not be able to quote square footage right in the customer’s home like some of the custom shops – but you certainly should be able to get quotes delivered in your prospect’s inbox before they return home from their visit with you.
If you don’t, rest assured you’ll be competing with someone who will.
PS. I actually did peek at the bid in my email. It was $2600 so when I was in my Anger stage I was right. Or so I still think. Remember, being late on quoting gives your customers the right to think ridiculously unfair thoughts.