Facing customers that haggle is rather common in the contracting industry, especially as plumbers.
You have every right to not do business with a lowballing customer, but at times this isn’t an option especially when you don’t have a pipeline of high-paying customers waiting for your services.
This is common amongst those that are still new to the business who just haven’t built up a large enough customer base.
Whether you like it or not, talking through customers that haggle is a skill on its own.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can make the best out of a haggling customer so that your profits won’t take a beating!
Itemize Your Bills
The first thing you need to do is to keep a cool head. Arguing back and forth with a client is only going to harm future relationships with them.
Chances are, you won’t be getting their referrals as well which is what plumbers really depend on for future business.
Your clientele might work 9-5 jobs and get paid by the hour.
So it’s only natural that they get shocked when they get charged a couple of hundred dollars for two hours’ worth of work.
What they don’t see is the gas your put in your truck, the time it takes to get the supplies, and the years of training you need to justify charging that price.
By itemizing your bill, most customers wouldn’t argue because they know what they are paying for. List the supplies and costs in the bill as well as the service charge.
Service Titan advises using a flat-rate pricing model for plumbing work.
Provide an estimate before doing the job
Let your customers know beforehand an estimate of what everything is going to cost. If possible, put it in black and white, with allowances for a 20% markup should your services come to that.
Have them sign it off so that when they turn hostile out of a sudden, you have proof that they have agreed upon the price.
It’s hard to predict people, but generally, a customer isn’t going to haggle any further when you have given a clear estimate.
This is also a good way of finding out if a customer is really worth your time. If they can’t come to terms with the estimate, then perhaps it’s best to look for business elsewhere.
Include value-added services
The customer will always feel like they’re on the winning side of a negotiation.
This could mean giving them a discount or providing them more value for their money.
If you could choose either one, choose the latter. For a lot of folks, basic plumbing repairs such as fixing a leak in piping joints and patching up a running toilet is out of their skillset.
Use this to your advantage. Ask them if they need any of those “meh” jobs done and let them know that you’d be glad to help with that.
This is especially great when you’re not in a rush to leave and work on a pending job.
Moreover, this has a good impact on building customer relationships.
They feel like you’re helping them with something when in hindsight this is one way to invest in your PR.
Offer a discount on the next call
If you’re charging a fair price, compare your price tag with your competitors. Let them know that you can’t offer a discount now, but you can promise to offer a discount on the next service.
If they ask why you can’t give a discount now, the “all discounts have to be pre-approved by my manager” excuse should do the trick.
Offering a discount helps you secure the client for the time being. Since you’ve done a price comparison with your competitors, they have no reason to not go for you!