Article by 2021 Custom Builders Council Chair TODD LEBLANC, LeBlanc Custom Homes, Inc
Do you ever feel like a potential client is wasting your time? If a potential client calls me looking for a builder to build their dream house, I can usually determine relatively quickly if we are a good match. However, sometimes the potential client sounds perfect, so I need to dig much deeper to determine if they are someone I’d like to enter into a business relationship with.
I have a list of questions that I typically ask in the first or second conversation to determine if the person I am talking to is someone I want to build a house with and develop a long-term relationship. Here are just a few of the questions I may ask:
- What is your budget?
I need to know their expected budget to determine if they are realistic. I know the price I can build a house for in a particular neighborhood. If their budget is significantly lower than my cost for a typical project in that neighborhood, I can end the discussion at that point. To continue discussing their project would be a waste of time for both of us. Remember, everyone has a budget.
- Which other builders are you receiving quotes from?
If the potential client is soliciting quotes from the custom building division of a production builder, I will usually end the conversation quickly. This tells me they are primarily looking for the lowest priced builder and we are not a good match. If they tell me their spouse’s cousin is a builder and they are considering working with him, I will end the conversation relatively quickly because that is who they are going to select and we are wasting each other’s time. This question also gives me a chance to differentiate myself from the competition.
- Have you ever gone through a new construction process?
A client that has been through the new construction process usually has more realistic expectations than a client that is building for the first time. I prefer to build for someone that has built previously. One reason I prefer this is because I’m confident I can do a better job than their previous builder. After all, if they were happy with their previous builder they wouldn’t be talking to me.
- How long have you been thinking about building?
By answering this question I can determine if a potential client is just kicking tires or is serious. I use follow-up questions to determine if they already have a lot and architectural plans.
These are just a few of the questions that I will ask potential clients. Often, the question itself is not as important as getting the caller to start talking and sharing vital information. With the information you can gather you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether a follow-up conversation is warranted.