Charles Hutchins, Columnists, V6I6

Always Be Honest and Upfront with Your Customers

(Photo courtesy of Lukas from Pexels)

“I appreciate honesty more than anything. If you tell me what it is upfront, you give me the option to take it or leave it. I respect that.’’ — Unknown

One of my mentors once told me, “It’s one thing to make a sale, and it’s another thing to keep it.’’ I now fully understand what he meant by that statement. 

I used to get so excited about making a sale that I would not exactly be upfront with the customer about delivery times. I remember receiving calls from angry customers when they found out that it was going to take four weeks for delivery instead of the two weeks that I had told them. 

You see, back then I was under the impression that I would lose sales if I told the truth about the time that it took to get their shed delivered. A light bulb finally went off in my head when I had a customer call me and cancel their order due to my lack of honesty from the beginning. He didn’t yell and scream at me but told me that he was disappointed in me and that he would have been fine with waiting longer if I had told him the truth upfront. 

I felt terrible that I had let someone down and decided to change my approach. I’m super glad that I did, as it has made my business way more enjoyable and lessened my anxiety about getting calls from upset customers. 

I encourage you to manage your customer’s expectations. If you do not set real expectations from the point of sale, you will get inundated with calls from customers asking for an update on their shed delivery. These calls can take so much time and effort, as well as take you and your sales team away from important money-making activities. 

To alleviate this situation, I suggest that you be completely honest with the customer upfront from the very beginning about what to expect going forward. For example, if my delivery time is four to five weeks from the point of sale, I will tell my customers to plan for five to six weeks (weather pending). I add on an extra week in addition to being ‘’weather pending’’ to allow extra time for delivery and not put myself in the trick-box.

I let my customers know that their shed will likely be built quickly, and it will be placed in line for delivery, and the delivery driver will call them two to three days in advance to schedule. 

I also let the customer know that they are to furnish the blocks for leveling so the driver doesn’t have any surprises as well. The more information the customer has, the better off you are going to be. Let the customer know the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

When customers call you about their shed delivery, have a ready response. Even though I try to pre-empt these phone calls, I am prepared for them. 

I do a couple of things. If they call me, I tell them that their shed is likely built and to reach out to me in three to four days if they have not heard anything. Most of the time, the customer hears from the builder and that’s the end of that. 

If the customer reaches back out to me, I respond in person or with a text that says, “We apologize that it has taken a little longer than we thought. The COVID situation, supply chain delays, and the weather have all been challenging. It shouldn’t be much longer, and we appreciate your patience.’’ People seem to be more understanding and patient during these times than ever before. 

Our industry along with other industries have experienced a tremendous rise in sales that has led to longer wait times. When I tell customers that their delivery is going to take a little longer, they are usually understanding and tell me about another item or product that they’ve ordered that has been delayed as well.

I can tell you that honesty is always the best policy in anything that we do. You never ever want to over promise and under deliver. 

You never want to risk you or your company’s reputation by giving misleading information to your customers. It’s simply not worth it.

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