Feature, V2I3

Leveling with the Customer

Senior couple meeting with agent or advisor
Senior couple meeting with agent or advisor

Just about every shed mover has been there: You get to the jobsite and, lo and behold, your 40-foot trailer won’t fit through the gate. Or maybe it’s that the shed’s peaked roof comes about level with low-hanging power lines. Or perhaps you make it to the shed site, but find that the homeowner’s idea of “level” is precarious at best.

Nothing slows down a shed delivery more quickly than finding that the homeowner is not prepared. But when shed builders, shed movers, and customers work together to create a delivery strategy, everyone wins.

Consider adding the five following suggestions into your resource toolbox, to maximize the number of sheds you can deliver on a daily basis.

Hand-drawn doodle to do checklist tick no signs
Hand-drawn doodle to do checklist tick no signs
  1. Make delivery discussions a part of the sales conversation.

When a homeowner is looking to purchase a shed, chances are their first focus isn’t on making sure that the shed will fit beneath the power lines crisscrossing their fence line. That’s why it’s up to shed dealers to discuss delivery options, constraints, and requirements during the sales process.

“I think that’s a big part of the sales job,” says Glenn Friesen, owner of G&R Shed Movers in Goshen, Indiana.

Friesen should know. G&R Shed Movers is the moving division of Blue Sky Barns, a dealer for Eagle Buildings LLC since August 2015.

But this advice doesn’t apply only to a shed builder’s private mover. Independent shed movers also can benefit from ensuring that the shed dealers with which they work advise customers early on delivery requirements. This can help ensure the homeowner is selecting a shed that meets not only their storage needs, but also their clearance and site constraints.

Shed dealers can bring to the homeowner’s attention factors that may not be on their radar—such as the need for permits.

“One thing we learned the hard way is that the customer has to be responsible for all of the zoning and permits,” Friesen says. “Everybody is different—it may be they need an ordinance or a covenant for their neighborhood. That’s been a real challenge in this area, trying to get around that. So we have a sheet that the customer has to sign that says that they are responsible for permits.”

Shed haulers can provide dealers with a checklist of these and other issues to cover, ensuring that the shared customer,remains happy with the product.

  1. Create a checklist—make sure the customer understands it.

Many shed delivery and moving companies make use of checklists to ensure the customer has the site ready for delivery. But are customers actually paying attention to your suggestions?

One solution is to get a signature.

“We have a checklist that the customer has to sign stating that they’re responsible for the site,” Friesen says.

Whether they read it or not, a signed sheet can hold customers to consequences for noncompliance.

Gary Thomas, owner of Corpus Christi Portable Building in Texas, uses a two-part checklist with his customers.

“On the website there’s a form that addresses some questions, and the rest are answered over the phone,” he explains.

Thomas advises having in-depth phone calls with the customer to go over expectations in full prior to a shed delivery. However, by gathering some preliminary information over the website, Thomas is able to better target the phone conversation to cover specific recommendations, rather than providing a blanket list of wide-ranging suggestions.

So what do you cover on these checklists? Your biggest pet peeves are a good place to start.

“One thing I try to remind them is to consider low branches,” says Curtis Kauffman, delivery manager and shop foreman for Kauffman Structures in Weldon, Iowa. “The shed always sticks up higher than the customer thinks it does. Just the other day I had to get my saw out and cut off quite a few branches. So that is a reminder that I try to give them—check out the tree branches and wires. That’s one of the biggest challenges in getting sheds on-site.”

Planning home: blueprint, pencil and calculator. 3D rendering
Planning home: blueprint, pencil and calculator. 3D rendering
  1. Make sure the customer has a plan for placement.

It’s one thing to offer the customer advice on shed prep, but it’s another thing altogether to make sure they think this advice through. It’s up to the experts to get them to think about shed placement before you arrive.

“It’s one thing we can never do enough—getting the customer ready,” Kauffman says. “We tell them site preparation is their job, and we give them recommendations.”

To help with this, Kauffman Structures illustrates a few site prep options on its website.

“We’ve got a picture on the website with an example of a gravel pad if they want to put that around the perimeter,” Kauffman says by way of example.

For his part, Friesen hopes customers are as prepared as having a pad laid out.

“They need to think about exactly where they want their shed before we get there. People will say, ‘There, somewhere in the backyard.’ So I get it out there and then they say, ‘Actually, can you move it a little closer to the fence.’ So I move it closer to the fence and then it’s, ‘Well, I don’t know if I like it there.’ I realize it’s a lot easier to plan once you can see the shed and visualize it,” Friesen acknowledges. But moving a shed back and forth isn’t like moving furniture.

“A lot of our customers know within 10 feet of where they want it, but they don’t have it marked it out. I’d like a spot marked out where this is supposed to sit,” he says.

Shed dealer partners can help map out this requirement during the sales process, or a telephone checklist can help shed movers get this point across to their customers.

  1. Define level.

Shed placement is crucial, but more important than picking the right spot is making sure that spot is level. And shed movers consistently cite this as the biggest delivery challenge.

“This is the hardest thing for us,” Kauffman agrees. “One customer may have a good eye for level but another doesn’t. I’d like it if I could have them all know exactly what level is. That way if I am putting it on blocks and the customer says it’s ‘pretty level’ I’m not surprised to find their pretty level is maybe ten inches off. If everyone’s level was the same and accurate, that would be great.”

“It’s a challenge sometimes,” Friesen agrees. “If they live by a rolling lake their spot looks pretty level but it might still be 10 inches off.”

As a result, Friesen makes sure both he and the customer are prepared to adjust the site.

“We tell them that if the site is off by more than 6 inches, then we need for them to have some concrete paver blocks available. I try to give them a number based on the size of the shed. And then we carry treated wood of all thicknesses to help us with leveling it,” he says.

  1. Put consequences in place.

With all this preparation, it’s still entirely possible that your customer will throw you a curveball.

“We’ve found that customers aren’t always forthcoming about their sheds,” Thomas says. “For example, they’ll tell us their sheds are empty when they’re not. When we try to pick them up, we can’t lift them because they’re full with lawnmowers and all kinds of stuff.”

So what do you do? If you’ve already set out requirements through a signed checklist, then it may be time to show your customer that your time means money. Adding fees for site prep or unexpected circumstances upfront may be what it takes to ensure the delivery requirements are met.

After all, effective shed delivery means that you are earning more by delivering more sheds on any given day.


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