Measuring services can be an invaluable asset to your company. Trained measuring services provide scaled diagrams, include accurately measured rooms with the layout with seam locations, the type and condition of the subfloor and any needed floor preparation. Good measuring services also note excessive furniture and appliances, including unusual ones. Even the direction of light (for better seaming) is indicated, and all of these details are signed off by the customer. A good measurer even clarifies any unusual customer habits or unforeseen practices of the customer (i.e. wheelchairs.) Trained measuring services are your “eyes” on the jobsite. (See CRI 105 official measuring & planning standards.)
Independent measurers save your company costly estimating errors, especially when inexperienced salespeople are involved. These error savings are particularly true when a competent associate reviews the yardage or square foot calculations based on the total length of the cuts calculated to complete the job correctly. Furthermore, if the diagram contains incorrect measurements, scale drawings usually catch errors because the dimensional balances of the diagram rarely correspond—the drawing lines do not match up.
Now, when a customer says, “When can you measure?” move quickly and get the prospect out of the market. “Let’s set it up right now at no charge” is a good reply. This is an immediate way of removing the customer from the shopping market, and all it requires is a relatively small measuring deposit. Notice I said deposit, not payment.
So again, after all obstacles are out of the way, suggest a measure. Before explaining the deposit or particulars of the measuring service, get all pertinent information on your “Measurement Sheet” … name, address, convenient time to measure, rooms to measure, etc. Discussing rooms to measure allows a way to increase the size of the order—make sure you discuss it now or you may be re-measuring.
Next comes the final, careful phraseology for a probable and effective close to the sale, “Although we do not have any charge for measuring, we do require a deposit before ordering material. All I need from you right now, to get this started, is a partial deposit of $20.00—completely refundable to the balance. If that’s agreeable to you, we can move forward and have our independent, professional measurers out to your home tomorrow (or whatever time has been established as convenient).”
If you have handled all other parts of the sale well, rarely does the customer refuse, and if she does, it is your opportunity to discover her reason for doing so. Oh blessings, you might even get a missed objection. Remember, you can always still measure yourself at no cost to anyone—except you and your valuable time.
Recently, I had an expensive stereo receiver go out on me during a lightning storm. I took my receiver to my dealer and asked for an estimate of what it would take to fix the appliance. He was steadfast. Without a $20.00 payment, he would not look at my receiver. Fair is fair. I handed him a $20.00 bill, and when I returned, he informed me that my circuits were burned to the core. So, I paid for the bad news. I bought a brand new receiver from him. After all, his time was money. Guess what? He deducted the $20.00 fee from the sale. I was a happy customer.
Asking for $20.00 usually covers a significant portion of the measuring expense, and you now have a degree of financial commitment from the customer. Furthermore, $20.00 is not so much money that the customer cannot walk away from the order if she feels the need to. Still, it never ceases to amaze me what customers will do to hold on to that $20.00. Here is why. Let me ask you a simple question: If you were walking along and stumbled upon an isolated $20 bill, claimable to no one, lying on the floor, would you pick it up? Of course you would. At least I would. Hard cash definitely has its merits and it often speaks prominently.
Granted, if you were to measure every customer, which I did for years, you are going to get a significant number of customers who will buy from you when professionally qualified and pre-closed. I used to brag how I closed a significant percentage of the customers I measured in the home when everything seemed acceptable. However, I could more easily tell you the many stories about the ones I did not sell. Sometimes it would just get out-right weird, and this is still true, even though I have studied and perfected closing techniques in the home.
Here is the real proof, and in this case, I speak with more than just empirical evidence: Bernie Cohen, a colleague, was initially very skeptical of measuring services. He would say, “The best time to close is at the measuring site.” (True enough, but since you already have a partial financial binder and commitment for the measure, there is less of a need to measure yourself.)
Though skeptical, he charted our success or lack of it for a significant period. The customers who said “no” to a measuring deposit, which was rare when conditions were properly conveyed, very rarely bought flooring even though we measured without a deposit.
Those “no” customers either gave us stories why they really could not buy flooring at this time (One woman went into detail about her impending health expenses and her imminent death.), or they admitted to whatever other hidden objections that would prevent them from solidifying an order. Reality would set in and thus they could avoid paying a $20.00 measuring deposit when in fact they were unable to buy. Perhaps some were simply not “sold” enough and the measure close revealed the need for more discovery and outcome. Others wanted to shop everywhere and have everybody measure since they obviously felt measuring was a part of every quote (an objection that is diffusible). In any case, at that time, we generally measured regardless without the deposit.
After reviewing the success rate of financially committed customers (literally about 95%) and the nearly zero result of measured prospects without deposits, Bernie remarked, “This is very revealing; those who refuse to give us a deposit are totally wasting our time and resources.” In other words, the prospects who remained committed to a measurement without a small financial binder and we measured anyway, rarely actually bought while those who gave deposits rarely didn’t buy. In reality, the measuring service was effectively closing the sale 95% of the time.
Asking for a measure seldom renders a non-sale when done properly, which brings us to why the measuring service is actually a selling close. A measure is simply asking the customer to make a minor decision, which will eventually carry the major decision. Of course, the final measure clarifies what standard deposit will be needed to secure the order based on the size of the job.
Here is how the measuring service idea developed for me as a closing technique. I was running a flooring store and I was shorthanded with employees. There were measures that needed doing or sales were to suffer. Therefore, I called in a district manager (Bernie Cohen) to babysit my store while I went out to complete the free measures and hopefully close the sale. As I returned with the previous proposals and the 50% deposits, Bernie would have several more measures ready for measure and completion.
He was taking extremely small deposits for every measure that would with any luck lead to the sale. These deposits merely established the sincerity and allegiance of the customer for me to run to their house for an in-home measure. I went back out to measure, got the full 50% needed deposit and simply added it to the measuring deposit and closed the transaction. I would come back and he would have two more very small partial deposits. Therefore, I would go again. He was running me ragged and I was in shock. One woman gave him $5.00 and I closed her. It was incredible and I was selling like a maniac. Closing was never so easy. The partial financial commitment was already there; all I had to do was ask for the order and the usual required deposit. Presto!
For a brief moment, I felt upset, like I was twirled into a gofer. Bernie sold; I closed. Then it occurred to me the triumph of what was actually going on and it was a startling revelation. Logically, I realized that it only makes sense that I will gladly act as a profitable gofer anytime you ask. (Bernie was putting all the sales in my name.)
Here is an interesting quote from “High Probability Selling.” (See Jacques Werth and Nicholas E. Ruben – 1977 Paperback) “High Probability Selling is an essential concept in any selling scenario. Many sales agents spend an inordinate amount of their selling time with prospects that will never buy. Selling to some degree will always be a numbers game – good sales people merely narrow the odds.”
Nowadays, after a creating a trained and skilled measurer, the customer returns to my store, usually by appointment, and I have a complete folder with the diagram and the measurer’s notes that I insist upon reviewing. Furthermore, I create the final invoice with all relevant paper work with the refundable measuring deposit shown as part of a total deposit needed plus the balance due upon completion. While the $20.00 measure fee is free, it may be easily built into the profitability of the sale if you feel the need to.
Stock at the mill or the warehouse is predetermined. After all her questions are addressed, all I have to do is hand her a pen and say, “I just need a check for half down plus a signature on the invoice, which you will have a copy of. Then, I will get this moving for us and have our professional installers out to your home in a few days and you will have a beautiful home.” (The rare time I use the Signature Close – otherwise presumptuous.)
Measuring services have gained immense popularity in recent years. Measuring services are relatively inexpensive considering the time you save, and your time is especially important when you consider the opportunity cost while you are out measuring away from the selling floor. Unfortunately, measuring services are still shunned by some flooring dealers who have had prolonged success “doing it the old way.”
However, busy show rooms call for essential tools and a measuring service implements a tremendous timesaving; plus a trial closing technique that allows you to discover what is missing to complete the sale before your competition does. Remember, customers don’t often come right out and say what is bothering them. Sometimes they don’t completely know themselves. However, when faced with a small financial decision to move things ahead, things are revealed and confusion gets unveiled. Now it is your chance to solve the customer’s indecision as needed.
So, if you do not already have a measuring service, how do you establish one? I personally use Home Depot’s independent measuring service because they are experienced, tried and tested and they work on a large economy of scale. (For those who may loathe Home Depot, they did not become one of the largest flooring retailers without doing some things right.) Assuming that is not possible, look for retired installers, local students from colleges, universities, vocational schools or a bright high school student, all needing some manners and an analytical mind with a dependable car. Most students need part time jobs, the revenue is all theirs to keep, and to an extent, they can work on their schedule.
Measuring services save you time, money, help you to prevent costly errors and create harmony. Extra time means more sales for you and your company. Much more often than not, customers who are confronted with the choice of a measuring service eventually become “lay downs” for a cost-effective sale.