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Building Service Contractors (BSC’s) have some difficult shoes to fill. Whether you’re in the cleaning, floor services, construction, window washing, home maintenance or even landscaping business, you understand the vital importance the first walkthrough has on the bidding process. However, many BSC’s can overcomplicate the process or even worse, underestimate the plethora of things to look out for when performing their first walkthrough. This guide was written in order to educate or aid anyone looking to improve their skills when performing a walkthrough.
How To Perform Building Service Walkthroughs
What Is A Walkthrough?
In order to give your prospective client a price for your services, you must first **walk through **the location for a site inspection. This gives both you (the building service contractor) and the prospective client the opportunity to meet each other and see if they can do business together. This is also a great chance for the BSC to impress and dazzle the client with their knowledge and professionalism and prove whether or not you will be the right company for the job.
How Do You Perform A Building Services Walkthrough?
Performing a walkthrough can be nerve racking if you’re still new at it. It truly is an art form but can be perfected with experience and thorough preparation.
Normally the overall process of a walkthrough is the same for all service industries. Questions asked, things to look out for and pricing tasks are things that will be unique depending on the job being performed. Generally speaking here are 3 important steps to have a great first walkthrough.
No. 1 - Dress To Impress
First impressions are essential when doing business. Studies show that people will often take under a minute to decide whether they like you and what traits to assign to you. Of course there is very little you can do about your face (although it wouldn’t hurt to smile!), but other silent factors such as your body language, mood and clothing say so much before you even utter a word. Social psychologists say this is because we’ve simplified interacting with strangers by judging them quickly based on the first thing we notice: their appearance.
This is why dressing for the job is imperative to the walkthrough process. Business casual should be your aim. When meeting with a particularly large corporation a blazer or sport coat could be viable. We’re not suggesting you go get an over priced tuxedo but a nice collared shirt and tailored slacks say a lot. The important thing to remember is that you are conducting business. You should dress like you are representing not only yourself but also your company. Be sure to also use open and friendly body language (smile, stand straight, head held high, walk with confidence and use a firm handshake).
If your Business has strong branding, wearing your company’s top quality merchandise can be equally as impressive to the prospective client.
No. 2 - Make A Master List And Check It Twice
A Walkthrough Checklist can serve as a guide while performing the walkthough. Now this is where it will vary depending on the job you are performing. However, no matter the specific service you provide there are definitely some things you should be aware of when doing the walkthrough. First and foremost you should be aware of certain things like square feet of the areas you’ll be working in. Make sure to take notes for each room you are presented and jot down important details. If the client mentions how fingerprints litter their desks, be sure to make a note of that; If you are in HVAC and a client says this room in particular receives less air flow than others then you should make a note of that. This is also an excellent time to upsell the client on more services.
If you are in the cleaning business, identify the kind of floor material (carpet, tile, hardwood etc.) and how long it would take to clean if the client specifies the need. If you are a window washer, identify the number of windows needed to be cleaned and what floors they are on (and ask if they need exterior and interior cleaning). One of the biggest things you want to be aware of is the scale of the job and the amount of time and resources spent completing it. This will allow you to price everything accordingly. It may be daunting to tackle speaking to the client, writing notes and performing the walkthrough but we assure you that with experience the insecurity will soon blossom into unrivaled confidence.
In order to remain organized and streamline the walkthrough process, we suggest using a platform like Route. Route is a business management platform for service companies, featuring solutions for walkthroughs, bidding, contract management, scheduling, inspections, and workforce management. Route was built for the unique and complex needs across industries such as field services, facility maintenance, and property management. Our goal is to empower businesses in the building services industry by providing all the tools necessary to present an excellent experience. We’d like to help you by bundling all your needs into a single software, available on all platforms (Android, iOS, and the web).
No.3 - Ask Vital Questions And Be Prepared To Answer Theirs
During the walkthrough we suggest you ask questions in order to get to know your client, discover their motivations, and build a relationship. Engaging in small talk prior to beginning the walkthrough can help break the ice but the real questions that you should ask are things that will help you determine how to solve their problems.
Here are some important questions to ask while doing the walkthrough:
- Why are you looking for a new contractor? Sometimes the client is required to take bids once a year, but it could also be the case that the client is relatively unhappy with their current service being provided. In the case of the latter it is advised to ask specifically why they are unhappy. Their listed reasons become the important details that you should make sure get finished.
- What is the budget? This is a controversial question as many BSC’s aren’t comfortable prying into their client like this. However, knowing their budget allows you to figure out what the client is willing to pay and can aid in setting your final price.
- Is there nearby parking? This depends on the location of the site you are working on. Sometimes if it is in the middle of a metropolitan city then parking will either be scarce or you will be required to pay for parking. If the latter is true, then be sure to include the cost of parking in your final price.
- When are you looking to get this done? Asking this gives you a time frame of how long you have to plan accordingly. The client will usually specify the date and time desired for the job but it never hurts to ask.
- Is there an alarm system? If the job will be done after work hours or on weekends, then there is likely a security system for the space. Once again, the client is likely to bring this up but it’s more efficient to ask in the case that the client simply forgets.
- Are there any specific tasks or areas that concern you? This will help you get an idea of what is important to the client and what they highly value. For example, if you are responsible for cleaning a large office, a specific area of concern might be the bathrooms or making sure the kitchen area is sanitized.
- Would you be interested in....? During the walkthrough, the client will voice what they want done without knowledge of industry services. We advise you to let the client know of additional services you can add on that would improve the overall quality of work. For example, if the client specifies they would like certain grime spots on floors removed, offer a floor polishing service.
The client is also likely to ask you a plethora of questions in order to gauge your expertise and knowledge. It is best to remain confident in your replies and speak with authority. If the client sees your confidence they are less likely to pester you with questions. Even so, you should always be prepared to answer questions such as:
- How long have you been doing what you do?
- Do you have a list of references?
- How many employees will be working on the job?
- Do you have insurance in case something breaks or is lost?
- What number do I call if I have questions or concerns?
There is no right way to answer these questions but always be sure to speak passionately about what you do and how excited you are to help solve your client’s problems.
The Group Walkthrough
You’re not very likely to go through this but it is surprisingly common when dealing with government facilities or large/privately owned corporations. A group walkthrough is where a prospective client will have several contractors meet with him or her at the same time to conduct a walkthrough.
During a group walkthrough, do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for clarification in order to submit your bid. After the group walkthrough, the prospective client will look over the bids and companies and eliminate the ones that they don’t wish to pursue a business relationship with. If you are called back, then you can proceed with getting to know your client better and asking further questions. After the walkthrough it is courteous to send a thank you card a day or two later.
Ways To Stand Out
The standard way of doing business is submitting a proposal, covering all items discussed in the walkthrough, pricing accordingly and including references. Do you see the problem though? Everyone is doing the same and so it will be difficult to stand out as a worthy candidate if the only difference is the quality of work you do. I’m not saying your experience isn’t enough but nowadays competition is rampant and getting a lot of business requires you to go above and beyond the common way of doing things. Here are some ways to outperform your competition:
- Offer your expertise by suggesting ways for your client to save money. Businesses LOVE saving money. A building owner or manager will invariably look at a proposal more closely when it includes suggestions on ways to reduce costs. For example, most facilities pay for floor refinishing separate from the monthly cleaning charge. Suggesting ways to reduce refinishing cycles and pointing out the savings that can result will make you extremely valuable in their eyes.
- Offer ideas on being “greener” or saving resources. Many building managers won’t know too much about this area and offering your guidance can really set you apart from other businesses.
- Show how different you are from the competition by using state of the art software. Organization is a major factor in deciding how well a job goes. Even if all technicians are on the same page, unforeseen circumstances can arise before and during the job which can affect the outcome. Using a business management platform such as Route will impress your clients as it shows you are up to date with the industry, helping ease any sort of issues that may arise.
The Route Walkthrough Builder™ is specifically tailored for building services industry and provides you with all the tools necessary to sell your services with confidence. The walkthrough builder™ allows you to capture important details about the location you’ll be working in, your scope of work, build your estimate and contact in a matter of minutes.
Pen and paper is outdated and methods of communication such as text or e-mail can be unreliable and at best only solves the problem of how to spread information to your technicians. Route offers more than just the ease of capturing details from your walkthrough and automated communications. Above are some other features that will help you organize everything you need so you can focus on solving your clients’ problems.
The walkthrough is the first chance to make an excellent impression and a vital part of the process in building a valuable business relationship. Presenting yourself as a professional capable of handling the prospect’s needs allows you to meet those needs, include value adding services and outperform your competitors - helping you stand out and get new business.
Don’t overcomplicate the walkthrough and you are sure to do well. The more bids you perform the better you will get and once you become comfortable with the process the unease should be replaced with unrivaled confidence. Make sure you are confident in your abilities and think things through: no two bids are alike, everything in this guide is a good start in what to expect.