Real-Issues-Valuing-ServicesAs we know, all too well, there’s much more to a project bid than the price of the products. When a builder, remodeler or homeowner customer compares two quotes—one that includes boom-truck availability, same-day delivery, design services and more, and one that doesn’t—it’s no secret which quote will be higher. The challenge, and the subject of this month’s Real Issues. Real Answers. feature, is how best to communicate that a bigger number on the bottom-line may actually represent the best value.

This month’s question came from Jeremy Hamlin of Hammond Lumber Company, Fairfield, Maine. Jeremy wrote: “When we are looking at quotes, and we know that the customer is shopping us, we need to be aware of the differences that may exist between our competition and ourselves. Are they offering the same level of service that we are? More often than not, the customer is all about the ‘financial cost,’ and they do not consider some of the other services that may or may not be included between different suppliers…services that if one had to pay extra for, might sway a decision. Differences such as same-day delivery, boom truck availability at no extra charge, in house design services, and so on. How do other dealers handle this challenge?”

We’d like to thank the 259 readers who took the time to participate in this survey, which was distributed via email to subscribers who have opted in to receive our email communications. Several readers pointed out that this challenge comes down to the age-old choice between price, quality and service: pick any two. While that sums it up nicely—it doesn’t change the fact that most customers want all three.

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Which of the following best describes how you believe customers would describe your company?

How would you describe your company

First, we wanted to gauge how respondents’ companies are perceived in their markets. As you’ll see, fewer than 1% of respondents’ companies are viewed as offering the lowest prices with barebones service. Just under one-third (32.9%) are positioned as providing premium products and services—with prices to match. The vast majority at 66.23% are positioned between the two extremes. [Note: these percentages were virtually identical for lumber/ building material dealers and specialty dealers/distributors (i.e., windows and doors, roofing and siding, etc.).]