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News & Events

How to Respond to Difficult Customer Questions


Can you do it cheaper? Why are you doing it that way? Can the project be done any sooner? Why aren’t you doing this the same way the expert did it on TV?

Thanks to the internet and home remodeling or DIY shows, your customers have access to an endless amount of information. Sometimes that leads to more engaged, educated customers. Other times it can lead to tough questions that could potentially derail your project.

Keep these tips in mind as you work with customers to efficiently and successfully manage their projects:

1. Sell Your Experience

There are a lot of “experts” out there that your customers may reference when asking you questions. If your customer asks why you’re doing something one way when they saw it done another way in an article or on a show, be sure to sell the expertise you have in the industry. For example, “There are a few different ways you can approach this type of work, but based on my experience and these XYZ factors, my professional opinion is to …”

2. Be Careful What You Agree To

Above all, contractors are in the business of people, so it can be difficult to say no to extra requests. However, sometimes saying “no” is the right thing to do if your client isn’t willing to pay for the added service, or you simply don’t have the expertise to tackle a specific task. For example, how do you handle projects where your customers ask you to remove and reinstall their satellite dishes? Some contractors may have the expertise and resources to do this on their own and some might not. Either way, be up-front about your abilities to avoid issues down the road.

To prevent difficult questions about costs later in a project, take time to walk through your scope of work before a job begins. And if you notice trends in the types of requests you get during a project, consider including disclaimers for what you are and aren’t responsible for throughout the lifetime of a project.

3. Turn Extra Requests Into Business Opportunities

Can you install gutters? Can you install windows? When your customers start throwing extra requests your way, you or your crew may feel pressured to say yes without discussing additional charges. But as you know, time is money, so you can’t get in the habit of giving away work for free.

Instead, train yourself and your crew to respond to these requests in a way that shows you’re accommodating and can help, but that you won’t perform the favor for free. For example, “Yes, we’re happy to take care of that while we’re here. I can provide you with an estimate for the work right away.”

If the extra task will take your crew off their timeline, be clear about that up front and be careful not to spread yourself and your crew too thin: “Because it’ll take a few hours for us to help with that, we’re not going to get through everything we planned for today, so it may push the completion date of your project back a little bit. Are you OK with the added cost and a later project completion date?”

With clear and up-front communication, you can maintain a great relationship with your client without hurting your timeline. If you are regularly asked to perform extra tasks like installing gutters, windows, doors or decking, diversifying your service offerings could be a good business move.

4. Take Time To Guide Your Customers

Can you get the project done faster? Why do you recommend one product over another? Can you do it cheaper? When responding to these questions, it’s key to take time to explain the reasoning behind your actions.

To better educate your customers, consider showing them product samples or digital renderings that help them envision the end result. ABC Supply’s Solution Centers are a great place to start because they give your customers hands-on time with the actual materials and color options. Our Pictureit software allows contractors to create virtual photo renderings that can show customers exactly what they’re getting before a project begins. It can also be helpful to walk your customers through your timeline, so that they understand all the steps that need to happen.

5. Train Your Crew When To Respond (And When Not To)

Make sure your team understands how to handle different types of homeowner questions to ensure consistency and appropriate answers. It’s one thing for you to know how to respond to homeowner requests, but make sure your crew is on the same page and knows what kinds of questions they can handle and when they need to pass requests along to you or a project lead.

Regardless of the type of questions you receive, always remember to be thoughtful about the way you respond and put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Keep coming back to the ABC Supply blog for more tips and trends to help you best tackle your projects.

The information provided is for general informational purposes only. All information provided is in good faith, and is not intended as a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, legal, or financial advice for a professional accountant or lawyer. Any opinions expressed are those of the author. ABC Supply makes no warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding, the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of any information provided herein. Any questions regarding the information provided should be addressed to the author.