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Ask an Expert: Bidding and Closing the Sale

A great sales and bidding strategy transcends industries, and Michael Bedell has many proven tips to share.

Michael Bedell, owner of Bedell Property Management in Milford, Michigan, has been running a business focused on horticulture and landscaping design and build, as well as snow and ice management for 15 years.

We’re proud to call him a longtime Jobber customer, and he’s also the Debt Free Landscaper on Instagram, sharing his sales and operations advice with other green industry entrepreneurs out there.

We asked him to join us for an ‘Ask an Expert’ Facebook Live on the topic of bidding and closing the sale, and here are the highlights from our conversation. Watch the whole Facebook Live for all his insights. Disclaimer: His advice is solid for any industry where sales is part of your process!

This post is part of our #jobbersmallbizmonth series where we interviewed successful business owners and industry experts on the topics that matter most to entrepreneurs in the home services. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop!

Michael's proven tips for bidding and closing the sale

1. Qualify a lead by listening more
2. Know your numbers to price accordingly
3. And don’t forget to include incidentals
4. Ask different questions to get the answer you want
5. Know when to pass or jump on the BIG job
6. Be confident and build relationships
7. Don’t forget to ask for the sale!
8. Make it easy for them to work with you

1. Qualify a lead by listening more

“Instead of going on and on and on, you’ve gotta learn what they want. And there will come a point later on in the sales process where you maybe get to demonstrate your expertise. But you want to qualify them and find out if they’re a good fit for you, and the goals of your business.

We only have so much time, so the last thing you wanna do is spend a bunch of time on a lead that isn’t going to be a good fit. The sooner you can discover whether that’s a good fit for your business or not, the better it is for really everyone involved. Because at the end of the day I think the people that get the best experience are the people that found something that was the best fit for them.”

2. Know your numbers to price accordingly

“As we’ve evolved and now here we are in year 15, the costs tend to be on the higher end of things. It’s just the evolution of all the things that I said. You don’t necessarily want to be leaving money on the table but I don’t think that’s the most important part.

Typically if let’s say you bid a job and you’re in the top two highest companies in terms of price, you probably have a very good idea of what it’s gonna cost you to do that job. You’re probably going to have a little profit put in there so that it’s actually a job that’ll keep you in business.
There could be change orders down the line, and specifically for our company, that’s something we try and get away from. My prices tend to be worst case scenario. I’d rather undersell the job. Basically at the end of the day I want them to be happy. I don’t want to talk big and oversell the job and then mess it all up. I’d rather give them this big long time frame, worst case scenario price, so we get done a week early and $500 under budget or under the agreed upon proposed price.

After you’re in business for a while you can look back and see, ‘Some of these jobs I made money on, some of them I didn’t. What am I doing wrong?’ And the key to all of that is knowing your numbers. The confidence comes from that.

If someone else can do a job for X that’s great and hopefully that’s reflective of their costs, but that has no bearing on what you can do the job for. That’s what you gotta hang your hat on. Knowing what your costs are and then if it’s a good fit or if it’s just not a good job for you.

It doesn’t matter whether you fix air conditioning units or sell ice cream or plow snow. You have to know your numbers or you’re just being super generous to society and giving your time away.”

Quote

It doesn't matter whether you fix air conditioning units or sell ice cream or plow snow. You have to know your numbers or you're just being super generous to society and giving your time away.

Michael Bedell, Bedell Property Management Quote

3. And don’t forget to include incidentals

“The overarching thing that I think everyone can take away is when you’re bidding something you need to take into account all the things that go into that job that don’t go into that job. Things that we’re all going to run into like having to get supplies… when you’re bidding different projects, make sure you’re covering the costs of all the different little tasks that you’re gonna have people do. Because if you’re small like just owner operated or a couple people, a lot of those tasks tend to fall on the owner.”

4. Ask different questions to get the answer you want

“In the [Jobber Entrepreneurship] Facebook group earlier, Brian from MIL-SPEC Landscaping mentioned that they don’t ask for a budget anymore. They ask “What do you want to spend?” We do the same thing and it gets a more accurate answer.

You get into sales and then you realize you know nothing about sales, and that’s one of the biggest things you learn is you can say the same things 10 different ways and get 10 different results.”

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5. Know when to pass or jump on the BIG job

“THE project, that big massive job, it needs to be helping you take the next big step to your goals. If you do little hard scape repairs and now somebody wants this big massive pool patio thing, if that’s what your end goal is, this is your opportunity. Or if you just clean houses and you want do big office buildings and you get that opportunity, this is now your chance. But you’ve got to slow down and not just dive into it.

Make sure that you don’t want it to turn into a learning situation where you’re like, ‘Well I didn’t make money on this but I learned a lot’—unless that’s the plan. It’s easy to do that when you’re starting out. But once you have people that are relying on their paycheck and suppliers that are getting you supplies, you need to be conscientious of all that.

This big project needs to align with your goals. It’s okay to rent equipment if you need to. I would advise against buying it unless you know that you’re going to do a bunch of this type of work—if this is really opening the gate and it’s such a big project that the rental cost versus what you’d spend on buying is worth it. You’ve got to do some math here otherwise this big project is gonna turn into a lot of chaos.

If it’s a big project, sometimes you’ll want to stage out payments. Like 25% down and when we get this far into the job we get another 25% and so on and so on. Then the final payment upon completion of the job. That way your client isn’t sitting there holding this bag of money and you’re doing all this work hoping to get paid at the end. A lot of people that you do projects for, they’re employees so they really understand the whole getting paid every two weeks thing.”

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I've noticed, especially in the younger group, they got ‘the guy’ and you want to be ‘the guy.’ Whether it's the cleaning guy, the window cleaning guy, or the lawn guy, or the computer services guy.

Michael Bedell, Bedell Property Management Quote

6. Be confident and build relationships

“Confidence is a big thing. People like to do business with people that they know and like.

Especially the younger age group. I would say the 50 and under, they want to be a little bit more buddy-buddy. With the older groups, you can be a member of the family, you’re there enough or they trust you. But I’ve noticed, especially in the younger group, they got ‘the guy’ and you want to be ‘the guy.’ Whether it’s the cleaning guy, the window cleaning guy, or the lawn guy, or the computer services guy. They like to have that relationship that almost feels on demand if that makes sense.

Because the people that I’m likely going to do business with, yeah, I’m gonna spend time with them and build the relationship. If they make it through the door of getting to actually get in to likely being on our schedule, I want them to be there for a while. Kind of like employees. You’re slow to hire and quick to fire.

There are some clients that I could be in the middle of something on their property but if they want to chat or if their dog wants to say hey or something, my time is theirs. Because that relationship resulted in money that’s really changed our company. If you’re willing to slow down and make those relationships, that’s really what’s going to give you the longevity.”

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7. Don't forget to ask for the sale!

“In some situations you definitely have to basically ask for the sale and a lot of times as silly as it sounds, that’s all it takes between wasting a bunch of time and spinning wheels for sometimes weeks or days and just moving forward.

Don’t think of this person as this client who might hire you and judge you. Think of them as a friend, as someone that you’ve known since way back. You’ve known them for 20, 30, 40 years—even though you haven’t. Talk to that person like you’ve just known them forever… It’ll confuse the client because you don’t seem like the new guy anymore. You seem really calm, cool, and collected and you’re not going to be but you can pretend that you are.

Slow down, know your numbers, and that’ll allow you to have confidence when you’re bidding these projects. And that’ll ultimately give you the ability to close projects with confidence that make you money.”

8. Make it easy for them to work with you

“For you [a job] is like a couple hour stop and you got four more of them for the day or something. But for them, this is a big deal and they took off work and they don’t know how it’s gonna go. That’s why it’s cool Jobber does things like allow you to add pictures of technicians [to client hub] and stuff like that to try and break down that barrier—send text messages to let people know technician’s on the way and stuff like that. Try and give it a little bit more of a friend type feel. Because it is intimidating especially at the ‘coming to someone’s home’ level.”

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