OPEN HOUSE 2021: Managing Customer Expectations

By: Dan McHugh—Wolf Home Products

One of the most important things anyone can do in a business relationship is manage expectations. Whether it’s buying a car, a pool, a deck, or a pencil, there is an expectation a consumer has for the product. In our industry, homeowners are doing more and more research on products and have their own idea of how the project will look and perform before the job is even complete.

Fueled by television stations like HGTV and social media platforms like Pinterest, our industry has been blessed with high demand. With this increased demand comes high expectations. It is extremely important for us, as sales professionals, to continue to craft our pitch around our products and services. Understanding the customer’s needs will help manage their expectations for the project. Car salesmen wouldn’t sell a Toyota Prius to someone looking to tow their camper. They also wouldn’t sell a two-seater car to someone who has five children. 

The more we can be looked at as consultants instead of just “salespeople,” the better off we will be as an industry. There is a fine line between over-promising and selling the homeowner’s dream. The ultimate goal is to make the customer happy. Telling them this project or product is going to do everything they ever imagined and more, just to get the sale, will backfire and lose the trust of the homeowner. 

Just like the saying goes, “There’s a tool for every task.” I feel there’s a product for every application. Understanding the difference between capped composite decking and PVC decking is important. Just like understanding the difference between vinyl, fiber cement, and PVC siding is important. Once you know why each product will perform differently in a certain environment, you can help manage the expectations of the customer. 

Being honest and truthful while still allowing your customer to envision their dream space is a hard balance to find. With practice, honesty, and consistency everyone can win.

My favorite example of this is when I get calls from homeowners about washing off their Wolf Serenity™ Decking. When leaves begin to fall or a dog runs across any surface with muddy paws, obviously the product needs to be wiped off or sprayed with water. These homeowners argue that they were told the product was “zero maintenance.” 

To them, the product should clean itself, when we all know that if you buy a Ferrari, you still have to wash the car. 

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