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The Profit Builder

Navigating Difficult Conversations

Not sure how to get the client to sign that change order? Having a tough time getting that employee to work faster? This week I’m sharing an interview I did with Dominic Rubino about how to make having those conversations easier using a simple 4 step formula.

The formula:

Following this formula will give you more comfort in implementing change, AND, it will give you resources for overcoming resistance to the changes you are implementing.

Dominic and I role-play a few great examples of how to navigate a conversation that could otherwise be riddled with conflict.  One with a client about a change order, the other with an employee. As it played out both parties were feeling good about the results.


Nail The Sales Process and Close More Jobs

Last week I shared an interview I did on The Designer Show on how, as a contractor, you can stop being treated like a commodity and get in the driver’s seat in the sales process. This week, I’m doing a deeper dive into how to nail your sales process by including 4 key elements that will make all the difference.


When a customer first calls, one of the best things you can do is manage their expectations. From the very first phone call, let them know what your process is, and what they can expect in this first phase of getting to know one another and identify the scope of the project.  This is where you begin to build trust and confidence, and have you stand out from the competition.  This is where you begin to really drive the sales process.

Tip: When you’re done explaining your process, ask them if they are OK with that – then wait for an answer. People will say yes ninety-nine percent of the time.  Getting agreement on things like presenting the bid in person or by Zoom or Skype is an essential piece of giving you a greater chance of actually closing a sale.


Unfortunately, some clients might be “tire-kickers.” They aren’t necessarily really interested in doing business with you, and really can’t just be pushed aside. Ask questions in your initial conversations with a potential client that help you understand if they are a “right fit.” Are they just looking for a lowball price? This is something you’ll want to establish early on.

One of the best ways to ensure that a client is a good fit for your company is to start by setting a minimum size project you are willing to complete. If a job isn’t profitable, why do it?

Create a matrix that could be used to rate a potential project opportunity:

  • Set a goal for the minimum size job you’ll take
  • Define what makes for an acceptable location
  • Identify if the timing works in your schedule

These are just a few examples, and you get the idea.

Tip:  If the rating doesn’t meet your criteria, you politely say that you don’t think it’s a good fit and offer to refer to another contractor. The homeowner, by the way, is always grateful for the honesty. And it will save you precious time by not bidding a job that doesn’t meet your requirements.


Knowing how to ask questions is the cornerstone of a good sales process. When you take the time to truly understand a prospect’s needs by asking the right questions, you will understand what they value most and ultimately be able to provide superior value and experience. You’ll be able to stand out from the competition and be known as a trusted resource to your prospects and clients.

In my Sales Process Toolkit, I give you examples of some powerful questions you can ask at each stage of the sales process.

Tip: When you begin following a more ‘scripted’ process, it will no doubt feel clunky and awkward. That’s the way it is for most of us when learning a new habit. You’ll likely find that you’ll need to change up the questions to better fit your communication styles. Before long, however, the process will begin to feel natural. You’ll become consistent. You’ll start getting better information from the customer.


Keeping your word, doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it, is the foundation of your reputation and identity as a contractor. In an industry riddled with dishonesty and subterfuge, you want to be known as someone who can be trusted.

Tip: If you do nothing else I’ve shared with you here other than this one thing, you’ll increase your close rate, and you’ll have people clamoring at your door to work with you. You’ll get tons of referrals from happy clients; and you’ll stand heads above the competition.


Clarity breeds confidence, and confidence lets us take more powerful actions.  This applies to you AND your customers.  When you’re clear—whether clarity takes the form of knowing the customer’s pain, challenges, needs, and desires, or knowing the clear scope and budget—it’s easier to take control of the process because you’ll know what you’re doing.  Having a solid sales process will let you do just that.



p.s. Using the tips I’ve shared above and using my Sales Process Toolkit will have you closing more of the RIGHT jobs.

p.p.s.  If you want to learn more about making a consistent profit and increase cash flow in your business, then check out my book, “The Profit Bleed – how managing margin can save your contracting business.”

Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently.  Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of contractors achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of the book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.

Stop Being Treated Like a Commodity!

​In a world that generally treats contractors like a commodity, how can you get treated with the respect you deserve?

In an interview I did last week with Dan Bauman of The Designer Show, I shared…

• How to shift the focus so your driving sales interactions
• How to stand out from the competition with a written Sales Process (I’ve shared my template for this below)
• How to get the respect you deserve, and stop being treated like a commodity
• And finally, how to close more deals with the RIGHT customers

As you watch this week’s video you’ll not only gain insights into how to stop being treated like a commodity and get into the driver’s seat in the sales process but also how to quickly build more trust with prospects and gain their respect.

In this video (and in the outline I share below) I show you how to craft a Sales Process that will allow you to do all that, AND, close more sales with the right customers.

You download my Sales Process Toolkit (PDF) and start driving the sales interactions.

Dan mentions my book, The Profit Bleed, in the video (thank you Dan!) – if you’d like a copy, you can order yours here.



Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently.  Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of contractors achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of the book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.

Close More Sales and Make More Profit

“Listen, we were bidding like crazy before we lowered our prices and weren’t closing enough work. Now that you’re telling us to raise our prices, I’m concerned I’m going to have to go back to bidding twice as much work just to get the same number of projects.”

In my experience helping construction companies close more sales and increase profit margins, the above statement is not unique. It can simply become difficult for business owners to wrap their minds around the idea that raising prices can actually help land more contracts. The sales process is multi-faceted and about much more than just the price.

Construction companies should strive to be different and see pricing wars as not a strategy for landing the next job, but rather an opportunity to deliver a great experience and value to customers. Unfortunately, playing the pricing game can be a downward spiral that leads many construction companies to price themselves out of business. Consumers become accustomed to paying such a low price that it almost becomes a demand and causes business owners to ultimately scramble to survive. They are forced to keep their prices at a point where they are actually losing money.


Clarity + Confidence = Control

It was a simple question… “How’s your year going?” As I watched his expression change and heard the strain in Bob’s voice as he spoke, the angst was palpable.

“Nearly a whole month of not being able to work on projects, and a slow start back, with unexpected setbacks dictated by circumstances out of my control, has taken its toll,” he said slowly.  His eyes reflected defeat.  As we talked it was evident Bob felt a lack of control in his business.

Almost every business owner I’ve talked with over the past two months can relate to this experience at some level.  (more…)

What Really Drives Profits

Running a business is never easy. Just thinking about all the necessary elements of a successful company can become overwhelming. That said, becoming a profitable business shouldn’t be an overly complex or stressful experience. In the contracting industry, far too many companies make a critical mistake which only perpetuates this stress. When it comes to truly becoming profitable as a contractor, there is no substitute for the value of understanding the critical elements of your business. In my book, The Profit Bleed, I make it my goal to help contractors understand a handful of key numbers which can make or break their business. If you are tired of being perpetually exhausted and spend day after day stressing over a lack of adequate cash flow or organizational tension, numbers may be the solution.


Controlling Cash Flow – 2 numbers you need to know

The one report I see most business owners don’t look at very often, if ever, is their business is the Balance Sheet. It’s not because they’re lazy or don’t care. Mostly it’s because they don’t know what exactly the numbers mean, or how to use the information in a useful way.

Can you relate?

Your Balance Sheet is a powerful management tool if you know how to read and interpret what the numbers are telling you.  In fact – two key numbers.  Just like having the right tools when working on a project can help you produce better results, the same is true of your company’s financial reports.

What kind of results? Sufficient cash in the bank when you need and want it.  Cash reserves on hand when unexpected events occur – like a pandemic or downturn in the economy. While no one could have predicted a pandemic, the clients I work with who have cash reserves did and will continue to fair much better during this time than those who didn’t.

In this week’s video, I walk you through how to read and use your Balance Sheet as a powerful management tool.  I show you the 2 most important numbers to look at that will let you keep your finger on the pulse of your company’s financial health.  In the process, you’ll learn what targets successful contractors use in their business to manage these numbers.


Stop Project Profit Leaks

Let’s face it, every contractor strives to attain profitability. You want financial stability, success, and freedom. There’s absolutely no shame in that. When we own a business, we focus on providing great service, building a remarkable reputation, which in turn, should lead to a strong client base, and a highly profitable company, at least in theory.

Yet, time and time again, contractors run into walls. Despite the best of intentions and all that hard work, their income is barely covering overhead costs.

In hopes of reaching a higher profit, they end up taking on more work, chasing after anything they can get their hands on, which leads them into a vicious cycle. Seemingly overnight, they’re giving up weekends; abandoning their own health, relationships, and happiness in exchange for endless coffee sipping and yet another late night at the office.

Sound familiar? read more…

How to Nail Profits in the Bid Stage

Contractors live and die by gross profit margin.  And if you don’t learn how to control that one element in the bidding stage, you will always be chasing after profits.

The contractors I know who have learned to manage gross margin when bidding, nail project profits right from the start, and the result is a construction business that produces a consistent profit.

Gross profit dollars vs. gross profit margin:

Gross profit dollars are the difference between your bid price and your project costs. Often I see that contractors only look at that number before a bid goes out.

The gross profit margin is your rate of return and is measured as a percentage.  It’s that percentage that you want to learn to manage in the bidding stage in order to make a more consistent profit in your business.

So how do you manage gross profit margin? In the video and the post below I show you how.

Read More

Knowing this ONE number can increase your profits

In over 25 years of working with contractors, there is one number that a lot of folks I meet don’t understand – and getting that one number wrong is killing their profits!

What sparked this post was a recent call with Joe – a remodeling contractor. We were barely on the phone for two minutes, when Joe launched into a rant about how he felt he’d been doing all the right things in his business, and yet, his bottom line and bank account were not showing the return for all his hard work!

Maybe you’ve been there too at some point?  It’s super frustrating.

Making a profit begins with the markups in your bid

When I asked Joe his strategy for marking up his costs in bidding he replied – “I mark up what I think I can get. I mark up according to what I hear other contractors in my area are marking up, like 10% and 5%, or 15% and 10% on some projects.”

This was part of Joe’s problem.  I explained to Joe that unless you have a large company, your overhead percentage is never that low.  I know this because in the past 25 years I’ve worked with hundreds of small to mid-sized contractors, and I see their numbers.

I could see the irritated look on Joe’s face as I spoke.  “Well, then how the hell do people who only mark up that much on their bids make any money? And how am I supposed to compete against those guys?”

As I asked Joe more questions, I could see he was not clear on the one number I knew was a factor in how he priced his work, and ultimately in the profits, he was or was not making.

Watch today’s video and learn what Joe and I figured out in his business that allowed him to start being more strategic in his bidding, and let him start adding more profits to his bottom line.  You can also read more below.

Read More

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