Volume 37, Issue 4, April 2002

Business Basic

And the Low Bidder is_____________
        Breaking Free from the “Lowest-Price” Mentality
by John Baker

Negotiating and adjusting prices are preliminary elements of many business deals, but it’s much better to deal from a position of strength and control. The next time you visit your dentist, ask what the price of a porcelain crown is. When he says $680, try to negotiate a lower price. (My dentist and his staff had a good laugh when I said I had a coupon!)

So many times I see money left on the table and good glass projects given away because the general contractor or insurance company—not the glass company—dictated the outcome. One of the keys to strengthening your hand and taking control is the “abundance mentality.” When we’re bidding and begging just a few projects, we are prone to cave in under any pricing pressure.

Broadening your Customer Base
You naturally will act and react much differently if you’re working with 20 good customers. Imagine how your attitude and control of the bid process becomes stronger; when you hear “lower your price,” you’ll probably say “next.” You may even choose not to quote some prospects and customers without a firm, up-front agreement. (Wouldn’t it be nice to tell some of the obnoxious, overbearing bottom-feeders to kiss off?)

Building a broader, stronger base of good customers should be a major, ongoing objective of every glass manager and his staff. If your glass company has a good, proactive marketing and sales plan you may not have to lower your price at every turn. Prospecting for new accounts and unusual glass opportunities can certainly help—some targets include:
    • mall maintenance managers;   
    • furniture manufacturers;   
    • school districts;       
    • new general contractors;
    • boats;
    • bank security upgrades; and
    • aquariums.

Think outside of the traditional glass box! What if you become the vendor of choice for a new customer and quality service and products were more important than the cut-rate price. At a recent California Glass Association seminar in Las Vegas, a manager stood up and said that he gets approximately 200 small- to mid-sized jobs annually as an active member of his city’s chamber of commerce and price is seldom an issue. An innovative glass company I work with in Southern Arizona is now the vendor of choice for the border patrol. The glass possibilities are endless.

Remember this vital rule: more prospects = more customers = more opportunities = more selective quoting = less price-cutting.

Other trades and businesses have different philosophies on bidding and lowering prices. Even in a highly competitive market, they are able to keep high standards (and prices). Why not glass?

Ask the Tough Questions
Here are some final tough questions for glass shop owners:
    • How do you see yourself in the marketplace?;
    • Are you able to change? (Think Oldsmobile and Montgomery Ward);
    • Are you a low-price vendor or trusted advisor?;
    • Do you have a vision and plan (mission statement and core values) shared by your staff?; and
    • Are you serious about building your business and taking the next step?

In upcoming issues of USGlass magazine we will highlight and develop new ideas and techniques in the following areas: multiple prospecting techniques, marketing and tracking and closing skills.

John Baker is an instructor for the Sanders Sales Institute in Irvine, Calif. Baker has been involved in sales training for more than 15 years and has several years of
experience working with companies in the glass industry.


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