Preventing One-Legged Appointments
How Home Contractors Can Prevent “One-Legged” Appointments
Creating A Call Script To Explain Why Both Homeowners Need To Meet With Your Sales Consultant.
Let’s face it: Appointments with only one homeowner present are terrible for conversions. That can be particularly true if your sales process relies heavily on a one-call close model, which is often the case for contractors with one-day jobs like painting, windows, gutters, and more. If only one homeowner is present, there’s a perfect objection for not signing a contract that day. What are you going to say to overcome, “I need to talk to my partner before I make a final decision”? You’re pretty much left with, “Yes, I understand, that makes sense.”
And even if by some miracle you do get someone to sign a contract to improve their home? There’s a solid chance it will be rescinded within the allowable time frame when a spouse comes home and says, “I hate that color or style,” or “You paid WHAT?!?!”
All this can be avoided if your appointment setters can make sure—at least as much as humanly possible—that your salespeople never walk into an appointment with only one decision-maker present.
What You MUST Do Before Creating Your Call Script
Call scripts are a terrific tool for keeping the team focused on what they need to say in any given situation. They help instill best practices for communicating with prospects, and they can be optimized over time to get even better.
But as great a resource as call scripts can be for home contracting businesses, they hold little value if the person using them does not understand the why behind the script. Without that knowledge, whoever is setting your appointments might as well be a voice-prompt recording.
The first thing to have the appointment setter understand is that the script is a guide, not a straitjacket. Have them learn the script to the point where it can be delivered naturally, and even adjusted depending on the circumstances of the call. Prospective customers can sense when the person they are talking to is mindlessly following a script, and that can make a terrible impression.
What is a “one-legger” (also known as a one-legged appointment)?
A one-legger (used interchangeably with the term “one-legged” appointment) is an expression used in home improvement sales. It means any sales appointment where only one decision maker is present, even though two (or more) people have a say in the buying decision. In by far the most common scenario, a salesperson will arrive to find only one spouse at home for their presentation, despite the fact that the home is jointly owned by a married couple. From a salesperson’s perspective, going into a ‘one-legger’ makes it very hard to close the sale, so most home improvement contractors go to great lengths to avoid one-legged appointments.
Your appointment setters need to understand the script is there to help them express empathy for the concerns of a prospect. It is an aid for explaining your appointment procedures in a way that shows your business is sensitive to typical homeowner concerns.
The other thing the script is designed to do is to show a prospective customer how having both homeowners at a home improvement consultation benefits them. That is absolutely key.
In short: Your appointment setters need to understand that the script is a means to an end, which is to address prospect concerns, and then show them the benefits of having all decision makers present.
With that context, your team will be in a much better place to implement a script the right way.
Creating Your Call Script to Prevent “One-Legged” Appointments
Let’s walk through a sample script that will give you a great foundation for customizing your own. (Occasionally the script is interrupted to provide some explanation; the actual script parts are in italics). This picks up at the point of the conversation where the time and date of the appointment is about to be set.
“Great, let’s get you on the schedule at a time that works for you. I just need to collect a bit of information from you that will help make your time with our consultant more efficient. First, are you the sole homeowner?”
Let’s pause here for a second and note that this phrasing is much superior to: “Is your husband/wife available?” That question is loaded with potential misunderstanding. There are many terrible home contractor online reviews out there where an angry homeowner rants something along these lines: “They insisted that I needed my husband there to help me make a decision! I was so offended.” This happens more often than you might think. Avoid it by asking the question in a smarter way.
Okay, back to the script. If they answer they are not the sole homeowner, they will identify the other owner in some way, probably as “husband,” “wife,” or “partner.” For the rest of the conversation, use whatever label they used when referring to the other decision maker.
Prospect: “No, my [husband/wife/partner] and I own it together.”
Appointment Setter: “Okay, excellent. We have found [the product/service you sell] consultations are more productive when all the homeowners are present. What times and days would work best for both you and your [husband/wife/partner] to be there together?”
Obviously, set the appointment if the prospect shares times and days that will work. But if they question having to have their spouse or partner there, here’s what not to do.
Do NOT say, “That’s our policy.” That’s about the least empathetic response possible and gives the customer no idea why it would benefit them. When was the last time someone said to you “that’s our policy” and it left you with a good feeling? Yeah, never.
Instead, use the language the prospect used when questioning it:
“I hear what you are saying:[REPEAT BACK THE CUSTOMER’S CONCERN/OBJECTION] Believe me, you are not the first person to question why this is now a mandatory part of our process. Let me explain what happens whenever we meet with one homeowner.”
Note how the above script leads with empathy. Continue along these lines…
“Our consultant would meet with one homeowner and thoroughly answer all questions, explain our products in detail, and quote a price based on a homeowner’s precise choices on size, style, color, and material. Then that homeowner would pass that information on to the spouse, and they would have a bunch of questions, too—but different ones. They would also often hate something about what their spouse or partner had chosen for a quote.
Every time—and I literally mean every time—our consultant would need to go back and go over everything again and often have to re-do the choices. Do you see how that could happen and create headaches for everyone?”
The prospect usually says yes. Regardless of what they answer, continue educating them on the benefits.
“We also find that once the homeowners are actually together during an appointment, they see it is more valuable for them to be able to ask questions together and discuss options while an expert is there to answer them in front of both of them. Does that sound beneficial to you, too?”
If yes, move to set an appointment. If still no, then consider some of the following.
Here are strategies for addressing two of the most common objections, even after the value has been explained.
Prospect: “We’re too busy to find a time that would work for both of us.”
Strategic response options: Note your flexible scheduling and ask what could maybe work, just to get them thinking of it as a possibility. You can also respond that it always takes even more time for everyone to have follow-up appointments. For busy people, one-stop shopping is the superior choice.
The other common objection is to keep insisting they can accurately convey the information.
Prospect: “I am sure I can pass this along to my [husband/wife/partner]. They trust me on this.”
Strategic response: “Of course. It’s not so much a matter of being able to pass along the information. It’s just that we do these consultations all the time. The couples always have different questions and emphasize different concerns. The process is much more efficient when we can answer everything at once, and the couples can hear and discuss the answers in real time with each other.”
If Nothing Works, What’s Your Plan?
If the prospect still continues to object, you need to make a decision about whether a one-legged appointment has enough potential value to you as a lead. If you aren’t sure, crunch the numbers and see what your close rate is when compared to appointments with both homeowners. You may not have this data, but if you are doing one-leggers, you should start tracking it to get a grip on it.
If you feel that the value of one-legger appointments is too low, then end the script this way:
“I am so sorry that we aren’t able to accommodate your request for having only one of the homeowners present for an appointment. As I said, it used to cause headaches for us and, even worse, stressed out homeowners when it added time and miscommunications into the process. We are fortunate to be busy because our customers love us and spread the word. Because of all that, I can’t set an appointment now with only one decision maker present. Can I invite you to call us back at any time if you change your mind about an appointment with both homeowners present?”
If an appointment does get made for both homeowners, end the script by repeating the appointment date and time and confirming the contact information for both homeowners.
Then remind the homeowner of the value of both being there one more time with a final sentence:
“We look forward to your consultation, and to meeting you and your [husband/wife/partner] and getting both of you what you need to make an informed decision. Thank you and feel free to reach out at any point to reschedule if something comes up for either of you.”
And one last tip…
Since you will be collecting contact information for both homeowners, confirm the appointment the day before with the one you did not talk to when setting the appointment. This gives a little extra insurance that both parties will be there.
Despite your best efforts, we know sometimes one-legged appointments can still happen; homeowners do not always call to reschedule when someone won’t be there. Still, a solid call script will help keep these to a minimum, and help you close more sales, and with greater efficiency.