Though many people have become more comfortable with email, text, and other forms of communication for doing business, there is still a significant number of people that report their preferred method of first contact is via telephone. Of those people, very few report being satisfied with their phone interactions with construction professionals. In order to make a good first impression and secure jobs, you will have to learn how to approach your first phone conversation with a potential client.

1. Always answer the phone

As a contractor, you know how much work goes into getting just a single phone call. So when you do receive that first phone call from a potential client, you don’t want it to go to waste. If you can, try to make an effort to never miss a call. A missed call from a potential client could result in them moving on to call one of your competitors. If your competitor answers their phone and everything goes well, they may have just secured a client that could’ve been yours.

It is best to have a receptionist who is well-versed in converting calls into scheduled appointments. However, if you are going to be answering your own calls, don’t be afraid to answer the phone while you are on a job site or meeting with already established clients. Since those clients have already been secured, it is likely that you’ve already been paid or will be getting paid soon. However, prospect phone calls could turn into even more money that you have yet to secure, so you don’t want to miss out.

2. Set up a professional voicemail and “on-hold” message

Though you should try to always answer the phone and not leave potential clients on hold, life does happen. If you aren’t able to get to a phone call in time, be sure to have a professional voice message. Your voicemail message should be just as friendly as you would want to be if you had answered the phone yourself.

Here is an example of a professional voicemail:

“Hello! Thank you for calling XYZ Construction. We’re sorry that we are unable to answer your call at the moment. If you leave your name, phone number, and a brief message explaining how we can be of service to you, we would be happy to promptly return your call as soon as we are back in the office. Thank you for thinking of us and have a great day.”

Another effective way to increase your company’s phone professionalism is by adding a custom “on-hold” message to your phone line. It is pretty easy and inexpensive to do this now as you can use your laptop microphone to record. Your on-hold message should include a professional greeting and information about your company and the services you offer. You can also use this to address frequently asked questions. This way, any concerns your potential client has may be addressed before your conversations even begins and avoids making your client feel like their time is being wasted.

3. Establish a friendly greeting

Your first impression begins when you answer that first phone call for a potential client, and you want to make the most of it. All you need to do is state the name of your company and ask how you can be of service. This may seem almost too simple but you will find that it will be most effective, especially when you start receiving several calls a day. A great rule of thumb to practice while you greet is smiling. Even though you prospective client can’t see you, smiling has been proven to make your tone come across as much more friendly and cheerful.

Here are two examples of a friendly telephone greeting:

  • “Good morning/afternoon! XYZ Construction. How may I help you today?”
  • “Thank you for calling XYZ Construction. How may I assist you?”

4. Be aware of your tone and diction during the conversation

In order to make sure you are interacting with your potential clients in the most friendly and professional manner, consider recording your conversations (with permission, of course) to review later.

Listen for the following things:

  • Your general tone. Do you sound cheerful or do you sound anxious?
  • Your enunciation and the clarity of your speech. Are you speaking too quickly or are you relaxed and articulate?
  • Your ability and willingness to listen to your prospective client without interrupting.
  • Whether you respond accordingly throughout the conversation. One way you can do this is by showing that you’re actively listening and repeat back what your client says to you.
  • Your closing. Did you ask for an appointment or the job?

5. Make sure the conversation is all about the client

It is natural that the prospective client will ask you about your company and services. For of this reason, you may feel inclined to spend the majority of your conversation talking about your business. You must remember that the phone call should be all about the potential client. You want to find out if you are qualified to perform the job they are looking for. Of course, if a client asks you a question, you should answer it, but follow up with your own question about their particular project. Now, you’ll be able to take control of the conversation and guide it in a direction that is geared towards securing a job for you.

Here are some basic questions to ask your prospective client:

  • Where did you hear about me/us?
  • Where do you live?
  • What are your timelines?
  • What is your budget?

6. Take notes and summarize the conversation

Before you take a call, be sure to have a pen and paper handy to take notes. By doing this, you will be able to periodically read back a summary of what has been discussed to make sure that you and the client are on the same page about everything. This is also a good practice to remember what has been discussed once the conversation ends.

Here are some things to jot down during the conversation:

  • Names
  • Dates
  • Addresses
  • General information about the project
  • Key questions asked or problems mentioned

7. Make a lasting impression as you end the call

How you end a call is just as important as how you start it. Use your notes to summarize the entire conversation and make sure that all of the information is correct. Follow up by asking they have any questions. Finally, finish by genuinely thanking them for calling and showing interest in doing business with you and your company. You should use this time to also try to set up an appointment with them.

Here is an example of how to end your first phone call on a positive note: “When is a convenient time for us to meet and review your project in more detail? ー Thank you for calling XYZ Construction. Have a great day!”

You only have one chance to make a first impression, so it should be your very best. Use your first phone conversation to be positive, and encourage your potential client to feel satisfied and comfortable doing business with you. A great first conversation can be the difference between gaining a one time customer or a loyal client that returns for later projects.


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