PVC supply and demand drove up costs in 2020. Unfortunately, we anticipate more increases in 2021 as all four North American resin producers announced additional price boosts for the first quarter.
In addition to being forced to increase costs, we have had to ask you to wait longer than usual for the material you ordered. It is certainly not the way we like to do business.
As you approach the 2021 summer fencing season, your fencing company faces a similar hurdle. You need to increase your prices to keep up with your rising expenses. Yet, you are concerned about how higher prices will affect sales.
What is the answer to this problem? How do you combat increasing prices? Short answer: sell value over price.
1. Separate yourself from the competition
Do not sell just vinyl…sell YOU!
When you advertise in print or online—or when you sell on the showroom floor—talk about the things YOU do better than anyone else.
Make a checklist of why you are better than any other vinyl fence business in your area. (You will have to know your business and competitors to do this.)
When it comes to selling vinyl fences, it is the little things that make you better than your competition—especially when it comes to installation.
Here are things you may want to put on your checklist:
Do you have your own in-house installation crew, or do you use 1099 contractors? Either way, turn this into a benefit.
Do you put extra care and attention into the most sensitive part of the fence, the gate? Tell your prospects how you install gates better than any other competitor.
Do you offer annual free inspections on the whole fence, focusing especially on the gate? Most likely many of your competitors do not offer this service. This gives prospects peace of mind that you stand behind your work.
Do you bury your posts at least three feet? Often your competitors go down only two feet. If you take the extra time to dig deeper holes, this benefit will close more sales, especially in high-wind areas.
Double- or Single-wide Gates
Does your sales team know when to offer a double-wide versus a single-wide gate? That knowledge will show prospects you are the vinyl fence experts.
Are you an established business with a brick-and-mortar building? Or do you run your business out of the back of your truck without a showroom? If you have a permanent address, yell it out. It shows you are not fly-by-night operator.
2. Know your products
Now more than ever, your sales team needs to know your product and your industry inside and out. Keep up with the prices of PVC across the nation, your state, and in your community. Know what competitors are charging and how they are marketing their price increases.
Although a trite phrase, knowledge is indeed power. Learn everything you can about the products you sell and use that knowledge to sell value to your customers. For example, you can explain how PVC fencing will save them money over the long run in maintenance and replacement costs.
3. Soften the sales talk
With value-based selling, you want to establish a relationship with your customers. Ask them questions about how the pandemic has affected their families and businesses, for instance.
Share your common interests in the community as you discuss their specific situation. Then, act more as an educator on fencing rather than a salesperson. Explain all the advantages of vinyl fencing without focusing on the price. Highlight the attractive color and style choices you offer and their sturdy, long-lasting value.
The value-based selling approach puts your customer’s needs first, guiding them through the buying process so that they can make the informed decisions that best suit their needs.
4. Know the answers
Be prepared to answer the tough questions. Clearly spell out the differences between your company and any other company that sells vinyl, including the big-box stores.
When asked about price, do not shy away from a frank discussion about the price increases you have had to implement. Share details about how COVID-19 has affected—and continues to affect—the vinyl industry in general and your business in particular.
If price becomes an issue, explain your reluctance to raise prices but the necessity behind the changes. As part of this discussion, you could also mention the number of community residents you employ and explain your continued sense of responsibility to them.
5. Share testimonials
Nothing speaks to the value of your fences quite as well as satisfied customers. Feature testimonials and reviews on your website and social media pages and be sure to keep them up to date with the latest ones first.
Another way to highlight testimonials is to include them alongside photos of your fences wherever they may be located in and around your community. Be sure to select a variety of fence projects—large and small—to show your different levels of products and how they serve their intended purposes.
Do any of your customers have stories about how their new vinyl fence helped them solve one of these or other problems? Ask them to share these stories on your website or social media pages or interview them for a blog article.
Are you actively increasing your Google review ranking? Are you making sure your reviews are fresh and positive? And if they are not positive, do you make sure you address negative reviews quickly and professionally? Many prospects will choose you over a competitor based on your Google ranking.
6. Be a problem solver
To sell value over prices, you must sometimes flip the way you think about your product. Try marketing your fences as a way to solve some of the following problems:
Pet and livestock safety
Parking lot improvement
When you focus on how your fencing will help your customer have a safer and more attractive home or business, you provide the framework that leads to a positive result – ideally, the purchase of a new fence.
No one wants to raise prices or ask their customers to wait longer for the delivery of a fence. However, when you focus on the substantial value of a vinyl fence, the price becomes less important. If you do not focus on this value, the only thing left to talk about is the price.
Value-selling is a way to communicate with your customers in a more personal and more meaningful way. When you think about selling a positive outcome and not a fence, it makes the price less of a focus of the sale is selling vinyl.
It is essential to keep in mind that people do not buy vinyl products; they buy the end-result the product will provide. They buy YOU before they buy vinyl!