Are Tyre-Kickers Driving You Mad, Or Do You Try To Turn Them Into Customers?

One of the ironies I have discovered in doing business with small businesses and entrepreneurs is that they forever complain about not getting enough publicity, and that the media generally ignores them, or the big advertising and public relations firms don’t even consider doing soliciting business from them. However, there comes a company that speaks their language, feels their pain, and offers help, but instead of accepting with gratitude, they run like they have seen the devil. So, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that most small businesses aren’t doing business… they are enjoying dandy-shandy and hide-and-seek, better yet, they are playing dolly-house. Now when they see others making a successful at what they are doing, they feel jealous. Now when they are not successful or not making any head way, they complain that nothing is happening for them... when in fact they are the ones that have placed stumbling blocks in their own path. And even if there were stumbling blocks, independent of their own doing, they do nothing to remove, go around, climb over, or tunnel under the problem. Strange enough some do seek help, but only do so under disguise of what I call “tyre-kickers” - somebody who has no intention of buying something or doing something but merely pretends.  Another way of describing a tyre-kicker is a person who appears interested in buying your car, but on the day displays any of the following traits.
  • Does not show up
  • Does not bring money
  • Kicks the tyres and complains about even the most minor faults
  • Seems to know barely anything about the car
  • Keeps asking if he can part exchange his rusty old Lada for your car, not wondering why anyone wouldn't want it
  • Asks questions repeatedly, specifically ones mentioned in advertising the car
  • Asks if you are willing to transport the car without charge
  • Asking for a discount
  • Is a young driver who just passed his test looking to buy a cheap old car, rice it up (an equipped automobile with gawdy, unnecessary accessories, such as 3' high spoilers, loud and/or repulsive paint job and body work.), and show off to their friends. Quite likely to wreck it in a month.
  • Assumes the car is in fine working condition just by kicking the tyres
However, if you are smart enough you can easily spot tyre-kickers a mile away, and in so doing you can be better prepared to deal with them cautiously or weeded out altogether. If not, they’ll easily rob you of your time and energy; they’re an opportunity cost; your valuable time could have been better spent elsewhere. They're hunting for prices only and don't provide any details about their needs, despite your claim of their necessity to establish a price for them. The reality is, they're either not ready to do a public relations campaign and are looking to pick your brain for tips and free advice about what they might need to do to conduct one, or they fall into the price-is-my-only-criteria category - they're planning on making a decision based on the price you give them. They may also be comparing prices for the sake of comparing prices. Some of these price-is-the-only-criteria clients may truly not have the budget required for what they'd like. You might offer a limited package within their price range or refer them to someone who might be able to do it within their budget. The other price-based client simply doesn't have any respect for the craft. They will make every attempt to eat your time and pick away at your integrity. Be very cautious if you decide to take this type of client on. They could turn out to be an Atilla the Hun if measures aren't taken to assert your merit and value as a professional from the outset. There are also the charlatans. They'll tell you, "I could do it myself, but I'm just too busy." Dozens of little red flags should be popping up in your head when you hear this. Don't dignify the comment; simply get as many details as you can, state your interest in their project, and give them the facts about what would be involved in producing it. They either will or won't begin to respect the value of what you do and concede their inexperience. The “I-could-do-it-myself” type of client may also be a novice client's way of telling you they know a little bit about conceptualizing and executing a public relations plan, and that you can't pull the wool over their eyes. Be gentle with them; they've probably been burnt by a service provider in the past and have good reason to feel a little tentative.

Being straight up with tire-kickers

eMail to Web Designer from a prospective tyre-kicker client that essentially says: “See this site; I want one just like it. Give me a quote for designing a duplicate of this site, including its admin part for content management." (as If I could know about the CMS by browsing the public pages).” Not in the mood for dicking around with tire kickers, here’s the Web Designer’s response: “Every site I design and build is unique and custom designed. I cannot make a quote for you without getting a precise scope of your specific project and its requirements. “If you're just shopping around for price I can tell you right now that I won't be the cheapest. But I will promise that I'm very professional, an excellent communicator, and a world-class web designer and html/css coder. I've had a 100% rate of client satisfaction in 8 years of professional web design. “If you want a quality site that will outperform the competition, please get back to me with a project brief so we can discuss your specific requirements. “Cheers, “Charlie “PS: A site like this would cost approx $75,000 - $100,000; however I will need to discuss your requirements to give an accurate quote.” Sure Charlie is happy with the message and happy if he never hears from prospect again. But what do you think? Did Charlie just blow an opportunity? Or was he right to just be up-front with prospect? Besides, how do you as a professional service provider deals with tyre-kickers?  Do you turn tire-kickers into customers? Or do you just dismiss them outright?