Episode 10

David Hopkins, VP Sales and Chief Estimator at JNT Developers – Dallas, Texas – joins us on The Building Code podcast to talk about managing the sales and leads process.

With around 20 employees, JNT Developers classifies as a specialty contractor, but really, this company does it all. From multifamily and commercial construction to residential builds and a whole lot of roofing, it’s safe to say that JNT’s work is diverse. And when it comes to David’s role, he’s handling everything from the incoming lead process to seeing their customers and investment partners all the way through pre-construction.

So, what does the lead process look like for JNT Developers? It all begins with an interview – usually over the phone, but sometimes in the office or on a jobsite if possible. They like to get to know their customers, and they want their customers to get to know them. It’s crucial to make sure everyone’s a fit for each other before a project starts. And when they began doing this a couple years ago, they noticed something great: a major increase in the quality of their customers and the fit between them.

If you looked back at how JNT started with their lead process, things have really changed. According to David, “… we just started as basic as you can.” Their team was entering data into Excel spreadsheets, utilizing Google Docs in its infancy, and writing down too many things on paper. When it came to inspections, those notes were also hand-written. From there, they’d input any secondary data into whatever system they could find that would work. Once Buildertrend came into the picture, David and his team felt instant relief. At first, having a place to store customer information was the biggest help for David. Later on, they opened up to using more features.

Another JNT favorite: the Buildertrend customer portal. From demoing the portal when they meet with a customer to utilizing it on every project, this feature is a big one for JNT Developers. During the initial interview with JNT, customers sometimes mention being burned by bad contractors or going through a bad project; and, JNT has uncovered that these are usually due to lack of communication and a feeling on the customer’s side like they didn’t know what was going on. But, the Buildertrend client portal solves all of that and more for the customer. Small things like weather delays or deliveries not showing up aren’t a big deal when the customer isn’t surprised by them, and Buildertrend easily facilitates this communication.

When it comes to customers finding JNT, what’s their secret? Their biggest lead source is online marketing. The owners of JNT have put money into doing it right and using their historical data to adjust – and it seems to be working. The rest of their leads come from referrals, networking events and, of course, social media.

If David can leave you with anything from this podcast, here are his top three suggestions for how to best manage leads and the sales process:

  • Know your sources. Using a tool like Buildertrend to know your lead sources is a great idea. Maybe a couple leads are referrals from a past customer. These are great, but you can’t forget about these customers – you should be taking care of them, as well as your other sources
  • It’s all about follow-up. You might have all the leads in the world, but they’ll mean nothing if you can’t follow-up effectively and stay on top of them.
  • Qualify your customers. It may feel against the grain, but you need to qualify your customers to fit what you’re looking for as a business. If you can stick to doing what you do best and only taking on those customers, things will run a lot smoother for your company. It’s OK to say “no” sometimes, rather than always saying “yes” to everything.

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