If you’ve decided it’s time to take the plunge and invest in your dream conservatory, you might be thinking about starting to get quotes for the work. Sadly, the conservatory industry has developed quite a reputation for high pressure sales tactics, so you might be feeling somewhat apprehensive about picking up the phone.
As much as you probably don’t want to invite the wolf to your door, getting salespeople in to quote for your job is a necessary evil. With some good negotiating skills and a touch of determined resolution, you’ll be able to bag a bargain for your conservatory, even with the toughest of salespeople.
- Work out the floor area before you start, as this is what most quotes will be based on. Make sure it’s the internal floor area!
- Do your research and have a price in mind before you start. Prices vary greatly depending on the type and size of conservatory. See our own price guide and take a look at the house-extension.co.uk conservatory price guide for a good balance of benchmark conservatory prices, broken down by type.
- Don’t be surprised if the price drops by 50 per cent during the course of your negotiations. Chances are the starting price was inflated based on how much they thought you could afford anyway.
- Don’t be blinded by science; they probably don’t have a clue what they are talking about.
- Don’t take their finance deal. You’ll be able to get better from your bank.
- Understand what is a good investment and what isn’t, for instance upgrading from C rated windows to A rated will cost you in the region of £1,000 or more, but according to the Pilkington website its only going to save you around £700 over 20 years.
- Don’t forget the smaller companies, as some small local companies will be able to legitimately save you money by cutting out VAT.
- Get 3 -5 quotes and play the companies off against one another.
More advice on effective negotiation tactics is available here.
It’s a good idea to allow a little extra in your budget for extras or additions, which is known as ‘contingency pricing’. A good rule of thumb is to include around 10 per cent extra for unexpected eventualities. Maybe you’ll make an alteration as the build takes place, or some landscaping is required after the conservatory is completed.
Contingency pricing will avoid you needing to take out additional finance to get the job finished.
Some, not all, conservatory companies will use underhand or dirty tactics to try and pressure you into making a decision before you are really ready. Be prepared for these tactics and know how to handle them to avoid getting stressed on the day. Here are some of the most common ones:
The sit in
They are in your home, drinking your coffee, and not in a hurry to leave. Our advice? Just ask them to go. You are not wasting their time; they are wasting yours. You have their quote and will get back to them.
The ‘I’ll just talk to my manager’
They’ve given you the quote, but it’s ridiculously high. They are going to call their manager and negotiate a discount, just for you. Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside? Don’t. They do this for everyone.
The ‘only for today’ price
They’ve just dropped their price again, maybe following a call to their manager, but can only hold that price for today (because their sales week closes on a Tuesday, they are doing it at cost, their cat just had kittens… whatever). Do you think that if you phoned up in two days’ time and asked for the conservatory at that price they would say no? Of course they wouldn’t!
The next day deal
You’ve done it! They’ve finally left the house and you’re safe. Only you’re not, because the next day their manager phones up offering you the deal of the century because ‘he could really see how much you wanted that conservatory’ and ‘they can lower the price just this once’. Try not to feel flattered, and have a target price in your head before entering into any negotiations with this manager.
The conservatory industry is highly competitive, and has some of the most hard nosed salespeople involved in the business. Take your time and don’t ever feel pressured into buying anything you’re not sure about. Shop around, have some approximate prices in your head before you start and only sign if you are 100 per cent happy with the price, the product and the company.