How To Say No To Potential Customers

How To Say No To Potential Customers

There comes a time when you have to say no to potential clients. While it seems counterintuitive to tell a potential customer “no, I don’t want your business,” scheduling conflicts, project conflicts, employee conflicts and payroll conflicts can all prevent professionals from taking on new business.

The art of saying no can’t go underappreciated. Below, I will explain why we tend to say yes, as well as five simple ways to say no without offending a potential (future) client.

Why We are Afraid to Say NO

Why We Are Afraid to Say No

Most individuals aim to please others. After all, many of you got into this business to solve an issue for homeowners in your area. Whether it’s creating their dream kitchens or just fixing a simple plumbing issue, you find joy in helping others. Many of us feel restricted when we can’t help others and thus, compensate for that by taking on too many projects, even if we don’t have the time or manpower to do so.

Another reason many of us are afraid to say no is the fear of being rude. When someone asks us to do something, we are inclined to say yes. Whether it was a lesson our parents taught us growing up or a fear of letting people down, more often that not, humans want to say yes.

Finally, and perhaps the most important when it comes to selling, is the fear of losing potential business. Who wants to say no to more money? That one potential customer could go and tell others that you turned business away? You don’t want to a reputation of saying no, especially when your business is on the line.

Despite these three fears, one must know how to say no. After all, at the end of the day, it’s more about how you say no, rather than the fact that you’re saying no.

5 Simple Ways To Say No

5 Simple Ways to Say No

Now that you understand why many pros are afraid to say, we can move on to the meat of the conversation. Opposed to saying no and ending the conversation, there are many simply and professional ways to say no to potential customers.

1. “I can’t commit to this project as I have other priorities at the time.”

There are only 24 hours in a day and you can’t be in more than one place at a time. Potential customers understand that many professional contracting companies can only hire so many people to maintain their margins. Furthermore, certain times of the year are busier than others. It’s the same in any industry. As such, if you are feeling overwhelmed or know that you can’t finish this potential project in a timely manner, don’t be afraid to copy the phrase above.

2. “I am sorry, but I am in the middle of a few projects. How about we reconnect in a few weeks?”

Saying no today does not mean you have to say no in a few weeks. That is why it’s never a good idea to burn bridges with potential customers. While certain projects, such as a broken furnace in the middle of January, need fixing right away, many do not need immediate attention. As such, it’s vital that you keep the dialogue open with the potential client.

Ask them if it would be all right if to follow up in a few weeks. Two or three weeks will give the homeowner more time to research their project and your company. Even if they need to hire someone right away, following up never hurts as it shows you are the kind of person who cares about their clients. The next time they need a pro, they will surely be giving you a ring.

3. “I’m not the right person for the job.”

I have talked to numerous pros in the CraftJack network and almost every one tells me that they get a majority of their business from referrals. Having an army of past clients do your marketing for you is great, but quite often, a few details get lost in translation.

As skilled as many of you are, many pros can’t fix every aspect of a home. More often than not, masonry pros don’t know how to fix an appliance and landscapers don’t know how to remodel an entire kitchen. If a potential homeowner asks you to complete a project you are not trained to do, politely communicate that you are not the best person for this job.

While it could mean more money, a negative review on your website or profile is not worth the monetary gain.


4. “I’m not the best person to help on this, but I do know someone who is.”

Referrals don’t only work between homeowners. As indicated above, pros sometime garner leads or referrals that are not the best fit for them. Rather then give them away, offer them up to friend in the business who can suit their needs.

Oftentimes, pros will offer referral bonuses to those who pass on new jobs. While it won’t be as much money as taking on the project yourself, a small chunk of change and good karma never hurt anyone.

5. “No, I simply can’t.”

When you read that statement, it may seem rude or offensive, but oftentimes, the simplest form is the easiest. Homeowners, like everyone else, appreciate transparency and honesty. While they will certainly ask a follow-up question, this short and brief answer can do the trick.


Even in business, we must say no once in a while. It may seem hard at first, but like anything else, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.