As an over builder, we find there are three general categories of customers:
  • The primary contact inquires on behalf of others and has little information on the application. He or she can try to get more information if needed, but the messenger may or may not repeat the requirements accurately. Additional questions may or may not yield answers that help.

  • The primary contact is inquiring on behalf of others and is passing on a spec that makes it sound like they are constructing the next great missile system. Every detail is spelled out in exact terms. There are many paragraphs and subparagraphs, ranging from those that are straightforward to those that ask for features that are either extremely complex or just impractical.

  • Primary contact is the end user and can tell you anything you want to know.
Of these three, the second is received with mixed reactions by most builders. Certainly, you have an apparently unyielding spec, which should make it easy for the customer to evaluate all bids on an apples-to-apples basis, but most often, the requirements are seen to be so over the top or unrealistic that many builders will need to take exception to a number of the requirements. That is where things get murky, and the builder wonders if he has a chance at getting the order. He may feel that if he quotes exactly to the spec the unit is going to be so expensive that the customer is likely to buy from another bidder who had the sense to take exception to the requirements that he feels pile on the costs unnecessarily. In addition, the customer has a lot of technical exceptions to wade through. He may or may not have the expertise to evaluate all the exceptions properly and may end up tossing those quotes that are just too difficult to wade through.

The first type is difficult because they do not really know what they want for the application.

The third type is by far the easiest to work with because they have clear requirements and know the application well enough to know what will work and what will not. When specifying an oven, this approach is beneficial to both the customer and the vendor.