Writing Great Recommendations

How do I write great recommendations for my estimates?

Nathan Ehresman avatar
Written by Nathan Ehresman
Updated over a week ago

Most piano technicians are not great writers and their business, marketing, website, and communication all suffer as a result; but it doesn't have to be this way because you can easily improve the quality of your writing using a very simple trick: use fewer words. Let's help you achieve this goal.


Writing Great Recommendations:

Here are some tips for how you can use fewer words using Gazelle's recommendations and techniques taught in the book "Building a StoryBrand" by Don Miller.

You are the guide, not the hero.

Your customer has hired you to be their trusted guide. In this role, your job is to see things they can't see, do things they can't do, and teach them to understand things they can't understand; and ultimately to give them a plan they can follow using your experience to guide them.

Give them a clear plan

Giving your customers a clear plan along with your recommendation is essential. Adding recommendations to your estimates makes it easy for your customers to clearly articulate for themselves the next step they need to take. Imagine giving a customer the following plan without a recommendation:

  • Step 1: Decide what level performance you want from your piano.

  • Step 2: Here is an estimate with different options.

  • Step 3: Tell me what option you want and I will improve your piano.

If this is all you do, you just asked your client to figure everything out on their own! Specifically, you didn't answer the first question they are going to ask "what option is best for my situation?", this is called a 'Decision Tax'. Meanwhile, your customer's brain is suddenly working overtime trying to figure out questions like:

  • What happens if I do nothing?

  • Will this be enough?

  • What problem is being solved?

  • How will I benefit?

Your job is to deliver your message to their brain in a way their brain is wired to process this information. Let's reimagine this scenario where you give them a clear recommendation for a specific course of action.

  • Step 1: Decide what level performance you want from your piano.

  • Step 2: Here is an estimate with different options that meet your needs (I recommend doing option #2 now, option #3 as you improve your skills, and I don't recommend option #1 because this really isn't going to give you the level of performance you currently need.

  • Step 3: Tell me what option you want and I will improve your piano.

By providing a recommendation alongside your plan, you increase the likelihood your customer will decide to schedule the work. This is true because you have removed obstacles and presented the information in a way their brain is wired to receive. We use color to differentiate these options and we label them:

  • recommendation

  • not-recommended, and

  • conditionally recommended.

By giving customers a recommended (green) option, you make it easier for them to articulate specifically how they are going to benefit from this level of service, by saying "I do not recommend this (red) option over here" you make it easy for them to articulate why they don't need to consider a different level of service, and by providing a conditional recommendation (yellow) you make it easy for them to articulate under which circumstances they need to reevaluate this decision.

Use color as a tool

Humans think in pictures, so color-coding the good recommendations 'Green', the not-recommended 'Red', and the conditional recommendations 'Yellow' is a great way to save words and help your customers identify the course you recommend they take.

In addition to using color, using words to say: 'do this', 'don't do this', and 'do this when you have reached X goal' is a great way to recommend by comparison. It helps frame the decision in a way their brain is wired to receive and clarify the first step they need to take.

Also, remember this estimate will likely be shown to a spouse after you leave, so it is as much about helping your customers articulate these ideas to someone else, as it is helping them understand what option is best for their situation.

Don't Confuse Your Customers

Don't confuse your customers by offering unnecessary options. If you know they are an intermediate pianist, don't make them choose between two options you recommend. This requires more words and creates a decision tax that results in fewer sales.

Customize your recommendation to your customer's specific needs

If your customer is a church, give them a recommendation that says "We recommend these services for pianos in churches..." This is called "perceived customization" and it works because your customer never has to ask the question "Are these services appropriate for pianos in my situation?".

What kinds of recommendations should I create?

Adding a recommendation to an estimate is all about saying "Here is a group of services designed with your needs in mind". Your only job as the piano technician is to make sure you are providing the services and recommendation that matches your customer's needs . Here are some ideas for different types of recommendations you can use:

  • Beginner Musician

  • Intermediate Musician

  • Advanced Musician

  • Professional Musician

  • Piano Teacher Studios

  • Churches & Schools

  • Performance Halls

  • Professor Studios - Institutions

  • Practice Room - Institutions

  • Antique Pianos

  • Grand Pianos

  • Upright Pianos

  • Spinet Pianos

  • Square Pianos

  • etc...

Also consider using generic not-recommended suggestions like:

  • Not recommended for your piano

  • Not recommended for your pianist

  • Piano Needs To Be Rebuilt

  • Piano Needs To Be Replaced

  • etc...

Conditional Recommendations

The 3rd type of recommendation you can create is a conditional recommendation. For example: "We only recommend these services if __________"; this could be for a number of reasons:

  • If the pianist advances in their skill

  • If the piano holds sentimental value

  • If you intend to replace this piano within the next 5 years

  • If .... you fill in the blank.

Keep your title short

The title of your recommendation should be short, 2-3 words. The fewer words you use to communicate an idea, the more effective your recommendation will be. Also, remember that most people will view your estimate on a small screen, so if your title is too long it will be truncated by smaller screens.

Using Recommendation Explanations

The recommendation 'explanation text' can be longer and will wrap the text to fully display on smaller screens.

At every step of the process, the secret to writing better recommendations is to use fewer words. If you say the right words, you will communicate the right ideas, and get better results.

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