Sunrooms are a big-ticket item. One sale can make your day, but a sale rescinded can just as easily ruin it. “There's nothing worse than getting the phone call that the prospect's changed his mind,” says Larry Chavez, president of Four Seasons Sunrooms in Phoenix.

Managing rescission is something of a balancing act. Your rate can be too low or too high, says Rick Edwards, president of Custom Patio Rooms, in Murrysville, Pa.

“Occasionally I run into somebody who tells me he's been in the business for a long time and never had a cancellation,” Edwards says. “When I hear that, I know he isn't a closer. He's not taking that person who's on the fence and giving them the push.”

VARIES BY SALES SYSTEM Chavez says that over the years his rescission has consistently run between 8% and 10%. Edwards cites a rate of between 5% and 15% as “normal and happy.” To some extent, the rate varies with the sales system used. One-call closes are more likely to rescind than two-call closes.

Bill Sherwood, general sales manager for Melani Bros. in Yorktown, Va., points out that there are only a few reasons for rescission: buyer's remorse, third-party influence, design flaws, or a failure on the client's part to understand the scope of work and how the project would unfold. “Third-party influence is the No. 1 culprit,” he says, with third-party “advisers” rarely having all the facts.

Chavez points out that price is often a cause, though it's also the case that rescinded deals happen when sales rep and customer just don't hit it off.

HOLES IN THE SALES PROCEDURE Edwards maintains that the essential reason for any rescission is a failure in the sales process, which could be either an inadequate warm-up or a nonexistent post-close. “Maybe [the rep] got the order signed and ran for the door,” he says.

Ask the customer if he or she is comfortable with the decision, Edwards advises, then explain the installation process in detail, including discussing financing, the site survey and building permit, etc.

“Everybody wants to eliminate buyer's remorse,” Sherwood says. “I say it's going to happen. The question is, what's the customer going to do when these feelings [arise]? Did the salesman remind [the prospect that] he would have these kinds of thoughts?”

—Jay Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Jamestown, R.I.