DrillI submitted planning permission for an extension to my house, and almost immediately received three letters, each headed: ‘Successfully submitted planning application’. But they’re not from the council. They’re from local builders.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

  • I’m reaching out to you with regards to my observation of a submitted planning application in relation to your property
  • I’m reaching out to you with regards to my observation of a submitted planning application in relation to your property – congratulations on this
  • I would like to congratulate you on your successfully submitted planning application! That’s one step closer to your dream home!

The first two are unnecessarily formal. I’m sure the builders don’t talk like that. And they’ve obviously copied each other. The third is overly excitable.

Successful submission is misleading. It doesn’t mean the plans have been approved, so there’s nothing to congratulate me on yet.

Better to start: Have you found a builder yet? or Have you chosen your builder yet?

As it happens, I already have a builder in mind, and it would take some convincing to persuade me to change my mind.

The letters need to work hard if they’re going to achieve that. Sadly, these three fail.


All three letters go straight into their sales pitch:

  • I would like to introduce you to [Name]. We are a trusted and experienced construction company operating in your area and offer a FREE NO OBLIGATION QUOTATION for your project. We specialise in…
  • I would like to introduce [Name]. We are a small business that works in and around the local area and specialises in…
  • Our company [Name] is a design & build company that specialises in…

The problem is that ‘I would like’ fails the ‘who cares?’ test. The reader doesn’t care what you would like. They only care what’s in it for them.

And OF COURSE a quotation should be free and with no obligation.

Body copy

What the builders need to do at this point is explain what makes them different from other builders. If they’ve seen my plans, they don’t need to tell me all the things they specialise in. They need to reassure me that they’ve done other work similar to mine.

The content includes:

  • Solutions designed to suit the needs of the client
  • We believe in and focus heavily on establishing and maintaining good client relationships, ensuring our tradesmen complete projects to the highest quality and attention to detail
  • By maintaining a good relationship with the client, our highly experienced team always gives the best advice and solutions throughout the entire project from start to finish
  • We always work together with our clients from the very beginning to help design and create their dream home
  • Our aim is to deliver nothing but the best quality work and customer service

    Yes, that’s the least I’d expect. But you’re writing to me. Use ‘you’ not ‘the client’. It’s all top-down. what ‘we’ do. Not bottom-up, from my point of view.

    Selling messages

    • We are accredited with the Federation of Master Builders / CHAS / Trust Mark and Constructionline so you can be assured of our superior service quality

    That’s better. Membership of trusted third-party associations is a shortcut to help customers make a decision.

    • Working with only one company through the whole building process, rather than finding individual builders or architects is one of the biggest benefits for our clients, helping to reduce stress, time and unnecessary expenses

    That’s the best selling point so far. It includes the benefit to me (less stress, worry and expense) not just the feature (dealing with one company throughout).


    • I hope through this short introduction I have portrayed our company and our services to be approachable and therefore welcome a further conversation

    This is all about them and their needs and not enough about me and mine. Maybe ask what I care about most with the build. Here are a few of the considerations that might be on my mind: Have I done a project like this before? What are my priorities? What’s my budget? Am I looking for high quality? Low cost? Super-speedy turnaround? (I can’t have all three.) Do I work from home? Are there any pets or children in the house? What’s access like? What’s my deadline? Have I spoken to the neighbours yet?

    Maybe do it like a helpful checklist. that way, I’d warm to them and might be more inclined to invite them to quote.

    They need to convince me to choose them, by providing evidence, such as testimonials, names and addresses of satisfied local customers. Also, I know good builders are busy, so maybe they could tell me their availability so I can judge whether it fits with my timeline.

    Call to action

    Each letter ends with a similar call to action:

    • We would welcome a further conversation, further to this. I look forward to the possibility of [Name] assisting in the completion of your exciting project
    • Please do send me an email, give me a call or explore our website to discuss further details
    • If you have any questions please do send me an email, give me a call or explore our website via the QR code to discuss further details

    It’s good to give readers a choice of ways to contact you. But the CTA should be inviting me to get a quote, not jumping ahead to the ‘exciting’ project completion. It’s not exciting. It’s a lot of dust and mess and upheaval that will hopefully be worth it in the end.

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