How to Stop Tire Kickers From Wasting Your Time

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated July 14, 2021
Contractor and client discussing a project
GaudiLab /

If only tire kickers came with big red flags that read “not interested”

Nothing is more frustrating than devoting time, energy, and resources to customers who will never sign on the dotted line. For home services pros, every second spent going back and forth with a tire kicker is time not spent on a job site or gaining new leads.

What Is a Tire Kicker?

A tire kicker is someone who likes to ask questions but is not serious about hiring. The name is borrowed from "browsers" who show up at car dealerships to kick tires without ever making offers. Unlike warm leads who are ready to decide, tire kickers often show up to ask questions without being ready to commit.

How to Identify a Tire Kicker

Tire kickers are easy to spot because they come across as unrushed and noncommittal. There is no sense of urgency because they don't have the "ready to shake on it" attitude of a warm lead.

They Haven't Done Their Research

The top sign someone is a tire kicker is that they haven't done their research. Unlike homeowners who usually have done their due diligence, they approach service providers without a basic understanding of what they're asking about. 

The good news for service providers is that having the right answers can bridge the gap between kicking tires and making a deal. Service providers can convert tire kickers with compelling "elevator pitches" that showcase how a particular service can solve specific problems.

They're Looking for Freebies

Another sign someone is a poor prospect is if they're interested in freebies or discounts. They want to know what perks they can get just by making contact. While this can be frustrating, a persuasive way to convert a tire kicker is to offer incentives that kick in once a service begins. 

This can be anything from offering a discount if they pay in full upfront or a free upgrade if they sign by a certain date.

They're Wishy-Washy on Details

Tire kickers don't provide start dates, end dates, or project scopes. They keep things vague because their interest is hypothetical. For example, this might look like a homeowner who calls about a kitchen remodel but doesn’t know how the layout should look or which materials they want to use. 

Move from hypothetical to concrete by asking for specific details about the project.

They Don't Have an Identifiable Need

A tire kicker inquires about services they don't really need. They might ask a landscaper how ornamental ponds work instead of saying they want to put in an ornamental pond. 

To avoid wasting time with a tire kicker, explain that it’s hard to answer general questions without looking at the property first.

They Can't Make Decisions Alone

Tire kickers often act like they can't decide until the person they share the property with is present. It can be hard to tell if this is just an excuse for not committing. The only solution is to get both decision-makers in front of you.

Can a Tire Kicker Become a Potential Customer?

Never say never. It's rare for someone to shop around for home improvements they don't need. The fact that a tire kicker is reaching out to you suggests they may be ready to hire at some point.

There's no need to give potential prospects the cold shoulder. If someone is on the fence, leaving them with a good impression is always the best move because their needs might change in the future. Even if they pass for now, they might refer you to others looking for the same service.

4 Strategies to Avoid Tire Kickers

To avoid wasting your time, learn to spot the signs of reluctance a mile away. With a little finesse, you can dodge tire kickers while leaving them with a good impression. 

The following tips will help you assess if a lead is serious or not.

1. Evaluate Buyer Readiness

Ask a potential customer what they envision for a project completion time. Serious customers will always have a specific end date in mind. In many cases, an upcoming party, a visit from relatives, or a big life event is a trigger. If a buyer "is in no rush" to get a project completed, it's a red flag.

2. Circle Back to Their Home/Property

Tire kickers derail conversations by asking questions unrelated to project specifics. They may go in all different directions with hypothetical details about various options or products. Stay on track by looping back to the specific need at their property. Keep driving home the point that your service will solve their needs.

3. Manage the Conversation

Tire kickers love to ask a million questions they could easily research online. Take control of the conversation by inquiring about their needs instead. Try to "ask" as much as you "answer" in each conversation. 

Asking about pain points can help separate the tire kickers from the potential customers:

  • Why do you need a [product or service] right now? 

  • What don’t you like about your current [feature]?

  • What does your budget look like?

If they're not interested, they will resist.

4. Make Your Process Clear From the Start

Explain to potential customers exactly what will happen if they decide to move forward. For example, tell them you'll come out for an estimate, collect a down payment, and begin work within five days. This puts them in a position to either go with the momentum or skip out.

Don't Let Tire Kickers Bottleneck Your Business

Tire kickers will sap your time and energy if you're not careful. You should be able to move through your pipeline of leads easily once you know how to manage them without alienating them. While nobody who sells can avoid lookie-loos, you can cut your losses earlier if you know the telltale signs.

Get more qualified leads in the decision-making phase by signing up for Angi today. We pass our leads through a "tire-kicker filter" by asking homeowners to either select "Ready to hire" or "Planning & budgeting" when they sign up, giving you a greater shot at getting the job.