March 27, 2010

How Quick Do You Respond?

By Paul Bieber

I read an interesting fact the other day: The average consumer will wait no more than thirty minutes for a callback from a service supplier before they go to the next listing in the Yellow Pages or the Internet. Think of all the potential business you are losing when you take your time returning phone calls. If you check your messages when you get back to the office, the person who called in the morning probably has the work done already.

Let’s explore this issue.

Consumers who are spending money now are in two camps—the ones who shop and shop, getting ten quotes to put up a bathroom mirror. Good luck with this one because if you are thirty-five cents high, you lose the order.

The other half are the impulse buyers; people who decide to replace a failed unit or put a shower door in the second bathroom. Across the country, we are the “I want it now” generation. You can’t afford to let any potential lead wait. The spenders in our economy are working, have families and don’t have time to wait for anything. So, what’s a glass shop proprietor to do?

The clock is ticking…a half-hour.

If you have someone in your office who can give a quote, get them right on it. Don’t put it in the pile to take care of later. Do it now. Take the message from your receptionist and call now. It may take time to prepare a quote, but let the customer know you are working on it, and remind them that you are the best person to do this because of your special skills. If you need an appointment to see the job before you quote, make the call and setup the time now. Be the first appointment the customer has. Some people think it is better to be the last appointment, but I strongly recommend being the first one. Let everybody else chase you. Call the customer back later in the day and answer any further questions that may have arisen. Give extra services if asked for, but try not to lower your price. No matter what price you give the customer either, someone will beat you by a penny.

If you came in with a fair price, stick to it. Most often you are competing with your self! Tell the customer you gave them your very best price right up front and that it is a very fair price based on doing a super job. From start to clean up, you will do the job with no shortcuts anywhere.

When you are not in the office, impress upon your staff how important it is to call back ASAP. Have them write down the time the call came in, and the time of each call back. I don’t know of too many glass shops that can afford to miss an opportunity for a sale…the only excuse to break the half-hour rule is an earthquake or a hurricane!

If your office is empty and a message is left on your answering machine what can you do?

First, check your answering machine as often as you can, at least hourly. Sure it is a pain. But is it better to miss an opportunity for a sale? Some answering machines will send you a text message or an email when they have a call waiting. Check with your local phone company for a central messaging option on your line instead of a simple machine in your office. Yes, it costs more. If you get two extra jobs a year, you will come out ahead.

Many glass shops have gone back to (gasp!) a live answering service. Consumers like a real person–they don’t like getting caught up in phone tree logjams. Have the answering service beep you, text you, or black-berry you with every call that is a possible sale. Again, I say, the expense is worth it. You will never know how many hang-ups you get when a potential customer wants to get a quote, when they hear your answering machine instead of a real person. Don’t you hate it when you call your distributor or fabricator and can’t get through to your customer service rep?

Whether it is you, an estimator, or the person in your office, when you tell the customer you will get back to them in thirty minutes, do it. Even if you need an extra fifteen minutes, tell them you will call back in fifteen minutes. You made a promise to call back; keep it. When you call back with the actual quote, your credibility will help you close the sale.