Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog
Easily increase sales for your plumbing or HVAC business by doing these two things - Return Calls and Show Up!
Two of the biggest complaints about contractors that I hear from customers looking for quotes are: they don’t return calls and they don’t show up for scheduled appointments. These are the top two things you should always be doing!
Granted, quotes can sometimes be inconvenient and feels like they are a waste of time, but the reality is that they are a necessary part of the business. So instead of resenting the call, it should be looked upon as an opportunity to beat the competition and grow your business.
Why a contractor wouldn’t return a customer enquiry is beyond me. Is it because they have too much work or can’t be bothered? Well, I doubt it’s the former, and I’m not quite sure it’s the latter. What I believe the problem to be is that they just don’t make it a priority. Most contractors are well intentioned and plan on returning the call, but they just get so busy that they forget. If and when they do remember, they assume too much time has passed and that the customer has moved on. This assumption is a big mistake.
A client of mine recently related a story about a commercial customer who called eight other contractors who never returned their call before contacting my client. Ultimately, my client got a decent size job out of it and ended up with a happy customer. During their interaction, the customer made a comment that reinforces my point. That comment? “You were the only one to return my call!”
This is not an isolated story. Various research estimate that between 50% and 80% of customer enquiries are never followed up. In addition, an often quoted statistic from insidesales.com has shown that the first person to return the call, usually gets the order 35%-50% of the time. Even at the low end of 35%, these are pretty good odds.
Aside from being too busy, here are a couple of other reasons that clients have shared with me and are probably why this problem appears to be so prevalent with contractors:
- Negative attitude – they’ve lost out on so many jobs that they believe it’s just a waste of time and the customer is just price shopping. Maybe they are price shopping, but doesn’t everybody? Do you blindly accept the price when making a big ticket purchase or do you get pricing from different suppliers? So why should you expect a prospect to act differently than you do? Losing out on so many jobs may not be a customer problem, but an indicator that you need to look at either your pricing or your sales technique.
- They hate the sales process – many contractors are first and foremost technicians. Most have never had any sales training and therefore are uncomfortable with the process. Unfortunately, if you’re in business, you need to invest in learning proper sales techniques. This is not as difficult as it appears and a little effort in learning can pay big dividends in increased sales. The sales process is about being prepared, knowledgeable and developing relationships and not the high pressure situation that is often depicted in movies. For what it’s worth, I’ve trained hundreds of sales people and some of the best I’ve worked with started out by telling me they can’t sell.
Of the two, not returning calls or not showing up, not showing up for an appointment is by far the worst. If you don’t answer a call from a prospect, they have no expectation of you. Not showing up for a scheduled appointment, is incredibly rude and disrespectful. You have now inconvenienced the prospect. They have gone out of their way to make themselves available and now you have left them hanging. How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot?
Of course, things can happen. Your day gets away from you or you’re in the middle of a job that must be finished and therefore you can’t make the scheduled appointment. Instead of just blowing off the appointment, common courtesy dictates that you pick up the phone and let the customer know. Most people are understanding and will probably let you reschedule for later in the day or the following day. By calling instead of ghosting them, you have a better than even chance of saving the appointment.
The absolute best way to avoid missing an appointment is to set out specifics times and days in your calendar for quote appointments. For example, Tuesdays between 2pm-6pm and Thursdays 8am-Noon. Of course their may be emergencies situations that fall outside of these, but they are the exceptions.
It's truly unbelievable how much business is lost by contractors not returning phone calls or by missing appointments.
Just like my client, being that contractor that promptly returns phone calls and shows up for appointments may just get you the business, because so many aren’t.
Greg Weatherdon is a small business expert and author of Get More LIFE Out of Your Business. He also produces The Small Business Minute Podcast that available on all major platforms including iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. Visit www.gregweatherdon.com for more information