So, you hired somebody to answer your incoming calls, call back your Internet leads and set your homeowner appointments. Now you can move on to selling, installing and making some money, right?
Arranging for someone to “cover the phones” is certainly a convenient solution. But it’s also an ineffective one. Why? Because for most home improvement companies, even smaller ones, a single individual just simply can’t provide the telephone coverage you need.
Why’s that? When a hot homeowner prospect calls in, just consider what else your phone person might be doing:
- Answering another call
- Visiting the restroom
- Attending a meeting
- Billing and filing
- Taking a cigarette break
- Taking a personal call
- Eating lunch
- Picking up a sick child at school
The list of possibilities goes on and on. And let me be clear—most of this is not slacking off…it’s just normal. Unfortunately, this makes for seemingly hidden gaps in telephone coverage that can cost you appointments, and ultimately sales.
The importance of having effective telephone coverage comes into even better relief when you consider Internet leads. Most home improvement companies today receive an increasing proportion of their leads via e-mail as homeowners fill out forms on Web sites. Well, if you want any chance at all at converting those leads into appointments, you’ve got to respond—and fast. That’s especially true for non-exclusive leads (the ones that are sent simultaneously to both you and your competition).
The InsideSales.com/MIT Lead Response Management Study talks to this exact point; if you haven’t read it, you should. And our own experience setting appointments for home improvement dealers we serve backs that report up.
Individually, none of the “alternative tasks” I listed above represent major issues. Collectively, however, they are a serious problem. With great homeowner leads more valuable than ever in this tough economy, you can’t afford to be slow to respond to any of them. That’s especially true for Internet leads—if a homeowner can’t reach you on the first try, they’ll simply click over to your competition.
How can you spot problems in how your home improvement company responds to telephone leads? Look at your telephone records. Many telephone service providers offer online reporting that allow you to generate reports on the calls you make and receive. Those reports can show you how many calls are going unanswered, how many of your callers get busy signals, and how frequently your callers have to leave voicemails instead of talking with a live person. It may not be perfect, but it’s a start.
Having listened to thousands of calls on behalf of our clients, we’ve been surprised by the proportion that go unanswered. And that includes many calls in the middle of the day. Our clients thought they had their calls covered…only to find that the reality was quite different.
In summary, missed calls = missed opportunities. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security with your telephone coverage.