Obviously, the successful plumbing business assertively serves the needs of its customers, but it also must assertively-serve-the-needs of those inquiring about having some work done, not to mention the needs of outside and administrative staff. In this context, what does “assertively serve” mean? It’s a relentless effort to discover and then meet the expectations of the above-noted people.
There’s another way to look at this point of “assertively serving.” Ask, what is the opposite? For starters, it’s this: making it hard for people to communicate with your company.
What is THE major barrier that the vast majority of struggling plumbing companies force upon their callers? Slow and/or cantankerous communications protocols.
The “assertively serve” trait is just one identifying characteristic of the successful plumbing company and, really, any other robust and profitable small business. Here’s some other attributes of the plumbing company that is headed toward success: a physical office, truly knowledgeable long-term professional staff, and written procedures and protocols; they have workers-comp insurance for their employees, too, and they don’t encourage cash payments from customers. They pay their taxes. They have backup personnel for their critical staff positions, both inside and outside. There is constant training. The owner of the company is not out there in the field, executing the actual work. There is a succession plan for leadership.
There is a methodology to immediately capturing and then attending to after-hours calls, most often by using a third-party telephone answering service.
These plumbing companies have great bottom lines, are not encumbered with debt, and are growing…and the owner has a placid and satisfying personal life
How do leaders accomplish the above? They set goals, of course, and then every single move they make is yet another step toward those goals. It’s a straight line. There’s no wavering.
But back to the question of an outside answering service. The struggling operation, more often than not, has only one person who takes calls at home and who also handles after-hours problems, or maybe delegates those inquiries to one or two on-call staff members.
It’s a shaky way to go. You know this already: how can an employee – or an owner– be robustly effective when working all day and then attending to emergencies after-hours?
Is that you? The majority of small plumbing firms have just a small staff, and the company is not growing. The operation devolves into a fire-killing struggle…and yet the owner of the enterprise is quite proud of his or her ability to kill fires at all hours of the day. This person can do it ALL, and so there’s no room to think about growth or coddling customers, potential customers, or staff. And, for this leader, business and personal life is tough because a constant defensive posture is mandatory….
And so, after-hours calls usually go to the dead-end of voice mail jail.
To be polite, an unanswered phone, or a voicemail-answered phone, is not an optimal strategy for business success.
And word gets around. Life stays tough. Growth doesn’t happen.
For getting a struggling plumbing operation into the ranks of the growing and the successful, the owner/operator must first get after-hours and overflow daytime traffic under precise control, and the way to accomplish this quickly is to employ an elite-quality, outside high quality answering service.
In a nutshell, here are the benefits:
- Capture calls NOW. When a new customer calls to inquire about service, they want to know the company is successful and worth the money. Any degree of the opposite (e.g., voice mail jail) in that first attempt at contact, and thy will go elsewhere. Can one measure this lost business? No. And so this may not appear as a problem, but that is only because this potential new business is going away quietly without a trace. The owner of the company doesn’t even know there was a lost a new customer!
- Current Customers are pampered. Whatever time or day these calls come in, they must be handled right now, 100% of the time. If they are not handled promptly? Word gets around….
- Protecting the home lives of owner and staff. A high-quality answering service uses the owner’s precise instructions to screen calls; separating the urgent from the non-urgent, sometimes by simply asking the caller, “is this an emergency?” And if it is an emergency, the telephone service representative (TSR) will then immediately forwarding the call, or a message, to on-call personnel. Non-urgent issues can be quietly set aside until the next business day.
- Peace! There is room for the owner/manager to relax, breathe, and think. What is the opposite of fire-killing? It’s thoughtfulness. If there is a constant flow of interruptions day and night, how can a leader step back and think about what needs to be done for long-term growth?
Hiring an elite, high quality answering service is a big first step toward success for any plumbing company.
How is life for you? Do you kill fires all day? Do callers reach a human being every single time they call? And, back to you: do YOU get a break? How is your home-life, and how is it for your on-call staff?
Think long-term about what you want your company and your personal life to be. Then, one-issue-at-a-time, do what you need to do to make that happen!