I really got pinned into a corner last week when attending the HMI Discovery and Training Seminar. A sharp entrepreneur who was considering entering the concrete lifting business cornered me on a break and said/asked: “OK smart guy cut through all the hype, fancy terms and acronyms and tell me the singular one most important thing I have to do to be successful?” Wow – that was like asking a politician to answer a question in once sentence. So – after a dumb looking and uncomfortable 30 second pause – I answered: “MAKE IT EASY FOR THE PROSPECT TO BUY FROM YOU!”
ARE WE GOING BACKWARDS? – Today’s world has tech and systems to supposedly make us more efficient. Voice response/message systems, email, web sites are the most basic examples but:
- How do you feel when you call and get into an automated voice messaging menu so deep with questions you wonder if you will ever reach a human? You are probably in shock when you call a business and a human answers the phone!
- How do you feel when you click on a web site for information and NOTHING EVER COMES and you never hear from a soul?
- How do you feel when you try to set an appointment for an estimate and in the end you think someone does not want your business since it is weeks away or they expect you to take time off from work for their convenience? If you are like me – when you call you are ready and any contractor or service provider who leaves you with the impression they are not is not an option!
On a personal level the above “stuff” annoys me to death and has me looking for alternatives – even if more expensive. There are countless studies on buying influences. Amazingly: price is not always top on the list. Often, equally important are: speed, technical considerations, confidence and of course just simple good courteous service. If any of the first contacts with an initial prospects leaves them questioning your company, price becomes less important and the probability that they will seek another option is exponential.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE! – What is mudjacking or polyurethane concrete lifting? Simply stated it is a process to “eliminate a problem at ½ the cost of the alternative faster, cleaner and easier?” Yes some engineers and buyers will be looking for tech data sheets and have their lawyers review your guarantees/ warranty. However it is amazing how a ton of these sales lengthening barriers disappear when you return a phone call in less than an hour or make someone smile while feeling you really want their work.
THE FAMOUS HMI/RAISE-RITE TUNNEL! – I am relatively confident that anyone who has attended one of HMI’s seminars will be able to talk about “THE TUNNEL.” The concept is easy. Simply view someone: calling your company, clicking your website or sending you an email as entering a tunnel which you control. Each step and contact experience in that tunnel from: the greeting, the questions, the time commitments offered for an estimate, the follow-up thank you emails, the estimate follow-up, the scheduling of the work all the way through the invoice should be crafted by you and executed with no deviation. Every contact experience should be designed to exceed their expectation. Never let anyone out of the tunnel and make it easy for them to stay in your tunnel.
Consider answering the questions below while considering your business or plan?
- Do you have someone scripted answering your business phone within 3 rings who is empowered to make commitments for an estimate within 5 business days? Y/N
- Do you have an auto-responder on your web site sending prospects an immediate email acknowledging their inquiry within seconds of their clicking for more information? Y/N
- Do you provide prospects and option of not being home for you to do an estimate? Y/N (outside work only)
- Do you and every person on your team respond to all emails by the end of the day – RELIGIOUSLY? Y/N
- Do you and every person on your team return phone calls within 90 minutes –RELIGIOUSLY? Y/N
- Do you send an email to prospects the day before a scheduled estimate confirming the appointment with a picture of the estimator and his/her vehicle? Y/N
- Do you send estimates on email so prospects can merely click accept to authorize the work? Y/N
- Do you attach photos to your estimates so there is no question in your prospects mind what you are planning to do? Y/N
- Do you provide customers and option of scheduling the work when they are not home? Y/N (outside work only)
- Do you accept credit cards to make it easy for prospects to pay you? Y/N
- Do you send invoices and receipts on email with before and after photos to make it EASY for customers to refer you? Y/N
- Do you call your own company and live the experience of a prospect or customer weekly to make sure systems you have set up are operating consistently and that there is never a deviation? Y/N
THERE IS NO GRADE FOR THIS TEST. IT IS SIMPLY PASS OR FAIL!
YOUR PROSPECTS AND CUSTOMERS DECIDE!
Paul DelFino is a principal of the consulting firm Opportunity Inc. For nearly two decades he has assisted entrepreneurs in growing their businesses, responding to economic downturns and merger and acquisition activity. He has consulted with HMI and RaiseRite for over a decade. His publications include “Avoiding Skewed Entrepreneurial Strategies” available from all on line booksellers.