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Keeping Up With The Calls

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JimLewis, Jan 3, 2001.

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  1. Toddppm

    Toddppm LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Posts: 268

    I wish we were that busy right now!
    I have one notepad that i write every call on and always have with me along with proposals , price sheets, etc.
    In the same place on every call i write date they called and rest of info. address etc., then when i ret'd call or when i told them i'll be there.
    For regular maint. type work i try to get there asap to give an estimate. For everything else we stayed about 3-4 weeks out on new work up until Dec. so first thing i ask is when they want it done, if they can't wait or pay more to be bumped up,sorry. Then i tell them our minimum. These 2 steps weed out a lot of people, i got tired of going to look at $50 jobs chatting for a half hour.
    I missed a couple appointments too and felt pretty bad having to call them and reschedule(if they still wanted to)
    But then again i had way more people not be there when they said they would?
    I always try to do estimates during the week , early,noon,late, in between jobs, but i still ended up doing a lot of all day saturdays.Only estimate i did on a sunday all year was a guy i missed an appt. with and felt bad, don't you know didn't get the job! Anyways ,prequalify them on the phone first , weed em out and keep all your notes in one place.
    Oh yeah, besides YP's, when my coupon advertising goes out it's all in certain ares, so i'll stall the first few people who call for a couple days until i have enough to knock out maybe 5 0r 6 estimates in that area. I try to return every call i get but if no repsonse after 2-3 times forget it.
  2. Shelton's Lawn

    Shelton's Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 7

    I try to return calls at the end of the day between 7-8 at night. I tell them that I am busy and it will be the weekend before they can get a estimate. If its a free estimate I do it on my time and not theirs. If they cant wait they have to get someone else to do the work.
  3. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 678

    We use Act 2000 software to track all leads. Crew leaders have new client worksheets, measuring wheels and price charts with them. If the new lead is not on a route or a large project, we schedule on saturdays for residentials, Fridays for commercials.
  4. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    First of all you don't need advice from people with larger companies. Sounds like its just you and your wife. Your not in the same position to handle things the same way. They delegate the day to day and handle the business side. Its not possible to be small and handle everything that comes through. If you wait until its convenient you will lose some opportunities because usually the 1st to arrive has the best chance for the residential work. To be able to handle a task like this you must be bigger to delegate the work to others and handle the growth portion of the business.

    The advice you were against about being a manager was the best advice possible. No quick fixes, you got input from people that have been there before and know what it really takes.
  5. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    Alrighty then. If you don't want to become a manager or hire someone then hire a consultant to come into your operation and audit the way you do things. They cost a few dollars but they will save you tons of money and time down the road.

    I have a friend of mine who is the CFO for a large medical group and every couple of years he comes in and looks at everything. He has made recommendations that have saved me time and money everytime he audits me.
  6. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

    We mention as part of our answering message on the phone that we are currently out in the field and all calls will be returned within 24 hours.

    This gives us time to make the call backs. We also have a list of contractors we feel are reputable in all our trucks so that we can be a little more particular about who we take on as new clientele.

    This way if we are not going to take them on as new clients we have still REFERRED them to somene we feel good about, and they dont feel we've abandoned them.

    Good Luck!!
  7. MJ

    MJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 312

    Although I don't have the experience you're looking for, what I found helpful in setting up and refining my system was using the local Small Business Administration or SCORE. While the person you meet with will not have experience in this particular business, he or she will have years of business experience (they are retired executives) and the advise is applicable to managing time and business techniques in general. Lots of good ideas there and, best of all, it's free.

  8. jkinchla

    jkinchla LawnSite Member
    from MA
    Posts: 74

    You could forward your calls to a cell phone, that way you know when a call has come in and if you miss it you can always call them back at lunch. I keep a clipboard with every person who has called and list the kind of job next to their name. then I check off whether I have called them back or not. So I would have to agree with the others who keep a note pad of clipboard, it is low-tech but works very well.
    I find that those customers who I call back the fastest are much more likely to hire me, especially when I call on the cell phone during the day. Also, the clipboard method allows me to ask how they heard of me and track my advertising that way. Good luck.
  9. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    I think the first thing to do would be to have a message
    on your answering machine that says something to
    this effect:

    Hello, You have reached "Jim Lewis Lawn Care", I am
    curently out in the field. Please leave your name
    and telephone number and I will return your call
    sometime this evening after 7:00 PM.
    Thank you for calling.

    In March and April we get flooded with calls.
    BEFORE we had the message on our machine stating that
    calls would be returned in the evening, we were
    getting people who were calling 2 and 3 times a
    day ANGRY that we hadn't returned their call in
    the hour.

    When we call, we find out the pertinent information.
    We try to save ourselves time by weeding out the
    junk calls, the timewasters, and jobs that we
    just aren't interested in. We do not try to get
    every job when the calls come in. We are at
    the point where we can pick and choose.

    Now, once you decide that you want to take a look
    at their property, try to incoroporate it into
    your daily run. Either first thing in the morning
    or maybe finish up giving the bid. On calls that
    sound promising, try not to wait too long (two days
    at the most) to go out and give a bid.

    To Recap:

    Return calls in the evening.
    Don't run yourself ragged trying to get to every call.
    Pick out the best and most promising calls, and capitalize
    on those ones.
    Incorporate your estimates into your daily run.


  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,839

    Ok. I am going to close this thread. It's just obvious that my question was misunderstood. I am sorry, that is my fault. Almost all of these things I already do and more. I forward all of my calls to my cell phone. I almost never miss a call. I have a great message on my voice mail if I for some reason don't answer. And in that case, I return the call within a few minutes. I have the best and biggest planner that Franklin / Covey makes and I use it very well. I already have someone coming in to help me with office stuff this year (my wife is coming home for good.) I have excellent software, and I do a good job of fielding the calls and finding out exactly how important the job is to me and them.

    I am more organized than any of my competitors. I was just looking to see if there are guys out there who get literally swamped with calls but also actually make every single bid they want to. And if so, how did they do it. Anyway, it wasn't that big of a deal anyway. And this thread just continues bring up things that I already encorporate. So rather than waste everyone's time typing me replies, I think it best to close it. '

    Thanks for the input. Particularly to Jodi. That recap is good. It made me feel better about missing a few every once in a while. Like you said, you can't run yourself ragged trying to get every call. I already knew that but it's good to have confirmation. It just bothers me when I leave people hanging.
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