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Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by THIESSENS TLC, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I think if you're a small company, eager to grow and can't afford to lose business, it's important that somebody answer the phone live and in person when it rings. The fact is that a lot of people just don't like to leave messages. And the fact is a certain percentage of people will just go on to the next LCO and call them, if someone doesn't answer. If you can afford to lose a certain percentage of calls, then fine - let them go to voicemail. And hopefully they'll leave a message. But if you can't afford to lose any business, then I recommend you find a way to answer those calls.

    So in order to answer the phone live and in person and not miss any opportunities, your options are:

    1) Bluetooth headset. Keep a pad and paper with you. Take down their info. and tell them you'll call them right back if you're too busy to stop what you are doing for a few minutes.

    2) Have someone (wife, girlfriend, etc.) answer your incoming calls for you.

    3) Hire an answering service. They are really cheap. And if you find a good one, they won't sound like an answering service. They'll just sound like a secretary and they'll take down your client's message and tell them you'll get back to them shortly.

    4) Hire a full time office manager / secretary / receptionist.

    #4 is the best option, by far. But until you get to a certain size, it's difficult to afford that. The reality, though, is once you are able to finally afford one, you'll find that you start getting a lot more business because you have someone answering the phone in person every time and you aren't missing any important calls. Then you're free to keep doing what you do best and they can handle all the calls for you. They can also handle all your appointment scheduling, bookkeeping, office organization, payroll, etc. But again, you gotta be to a certain level to be able to afford this.

    Out of the other options, I like #2 or #3 the best. But whatever the case, if you're really hungry for work, wanting to grow your company, or can't afford to miss any opportunities, you gotta figure out something. Missing calls means missing out on potential business at least some times. So you should capitalize on that and not miss any calls.

    If Bluetooth is how you have to do that, then do that. It's better than missing calls, IMO. But eventually, make it your goal to get someone else taking the calls for you. I remember the first year I hired a full time receptionist. I realized within a few months that I should have probably done it a few years earlier. Because I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to answer all the calls, give all the bids, oversee my workers, and doing some of the work. Making that change lifted a huge burden off of my shoulders and finally allowed me to focus all my time on what I do best.
  2. Grassman67

    Grassman67 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    I wear a bluetooth while mowing, and will answer calls while mowing. Just be sure to get one that is sweatproof if that is what you do. People in my area don't seem to want to deal with voicemail, so a missed call is a missed opportunity.

    THIESSENS TLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 813

    thanks for the good read jim, unfortunately i have to start with option #1. I dont mind carrying around a memo pad & pen. one day i hope to get to be a decent sized company that will require a full time receptionist, but for now i gotta keep that pad & pen in my pocket and the bluetooth in my ear! haha:drinkup:

    thats exactly the way it is around here too....missed call, missed opportunity!

    those look pretty cool, i wonder if they will work with a blackberry.:confused:
  4. Grassman67

    Grassman67 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    I'm sure they will work with a blackberry. I use the Motorola s9 when I am sweating (sweatproof) but they become uncomfortable after wearing for an extended time. Use the Jabra Wave when in my truck (not sweatproof) Noise cancelling is a must feature if talking while working outdoors.
  5. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    I wear wired headphones into my Razr Maxx.

    I listen to Pandora, local sports station, whatever.

    Whenever I get a text from my employees, email from property managers, or phone calls, my phone notifies me and I can stop and check what I need to quick.

    If it's a new customer, I will either ask them to text me their information (name, address, phone number) and I will check their property later in the day and respond the next day, as I'm on a mower, or other piece of equipment. If it's a property manager with an email question, I can respond quickly. If it's a text from my guys, I can keep them running with a quick answer.

    For you guys that say let it go to voicemail, I have landed many $3,000+ jobs because I was the first to answer the phone.

    With my firewood sales, if I don't answer the phone, even if they've already left a message, by the time I listen to the message and call them back (within 3 minutes of the actual phone call) they've already called someone else to schedule.

    I don't see how it slows you down to answer the phone. Yes, there are days where it seems as though you are constantly on the phone. However, if you're not doing anything wrong, then those phone calls should be new leads, or new work on properties you're already servicing. Who wants to miss those calls?
  6. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,463

    these kind of threads always make me wonder what I'm doing right.

    I rarely ever answer my phone when it rings. I only do business between the hours of 8am to 5pm monday thru friday. I won't answer the phone if I'm driving or on a job working. no voicemail left, no call back.

    yet I service on average 40 clients a week for the past 4 years. been in business 6 years.

    I have clients I've never met or really ever talked to. when they call they get my VM, when I call back I get there VM.

    I always leave a detailed message instead of the stupid "this is so and so give me a call at xxx-xxxx" message.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Sure. That works for you because you're not trying to grow. Not actively trying to build your business. You're happy being a Solo Op. just doing 40 accounts a week. You're already making all the money you want to make and are happy where you are at. And nothing wrong with that.

    But for those who are trying to grow their business, are in a highly competitive area, have been trying to just keep at least the number of clients that they currently have because they're in a really tough economic environment, aren't making as much money as they want or need to make, or aren't happy with the level they are at - then this advice is for them, not guys like you.
  8. Doohboy24

    Doohboy24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    I am just like LwnmwrMan22. I will screen the call and make the caller feel important to me. I then ask them to please text me their information and I will call them back to discuss further once I am done with the job I am working on. It has never seemed to offend anyone that has called. Just about everyone I have asked to do this was more than willing. I then return their call once I get in the truck and can take notes. I have landed every job I can think of where this has occured.
  9. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,463

    you make excellent points Jim. but here's a few reasons and one main reason I am the way I am about taking phone calls.

    safety is one, it's not safe to be on the phone while driving period let alone pulling a 14' trailer full of equipment.

    time is another. I get through my day quicker if I'm not shutting the mower off, putting the shovel down to answer the phone while on a job. might be 5 min quicker, might be a couple hours quicker.

    the main reason and I'm surprised someone else hasn't thought of this is "grooming" of the clients. I don't want my clients thinking I'm at there disposal 24/7 that they can just call me whenever they want with there concerns.

    even though I love lawn maintenance it is after all just a lawn. about the only thing in this industry that would be an emergency situation is a downed tree/limb blocking your driveway or on a power line or the house. nothing else is so important you need to call me when I'm eating dinner or about to fall asleep at 11pm. nothing needs to be discussed on a sunday afternoon.

    I groom my clients so they know the best time to reach me is between 8am and 5pm, monday thru fri. any other time and they will be talking to a machine and the call back will wait until the next business day hours.

    don't misunderstand me, you make excellent points. I'm just surprised at how many want and try so hard to be available 24/7 to there clients.
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Nobody here is talking about being available 24/7 to their clients. I'm not sure where you got that. We're talking about being available to the phone during regular business hours. Like 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. After that, I think it's normal to reach voicemail at almost every landscaping business.

    I don't think having someone answering the phone in person during regular business hours equates to telling your customers you're at their beckoned call. It is just standard business.

    As for it not being safe to talk on the phone while driving, I guess that depends on the person. I spend at least 5-6 hours every day on the road and 80% of the time I'm on the phone. I'm using a Bluetooth headset that entire time. But I can drive just fine and talk on the bluetooth. I drive a good 100-200 miles every single day all over different parts of town - all in fairly busy traffic and most of that while on the phone. And I've been doing that for years and years. I haven't had an accident for I can't remember how many years and I haven't had any tickets in the last 5 years either. Either it's safe for some people to drive while talking on the phone or I'm just incredibly lucky.

    As for the time issue (how much time it takes out of your day), that all depends on whether you are plenty full with business or not. In your case, you have plenty of business and aren't that eager to get more. But a lot of guys out there are struggling and could use any business that comes their way. They have plenty of time on their hands - just not enough work. Other guys are fairly busy but trying to grow quickly and make more money. So you reach a point where you have to decide whether you want to stop what you are doing to make more money or just ignore the call and hope that they leave a message. Depending on how much you need more business will determine how you handle that situation. That's all I'm saying.

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