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Establishing business hours

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I am in the process of beginning a policy of establishing firm business hours for The Christmas and Landscape light season. I have tended to be Johnny on the spot and either answer the phone or call folks back, even up til 9 pm or so, 7 days a week.

    I have decided, however, that the more you give folks, the more they take. it seems as though this year in particular, some customers feel as though I should answer and not only return calls up until 11pm, but upon doing that live act, be then willing to go out and fix it RIGHT NOW.

    I have always stressed our policy in sales presentations that we really try our best to be on site and respond to service calls within 24 hours, but on holidays and sundays it may be 48. When they don't need something fixed that sounds reasonable. But for some reason I have clients, and more than a few, that get really upset if we are not there, at their home within 4 hours or less, from when ever they call. many times I have clients that call at 4pm and want service that day.

    And I just can't do it anymore. we have reached a size where we can still pretty easily do 24 hours in most cases, but not 4 hours. I am wondering when you guys answer and return calls up to how late, and then your policy of how quickly you get onsite to fix their problem.
  2. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,958

    Not the same but I kind of get this a little with Irrigation work. They want to be there and I need access to their garage.

    What I might suggest to you if you are that big is do have some extended hours as part of a premium service plan. If you have a young guy offer him a shift from 2:00 PM to 10 PM but do not schedule any work after 8 PM.

    I know if I was young and single I would like the 2 to 10 shift... I got time to go home clean up and hit the clubs at mid-night. Sleep until 10 am.

    Silver Gold and Platinum plan higher plans get higher priority and perhaps access to a different phone number so you can screen better and turn off the regular lines after 5.
  3. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 513

    I try hard to be an 8:00am-5:00 business Monday-Friday. If it is a TRUE emergency, then I will respond right away. If not, then it can wait until the next day. Weekends are family time. This policy has worked out great for several years.
  4. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 513

    Although I will do nightime demos for lighting Monday-Friday.
  5. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    I wrote in my lighting contracts what my hours and response times were.

    I answered the phone to about 7pm... then let the machine get it after that.
  6. OP
    David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I think I like the idea of 7 am to 7pm during Christmas season, except maybe not on sunday. maybe 12-5 on sunday. during Landscape light season go back to 8-5 monday thru friday.

    We have been using an answering service this november and I think I will tell them to continue to answer phones, take mesages, but to tell folks who call after our new regular business hours that repair service messages coming in after 7pm will be sent to our service department at 7 am tomorrow morning for repair scheduling purposes.
  7. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,130

    I stop answering at 5:00 during the week, I leave the phone on but shut the ringer completely off, vibrate is off too. When I get a message I'll listen to it quickly and then decide if I'll call back then or in the am. My voicemail recording clearly states our hours are 7:00am till 5pm m-f and 8-12 on sat.
  8. TimNNJ

    TimNNJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 321

    How is the answering service working for you Dave?..this year mine is doing a pretty good job screening the calls and not having me go out and waste time on estimates. which is awesome...my office hours are from 830-530..then they can leave a message and we will handle it the next business day. I check the machine on the weekends once a day in the morning. I stress emails on the weekends but having a live person during the week really really helps out.
  9. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,091

    I'm on a smaller scale where I can handle being available later in the evening and on weekends. People tend to love this level of customer service. But as you get bigger the phone traffic could drive you crazy. It could be a good job for your second in command as the business grows.

    If your able to give this level of service it could help with retention by being seen as being very personable. People need to associate a person with a business. If people think of your business as an inanimate object it will not work in your favor.

    I think you would need to be firm about billing for after hours service calls that are not your fault. I realize some customers think everything is your fault. I would think that a $65-$75 service call fee for after hours stuff would be reasonable. Even if the repair takes 30 seconds it's going to be $65-$75. Service call could become an additional money maker and a PR thing that saves customers and really that makes you money as well.
  10. OP
    David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I was at a new customers home about 10 days back, got there about 9:15pm or so whose lights were not working. no power at outlets. ah..a breaker! no. a gfci button tripped! yes. but where? after an hour of checking every plug in the 6000 square foot home, checking the crawl space, I finally found 2 of them behind a pile of firewood in the garage. left at 10:30 at night. my fault? not really. customers fault? well, most folks just don't KNOW this. charge the customer? I did not because I normally do not. If I send them a bill for a service call, I would say the chances of them firing me for next year go up 50-60%. but calling her back, and coming out that late and fixing their problem for free, I would say I have a 90% chance of keeping that customer for the next 3-5 years. That is probably worth more than the $ 85.

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