Who Here Screens Calls Heavily?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by JimLewis, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. SVA_Concrete

    SVA_Concrete LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    very interesting thread! I have had experiences similar to DVS. go out to look at a crack in a patio (concrete work here) because they want an estimate to give to the HOA, and that turns into not only that job, but 3 more in the same complex as well as a large remove and replace for the property management firm. now the firm is continually calling me on other properties that they manage. as well as potential snow removal.

    all for a free estimate for the homeowner to use as ammo. i really thought i would never get work out of it. goes to show, you never know.

    I do screen a bit on folks character, i had a call to clean some eflo off a crimson wall, after talking to the guy for 5 minutes he told me of his lawsuits.... i mentioned the job to our hardscape mfr rep and he let me know to stay away. gotta think with your kidneys :)
  2. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    Not a hardscaper but I have had wayyy too many close-calls in the past to judge anyone by how they look on the surface.

    Ive told the stories on here in the past.
    I specialize in commercial large sealcoating. But do offer some residential service.

    Met a guy at dunkin donuts that looked like he didnt have 2 nickles to rub together and drove a truck that Ive junked better. He asked for a card.

    Turned out to be the managing partner of a HUGE medical practice with multiple locations in the area and I ended up with almost 100,000 in work from returning his call.

    Many times because of sealcoating someones $150 residential driveway, I have struck gold.

    You dont know who is an executive assistant, property manager, or an executive themselves.

    Especially in this economy right now. The gravy train of seemingly endless big money jobs has ended.

    I used to find residential sealcoating a nuisance. Seriously considered not doing it anymore.

    Well, this year, big commercial sealcoating tanked. Property managers are not spending money on their parking lots like years past. So a property that would be $40,000 to sealcoat, this year is opting to just re-stripe for $3,500.

    Those $150 residentials really helped out keeping the lights on.
  3. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    Depends on the situation.
    I have met some people who were just plain jerky, expecting me to stop whatever I'm doing and start their project immediately. Those are easy, thank them for their time and suggest they contact your competitor.
    If the job is crappy or looks to be nonprofitable, I try to explain the problems that I see.
    Others are just unrealistic about the cost. After throwing out a rough estimate those usually take care of themselves.
    Over all, I think that people appreciate that I took the time to meet with them and look things over. I don't remember ever parting with anybody on less than civil terms. Seems to me that they would be more offended if I reject them offhand during the first phone conversation. Then they'll run around telling all their friends "he wouldn't even come look at it!"
    To be fair, my market is rural with fewer leads, and word of mouth referrals are king here. This makes each potential customer a little more important and worth checking out.
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Well, I did start screening our calls this year with a 10-question questionnaire that I had the office staff complete while they were on the phone with the client. Once they completed the form, they emailed it to me. Once I reviewed it, I would reply with one of the following;

    1) That's a good lead. Go ahead and book that appointment for me, any time.
    2) That's a so-so lead. Might turn out to be a decent job. Go ahead and book it. But I don't want to waste a Saturday or Evening appt. on that one. Daytime appt. only.
    3) That's a lead for _______ (one of the other managers in our company). Give it to him. Too small of a job for me to bother with.
    4) That doesn't sound like a very good lead. Give them a ball-park bid of $XX per sq. ft. and if that doesn't scare them off, THEN go ahead and book an estimate.
    5) That's a crappy lead. Please do not call them back.

    I pretty much had to do this because we were just getting WAY too many calls and I was sick of telling people I couldn't even get out to bid their project for over a week, but then I'd show up to an appt. that was a total waste of time. There are certain questions that can help me determine if a lead is a total waste of time before I even go out. So this would allow me to make sure I was spending my time on mostly just good leads.

    After I implemented this program, I noticed that the amount of leads that I considered to be a total waste of my time went way down.

    'Course we could afford to lose a few. We had a record year. 30% growth. So I could afford to start being more picky.

    With this thread, I'm just trying to think of methods that others use to screen leads or calls.
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    Yeah, some callers can be real jerks and demanding. So I agree with the "Screening Personalities".

    Had a guy call me on a Friday 2 months ago about adding on to an existing patio done by someone else. I told him I could come out on Monday. LOL - that wasn't soon enough for him! I could not help myself but to say "good luck with that".
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Yah, personality screening is one of the questions we do on the questionnaire we use. It's the last question; "How patient / nice was the caller in answering the preceding questions? How nice did they seem over the phone?" Then I have them rate the caller's kindness / patience on a scale of 1-5.

    The response that is written in that box often can decide whether I want to go give a bid or not. If they were rude and impatient and asking, "What's with all the questions??" or "How long is this going to take? I need to get back to work!" then this is someone who is definitely a little too high strung and I'm not too interested.
  7. DeereHauler

    DeereHauler LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 604

    I found that i'll take most calls, go look at them, and make a judgement call from there. We get tons of price shoppers, so if i call someone back after they left a message and they have to figure out "which one i was on the list", thats an automatic no. I would hate to say that my clients need to meet a certain criteria, but its true. I should really take a look at how i take calls after reading this thread, it would save me a lot of aggravation.
  8. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,623

    It seems beloved prospective clients screen their calls heavily as well!

    I really love it when I do follow up calls and they dont answer! And it's so abvious, as in the pricing stages - they answer their phones by the 3rd ring.

    When I start to detect that they're screening follow up calls - I call from either another landline number or one of the employee's cell phones :)

  9. stuvecorp

    stuvecorp LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,245

    One of my best investments is the 'back up' cell phone with a totally different number. I always magically get someone that somehow is never available when I call with my regular phone.

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