At every SFS seminar I encounter two “warring factions”. There are the “We price EVERYTHING over the phone” cleaners versus the “No way! We ALWAYS make a separate trip to pre-inspect/ price the job” cleaners.
I calm things down by saying “BOTH sides are correct”…
Keep BOTH options open by asking your caller “Qualifying Phone Questions”. (QPQ)
After the caller asks their initial question (usually some variation of “how much do you charge?”) simply reply:
You: “I can help you with that. May I ask you a few questions?” (Here you A) “take ownership of their call” and B) receive “permission to proceed”.)
Caller: “Uhhh… sure.”
QPQ #1: “Have we worked for you before?” (Sometimes I would waste a lot of time on the phone and then discover we had worked for the customer before!)
QPQ #2: “Do you live in or near (your service area)?” (Too often I’d convince a prospect that I needed to pre-inspect their home and then discover it was over an hour away from me!)
QPQ #3: “Now are there any special concerns I should note down on your work order?” (OF COURSE they have “concerns”! That’s why they are calling you!)
QPQ #4: “So are we working with any special time frame? Do you need this work down by a certain date?”
With these four “Qualifying Phone Questions” we now had the information to shunt them into our Pricing-Over-The-Phone Format OR our “We’ll need to make a quick pre-inspection…” Phone Format. We priced (and scheduled) over the phone:
- Previous clients. (These folks knew us and we knew the job.)
- “It has to be cleaned today!” (I loved “urgent callers” because the price issue just melted away!)
- Small jobs. (I would quote “minimum charge work” over the phone.)
- Rental move-outs. (We worked closely with property managers who trusted us on charging.)
- Work located further than 30-40 minutes driving time. (IF it appeared the job was worth sending techs out on we would give an estimated price over the phone.)
- Emergency water losses OBVIOUSLY didn’t get a separate pre-inspection. I wanted a truck there with techs working in less than one hour!
The six above “price and book it over the phone” categories accounted for 85% of our residential calls. The other 15% we almost always made a separate pre-inspection that gave us a huge return. CLICK HERE for my 5-Step Pre-inspection Format!