Properly addressing consumer requests

Without consumers, there is no need for your PHC contracting business. Without the proper personnel, you and your business cannot properly address consumer needs. =

Three necessary segments of any PHC contracting business are management, call takers/dispatchers, and technicians.

In a one person PHC contracting business, one person is both staff and owner. In a multi-person enterprise, the owner must delegate responsibilities to others. The owner is always part of the management team.

Management

Regardless of the size of the business, certain duties must be assigned to each segment of the business’ staff in order to address consumer requests properly. This is accomplished through a contractor profit advantage implemented by a strong, intelligent and quality driven management team.

President Harry Truman is credited with stating, “The buck stops here!”

Truman was referencing the need to stop passing the buck by blaming others. The management team must realize the actions, right or wrong, of their subordinates are a direct result of their management decisions.

Therefore, it is the duty of management to make a game plan which properly addresses the overall supervision and responsibilities of the business in totality including the delivery of excellence to consumers; services to offer; operating costs; selling prices; terms and conditions; and guidelines under which employees must perform their duties.

The call takers/dispatchers

First impressions are lasting. Erratic call takers/dispatchers do not shine a good light upon your business. Consumers who encounter unreliable call takers/dispatchers are much less likely to avail themselves of the services your business offers. And, that’s a disadvantage to your business.

Call takers/dispatchers must be pleasant, considerate, organized, and knowledgeable when it comes to consumer requests and your business protocols in order for them to be a contractor profit advantage for your business.

Pleasantness and consideration relieve consumers of anxiety. When consumers receive organized expeditious dissemination of information about your business protocols, and, timely dispatch of technicians to their homes and businesses they develop a good impression of your business as well as peace of mind in choosing your firm.

Call takers must obtain all pertinent information about the consumer and their request to ascertain your business’ ability to properly serve their needs. Then, they must inform new customers, and be certain existing clients, are aware of your business’ protocols before making appointments.

Those protocols should include:

1) Whether your business implements a T & M pricing method or quotes a specific price for each definitive task. The former is a disadvantage to your business and your client since the final price is unknown until the work is completed. The latter is preferred, and a contractor profit advantage, since everyone will know what they are getting into before they get into it.

If you use the disadvantageous T & M pricing method, your hourly rate should be quoted telephonically to the consumer. However, if you utilize the much wiser contactor profit advantage method of quoting specific contract prices for specific tasks, prices should not be quoted over the phone since the call taker/dispatcher cannot see all the circumstances surrounding the consumer’s needs.

2) How payment is to be made. Do you accept checks, credit cards or cash? It would be wise to also let them know when payment is due. Is it when the service is provided which is a contractor profit advantage; or, at some time days after the service is provided which is a disadvantage?

3) The consumer should also be told if your business charges a minimum service call fee (another contractor profit advantage) to send a technician to them to address their requests. This is due to the existence of foolish contractors in our industry who waste their time, energy and money giving free estimates.

Once those terms and conditions are accepted by the consumer, the call taker should make an appointment which is suitable to the consumer and doable by your firm.

At this point the call taker becomes the dispatcher and must make sure the appointment and arrival at the consumer’s home or business is simultaneous. In the event the technician cannot arrive at the designated time, the call taker/dispatcher should inform the client of the delay as soon as possible before the appointed arrival time approaches.

Although the consumer may not be happy with the delay, most will understand and wait or reschedule. It is considerate to let the client choose.

Technicians

The call taker/dispatcher is the first person to impress the consumer. The technician who services their request is the second they encounter, but, the first they see. Technicians must also be pleasant, considerate, organized, and knowledgeable regarding consumer requests and your business protocols as well as clean and neat in appearance and work style. They too have the propensity to be either a contractor profit advantage or a disadvantage to your business.

The vehicle in which they pull up to the consumer’s location gives consumers certain impressions about your business. A dirty, banged up, oil leaking rust bucket of a truck does not make a good impression. Follow that up with a dirty and messy technician, and your business has two strikes against it as soon as your technician introduces him/herself to the client.

A sloppy initial appearance makes it extremely difficult to sell your services to consumers. Not sending a neat technician in a well maintained vehicle gives the impression that neither you nor your personnel care about your business’ appearance. In their mind, you most certainly won’t care about their home or business. And, that’s a financial disadvantage to your business.

No matter what the tech says or how low your prices may be, the smart consumer’s mind is telling them to avoid doing business with you.

On the flip side, a neat and clean technician who arrives in a clean and well maintained service vehicle exudes confidence and pride as well as the intent and ability to deliver excellence to consumers. And, that’s a contractor profit advantage. It makes for more jobs at prices which will allow you to recover your cost and earn the reward you deserve for the delivery of excellence to consumers.

Think about it. As a consumer, would you rather deal with the messy tech whose truck is destroying your driveway as it leaks oil onto it, or, the company whose personnel and vehicular equipment present a strong appearance and capability to deliver excellence to you for your hard earned dollars while standing behind their workmanship?

Once you get to the point where the consumer is willing to listen to the information presented by your tech, your tech should:

1) Reiterate your terms and conditions

2) Survey the situation at each step (e.g. diagnosis, service, repair, replacement, installation, alteration, or consultation)

3) Quote the profitable price of each option to the consumer prior to performance of the task for their acceptance (in writing before starting)

4) Perform all services in an excellent, neat, and clean manner

5) Complete paperwork in a legible fashion

6) Leave the client satisfied

Address your clients’ requests with excellence, pride and intelligence by utilizing my contractor profit advantage. For information, give me a call. I look forward to helping you. 

Richard P. DiToma has been involved in the PHC contracting industry since 1970. He is a contracting business coach/consultant and an active PHC contractor. For information or to contact Richard: call 845-639-5050; e-mail richardditoma@verizon.net; mail to R & G Profit-Ability, Inc. P.O. Box 282, West Nyack. N.Y. 10994; or fax 845-634-7236.

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