Who answers your phones?

Dougie "fresh-clean"

Active Member
I find myself unable to answer the phone, or even call back in a reasonable amount of time since I am doing all the cleanings. Thankfully the phone rings A LOT! When I clean alone I hope they leave a voicemail for me to return after the job or whenever I can find a minute (usually 3 hours after they called). When I have a helper I pass him the wand when the phone rings so I can grab the call... then end up standing outside handling call after call whilst helper ends up finishing the cleaning job. I wonder "He just cleaned all that, so what am I doing here." so time for another van, but still who would answer the phones? One guy cleaning full-time with no phone responsibility,.. I could schedule a lighter route for myself to hopefully find time to return calls... but with 2 vans to schedule for grabbing live calls would be even more important to keep full schedules. If I hire an answering service they are basically a human voicemail system, so an endless list of call-backs to make just like a regular voicemail but hopefully longer list as only a few people talk to my voicemail.

What do/did you guys do when the company is just 2 people? Does your phone person also do sales and scheduling, or do you still handle the schedule?
 

MikeGaure

... ... ... ...
Premium VIP
I find myself unable to answer the phone, or even call back in a reasonable amount of time since I am doing all the cleanings. Thankfully the phone rings A LOT! When I clean alone I hope they leave a voicemail for me to return after the job or whenever I can find a minute (usually 3 hours after they called). When I have a helper I pass him the wand when the phone rings so I can grab the call... then end up standing outside handling call after call whilst helper ends up finishing the cleaning job. I wonder "He just cleaned all that, so what am I doing here." so time for another van, but still who would answer the phones? One guy cleaning full-time with no phone responsibility,.. I could schedule a lighter route for myself to hopefully find time to return calls... but with 2 vans to schedule for grabbing live calls would be even more important to keep full schedules. If I hire an answering service they are basically a human voicemail system, so an endless list of call-backs to make just like a regular voicemail but hopefully longer list as only a few people talk to my voicemail.

What do/did you guys do when the company is just 2 people? Does your phone person also do sales and scheduling, or do you still handle the schedule?


Everyone is gonna be different but my town is smaller and they know I'm an O/O, they always tell hey just answer that and I'll let person on the line know I'll call them back in x amount of time. Or if I've already finished interacting with custy I'll jot down info real quick. That's just me, if I judge customer to be impatient I'll simply silence the call and reply with a text or call back promptly. It's wonderful how many clients love texting
 

Sierra Clean Care

Well-Known Member
I find myself unable to answer the phone, or even call back in a reasonable amount of time since I am doing all the cleanings. Thankfully the phone rings A LOT! When I clean alone I hope they leave a voicemail for me to return after the job or whenever I can find a minute (usually 3 hours after they called). When I have a helper I pass him the wand when the phone rings so I can grab the call... then end up standing outside handling call after call whilst helper ends up finishing the cleaning job. I wonder "He just cleaned all that, so what am I doing here." so time for another van, but still who would answer the phones? One guy cleaning full-time with no phone responsibility,.. I could schedule a lighter route for myself to hopefully find time to return calls... but with 2 vans to schedule for grabbing live calls would be even more important to keep full schedules. If I hire an answering service they are basically a human voicemail system, so an endless list of call-backs to make just like a regular voicemail but hopefully longer list as only a few people talk to my voicemail.

What do/did you guys do when the company is just 2 people? Does your phone person also do sales and scheduling, or do you still handle the schedule?
Nothing for nothing, a missed call is LOST REVENUE..... Just ask me how I know...... I've got it set up, my phone will ring 3 times, then forwards to my wife/office..... People want to here a LIVE person, that can schedule appointments, and solve their problems...... I was once told, people want someone to pick up on the 3-4 th ring, and if it goes longer, they call the next service provider..... This has come true for me countless times( probably more than I even care to admit). The more that phone is answered, not only the more money you make, but residual money aswell( chances to create a lifetime client).......... The easier we are to engage, the easier it is to put money in our pockets..... WE ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT STAND AGAINST OURSELVES..........
Just my 2 bits.....
Jeff @ SCC
 

John B.B.

Member
I second Sierra's answer and add: people really do seem to call provider #2, #3 in succession till they get someone and then, all to often, close on an agreement immediately. You call back 5 minutes later and they're like "already got someone you jerk." o_O

Really, all of us have been there. I still have a father in the biz who says the same--it's a big problem. Though nowadays he is doing more and more selling and able to take those calls.

When jumping-in a week or so ago I actually asked about what servicers need though because it is difficult for me to get out into the field due to health problems. ;( So basically you've just fed me intel--thanks for that. ;)

Due to those issues, I now actually do customer service (read it this way: I build the departments for companies) and so I know about the logistical problems of call systems and whatnot...it's actually a BIG PITA. :O Like HUGE. O>O

But...well if you and a few other guys really need the call peeps I could try to throw something together to start and evolve it. The other equation is, of course, matching call takers with company culture, principles, local information, etc. All very much a big deal (read: very difficult) and requiring a lot of cooperation and communication to establish.

That's the one thing I've appreciated about losing the freedom of moving about house to house to work internally in a company with a team: developing and harmonizing across departments and really having to learn and grapple with the ins and outs, difficulties, subtleties, characters, personalities... carpet guys are even bigger characters so when I do set-up some service for these kind of companies, I want to be on-point for them and really get things polished, friendly, and burnished for quality.

So keep the complaints coming... lol :)
 

MikeGaure

... ... ... ...
Premium VIP
I personally can't stand even when I get an answering service to me it's the exact same thing as a reg voicemail.

Called a plumber and got an answering service, useless couldn't give any info and just wait a tech on duty will be with you shortly is what you get or call back during business hours
 

Scott W

Preferred Vendor
Premium VIP
Agree that someone needs to live answer the phone, at least during business hours. If you do nay type of mergency services, then the phone needs to be covered 24 hours per day.

In our business, how we handled this evolved as the business grew. These are the stages we went through. Each worked OK for the size business we had at the time but we out grew some methods.

  1. Had a business line and a home phone line. My wife answered calls on the business phone line. This line was not used for personal calls to avoid having the line tied up and busy. She knew if she was on a personal call, she might have to leave that call to answer the business line.
  2. Found a retired person who was home most of the time. They wanted to make a little extra to supplement Social Security. Calls were transfer to their phone during the times I was on a job. They had been trained enough about our business to handle most calls including scheduling work. They knew about how long a job woudl take and what areas I was working in on different days. They learned the steps we went through in cleaning by riding along with me on jobs for a couple days and I explained what we were doing and why. They got paid for that trraining time. They got paid so much for each call they answered. When they were not on the phone, they could do whatever else they would have been doing around the home. Just from the two days on the job, they knew more about cleaning than any answering service would have. Because they were just paid by the call, my cost was less than an answering service.
  3. When we added water damage restoration and phones had to be answered 24 / 7, we tried an answering service. It meant the phones were covered, but they did little more than take messages and then call me. They were not able to answer most questions or to book jobs. I understand there are a couple of answering services now that special in carpet cleaning and restoration companies. More expensive than a standard answering service, but the customer feels more like they are calling a business than an answering service.
  4. Hired a full-time office person. They answered phone, did some bookkeeping, dealt with folks who walked into our store front and dropped off Oreintal rugs, purchased walk off mats and other cleaning products we sold for the home.
 
I answer the pbone myself but typically have my employee with me during the day, when I do work alone I do miss a few phone calls but always return the calls within an hour.
On a side note there is a company that offers phone answering service and they keep calling me at least twice a week even though I tell them that is something I don't need. I get so mad because it comes up as a local cell phone number when they call and I keep telling them I am not in need of their service and to remove me from their calling list but every time they act like it is the first time of me saying to stop calling me. They called me Monday and I asked them if they are trying to flood my phone with calls to convince me I need their service.
 

the rugman

Well-Known Member
I answer the pbone myself but typically have my employee with me during the day, when I do work alone I do miss a few phone calls but always return the calls within an hour.
On a side note there is a company that offers phone answering service and they keep calling me at least twice a week even though I tell them that is something I don't need. I get so mad because it comes up as a local cell phone number when they call and I keep telling them I am not in need of their service and to remove me from their calling list but every time they act like it is the first time of me saying to stop calling me. They called me Monday and I asked them if they are trying to flood my phone with calls to convince me I need their service.
I get lots of that crap as well (yelp seems to have number everywhere!). I now hit the info button on my phone and block the numbers.
 

John B.B.

Member
I answer the pbone myself but typically have my employee with me during the day, when I do work alone I do miss a few phone calls but always return the calls within an hour.
On a side note there is a company that offers phone answering service and they keep calling me at least twice a week even though I tell them that is something I don't need. I get so mad because it comes up as a local cell phone number when they call and I keep telling them I am not in need of their service and to remove me from their calling list but every time they act like it is the first time of me saying to stop calling me. They called me Monday and I asked them if they are trying to flood my phone with calls to convince me I need their service.

Right way -

You: "So what do your peeps know about carpet cleaning."
Company: "Ummm...."
You: "Well then how could I possibly hire your services?"
Company: "Well you'd tell us what you want."
You: "And have them sound like those poor blokes in India reading a script about computers they may not even know--that sounds terrible!"
Company: "we assure you that..."
You: "Tell you what, I'll clue your people in by offering a training service for a couple of days, and then we can see their performance. It starts at $1000/day per head, you provide all relevant compliance and insurance.."

AND THEN:

You call them every day: "Hey, just checking to see when you're signing-up to have your phone reps properly trained!"

xD
 
Right way -

You: "So what do your peeps know about carpet cleaning."
Company: "Ummm...."
You: "Well then how could I possibly hire your services?"
Company: "Well you'd tell us what you want."
You: "And have them sound like those poor blokes in India reading a script about computers they may not even know--that sounds terrible!"
Company: "we assure you that..."
You: "Tell you what, I'll clue your people in by offering a training service for a couple of days, and then we can see their performance. It starts at $1000/day per head, you provide all relevant compliance and insurance.."

AND THEN:

You call them every day: "Hey, just checking to see when you're signing-up to have your phone reps properly trained!"

xD
That's a lot of work and time for me to invest
 

John B.B.

Member
That's a lot of work and time for me to invest

That's why you would be charging them for a basic ride along, and since you're calling a company that won't stop harrassing you, why you call them only while using the RR, preferably #2 with a lot of noise to accompany the call. :)

Okay, potty humor, off to time out...
 

mark1

New Member
I like Scott's breakdown....but some of us have wives that don't want to work with us, so we're SOL on #1. LOL!

I've actually thought of offering to answer calls for one or two folks on the board since I have capacity at the moment and I own a carpet cleaning business, so the knowledge to upsell or explain services would be there. Of course, I'd only offer for 9-5 EST times, and that person or two can cover their own after banker hours. Maybe that could help a single owner/op that juggles cleaning and scheduling. Not sure if there would ever be any interest in that, though. I guess if anyone was, message me and we could discuss if it would work out.
 

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
We have 2 girls in the office from 8-5. They have to take opposite lunch breaks to make sure no calls missed. Then after hours we have a call center answer the phones.


Sent from my iPhone using TMF Forums
 
I find myself unable to answer the phone, or even call back in a reasonable amount of time since I am doing all the cleanings. Thankfully the phone rings A LOT! When I clean alone I hope they leave a voicemail for me to return after the job or whenever I can find a minute (usually 3 hours after they called). When I have a helper I pass him the wand when the phone rings so I can grab the call... then end up standing outside handling call after call whilst helper ends up finishing the cleaning job. I wonder "He just cleaned all that, so what am I doing here." so time for another van, but still who would answer the phones? One guy cleaning full-time with no phone responsibility,.. I could schedule a lighter route for myself to hopefully find time to return calls... but with 2 vans to schedule for grabbing live calls would be even more important to keep full schedules. If I hire an answering service they are basically a human voicemail system, so an endless list of call-backs to make just like a regular voicemail but hopefully longer list as only a few people talk to my voicemail.

What do/did you guys do when the company is just 2 people? Does your phone person also do sales and scheduling, or do you still handle the schedule?
Phones always get answered live...
Fortunately, my wife has always been my office help. When we started our business in 94', she quite her job...
She transfers the phone to her cell when she goes shopping.
Only transfers it to me when she works out...
She hates getting the phone when we're on vacation so I bump the calls to my cell when when we leave town or go out on weekends..
 

mjb4ex

Active Member
For those that have a wife that answers your phone, might be a good little gig for her to answer the phone for a few owner operators in non competing areas. Could be across the US. She's obviously well versed to answer customer's questions for you, just needs a cheat sheet of prices for whoever she's answering the phone for. Might be a win-win for everyone.
 

MikeGaure

... ... ... ...
Premium VIP
I still answer my calls

Even with a customer, most will tell you answer that it means money

Unless it's a number I know then I'll call that person back
 

rccva

Well-Known Member
I answer all my calls now and the customer likes talking to the owner... but I had a lady who worked out of her house answer my calls for a few years and that worked out great. She was really nice, good on the phone and everyone loved her. It's really about finding someone who can communicate well, be friendly and make the customer feel important. Even if they can't answer every question, if the person can connect with the customer then we will get the job.
 

Mrs.SpeedySteamer

Moderator ~ And Most Awesome Member
Moderator
I handled everything except the wand... For the first two years in business I answered the business phone 100% of the time... I worked graveyard shift and would have the phone by me when I was asleep... I went from dead sleep to wide awake in a matter of seconds... Did that for two years and then told my husband I couldn't do it anymore... We hired FullCircle (no longer around) to answer our phones part time... When I went to sleep in the morning I would forward the calls to them and when I woke up at around noon I would take the calls back... The best part was working graveyard shift I would bring my business phone with me to work, and would shock customers that were calling after hours... Do you know how many cancellations we avoided by doing this??? If a person is calling after hours to cancel it means that they are trying to avoid a live person... Loved answering those calls...

Anyway, got side tracked... When FullCircle closed its doors we tried some other services, but in the end the phone came back to me... There were certain times the phone would ring and rule of thumb is not to answer it... You can probably guess those times... In Early 2015 my husband and I sold our house and moved in with my parent's to help save money... Both of them were retired and were watching me sprint to the business phone (I had the tendency to leave it on the kitchen counter and then go to some other part of the house)... After awhile my mom started answering it when it would ring... She had heard my intro enough, knew our prices, and my phone was always on top of my scheduling book... She started scheduling appointments for us... Why?? Other than the fact that she was helping me out... Interaction... She went from being a Assistant Federal Director to retired and bored...

I wouldn't recommend a retired carpet cleaner. Think along the lines of someone who is a Wal-Mart greeter that can use a computer...

There was a point somewhere in there... It is your job to find it...

Good Luck!!!
 

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