Editor's Blog


10 Steps to Taking Control of Your Phone and Your Business

June 7, 2009
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Contractors need to unplug! Here are some tips to finding some peace.

The problem with most contractors who call me is that it’s one of the rare calls they ever make. Most of their day is spent fielding incoming calls and/or emails on their ever-ringing or vibrating smart phones. They don’t know how to get control of their business or their life because it’s always devouring every minute of the day.

The first thing to understand is that even with the one-truck shops I work with, the owner needs to spend some portion of each day working on the business if they ever hope to build the successful business they dreamed of when they first started.

You can’t do that until you begin to Unplug!

You need to do this at least a portion of your day. But you need to do it in phases and here’s the first phase:

Phone Unplug Phase 1
    1. Tell the office person that she is going to be the first person answering the cell phone from 8 am till 12 noon. (Note: If you don’t have someone in-house, hire an outside phone answering company and train her on the next steps.)

    2. Give her the written list of the Top 7 people who are able to get right through to you. Here are some good examples:
    • Your spouse &  kids
    • Your parents
    • Your key customer or customers
    • Your key supplier or vendor
    • Your key subcontractor

    3. Only the jobs working today that are urgent can speak to you. Typically, it’s an inspector or the owner. (Note: This call only gets to you if and when the job can’t progress without speaking to you first.)

    4. The office person will not address your emails in any way if they’re coming to you on your cell right now.

    5. You should be checking your email once every two hours and no more frequently than that.

    6. The office person should have the schedule of where the guys are.

    7. If it’s a material or part issue where going to your written list of approved vendors WON”T solve it, then it’s OK to come in and see you on what’s the next best way to handle the material issue. But they should be able to tell you the following:
      1. What exactly are they calling about
      2. What do they say they need to finish the job

    8. Use the CSR [a.k.a. Customer Service Representative] Manual to answer the phone per the scripts. (Note: If you don’t have a full-blown CSR manual, write out some common scenarios and a couple of scripts to handle them.)

    9. The office person should let the caller know they’re glad to be of service since you’re not available for the next two hours.

    10. Whoever answers your phone should also be sending you a VERY BRIEF email summary about what is being put into the computer so you don’t get an unnecessary call.
It’s going to be tough at first! But, having done this process with a number of contractors, none of them regrets it and only wished they’d done it sooner.

Unplug and take control!

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