A management crisis will likely happen for some basement waterproofing contractors following each “once-in-a-lifetime” rain storm. However, even steady rain that persists over days and weeks can be damaging. Mother Nature’s wrath compounds daily difficulties by creating a backlog of problems that may hamper a contractor long after the calming of the storm. For such occurrences, it is vital that contractors develop a strategy for handling proposals, panicked homeowners and the psychology of organizing the promises a contractor must keep in the midst of a storm.
Avoid these time-eating scenarios
Following a rain storm, homeowners want answers. Unfortunately, they often ask questions that a contractor can’t possibly answer. It is common for a panicked homeowner to ask a lot of “what if” questions, especially if their basement is flooded and their neighbor’s is not. These “what if” questions are a waste of time. Without completely ignoring the concerns of a prospective customer, the contractor will be well respected in the long-run by being honest and truthful – even if blunt. Telling a customer what he or she wants to hear for the sake of it accomplishes absolutely nothing.
Another time-waster may come following the initial visit. A story I often hear from contractors is after the visit, while he is sitting in his truck and writing up a proposal. Invariably, while he’s writing, the client’s spouse arrives home and, for example, the wife may say, “Can you explain it to my husband now?” No. That will easily take another 30 minutes and in an emergency situation the contractor has many more stops to make that day. Instead, write all proposals at the end of the day and then e-mail or fax them to clients. It also gives the contractor added time to make sure all numbers are correct towards an accurate quote.
A good website saves time
An informative website means contractors don’t have to repeatedly explain the basics. It is a good idea to include the company’s website on all waterproofing proposals that are delivered to clients by fax or email. The website is a valuable tool – a Frequently Asked Questions section, for example, may answer a lot of the homeowner’s questions. A good website is another way to reveal expertise and build trust by sharing top-notch information.
Organize service calls by Zip Code
Organizing service calls by county often creates a time-wasting zig-zag tour of a soggy place. Instead, think Zip Code. By doing so, contractors usually confine their visits to a fairly small area and therefore are more likely to fulfill their appointment schedule.
Also, rethink scheduling. Normally, a specific time is best. In an emergency ask homeowners for at least a three to four-hour window of opportunity. This means the contractor doesn’t have to keep re-adjusting appointments throughout the day. Insist that the customer already be at the premises before the contractor arrives. Troy Murrell of Murrell’s Waterproofing in Atlanta, GA adds, “We tell them, if you allow us a larger window, or the whole day, we will promise to get there. You won’t be bumped from the schedule.”
After the deluge – don’t assume
When the rain finally stops, a contractor’s work is not yet over – all the people who requested information but could not be served may still be waiting. Why assume homeowners already have found a contractor elsewhere? Most likely, a lot of work is still out there. In fact, it may be necessary to clean up the mess created by other less experienced contractors.
Also, there is no reason to be shy about contacting homeowners that couldn’t be helped. Murrell says they usually appreciate the strategy of always helping existing clients first; and it often makes them want to sign on.
“Putting off a new client is not a bad thing, if you call back and explain why,” says Murrell. “They respect you. That way a new prospective client knows if they choose your company, they’ll get priority service, too. You’ll take care of them.”