Responses, like vegetables, are always better fresh than canned.
Most quality home improvement contractors are running more leads than they can handle this time of the year. And, when your company gets an abundance of leads, offering a timely response to inquiries isn’t easy!
Consequently, I typically see an uptick in negative reviews this time of year as well. Consumers are more and more demanding, and expect faster responses than ever before.
One solution to this issue is to set up an auto-response that helps weed out the tire-kickers. The problem with this strategy, however, is that most of these quick responses are not very genuine or service-oriented – the contractor is just hoping that those who aren’t serious will move on, and those who are will take the time to fill out their form (you know they’re serious if they fill out all 35 pages, right???).
A Better Way To Respond To People You Can’t Serve
So, how can you respond to these inquiries without creating a poor experience for the inquirer?
Here are a few ideas!
Personal is always best. Sure, it takes a little extra time, but it also keeps things genuine and friendly, and may lead to future work. Or, at the very least, it avoids receiving a negative review and damaging your reputation.
It all comes down to time management, and coaching your team on the importance of explaining WHY you can’t take on their project: too small, too far, timing, a full calendar, etc…
Custom Auto-Responses and Templates
If there is no possible way to provide a personal response, you may need to try an auto-response or template. Just please don’t copy, paste, and send (this is what happens most of the time).
Find a happy medium by thoroughly reading the project inquiry, copying in your pre-written response, and then modifying it just slightly so that it’s customized and personalized without taking much of your time. Modifying a sentence or two takes only a moment, but it make all the difference for a savvy consumer who can smell a canned response a mile away.
The end goal (whether you can serve the person or not) is to make them feel heard and important.
This one is also challenging when you’re already busy, but it’s worth it: try to help each prospect find a solution. If you’re booked, for example, refer them to someone else, demonstrating that you’re putting their immediate need at the top of your priority list.
This is infinitely better than ticking people off by telling them you’re too busy, you’re booked 12 weeks out, or (worst of all) that you “just don’t work in their neighborhood.” How much better does THIS response sound? “Your project sounds great – I wish I could be involved! This is our busiest time of year, and we’re currently booked with scheduled work for the next 12 weeks. Would you be able to wait (we’re worth it!)? If not, would you like me to recommend a few other reputable local companies who may be able to fit your project in sooner?”
Don’t work in their area? How about: “Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your project goals with us! The vision you have for your space sounds fantastic. Currently, our service area doesn’t include your neighborhood, but I would be happy to refer you to another contractor who could help.”
Keep It Fresh and Keep It Personal
The moral of the story? A small investment of time in your responses can pay a big dividend. It’s ALWAYS worth it!
So, how do YOU handle those prospects you can’t serve? Let us know!