Most home services contractors these days are busy running their business and putting out fires. In my dealings with my own HVAC service and installation call centers and other home services companies…
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend:
More of an epidemic though, than a trend. The epidemic is widespread and devastating to your call booking rates and has a direct impact on your overall sales and profits.
If you operate any business that thrives off of inbound calls from clients looking for your product or service, you probably understand that inbound leads have an enormous impact on your overall sales volume.
You may also understand that the tone and demeanor of your call center staff has a huge impact on the overall booking rates of new prospects. And, I’m not talking about your established clients that call and book because they already know and trust you; those are the easiest.
No. I’m referring to the “cold” inbound leads that found you online and are calling around to see who they can trust to solve a problem they are experiencing. It could be a broken fridge, a leaky roof, a failed electrical circuit or a “no cool” service call.
But just because they pick up the phone doesn’t mean they will just jump right into your lap - Not by a long shot! They are still just a prospect until the moment someone from your service or estimating department actually arrives on the jobsite.
After listening to thousands of inbound call recordings to my own service businesses as well as those of clients…
Here’s what I’ve found…
A very significant number of calls are mishandled, resulting in a devastatingly high volume of lost opportunities for your service business.
What do I mean by mishandled? I mean calls that should have been booked but were lost due to the following:
- Lack of a well-planned phone script for your reps to follow
- Answering the phone improperly
- A robotic, disconnected service rep
- Incomplete answers to common questions
- Extended hold times
- Providing the price for your diagnostic fee without any explanation of what’s included or the benefits of choosing your company
- Service reps who don’t appear to care whether the caller actually books or not
- Lack of training by management and proper enforcement of call handling techniques via continuous call monitoring
Right now you may be thinking to yourself, “How in the world will I find the time for all this?”
My suggestion – find a way.
If you have a $10K per month advertising budget, redirect 10-15% of that budget to monitoring and call handling training for your entire staff.
(I’ll provide some valuable tips here shortly, so be sure to keep reading. In the meantime, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want immediate access to my proven script that will increase your booking rates up to 70%)
If you listen to a broad sample of phone calls to your service business you’ll notice a few things:
- Your service diagnostic pricing may be causing a lot of lost opportunities
- Your reps are either good, bad, or indifferent in their tone
- Some prospects will book without even asking about your rates
- Most callers are evaluating every word your reps says to determine if you are worth a shot
- You are not booking more than 40-60% of the opportunities.
- Some of the calls are downright embarrassing and difficult to listen to
Now, let me clear something up right away: call scripts are NOT intended to be robotically read word-for-word. They are intended as a guideline to be adapted to the unique personalities of each of your CSR’s. Help them craft the script into what works for them but make sure they stick closely to theme and outline of the entire script.
Let’s assume you manage to generate 100 calls from new prospects per month from your online advertising efforts. And let’s also assume that you currently book 50% of these calls. Remember, I’m not talking about your established customer base, as those calls should book at near 100%.
Remember I mentioned the “cold” leads derived from an internet search. I’m referring to new clients who found you online and know nothing about your history or customer service skills.
The ones I like to refer to as the stubborn and the skeptical.
The ones who have no one they can trust to solve their problem. The ones who have typed in “electrician Orlando” or “ac repair tampa” as a Google search.
The fact that they actually called your business indicates one thing and one thing only: you’ve got a shot. Nothing more, nothing less. But if you pull the trigger and misfire, that shot is wasted, forever.
So, of the sample 100 calls generated by your online and offline advertising, let’s assume you book, say, 40%. (And don’t kid yourself – that’s probably a realistic number). If you implement my call handling techniques and carefully enforce them, a booking rate increase to 70% is very realistic.
This means that instead of 40 booked calls, you now have 70, an increase of 30 calls. This represents an increase in booked calls of 75%!
And just in case you receive a thousand or more calls each month, your increase will be even more influential to overall revenue.
What would you pay to easily boost your business by 75% tomorrow? Good news is you don’t have to pay a dime if you just:
- Properly train your call center staff
- Record and listen to a sampling of the calls each week or even daily
- Work with each service rep to guide them on how to book calls
Of course, not every call can be booked at that moment. Some are just general questions, wrong numbers, sales reps, etc. But for home service contractors, about 80% of the calls are real prospects who are going to hire someone today.
Question is, who?
Before we get into that, first, please, please, please answer the darn phone and have a well thought out greeting. DO NOT pick up the phone and lazily respond with “your company name” and expect this call to go well.
Try this instead:
Thank you for calling (your company name). My name is Michael, how can I help today?
If your company name is not descriptive of your primary service, be sure to include that service after your name. If you roofing company is named Hudson’s Roofing, add the words “repair and replacement” into the script.
I was listening to some calls for a newer client and noticed his service reps were answering the phone with the single word family brand, basically just (name). This contractor provided HVAC service and replacement as well as electrical and plumbing.
Prospects were calling and asking if they were an air conditioning company. This means there is at least a question in the prospects mind if they have really called the right place. This, to me, is a bad start for that caller.
So, I suggested they revise the phone response to “Thank you for calling “Name” air conditioning, electrical and plumbing”. Guess what happened once they made this simple change? The “do you provide X service” has been completely eliminated and no longer delays the booking process.
If you have an automated answering attendant that directs callers to their intended department, be sure it’s not costing you sales. I’ve heard long and drawn out automated messages that sound more like voicemail and can lead to high abandon rates from prospects.
Put yourself through the process by calling in. It may surprise you how much effort and time it takes to arrive at a live person. If the process takes more than 20-30 seconds, I would revamp it. The contractors that have the highest call abandon rates are invariably those with a complicated auto-attendant process.
Click here, push that, do this.
I know that auto-attendants can be a good thing, but just be sure callers can quickly go where intended without expending a ton of effort.
Keep the opening greeting short (don’t waste valuable time with a sales pitch or explaining where you are located and how long you’ve been in business), just get right to the point with the departmental options. Keep the number of keypad functions to one wherever possible.
I will say that contractors that answer the phone with live attendants have abandon rates near zero. I’ll take a nervous and inexperienced but friendly and eager 19 year old over a seasoned but burnt out call handling vet any day.
I say that because it actually happened. During the busiest time, I lost a CSR and needed a replacement right away.
One my staff members brought in the daughter of a friend for the job. Admittedly, the initial training left a lot to be desired. She was obviously nervous and very soft-spoken to the point she was hard to understand.
But, within 2 weeks she became one of the best I have ever heard on the phone. She was super friendly, spoke with enthusiasm, showed empathy when customers expressed concern about their current problem and absorbed 100% of my training. Her booking rate was as close to 100% as you can get.
Each customer felt special and reassured that they were in good hands simply because of her super friendly and caring demeanor.
If you want access to my proven phone script send me an email and Ill share it for free.
I’ve been refining these phone scripts for over 20 years. These scripts are the result of handling thousands of inbound calls myself in the last 30 years in the residential and light commercial service and replacement business. I’ve also listened to thousands of recorded calls for myself and clients.
I trained home services call center reps all over the country using these exact scripts with tremendous success. These clients pay hundreds (or thousands) to get access to these scripts along with detailed training.
I feel strongly that anyone who commits their staff to these scripts will see a dramatic increase in booked appointments and a flood of new revenue.
All without spending an additional dime on advertising!
These are common residential and light commercial repair and installation calls you will receive if you are a home services contractor or provider.. The information I’ll share for free is designed to show you the proper way to handle common questions and generate the highest booking rate possible.
In my detailed call script, you’ll learn 7 examples of common questions that are rarely handled 100% correctly by even well trained customer service staff. Low book rates cost you dearly in lost service calls, maintenance agreements, and replacement opportunities.
When you request my script via email, you’ll learn the correct answers to 7 common caller questions with details on how to handle them for the best results (I’m using HVAC calls as the example but this works for any home services business):
1) How much do you charge to come to my home and fix “my problem”?
Answer – Sure, can I begin with your name please? Thank you, (name) again , my name is (name) and here’s how it works.
In this script you’ll learn when and how to present your diagnostic rate to the caller to ensure the highest booking rates possible.
2) I need a new (part name) for a (brand) outdoor unit. How much do you guys charge?
Phone quote requests are one the most difficult for most CSR’s to deal with. There is a million ways to answer it incorrectly and only 1 or 2 ways to handle it properly. And one of the correct ways is not “we have to come to your home to be able to give any prices”. While that is a 100% correct statement, it is NOT the correct response and will practically guarantee a “thanks, click”. Learn what works and how to apply it.
3) Are you guys in (city)?
Believe it or not, this is a common question that generates confusing responses from many CSR’s. I’ll show you what the prospect really wants to know along with the simple brief response that will get the call booked.
4) My AC is not cooling and we have an infant (or senior) in the home (or whatever pain they are experiencing.)
I’ve listen to many recorded calls just like this and the common response sends me screaming for the hills!
Can I have your name?
This robotic answer completely disregards the customer’s pain point, indicating a lack of empathy which will turn many customers away. I’ll share an easy way to book almost 100% of these calls. (The answer may surprise you).
5) Do you guys offer a free service call to come to my home and see what’s wrong with my (blank)?
This is one of the toughest. I’ll tell you why some prospects have the impression that the service call is free and the best way to have your staff respond. You won’t book them all, but if you follow my tips you will book a lot more of these. (And these are not just price shoppers!)
6) Do you guys don’t waive the diagnostic fee if I have you make the repair?
I’m going to completely skip over why you should build your diagnostic into your flat-rate pricing. (Flat rate software was designed to include the diagnostic into your repair rate because, because let’s face it, it’s a real cost).
My response to this question assumes you DO NOT waive your diagnostic with any paid repair. Plus, I’ll share how you an easy way to discredit the whole “free service all with any paid repair” to your advantage and make the customer understand why charging a diagnostic fee is transparent and fair.
7) I need a X ton heat pump. Can you just a give me a price on the phone?
Maybe it’s a new roof. Or perhaps a service panel upgrade. But they want a price right now, on the phone. This is another very common question I hear in HVAC and home service dispatch centers all across the country. It is also the most commonly mishandled question out there.
The revenue value for system replacement opportunities is extreme and worth doggedly pursuing. I’ll give you the exact path to guide this customer to an actual on-site system replacement quote and close the sale.
If you need assistance or have questions, my name is Michael Haines and you can reach me directly at 407-701-9520 or email me at email@example.com
Here are Pro Call Handling Tips to Increase Booked Appt’s by 70%. Best of all, these tips don't require any additional advertising spend!
Let’s face it: a 1995 Ford Thunderbird no longer turns heads the way it once did. The same applies to the call handling tactics for our home services companies that many of us learned decades ago. Among those tactics are assuming that just because a prospect takes the time to call, you’ll actually book an appointment
Do you ever listen to call recordings of your customer service reps and how they deal with your hard-won prospects?
If you haven’t you should..
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of my pro calling handling script used by successful HVAC contractors across the country!
HVAC Leads - professional call handling TIPS for your hvac or service business