So how's business out there?
I've been retired since I sold off my repair business Memorial Day, 2007.
I remember November as driving me nutz with overwork, reaching a crescendo at Thanksgiving.
My buddy Ron who took over the biz is doing fireplace work, working for an employer and trying to keep a cute girlfriend happy too. I think that's one job too many, but he doesn't seem to want me to take over with the girlfriend for him.
The weather here on the east coast has been very good lately for the gas fireplace repair business. We have had several cold days, which swamp me with calls, and a week of warmer weather to get caught up.
I tend to get swamped with calls and have a hard time doing the service work, returning calls and scheduling customers. Any tips from anyone that is a one man operation like me? How many calls a day/week do you try to schedule?
My aim was to take calls as they came in and to schedule work when people called. I aimed to scheduled work only for the next couple of days and avoided scheduling calls for several days out.
My customers LIKED getting their worked scheduled for the day they called or the next day. For most, if they wanted work done next Tuesday, they would call me next Tuesday!
When I was booked up for those time slots, I quit answering the phone and let people leave messages. My message asked for the customers address, telephone number and a description of the problem, and described the service area to which I would travel, which allowed me to plan when I would be in their area, how long a job might take and whether it was work I wanted to do. If they didn't leave that information, I often didn't return their call if I was busy. If they were outside the service area I described, I didn't return their call.
It might be several days before I returned such calls. When I did, I would usually be able to schedule the work for the same day or the next day or two, which made people happy. If they had already had repairs made, that was fine, too.
When times were busy, I might get twenty to thirty messages left per day. Trying to answer all those calls would have been a waste of my time --- so I didn't. I handled them as I described.
Was that tough, rude, BRUTAL? Decide for yourself. It allowed me to get work done rather than talking on the telephone scheduling appointments people wouldn't keep.
Why dont you look for a retired guy or something that can help you out when your that busy. Or do some networking and find someone in the same area that does what you do and atleast get a referal fee. Because we all know if thier going to call you and you dont answer they are going to call someone else. You may as well get a referal fee aout of it.
Originally Posted by logdoc_rob
There are not many in this area that do this type of work and they get swamped as much or more than I do in the Winter. There are times when I schedule 3 weeks out and I rarely get stood up because they know that there isn't anyone else out there that can get to them sooner than I can.
There are many salty retired navy guys in this area that would love to tell me how to run my business, but I just need someone that can answer calls and schedule for me. That seems like an easy task, but I can only employ someone for 3-4 months a year and that is how long it takes to properly train someone.
Maybe I am wishing for too much.
Pioneer, I try to do as much as I can for the gas fireplace industry by keeping as many of the units going as I can. Working fireplaces = happy customers for the industry.
I have gotten as many as 100 requests in a single week and can only service 25-30 per week. I guess that being in a very seasonal business you can never get to everyone as they would like. I will make as many of them smile as I can in a season without pulling out my own hair.
I'm home sick in bed with a cold but trying to catch up on some office work and decided I needed a mental break so I surfed here to see what's up.
Hope all is well with you S/P--glad you still lurk here.
I triage my answering machine cherry picking the leads I can handle or that sound worth it. I don't even return calls for pricing chimney sweeping, since I only sweep as part of relining or other major surgery. Most of my work is referrals and those I do call back promptly. It bums me out when your message asks for them to speak slowly and clearly enunciate their phone number twice then they race through it as though that will get me there faster. I guess that's one of the things you live with in the Northeast, whereas in the South, one phone message could time out they speak so slowly and socially!
Getting some nice high margin jobs. Just waiting like everyone else to see what 2009 holds for us. Once of these days, the dam will burst and we'll all be expanding like lunatics. That may be years off but when it comes, there will be a huge demand for qualified people so now's the time to work on your credentials. Don't get so worn out during the Silly Season that you don't make time to study. Now is the time to read manuals and technical literature on everything you can get your hands on. The Spring/ Summer is time for taking cert. courses. I cannot spill the beans just yet but we have some really good courses in the works for 2009 so stay tuned.
Work safe and spend time with your families!
Keep the fire inside the fireplace.