We moved into a new house in March and while it's not a "fixer upper" it definitely needed updating out of the 90s. (Which, by the way, was 28 years ago. WHAT?!) We have been doing non-stop projects over here, and utilizing many companies and contractors. And the number one thing that makes me want to pull my hair out? NO ONE replies to their email or answers their phone! Why? Because they are too busy doing the work in their business. But guess what? All of that work is going to go bye-bye when you don't reply to your clients and prospects.
There is nothing more maddening when I, as the customer, feel like I am the one dragging the process along. "Hey, just checking in. Have you scheduled a date for the project yet?" Or "Did you get my last email? What's the next step?" I can literally hear the frantic tone of voice in their emails. "Oh so sorry. We are really backed up." "I apologize. We have been out in the field. I need to check with my partner and get back to you." Makes me CrAzY.
So what would fix this? Systems.
Every business needs someone assigned to their email and phones. NOT the owner. NOT the owner's wife. But a dedicated person who is professional, calm, detailed and who gets things done.
If you are the one doing the work IN your business, you can't also be scheduling everything and handling the billing. You will LOSE YOUR MIND. And then, you will lose your customers.
An easy first step is hiring a Virtual Assistant. This is a person who is dedicated to your business, but not full time. This person will manage your email and phone calls and your schedule and invoice your clients. They won't work in your building and you won't have staff meetings. But they will give you sanity and your customers will be thrilled. The next step is to hire an employee full time. I know you think you can't afford it, but I'm telling you that you cannot afford to sabbatoge your own business and cause unhappy clients to leave poor reviews online.
Please don't be like the painters, landscapers, sign companies and millwork companies that I have been trying to work with.
Just answer your phones. Reply to your emails (within one hour!).
And if you can't do that, then HIRE someone to do it. The money you put out to pay for them will light a fire under you and you'll be more motivated than ever to advertise and get new business to pay for that person. And guess what? You'll have TIME to double your business because you'll have someone helping you. Amazing how that works!
I remember when I took this leap in my business. I was terrified and excited all at once. I spent an entire weekend creating an operations manual and FAQ document. Then I handed the phone to the new receptionist I had just hired. I logged her into my email. I wanted to PANIC. But guess what? We grew faster than when I was doing it! I had less stress. I could think clearly. I could do more marketing. I could see ahead and plan the future. It was a game-changer for me and it will be a game-changer for you. Don't say "I can't afford it." Say, "How can I afford this? How will I make this happen?"
The power lies in your hand. Afterall, you didn't start this business to be crabby and overwhelmed, right?
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!