A potential client contacts your office with a problem and asks if they can organise for an appointment with your tradie. The potential client’s details are captured and entered into your booking system.
Your tradie is then dispatched and they arrive onsite to meet with the potential client. All is well, no issues present themselves.
This process is completed every single day by trade service businesses, so you would think that there would be minimal room for error. Unfortunately, handling of job bookings and capturing the information required can become a bit more complex than what it seems!
The Gate keeper
At FlatRateNOW, we call the receptionist, the gatekeeper. This is because they ensure the right people are allowed to pass through and speak with our staff or they block them as unsuitable. For a trade service business, they (the gatekeepers) will either convert the potential client into a booking or they won’t. Not all potential clients are equal, some may not be worth the businesses time. Once the gatekeeper has identified that this potential client is an opportunity to provide service and support, it is their responsibility to capture all the necessary information that will ensure the right tradie will arrive at the right time with the right equipment.
Okay, so it seems like the next steps are to capture their information, what could possibly go wrong? Let me list just a handful of risks:
Writing down the customers details on paper before entering their details into your scheduling system
How many times have you finished a call to be distracted by another phone call or a question from an colleague? This is a frequent “phenomenon” that impacts everybody, everyday! This risk may sound a bit far fetched but human error from simple distractions can be the most disastrous!
When capturing the clients details, you enter them incorrectly
It could be because you have a bad connection with the client or they are just difficult to understand but by capturing your clients details incorrectly, you are putting your tradie in a tough position from the moment they arrive onsite.
For example, if you captured the clients first name incorrectly, there are not many people out there that enjoy being called a different name. The risk associated with this simple and very honest mistake is that your client might see it as a lack of attention to detail and flag warning signs that the work might not be completed with 100% satisfaction.
Schedule in the wrong date or time
This is an obvious one - if you are distracted when entering in the scheduling system, you may enter the wrong time and date! This is a mistake we’ve all made when organising meetings and appointments. We don’t have to explain how this would look on your business if the tradie arrived too early or too late!
Not capturing the clients issue properly
Your clients will only be able to explain the issue that they are having as best as they can. Many probably don’t understand what is going on so they need to receive guidance. A powerful gatekeeper is one that can ask a couple of questions that translate the issue into words that a tradesperson can understand.
If you accurately captured the issue, you can dispatch the tradesperson that will have the highest chance of successfully converting the job and also have the equipment available to tackle the job immediately.
Here are tips to reduce the chance of these risks impacting your scheduling
It’s not all doom and gloom - the issues above are easily overcome with a handful of tips and some clear guidance.
- Entering your customers details directly into your scheduling software is an extremely important step. If you capture the details on paper and then transfer it into your scheduling software, you open yourself up to human error. Skip the paper and do it directly into your booking system.
- Don’t leave it up to your gatekeeper to decide what information must be captured. Create a list and have it printed out and positioned next to any screen or phone. This will reduce the burden on your receptionist and they can ‘tick’ it off as they capture the details. If you are unsure, here is a basic list you should start with:
- Your clients full name
- Your clients address
- The job site address (if it’s different to the customers primary address)
- The Contact information (Mobile and email)
- Will your client be onsite with your tradie or will there be another person?
- If so, capture their details in your notes so that your tradie is aware
- Will you be the person paying the bill or do you need to capture billing details?
If your client isn’t willing to provide you with this basic information, then they may not be the right client for your business.
- A very simple tip to ensure you haven’t entered in the wrong date or time is to include the date & time in your ‘repeat’ process. This process acts as a clear way to ensure your client confirms that the date and time is right and you get to also check to make sure you’ve entered it correctly
- Your tradie wasn’t on the phone with you when you took down the job and scheduled it so you need to be as descriptive as possible in your notes. If the problem appears straight forward, such as:
- My tap isn’t turning off
- My ceiling fan won’t turn on
- What are you hearing?
- What are you seeing?
- How long has this problem been going on for?
- How old is the unit?
- Where is it being installed or is it replacing an existing unit?
These answers create a simple mental picture for your tradie so when they arrive onsite, they can get to work clarifying the solution and building a relationship with your client!
Scheduling may not get the glory of converting the sale, but your gatekeeper can give your sales team a strong fighting chance. An enjoyable, straight forward process of scheduling a tradesperson, who already has a basic understanding of the job when they arrive, provides the first bit of confidence to your customers that they made the right decision to contact your business.