I’m coaching a dealer who has a very successful business with two locations. He came to me because he was working 70 hours per week, including weekends, and was incredibly stressed and on the verge of burning out.
One thing that came to light almost immediately during our first meeting was that his phone had too much control over his work day. Whenever a member of his team had a question they would text or call him. He and his team also routinely gave his mobile number to customers. When a customer or vendor called his main business line and asked for him, his team would automatically transfer the call to him. If he wasn’t there the call would go to voice mail. The result was that his phone was constantly buzzing with texts, calls, and voicemail alerts. He couldn’t get a single hour of work done without being interrupted multiple times. (Sound familiar?)
“In your desire to provide good customer service, and keep your business running smoothly, you’ve routed your entire operation through yourself,” I told him. “You’re like an overloaded circuit breaker. Sooner or later you’re going to catch on fire and burn out!”
I then gave him the following simple strategies to take control of his phone so he could be more productive, reduce his stress, and ultimately cut back his work hours.
Phone appointments only.
How many times has a prospect or customer called your business, someone takes a message, and when you call them back you wind up leaving a message as well? These games of phone tag are inefficient, a huge waste of time for everyone involved, and they cause dealers to lose customers (while you’re playing phone tag your prospect is shopping other stores), but they remain the norm for most businesses.
I operate off of phone appointments, and I teach dealers to do the same. My team is trained to schedule phone appointments for my return calls.
The secret to making phone appointments work is to block out time each day where you return calls. Let’s say your return call times are Monday-Friday between 2:00 and 4:00. When someone calls wanting to speak with you, train your team to say, “Jim is not available right now, but he will be returning phone calls this afternoon. He has a 2:15 appointment available and a 3:30. Which works better for you?” Your return call time can also apply to answering non-emergency questions from your team.
This approach allows you to work interruption-free throughout the day. Multiple studies have shown that every time you are interrupted from a task, it takes an average of 23 minutes recover from that interruption and get back to your original task.
Do not give your mobile number to customers or vendors.
Dealers give out their mobile number from a desire to provide good service, and out of fear of losing customers. This approach virtually guarantees that you’ll be inundated with messages, and ultimately fall further and further behind. Customers and vendors need to go through proper channels to reach you, and that means calling your main business line and making a phone appointment. Do not include your mobile number on your business card, or anywhere else customers and vendors can find it.
Within 90 days of our initial meeting, my coaching client was no longer working weekends, and his stress level was a small fraction of what it had been. Without the constant interruptions, his workdays were far more productive. Taking control of his phone played a big part in this transformation.
To Tons Of Customers!
Jim Augustus Armstrong is The “Coach”
Jim Augustus Armstrong is the President of Flooring Success Systems, a program that equips dealers to double their profits, cut their work hours in half and beat the boxes! Many dealers have totally transformed their businesses and their lives for the better after joining Flooring Success Systems.
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