Three small things that made a big difference

On May 10, 2010, we were on a plane to China to adopt our second son when one of the biggest hailstorms in Oklahoma history hit the area. A second major hailstorm hit on May 16.

There’s no regulation of the roofing industry, and the barriers to entry are pretty low. Practically overnight, the Oklahoma City market was flooded with thousands of new roofing companies, many of whom had little to no experience in roofing. By December of that year, all of that business had been completed, and the roofing industry really suffered in the early part of 2011. Several supply houses went out of business, and many of the local roofing companies struggled to make ends meet.

We didn’t have much revenue coming in at all the first two quarters of 2011, but we had two great staff members that we were committed to keeping. They never missed a paycheck, but we did. Thankfully, we had personal savings to carry us through the first half of that year while not getting paid through our business. But it was a wake-up call for us that we needed to change some things about our business.

A salesman working for us brought us some information about Sandler Training. We had met Mike Crandall at a couple of networking events, and we sat down to talk about how he might be able to help. We were ready to write a check that day, but Mike asked us to trust his process and start with assessments. Well, one of Brian’s assessments rated his willingness to change as a 0, which probably made Mike question if he wanted to work with us at all!

Mike gave us three things to try in our business and asked us to meet again in 30 days. Those three simple things were the beginning of an incredible transformation for our business. All three had to do with how we communicated with clients and prospects.

  1. When calling someone, start the conversation with, “Hi, this is Brian, is this a bad time to talk?”
  2. When working with a new prospect or client, ask them, “What is your preferred method of communication?”
  3. When scheduling estimate appointments, ask each customer, “When Brian arrives for the estimate, would you like him to park in the street or the driveway?”

The first one helps put people at ease on the phone and shows you value their time. When you open the conversation asking if it’s a bad time, it gives people an easy option to say “yes” or “no.”

When we simply asked people for contact information, many seemed reluctant to provide their email address. We probably only got an email address 10 or 20 percent of the time. But when we shifted to asking about preferred method of communication, we began getting email addresses about 70 percent of the time.

The third tip sold three roofing jobs in the initial 30-day window. It was about putting the customer at ease and helping them feel comfortable with us from the beginning. People appreciate when we ask where we should park, and honoring that request is a small example that we keep our word as a company.

The results we saw with those three small changes scared us a little. If those three small changes could make such a big difference in our results, what else were we doing (without even realizing it) that was chasing customers away?

As it turns out, there were other things we were doing that needed improvement. And through our years of working with Mike, we’ve continued to improve those things. As business owners, we’ve learned to embrace the value of incremental changes over time. And it all started with three small things that made a big difference.

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