Do you want to be right or rich?

– Dad

Dad always knew how to get under my skin. Of course I wanted both, but in this instance, I recognized it as my cue to shut up. He had made the right point.

Two weeks ago a plumbing company in small-town USA was making things exceptionally hard for customers to buy from them.

When called for a service appointment, customers were taken through an impressive maze of pricing just for a plumber to arrive at the home.

The hourly price starts when the truck leaves the shop, and then when they get there, it’s a minimum one hour charge, and then there’s a diagnostic fee, a service fee, shop fees, and of course any parts that they would need to complete the job. If they had to go back to the shop to get more parts, or they had an apprentice riding along, of course, it would be more. Oh, and we have no idea how long something will take once the problem is assessed. Lord help you if you live out of town.

This resulted in a conversion ratio of calls-to-appointments to sit at 25% daily.

To top it all off, they were losing 30% of the booked appointments to cancellations. The reason – almost always speed. While they were booking customers out to the late afternoon or ideally, next day, their competition was ready, willing, and able to show up within 2 hours.

Technically, they were right. The owner had accounted for drive times, cost of skilled labor, scheduling, routes, and even the equipment and part costs. What he had failed to calculate was the customer burden. By making it so dang hard to book an appointment, the customer’s only recourse was to try elsewhere…except for the desperate few.

Today 70% of callers are booking appointments and there is less than a 1% cancellation rate.

Here’s what we did…

$89 Diagnostic Fee

When our plumbing company eliminated all the chaos surrounding the price, his CSR’s were able to clearly articulate what it would cost to get a highly skilled licensed plumber in a fully stocked truck to the customer’s door to assess the situation. Once there, the trained plumber would be able to provide options to solve the customer’s problem. Now the question, “how much?” came fast and easy – 89 bucks.

Always Say Yes

In an effort to curb the cancellation rate of booked appointments, the CSR’s were empowered to say, “YES!”

✅ The customer wants you there within the hour. YES!

✅ The customer wants you to show up in a pink tutu. YES!

✅ The customer can’t meet you to open the house until 6 PM. YES!

When the CSR’s were able to say yes, customer expectations didn’t suddenly get out of control. In the full two weeks, they had to make one special accommodation. It wasn’t even a big accommodation. Just a little something to make things feel that much easier to put the customer’s mind at ease in a stressful moment.

Saying yes won’t break the business, but making it hard for the customer to say yes can.

The Results

Imagine you have 100 opportunities a week at your business. If you converted 30 of those people into customers at an average sale of $1,000 you would make $30,000.

If 10 of those 30 customers canceled before you got the chance to sell them something, you would lose $10,000 to cancellations.

Fast forward to today where your business now sells 70% of those 100 customers for a total of $70,000.

That takes your $1 million dollar business to $3.6 million.

The Plan

We all know it wasn’t perfectly smooth sailing to make these minor adjustments to the business. There was employee pushback, subtle confusion at first, and CSR’s were timid to lean into the new empowerment.

That’s where the owner really stood out as a leader. Here are a few important things we did to make it work:

  • Developed a phone script to navigate the call
  • Produced a training session to review the phone script
  • Instituted the plan into action and listened and learned
  • Developed rebuttals from the response they received
  • Roleplayed the calls to help the CSR’s feel and sound natural
  • Continued to personally monitor and measure the calls to provide positive feedback
  • Made minor tweaks to get the flow right and consistent
  • Bravely saying yes first, and then figuring it out after

Good selling.

PS – This wasn’t about solving a dauntingly complex problem for the company. What it demonstrated was that small changes in the places that matter the most can have huge impact on your sales and growth.

As an exercise, spend half of a day listening purposely to your CSR’s handling calls. If you’re running a 97% conversion rate already, spend your time elsewhere. However, if your appointment board isn’t full, get to the bottom of it quickly.

Sometimes all it takes is 2 simple tweaks.