Hey guys, it’s Brandon Lewis with Painter’s Weekly coming at you with a little bit different format. I had some numbers that I wanted to share with you and it was going to be very difficult to do it in a live action video. So I put together a very super short presentation here for this edition.
Question, are phone calls wasting your time and killing your personal income? I’m going to share some things with you I think you’ll find very interesting. We’re going to do four quick points about managing inbound phone calls without stress or ridiculous expense.
First, let’s talk about why painters don’t answer their phone. Then we’ll cover the massively underestimated cost of voicemail. Look at how phone calls kill quality of life and efficiency. And then figure out how we can solve this problem.
So why do painters fail to answer their phones 100% live? In fact, I would say very few painters answer their phone live, and even those who do miss nights, miss weekends, miss times when they’re estimating, miss times when their assistant’s out to lunch or when she’s on the phone with someone else, or whomever. Okay?
But there are two other things that drive it for, what I would call the solopreneur or the person who owns a painting business where they’re either in the field or they are managing five, six, seven, eight, ten painters, but they’re primarily taking the phone calls.
One of them is that your staff are continuously texting you and calling you about crazy stuff that doesn’t matter. That’s an operational problem. We don’t have time to get into that. That shouldn’t happen, but it happens. Plus your customers and clients call. You get legitimate calls just for running your business, but you also get a lot of spam. People offering to put you on the first page of Google for $200 and Sharon’s got a new equity line for you or the IRS scam, whatever it is, right? Your phone’s constantly ringing with this stuff.
Not only that, local area codes are meaningless. I had somebody the other day say “Well I just don’t answer it if it’s not local.” Man, half the people in my phone don’t have local area codes because folks have just moved around. Most people, let’s be honest, get their cell phones in high school and many people go to college and what do they do? They move. And sometimes you don’t have to move very far to get a different area code. So, screening your calls by area codes frankly just does not work.
So, what about the high cost of voicemail? If you read a neat article in Customer Relationship magazine, it summarizes a lot of different findings. However, I’ve looked at lots of different studies, they show similar things. So recent statistics from Forbes magazine show that 80% of callers sent to voicemail do not leave messages because they don’t think they’ll even be heard. Another one, a study with Adam Boalt, CEO of LiveAnswer, a provider of phone support service for small midsize businesses puts the voicemail abandonment rate between 50 and 75% depending on the type business. I’m here to tell you that in painting it’s high. Very high. And he also cites that less than 1% of people will hang up on a live person. Of course. You call in, you want to talk to somebody. You get somebody, unless you’ve dialed the wrong number, you’re not hanging up, right? You get voicemail, 50 to 75% that’s ridiculous.
So let’s say that you split the difference. I want you to look at some of these numbers here. Let’s say that you’re on the low-low-low end, you get 50 calls a month. That means that your phone only rings about one and a half times a day. And let’s say that only 10% of those go to voicemail that are estimate request calls. That means you missed five calls. This is the very top line. That means that you’ve lost 3.25 jobs. Well if you have a closing rate of 40%, and that’s a mixed closing rate, and that’s a pretty low mixed closing rate, very low. And that means you’ve lost a hundred, or rather 1.3 jobs. So a job and a third. Well, the average revenue lost at $3,500 per job, which is about the national average, that means that you’ve lost $4,500 in revenue. And let’s say that your gross profits are only 35%. Now your net profits should really be around 30%. Salary and everything included. But I’m being, again, super conservative. That means that you’ve lost $1,592 at the most super conservative way that I can possibly look at this and that is you have a very small business and not a lot of call volumes and you get 90% of your phone calls answered. It’s still costing you $1,592.
Let’s look at something in the middle. Okay, this probably more accurate for a lot people. Let’s say that you miss 25% of your calls and that you get a hundred calls per month. Which means you’re only answering your phone 75% which is probably well above average for answer rates given when we’ve called through our list painting contractors. 25 missed calls means 16.25 abandoned at 40% close rate, that’s six and a half jobs. Between $2,750 in revenue and $7,962 at 35% gross profit. Can you see how expensive this problem is? And if you’re a big business, you’re losing calls because people are on the phone. Maybe you just got one assistant and she takes a break, she’s on the phone, it forwards to somebody else, they’re on a break. Nights, weekends, et cetera. Okay? Voicemail equals poverty in my opinion.
So, moving right along … not only is it expensive, like it’s financially expensive, you get this constant, continual interruption. And it kills time management when you’re at work and you have to stop every 10 to 20 minutes. I don’t care, even every 30 minutes to stop what you’re doing. You can’t grow your business. I mean, it really takes probably 10-15 minutes to settle in to a task and get cranking. And so, if you only get 10 minutes before somebody pulls you away, that’s just not going to work. And you just don’t get anything done. You wonder why you don’t get anything done because you’re on the phone all the time. Okay?
And, also quality of life. You know how important it is to answer your phone for your business, so you feel obligated to do it, when you should be hanging out with your kids. When you should be hanging out with your friends or your spouse or just doing whatever the heck it is you want to do. Going on vacation [inaudible 00:06:39] you’re in an estimate even. You’re just trying to focus on the client in front of you and now you can see your phone missing phone calls which makes you nervous on the estimate, which is probably helping you lose the estimate.
So, just constant phone calls coming in doesn’t make any sense. And, how do you get your phone answered … if that’s the case? How does that happen? So … you want to make sure that you can book estimates when they come in. And be at least an option, need to be able to handle customer service calls, you need to be able to screen spam calls, right? You got to be able to screen those. So, I recommend an answering service that’s familiar with the painting industry. And in fact, if you go to PaintersAcademy.com/liveanswer, you can go to the one I recommend. They work with probably about 20 contractors that I’ve recommended just by word of mouth and they do a good job. And I’ll put a plug in for them, they were bought by someone that really takes this seriously about six or seven months ago, and they’ve even gotten better. They’ve changed significantly the quality and I’m hearing about it from the folks that use their services. So go to
And, you’ve got options, right, for answering services. You can do different ring options. The one that I like is the 2-ring forward when during office hours, combined with direct ring during after hours. What does that mean? That means if you like to answer your phones when you’re at the office and not distracted, then your phone can ring two times and then it immediately forwards to the answering service. Now, you can also have it go direct ring, which means it’s going straight to the answering service. And then after hours only, you definitely make money back from just doing that, but you really need to have that thing running 24-7 even when you’re their because, there are all kinds of reasons.
And then once they answer the phone, there are different types of communication options. They can just send you a message of the message, right? And that’s by text and/or email delivery. They can book the estimate for you. You give them access to your calendar, you block off specific times that you want to do your estimates, and they set it up. And you can even ask them to do pre-positioning sales communication for you. It’s amazing. Really all the options that you get … my favorite one is you answer all the phone calls all the time and you book the estimates all the time … and send out the communication. That’s how I like it.
So, if you’re doing in-house phone answering, personally I feel it’s very inefficient. Overhead is fixed all year, even in the winter. So if you hire somebody 40 hours a week and their job is just to sit and answer the phone, you probably still make money on them, let’s be honest. But, you’re paying the same amount when they’re covered up, which means they’re probably missing calls because they are covered up. And then in the winter when nobody’s calling, you’re still paying for them. It’s kind of crazy. And it often distracts valuable employees, answering phones in-house. If you’re the owner, it’s definitely a distraction. If you’ve hired and operations manager and you’ve turned him into somebody that answers the phone, he’s probably better off spending his time doing other things. And, if you’ve got an administrative assistant that you’d rather have them being doing outbound marketing stuff, putting together your newsletter for you, helping with sales follow-up calls, whatever it is you’ve hired your admin to do. Doing referral routes, working trade shows, you can all kinds of stuff. Does she really need to be on the phone? Probably not.
And then finally, if you have your spouse answering your phone, which many of you do, their at home trying to get the kids fed and do whatever and get them off to school or whatever their duties are and now the phone’s ringing. Number one, in many cases it can be unfair to the spouse. And number two, they won’t ever admit it and if said anything you’d get in trouble, but they probably aren’t doing a very good job at it. Not because they can’t if they were in a focused environment, but good grief, they got a lot to do. And now they’re supposed to stop and answer the phone, it just doesn’t work out.
So, 99% of painters would make money and save time with a painter-focused answering service. And if that’s you and any of these numbers even make any kind of remote sense to you if you’re a numbers person like I am, than go to PaintersAcademy.com/liveanswer. There’s a little form you fill out and Neddie or somebody there will reach out to you.
So, answering services again only cost between $75 to $250 a month. Depending on your call volume, it goes up and down as your volume goes up and down, that’s fine. I love variable expenses. They’re a lot better than fixed expenses. But it’s a no-brainer, when you start looking back at this chart here and see how much money just gets lost about not answering the phones. So do visit PaintersAcademy.com/liveanswer and get referred to somebody that I know does a great job. You’ll be happy with the man, they have lot’s of painting industry experience.
I’m Brandon Lewis with Painter’s Weekly saying, “Don’t be a slave to the phone. Neither let it rob you of money because you can’t get to it … or rob you of time because you can’t get away from it.” Go to this link here PaintersAcademy.com/liveanswer and set up your free consultation. What do you have to lose?