Survey Says: Calling your customers prior to installation

HomeColumnsSurvey Says: Calling your customers prior to installation

Aug. 3/10; Volume 30/Number 4

By David Romano

I know some of you who read this title just rolled your eyes and muttered, “Obviously.” The rest of you may have sat a bit lower in your chairs because you know you fail to call your customer prior to installation on a consistent basis. There are few things more frustrating than showing up to do a job and no one is there or the homeowner is surprised to see you—even though a mutually agreed-upon time was previously established. In the flooring industry this is also very costly: trip charges, customer accommodations and delayed revenue.

Pre-installation calls are more than just appointment reminders; these calls are an opportunity to minimize misunderstandings, reduce anxiety for the customer and reiterate the terms of the contract. We understand all of the moving parts involved in the installation process, but expecting your customers to know the same is a disaster waiting to happen.

You get frustrated when a customer doesn’t have all of her furniture removed, ensure the sprinkler system is shut off, have the dogs secured and provide an access code to the gated community. Why couldn’t she have read the document given to her explaining the installation process or remembered the verbal instructions told to her three weeks ago when she was asked to swipe her credit card for $10,000? It is the job of the retailer to understand that customers won’t remember these specific details and make the reminder call within two to five days prior to the scheduled installation date.

Many of our clients in the past have used this call to collect remaining balances. This will eliminate the need to turn their installers into money collectors, act as a savings and loan institution or employ a full-time accounts receivable clerk. Some have also used this call as an opportunity to add on take-up and disposal or furniture removal when the original work order stated the customer will perform the work. Many times, just asking how it’s going with the preparation will spark the question, “Is it too late to have you guys do this for me? How much does it cost?” This results in more money for the company and installers, fewer headaches for the customer and a guarantee the job will be ready for installation.

According to a survey conducted by Benchmarkinc in which several hundred flooring business owners participated over a three-year period ending 2013, independent flooring stores that call all customers prior to installation:

  • Generate $837,101 more in sales
  • Had a higher gross profit (36% vs. 34.4%)
  • Receivables were 2.4 days less
  • Receivables over 90 days were nearly 28% less
  • Pre-tax net income was 50.5% greater

Just making the call doesn’t mean your store will replicate these results. If it were that easy, many would invest in the same software my doctor uses when I answer my cell to the tune of a robotic voice spewing out the details of my appointment. Achieving those results requires strategic planning and training.

How can one seemingly obvious process have such a huge effect? If you could add on $75 per room for moving furniture and tack on take-up and disposal for 10% of your customers after the initial contract was signed, sales increase.

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