When customers shop around for the lowest price, they think they're saving money and sometimes that is true. It's also true that you get what you pay for and quality work with good customer service seldom comes at the lowest price.
Small businesses focus on great customer service, especially when the owner is involved in the business. It is one of the ways in which small businesses can compete against large companies and corporations.
Last week was Thanksgiving (see July 4th emergency) but emergencies aren't scheduled. Let me share with you …
Great Customer Service
I own a small handyman business so our customer service representatives are in the office Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 5pm. We use an answering service to insure that every phone call is answered by a real person but that entails using an answering service.
Emergencies happen so the answering service knows how to screen and determine what are truly emergency calls, i.e. a toothbrush in the toilet when there's a second toilet, isn't an emergency on a Sunday afternoon (yes, I really got this call and had to change the phone script).
Here's a summary for a call that came in over Thanksgiving weekend, which I did feel was an emergency although the customer could have called a few days before, right after her husband had his accident.
- Call came in Saturday while I had family visiting. The customer's husband broke his ankle falling off a ladder.
- The woman needed a handicap ramp by Wednesday (3 work days) to get her husband to/from the doctor, which meant juggling schedules to start work Monday morning.
A perfect example of why home owners need to leave some jobs for the home professional. The man was up on a ladder using a chain saw to cut down tree branches. He was very lucky the chain saw didn't touch him when he fell.
- Made appointment to meet Sunday to assess the space and lay out ramp design. The customer wanted to keep stairs to the kitchen door, in addition to the ramp, so we're moving them to a different side of the porch.
- Work schedules juggled as everyone is busy this week. We needed to bump a scheduled customer and we always ask permission to move their job, explaining the reason. A great repeat customer we've done work for going back 5+ years, she was okay with the change.
- Schedule tight so quick Monday morning meeting with lead technician to review design and discuss handrail requirements.
- Job with 2 technicians should be completed in 2 days with one day contingency as there isn't any additional time to respond. We didn't quite finish the handrails before Wednesday but the trip to the doctor happened on schedule.
Why We Were Prepared
Most people think the handyman's job is easy. Some routine jobs can be easy, but the majority of them require experience knowing where all the typical, and often hidden, challenges lie. Here's why I was prepared:
- Completed coursework to earn Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) certification through the National Association of Home Builders. On first call, asked how many steps there were … 4 1/2, and explained that was roughly 36 inches which would require a ramp 36 to 40 feet in length.
- Analysis completed comparing EZ-Access Modular Ramp Systems and building the same design with pressure treated lumber. Costs are roughly the same, with EZ product cost higher but offset by significantly lower installation time/cost. Their minimum delivery time is 3 days so we couldn't take that approach … but we were prepared to do this analysis based on other jobs done using this product.
- Explained building code to customer, and how we would butt new ramp up to door landing but not attach until later as there wasn't time to go through permit and inspection process.