6 Steps to Get Your Time Back
Busy! Busy! Busy!
Are you a crew of 1-5 people who are so busy that you don’t have the chance to answer everything?
Voicemails and emails are building up and your inbox is beyond full…
People are asking for estimates that you wanted to look at one or two weeks ago.
Let me help you with this a little bit.
I am going to share six tips with you and hopefully, they will help you get some of your time back and all your documents in line.
I am Ron Ramsden, a DYB coach and a painting contractor in Massachusetts.
Download the FREE Bid Generator
I have been there!
I remember those days going to work early in the morning, working late, doing an estimate or two on the way home, and being exhausted.
I used to say that I will get to those voicemails tomorrow.
In fact, worse, eventually you start calling them back and you are getting their voicemails.
I want to share the following 6 tips, that will hopefully save you some time and get you thinking of how you can get your work life in order.
1.Own your calendar:
Everything should have a time and a place.
No more of answering emails when you get up, listening to voicemails, checking Facebook, running out to the paint store and skipping exercising, all because you don’t have any time for that.
Schedule out everything you are going to do for the next week. It might sound weird but it will work.
Schedule out when you get up and you do your, we call it a “jam session”, where you actually sit down and do things.
If you don’t do that, plan on getting up half an hour early.
This means shutting the TV off at night.
Don’t watch TV for a few nights.
You’ll be amazed how early you can go to bed, or even read a business book or spend the time with the family. TV is all old news anyways.
If you are used to getting up at 6 or 5:30, even get up an hour early.
Get up at 5. Nobody else is up in the house at 5 in the morning.
Sit down with a plan, write those two estimates from the night before.
You might want to work on something else.
You might balance your books for your business or you enter everything into QuickBooks.
Whatever it is, work on your business for a solid half hour every single morning, before anything else is done.
Schedule your breakfast. Give yourself the half hour for breakfast and then schedule the rest of the day.
Don’t schedule your emails yet, we are going to get to that later. Don’t look at your phone every 15 or 20 minutes throughout the day.
It’s not that important, unless someone is calling you because they are hurt or they need your help, and by someone I mean your family.
You are going to schedule everything out on your calendar, even date nights with your wives or husbands.
It sounds weird but she or he will appreciate it.
Do this for a week or so and you are going to notice some pressure coming off you and you will actually have time.
Most important thing is actually doing the tasks that are on your calendar.
- Estimates on the spot:
Why do we say estimates on the spot?
I work on a lot of older homes and I know it’s really tough to do an estimate on the spot.
I like to go back to my office and think about it but if you are going in for a very similar job you have done before, you have your production rates in hand. They are in your iPad, if that’s what you are looking.
Even if you are using a carbon copy, you should know at this point what it is going to take.
If you are going to work and you are going to have to re-paint 3 ceilings, plastic off the place, move some furniture.
You know that a gallon of ceiling paint is $30, I am just throwing a number out there. You know the plastic is going to cost you $25, with the tape, and you know it is going to take you a day to paint those 3 ceilings.
Hence, you will throw some numbers out there, right there and then, in front of the customer.
You can also step back for 5 minutes. Ask them if you can go out to your truck for 5 minutes to put together an estimate to present them.
They are going to be tickled pink, especially if they are still waiting for estimates from somebody else.
If you do that now, you won’t have anything on your plate later, other than a follow-up with this client.
They will be happy, you will be happy.
You will not have to think about this again because we all know that those estimates we didn’t write 3 days ago are weighing on the back of our mind.
If you can’t get it done on the spot, promise them when you’re going to have it and hold yourself accountable.
Promise them that you are going to write the estimate for 123 Main street, same as their address, and they will have it the next morning when they wake up.
The next morning, during your jam session, which is your half hour alone time, you are going to make sure that estimate gets done.
No radio , No news , No TV!
You should be sitting down and concentrating on your things.
Pretty soon you are going to notice that little things are getting off your plate.
Your plate is getting lighter and lighter.
- Automated Follow-up:
What do I mean by this?
A lot of the estimate programs we have right now have automatic built-in “Automated follow-up”. You set it up and forget it, you write an estimate.
We use estimate rocket for this purpose.
We write the estimate and once we send it, we start a campaign as preloaded email follow-ups, which are very generic and very nice.
If you want to tweak them and make them your own, you can also do that. You can always add other emails in the automated process too.
Right now you are following up, even if they don’t choose you, you are following up.
6 months from now, they might have already had that job done.
You didn’t know about it and you are still going to be following up with that automatic email.
That’s one way to get it off your plate, to follow-up after the estimate while you are working on something else.
Let everything go to voicemail, especially if you are a small one, two or three person crew and you can’t reach for that phone.
Most of the times you are painting something and the phone rings. You pick it up and you talk, and 15 minutes go by.
You promise something and you know in the back of your head, at least I always knew, that I can’t deliver that.
Why? because I was supposed to be somewhere else that day.
Let it go to voicemail. Let them hear your description of what you do now, on the voicemail.
If you call me, it says “Thanks for calling. If you are looking to book an appointment, please go to our website and book your estimate at the bottom of the form.” and that goes to You Can Book Me
I have a series of questions there and then they can actually book on an empty time slot that I have preset.
I am not actually running around and promising things that I can’t do.
I only do estimates on Tuesdays and Thursdays and if those time slots are full, they are going to have to go to the next Tuesday.
Very rarely do I make a special change in that to schedule more estimates.
If your close rate is fairly good and you have your numbers and your presentation down, you are going to be closing a good percentage of what you go to.
They have already gone through the You Can Book Me and answered all those questions. You can always follow-up with a voicemail after that.
Ask them some more questions to see if they are fit because you only want to go on estimates that are fit for you and your company.
If people don’t want to book an estimate or they are looking just to leave a message after that, I return it when I see fit at the end of the day when I return all of my voicemails.
- Email Auto-responder:
When someone sends me an email, Auto-responder tells them, “Thank you very much. This correspondence is very important to me. I return emails after 4 o’ clock, during the day.”
I tell them when I am going to reply to their email, so they are not waiting. I don’t have to keep looking at my phone every time it goes off.
We still get the notification of emails when they come in but they’ve already got a response back, so that takes the pressure off.
In the jam session in the morning, you can quickly go through your emails.
Put the jam session at night, 15 minutes or half hour. Answer the emails then.
You’re probably thinking “I don’t have time for all these” but you are opening up your schedule so you can actually do the work when you are doing the work, especially if you are a hands-on painter.
- Virtual Assistant:
It comes to a point where a virtual assistant or at least someone to answer your phone is essential.
There are many answering services out there.
You can give them the script to answer your customers’ calls.
We just had someone in one of our mastermind groups, who did this, and it’s freed his time immensely.
He says that one of the biggest things he has done in the last year is finding and hiring an answering service for his company.
Imagine that you have a lot of paperwork you are used to doing and you think “I can’t handle it all”.
It might be; putting things in project management softwares, CRMs, entering things in QuickBooks or putting together a social media campaign.
These are the things that take time and If you are not good at doing them, because you can’t be great at everything, virtual assistant is the way to go.
The way you work on a virtual assistance or answering service is actually, you pre-pay them. You have an agreement on what they are going to do.
What an hour costs, what time slot costs.
You might be hiring a virtual assistant for 4 or 5 hours a week and it is amazing when someone is concentrated on 5 hours a week.
It’s amazing what they can get through.
Instead of you being on the computer writing an estimate, Facebook pops up, so you want to see what that notification is, and then all of a sudden, before you know it, you are watching a YouTube video.
You are not really concentrated but when you have hired someone to do a certain job and they do it, it frees you up.
This is how I got my time back. I scheduled everything.
I have autoresponders on my email. I have a message on my voicemail to tell my customers how to book an estimate.
Of course not everybody books an estimate that way but I got rid of all those Google, Yelp and every other call that comes in, who don’t even follow through with anything.
Some people aren’t comfortable in booking online or if they just don’t know how to schedule their own estimate, they leave a voicemail.
I call them back. I have my calendar in front of me when I call them back and I will be in mind to actually have a conversation with them, because I am not only just calling to book the estimate, I want to see if we want to do that kind of work.
A lot of people want the job done tomorrow but currently you are booking for four months out, if you keep all these stuff; the automatic follow-up, a virtual assistant, an answering service, you’ll have a solution to this.
Imagine that with this automatic follow-up with the emails, you are actually touching base down the road.
When you slow time and they hear from you, they get used to hearing from you and they remember your name.
These are the six steps that I used, that helped me get my time back. I hope it helps you too.
If you would like to chat, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find out more about DYB at joindyb.com
Send me a message on Facebook.
We can either chat through messenger or I can actually pick up the phone and give you a call. I might be able to help you out a little bit.
Get your time back, even in the busiest time of the year.
Have a great day and happy painting!