How to Manage a Busy Production Calendar
Managing the chaos!
It is so busy, spring has sprung, the weather is sunny, people are calling, estimates are being scheduled at a fast pace and you can’t keep up.
How do you manage the chaos?
I have a couple of tips from myself and the other coaches as we had a meeting this morning and I wanted to share them with you.
It is spring right now in New England, we are still catching up on a couple of homes we had last year, and it is actually a rainy spring right now.
We might have one nice day, but it is proceeded by 3-rainy days which pretty much eliminates any kind of work outside.
In fact, as I record this, it is getting a little past mid-May, and we have only completed one small house outside, that is not good.
But what do you do? How do you control the chaos of all these estimates coming in?
Homeowners wanting stuff done yesterday, scheduled out 2-3 months ago.
I actually talked to a contractor the other day who scheduled October for his exteriors, he has some other opportunities just to add the crews and such, but what do you do?
How do you keep the people that have accepted your estimates?
Well, here are some tips you should give a try:
Deliver Timely Estimates
If you are going to take the time to go out on an estimate, if you can’t deliver it on the spot, promise them and yourself that you will get to it the next day.
You have to carve out some time before work, I know you have to get up early, oh no!
But it is for your business, it is for your livelihood, write that estimate and attach it to an email saying, “As promised, please find the attached estimate”, that’s if you are not doing it on site.
Or, if they are expecting it, say, tomorrow night, and you deliver it the next morning, they will be surprised, and they will love you already.
They might not love your price, but they will love you.
Make a Prequalifying Phone Call before Going for an Estimate
Secondly, with the chaos, how many estimates can you go on?
Well, you’ve got to have that pre-qualifying phone call, even if they schedule it on “You Can Book Me” or one of the others.
If they want it done ASAP, or they want it done in June, and you are fully booked into June and the end of July, why go on that estimate if there is a reason why they need to have it on June?
Pick up the phone, I know we have some people who will say, “I need it done ASAP”, well, I usually reach out to them and say, “Our ‘ASAP’ right now is August 1st, does that work for you?”
Some people say, “Yeah, I didn’t know what else to write, I just want to make sure it gets done this summer, I want to get it done before the snow”.
So, “ASAP” sometimes is just something they write when they don’t know what else to put on there, you have to look at that, make that phone call.
If it is something you don’t know if you can fit in, you can ask about the budget.
This is a great time to say, “Well, you have a Cape Style home, and the pricing for the Cape usually run around $6,500 to $8,000, is that something that you were thinking about?”
And they go, “Wow! No, I thought it was going to be $4,000. That’s double what it was 15 years ago”
Well yeah, you don’t have to get into that conversation, just say “That’s what they are going for with my company these days”
You might have just saved yourself an hour and a half of going out there, providing an estimate and that’s an hour and a half that you can spend doing something else.
If you are still in the field, maybe you can swing a brush for another hour and a half, and produce some money.
Or you can schedule something that is actually going to make money if you are out of the bucket right now.
Leave A Little Space in Your Schedule for Emergency Premium Projects
In the coaches’ meeting we had today, we talked about, leaving a little space.
If you are running multiple crews, it is nice to have that one week that’s in the middle, maybe it is 3 weeks away, that you have one crew that’s not scheduled.
Just in case that emergency cream of the crop project that you can actually charge a premium for, you can fit them in.
Tell that customer, “Listen, we are all booked, but this one week, I can squeeze you in, here is the estimate, does that work for you?”
If they think it is too expensive, they are going to say, no anyway, if they need it done, you just fill that week.
Update and Stay In Touch With Your Customers
Because customers get here and say they want their project, you might have looked at their project in May and scheduled them in June, it rained for 3 weeks, but you know something?
Two days after it stopped raining, they forgot it stopped raining, they don’t even remember it rained.
What you have to do is carve out a little half hour of one morning, before you go to work, write an email, and BCC it to all the projects you have scheduled.
Say something like “I Just wanted to let you know we are on time for our projects for all the homes”.
Or you can actually say, “With the 3 days it rained last week, we are now 3 days behind, I just wanted to give you a heads up, so your project would be pushed out a couple of days”.
If you do this once a week, they are not going to be shocked, because they have already given you a deposit, they might be wondering where you went if you don’t return any of these phone calls.
What I did a of couple years ago seemed to be a hit with my customers, it had rained out forever, it just seemed like it was weeks of rain, and if it didn’t rain, it was cloudy and damp.
I went outside with an umbrella and videotaped myself and said, “If you think we are going to be over soon, we are not. And if we have a deck scheduled and it starts raining, we cannot be there the next day, these decks have to dry out”
And we explained, I emailed that to everybody, then I threw it out on my social media feeds and received some response from scheduled people, they said, “I know”.
They actually felt sorry for us because we couldn’t be outside, instead of having them being put in the dark, they felt bad for us.
Anyway, I hope some of these helped, I would love for you to share what you do for your schedule when it gets crazy.
You can always add other crews and things like that.
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to chat with you.