David Lupberger’s column in this issue, “Seven Steps to Qualify Your Leads”, brought to light for me a concept that is well-known among the business school types who study small businesses. It is known by the phrase “resource poverty,” which accurately describes the phenomenon where owners and operators of small businesses find themselves strapped for cash, talented people and perhaps most importantly — time. Remodelers, as do all small business people, must be extremely judicious about how they spend their time. If you have been successful over the long term in this business, you will have survived because, in large part, you’ve made good decisions about how to spend your time.
Lupberger’s sales and marketing column provides the quintessential example of how remodelers can best use their time — prescreening job lead prospects over the phone as a means to decide which ones are worth the several hours of preparation, travel and presentation time to go visit. He offers seven steps for avoiding dead-end sales calls, among them: Never go on a single-legged call, meaning, make sure that all decision makers are present at the time you visit your prospect’s home. Lupberger refers to the time spent screening remodeling client prospects as a high-impact activity. It is an activity which, done effectively, can positively impact several areas of your business at one time. A good 15- to 20-minute prescreening call not only will save you untold number of hours visiting with unqualified prospects, but it will also help you close more sales and set proper expectations with customers — a key to long-term customer satisfaction.
If you have been reading this magazine over the past three decades, you will have undoubtedly encountered stories about remodelers who have “dropped their tool belts” or those who similarly have decided to spend more time “working on their business, not in their business.” These are variations on the high-impact activity theme. It may bother you that you are the best trim carpenter in your organization and you may be itching to save the cost of hiring some high-end talent to trim out a kitchen or a bathroom, but as the owner it can often make better sense to keep you back at the office, making decisions about marketing, lead-generation and sales.
Increasingly, there are more demands than ever on your time. With each passing day there are new ways for you to communicate with your customers, staff and suppliers. Most of you, by now, are carrying mobile personal digital accessories, which allow you to talk on the phone, send and receive e-mail as well as text messages. Those devices have also become a way for you to reach a wider network via Web 2.0 applications like blogs, podcasts and social networking sites. You see the potential in these new media as a way to more cheaply and effectively drive leads, connect with prospects and close more sales. You see them as tools to help you weather this recession. And there is indeed an instinct these days to constantly move for movement’s sake. Now, more than ever, remodelers must be extremely strategic about how you spend each hour of every day. Yes, be a hyper communicator; the tools are unbelievable. But don’t let them crowd out the time you need to work on your business.