I’ve been cold-calling plumbers, cleaners, and property management companies trying to get some help with the house in Vermont. I’m using a two year old phone book and you wouldn’t believe the amount of businesses that are no longer in business. It’s really sad.
Anyway, these types of businesses are often sole proprietorships or partnerships and/or they are run out of the home. That’s great. I do that myself. I can relate. These are the things that I have learned and what has been bugging me the last couple of days. It’s just my opinion but I also think it’s a lot of common sense.
- If you run your business out of the home, don’t talk to your children (or anyone else for that matter) while on a business call. I understand that it’s sometimes impossible to do, but don’t play games with them either. I had a woman do that on the phone yesterday while I was forced to sit and listen. And not just for a couple seconds either. That is very unprofessional and I made up my mind before I even heard their prices that they weren’t getting my business.
- A landline is great, but if you’re often out of your office on business, have a cell phone. A missed phone call during business hours is probably going to end up being a missed business opportunity if they are anything like me. I hang up and move on to the next name in the book.
- While we’re on the subject of phones, HAVE AN ANSWERING SERVICE OF SOME KIND!!! Nowadays, voicemail is a way of life. Use it. Also make sure that your outgoing message CONTAINS YOUR BUSINESS NAME. I can’t tell you how many people’s outgoing message was one of those distorted, automated voice things with no freaking name. How am I to know that I dialed the right number or that the number wasn’t changed?
- Still on phones…When you answer your business line, don’t answer, “Hello?” HELLO!! Say your name and the name of your business. It sounds so much more professional when you introduce your business plus it lets the person know they called the correct number.
- If you’re listed online in any capacity, have a website to go with that listing. It’s not hard and if you use Blogger or WordPress, it’s freaking FREE!! All you would need is the name of your business, a contact name and number, a mailing address, and possibly an e-mail address (which is also free and easy to set up), plus a description of the services that you offer. A few lines and you’re done. Hell, I’ll do it for you if you’d like. Of course, I don’t work for free, heheh.
- Oh. And another thing about phone calls, return messages. Do you want to make money or not? I don’t understand businesses that don’t return messages from customers seeking their services.
- Don’t miss appointments and if you do, don’t blame your customer. I had an appointment set up with a property management company while we still lived in Vermont. They missed their appointment and then told me that I should have called them to remind them. Huh? What? Excuse me? Am I your secretary?? How was I supposed to trust someone with my property when they couldn’t even manage to show up for the interview?
- In general, be a professional. Just because you are a small business and/or you run your business out of your home does not mean you are not a professional business person. Act like it. Use professional language, speak clearly, answer your phone correctly, keep appointments, and appreciate that your customer is trusting you with their business.