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Overwhelmed And Falling Behind

 
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:23 PM   #1
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Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


New guys needs some help here. Over the last handful of weeks I have been insanely busy with sales meetings and proposals. It's been a great problem to have, except my landing rate has drastically fallen. I believe the reason for this is taking too long to get back proposals for customers.

My company builds decks, and I have turned into a full time salesman. In the last year (been in business for a year and a half) I have averaged maybe 2-3 estimates a week, but in the last 3 weeks we have just blown up. I have done 27 sales meetings in the last week and a half, and am doing between 3 and 5 meetings a day. I could keep up at first, but now I just keep falling further and further behind with getting proposals back to customers.

I ask because I'm sure these numbers aren't as overwhelming as they feel to me, but being new to this I can't keep up. I have another 4 appointments tomorrow, and 2 on Friday. I don't want to hire a sales person, because I am afraid this rush won't last. I don't want to hire and fire.

Any suggestions for the new guy for keeping up with the rush? Do I need to push meetings out further and set up fewer throughout the day to keep up with things back infront of the computer? I've worked 16 hour days for the last week trying trying to play catch up.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:27 PM   #2
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Welcome to CT. Your story is nothing new to most here as we all go through the swings. IE cliche feast/famine.

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Old 04-10-2019, 10:33 PM   #3
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Year and a half in business and giving 27 estimates in a week and a half ? Whatís your secret.


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Old 04-10-2019, 10:36 PM   #4
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Do you ever spend time meeting a perspective client who has a job you canít or donít want to do?

See if you can weed those out before you even meet them.

Can you weed out tire kickers by giving them a ballpark quote over the initial phone call?

I ballparked one for 25 grand, which I think was way more than they wanted to spend. No hard feelings and not much time wasted.


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Old 04-10-2019, 10:42 PM   #5
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Quote:
Originally Posted by HammerSwing View Post
New guys needs some help here. Over the last handful of weeks I have been insanely busy with sales meetings and proposals. It's been a great problem to have, except my landing rate has drastically fallen. I believe the reason for this is taking too long to get back proposals for customers.



My company builds decks, and I have turned into a full time salesman. In the last year (been in business for a year and a half) I have averaged maybe 2-3 estimates a week, but in the last 3 weeks we have just blown up. I have done 27 sales meetings in the last week and a half, and am doing between 3 and 5 meetings a day. I could keep up at first, but now I just keep falling further and further behind with getting proposals back to customers.



I ask because I'm sure these numbers aren't as overwhelming as they feel to me, but being new to this I can't keep up. I have another 4 appointments tomorrow, and 2 on Friday. I don't want to hire a sales person, because I am afraid this rush won't last. I don't want to hire and fire.



Any suggestions for the new guy for keeping up with the rush? Do I need to push meetings out further and set up fewer throughout the day to keep up with things back infront of the computer? I've worked 16 hour days for the last week trying trying to play catch up.


4 appointments Thursday and 2 Friday? How about 3 Thursday and 3 Friday?

It's about time management.


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Old 04-10-2019, 10:46 PM   #6
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Oh and I could easily do 20 estimates a week, but I choose not to. I vet people over the phone. I absolutely cherry pick. I'm only in business to make money. I'm a carpenter because I enjoy the work.

Point is I'm going to take the jobs that I think I can make the most on. I can't take them all, so I might as well capitalize on the best of the best.


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Old 04-10-2019, 11:01 PM   #7
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Iíve only been in business myself for 2 1/2 years, but one thing I have learned is, work for rich people! A few wealthy clients are better than a bunch of price checkers.
Maybe focus on specialty decks, or a ritzy area?
How is your crew going to keep up with all that work you are selling?
Also, are you charging for estimates? That would weed out the non-serious people and give you some compensation.


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Old 04-10-2019, 11:06 PM   #8
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


I think you answered your own question.

If you do 20 estimates a week, and land 3, or do 5 estimates a week, and land 3, well.......

Also, if you were winning a high percentage of these estimates, could your crew keep up? Would quality suffer? Would call backs and warranty work go up?

Most new business owners have made the mistake of biting off more than they could chew. Some didn't survive the mistake.
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Old 04-10-2019, 11:13 PM   #9
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


One call close the ones you want as customers.
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Old 04-10-2019, 11:24 PM   #10
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Quote:
Originally Posted by Calidecks View Post
I'm only in business to make money. I'm a carpenter because I enjoy the work.


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Nicely put, I like it

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Old 04-10-2019, 11:56 PM   #11
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Wow, thank you for all the replies.

No secret here...just dumb luck. We were real slow coming out of winter, but had some extra capital from a good snow removal year. I thought with it being slow I'd throw some money at different advertising and lead services. Still, work was slow and not much was working. Then all of a sudden the phone and website was blowing up.

I have to admit I am not great at screening leads over the phone. I would say I kick out maybe 1 in 10. I am also so used to just meeting with everyone who call to try to survive (a small job is better than no job). Call screening is definitely something I need to work on. You guys know as well as I do how hard it is for a customer to admit their budget, but maybe if I just start giving ballpark numbers over the phone it may help.

I have also been trying to keep (and started enforcing it this week) 2-3 per day, and just stretching out appointments further through the next few weeks. I figure if they're serious they will wait, if not, oh well.

As far as handling the work. Like I said, we were real slow up until now. I am only booked 3-4 weeks out, but expect that to change pretty quickly. I guess I'll deal with keeping up with it when the time comes
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Old 04-10-2019, 11:58 PM   #12
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


How long does it take you guys to write a proposal for a deck? Say, composite decking and aluminum rails. Those two options seem to have been the most popular over the last year or so with cedar being so high.
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Old 04-11-2019, 12:14 AM   #13
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Quote:
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How long does it take you guys to write a proposal for a deck? Say, composite decking and aluminum rails. Those two options seem to have been the most popular over the last year or so with cedar being so high.


I can send out a proposal for a basic balcony or even a little complicated one in about 15 or 20 minutes. I have a pricing model I go by. I ALWAYS send them via email. I do them on Sunday.

Takes me as long to put the customer info in my software as it does to give them a price.

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Old 04-11-2019, 08:12 AM   #14
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


This time of the year is my phone goes crazy also. A lot of tire kickers. I ballpark a price on the phone and get rid of 1/3.

I run into the same problem with taking to long on quotes. I spend a few hours this year getting a solid pricing structure for the common stuff and can do most estimates in my truck after meeting people. I find this makes a good impression and gets it done while itís still fresh in my mind.
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Old 04-11-2019, 08:30 AM   #15
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Well I think I found my problem. Other than the obvious inexperience, I'm taking too long figuring numbers and writing proposals.

I take hours right now, and it sounds like it's because of my system I have doing it. I draw up each deck, come up with a material list and send that to my sales rep, sit and figure out man hours for each job (broken down on a spreadsheet), once I have to price back from supplier I input that into the spreadsheet as well to get my price, then spend an hour or more typing up the proposal with everything we'll be doing.

If I get caught up I'll try to figure out s system to simplify things. If you guys don't mind sharing, how do you set yours up?
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:05 AM   #16
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Sounds like you have an opportunity to build your business if you want to, but that will mean that you stay the heck off the jobsite swinging hammers. Trust someone else to do the building, and focus your efforts on sales, estimating, design work, customer service, bill collection, etc.

Might mean you may have to hire a couple lead men and provide them with truck and benefits, and a piece of the profits?

If you don't want to increase company size, then you need to do a better upfront qualifying your prospects, so you don't waste time on the long shots. Bouncing some budget numbers off of them over the phone is a great way to start. When you pick one to look at and quote, a client shouldn't have to wait more than a few days for the proposal.
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:11 AM   #17
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Once you have the price for, say, 2x8 pt joists, and Simpson U28 ZMax hangers, write it down.

Then you don't have to send every proposal to the yard. You have you material pricing right in front of you.

Keep in mind as well, guys like Mike have been doing this for decades, and know their numbers so well, that they can whip out an accurate estimate in 15 minutes. Griz mentioned that he estimated a $48,000 commercial ADA bathroom in 15 minutes.

But these guys are at the top of their game. They have decades of experience.

Don't make the mistake of trying to find a magic shortcut, some Price Per SF formula or something, before you have a solid grasp of your numbers, and a lot of experience.

And the way we get experience is by grinding it out, and doing it right every time.

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Old 04-11-2019, 10:06 AM   #18
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


You start with projects you have completed and ones you have estimated. Take your estimates and classify the according to things like site conditions and deck features. You'll come up with a matrix of estimated costs for the different situations. You'll also be able to spot the bug cost wiggkers that you need to pay attention to.

Then take your actual project costs on completed decks and use that to adjust all your matrixed costs.

Now you may be ready to get the deck build basics, and plug it into one of the comparable matrix decks. Double check for a time to get confidence.

Any time you come across something different, it's a choice between walking or doing it for the experience.

Update your matrix with real project final costs forever.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:19 AM   #19
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


Pick a number a week you can keep up with and only schedule that many. If you keep getting calls, make the appointments for your next available time. Doing that might help you weed out the ones who are less likely to purchase or to be not good clients. The more you qualify your customers, the more likely they are to hire you. That is true for 2 reasons. You eliminate that bad ones, but the ones you do meet with pick up on the fact that you aren't hard up for work and you don't want to waste your time.
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Old 04-12-2019, 02:33 PM   #20
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Re: Overwhelmed And Falling Behind


One thing I have been working on is instead of waiting until Iím caught up and have time to improve my systems, I stop everything and make time to change y systems.
The past few months I have been focusing on my inefficiencyís, and Iím realizing how important systems are needed for my business.

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