How much do you pay for print ads in your local shelter magazines? Radio spots? Flyers and mailers and postcards and rented lists and door-to-door salesmen to sign up new customers?
Or, if you rely on word of mouth: How much effort do you and your team put into your work to ensure Mrs. Jones tells her book club about how much she loves her new patio?
Take a minute this morning to think of all the time and hard costs associated with a great referral program, landing new business and keeping current clients happy.
Then listen to your receptionist answer the phone.
Seth Godin describes the bad side of this process bluntly:
When a new referral shows up, all that work and expense, and then the phone rings and it gets answered by your annoyed, overworked, burned out, never very good at it anyway receptionist, it all falls apart.
Marty Grunder always asks his audiences why the (often) lowest-paid person on your staff is (usually) the first person new customers deal with.
You spend a lot of time each day with your foremen and crews and suppliers. But your customers spend most of their time interacting with your folks on the phone.
The more effort you expend pusing people to call in, the more you should work to make sure the folks answering those calls are doing it right. Otherwise you’re wasting a lot of time and money.