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Phone calls during the inspection


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Hi all,

I've gotten pretty busy lately and assume (or hope) that it will continue to get even better once spring and summer hit.

But I do feel as though i'm losing some work by not answering the phone during the inspection. Does anybody answer and tell potential clients something like " I'm sorry, but i'm in the middle of inspection and will get back to you shorty" ?

I think no matter what your voicemail message is, the potential client is going to the next guy on the list if you dont get back to them relatively quickly.

Any thoughts?

Not a fan of call centers, think they are kinda impersonal.

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It depends on the vibe I get from the customer. If I do answer it, I keep it short, state that yes or no I'm available this week, etc and explain that I'm with customers and I will call them back when I'm done and I give a time frame i.e 30 min, 2 hours, etc.

Also the my voice mail says something like I'm with customers and I will return all phone calls promptly at the end of every inspection.

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I am thankful for a lot of faithful return customers. But, there are a lot of good inspectors around here and agents tend to offer three names. The first one to answer the phone gets the job. The rather weighty downside to an answering service is that I don't believe anyone can sell me like I can sell me, so I answer my phone. Everyone, over the last 14 years, has graciously understood that it is a necessity. I book it blazing fast and get back to work.

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I won't answer my phone when I am with my client. I figure that they are paying me so it is their time. I do however, head out to the vehicle a "few" times during the inspection to check on calls. I have tried the call center route and found that to be 1. expensive and 2. very impersonal. Over the years I have lost jobs to impatient folks wanting the answer "now". Part of our business.

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Someone said one time that you already have the job you are inspecting. You need to worry about the next job. While that is a bit callus, there is a bit of truth to it.

I answer my cell phone during inspections. Most clients understand if I excuse myself to handle a business call. Usually I explain to the caller I am at an inspection and will call them back later to talk more. Other times if the current client is not shadowing me, I will give the sales pitch. 50-50 on what I do.

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If the client is next to me I will not answer the phone. I want them to feel that they have my undivided attention.

When I am alone in the basement or another room I answer it and try to be quick. I tell the caller that I'm in an inspection but I value their business and give them a time that I will call back.

Sometimes you will lose business when you can't get back to people fast enough but that's just part of our business.

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Until recently, I shared the payroll expense of a full time executive assistant with two other 'one person' businesses (both social workers, not inspectors). I recently traded that for a contractor who works only for me and gets a commission on sales. That person is my neice and she does very well.

I don't have the ability to carry a conversation over a telephone but even if I did, I'd have a problem with interrupting an inspection in progress and spending 15 minutes explaining basic facts about home inspections to a caller.

Marc

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Unfortunately I haven't had to deal with too many calls on my inspection gigs, but I do have some standards that I follow regarding my cell phone while working sales calls for my day job. When my phone rings, I say 'excuse me' and check the caller ID. Personal calls are silenced, business calls are answered, and either way I thank my client for their patience. A little courtesy goes a long way.

Tom

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Until recently, I shared the payroll expense of a full time executive assistant with two other 'one person' businesses (both social workers, not inspectors). I recently traded that for a contractor who works only for me and gets a commission on sales. That person is my neice and she does very well.

I don't have the ability to carry a conversation over a telephone but even if I did, I'd have a problem with interrupting an inspection in progress and spending 15 minutes explaining basic facts about home inspections to a caller.

Marc

I feel the same way. I have three partners and we share an office manager who answers calls, maintains our schedules, sends out and keeps track of contracts & reports, and does our day-to-day bookkeeping. She also relays messages to us and generally keeps us all in line. She's the "face" of our business, and she's very good at it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I ALWAYS answer my phone.

Even when you're in an attic?

Crawl space?

Using the bathroom?

Spending time with wife?

Kids?

Lunch?

I try not to bring my wife and kids with me on inspections but I still answer the phone if they call. It's always something incredibly important.

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I'm not good at multi-tasking, so I usually leave the phone in the truck, (plus I don't lose the phone that way) and I know I have lost some inspections, but I really do try to concentrate on the inspection at hand because that's what someone is paying me to do. Heck, even when I answer right away and talk to them, I lose a bunch. [;)] Maybe I'll look at "sharing" someone to answer the phone, I really hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the idea, Charlie

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I ALWAYS answer my phone.

Even when you're in an attic?

Crawl space?

Using the bathroom?

Spending time with wife?

Kids?

Lunch?

People just can't wait for even a few minutes sometimes. . .

I'm single and have no kids so 4 & 5 dna, but otherwise "Yep". The only people that ever reached my VM are those that call when AT&T's signal is bad, forcing the call to VM without a ring. Honestly, in 5 years I've had fewer than 20 calls reach my VM.

Incidentally, the "Always Answer" rule applies to business calls only. I don't answer personal calls during an inspection.

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Hi,

I generally let folks know in the pre-inspection phase when we're getting all of the documents signed that I don't have anyone to answer my phone and may get a few calls during the job. I can usually say to them, Just like I answered your call on the job, I'll need to answer those." So far, it doesn't seem to have miffed anyone.

When the call comes in, I'll look at the phone to see who's calling. If I see 'private caller' I won't answer and I'll let it go to my voice mail.

If I see the number of a particular company switchboard, I'll immediately pick up because I know that those folks are cyber attuned to getting everything answered yesterday and won't be very willing to wait. Once I've got them on the line, I usually keep them on the line just long enough to figure out why they called, where and when they need the job, let them know whether I've got a slot or not and tell them I'm putting them in the book but that I'll have to call back after I complete the inspection I'm on before I can give them a price. Then I ask them to email me all of the particulars about the job and give them my email address if they don't already have it.

If it's not one of the switchboard numbers, I'll let it go through to my voice mail and listen for the beep that says I've got a voice mail. Then I'll find a few minutes to "compile my notes" within the next ten minutes in order to call back and do basically what I describe above.

If I see the number of a realtor that regularly refers work, I'll answer and keep it real brief; something like, "When do you need it? How big, What's the suspense date?" and then I'll tell them if I can fit them in or not. If so, I'll tell them they're in the book and to send the particulars directly to my email address.

As soon as the job is over and everyone else leaves, I sit there in the driveway and return all of those calls before I do another thing.

The only glitch right now is the email inquiries. The new phone that I was able to send and receive email on went T.U. so I had to slip the sims card in an old clunker phone that's about a decade old until I get around to swapping this phone out. That means I can't respond to any of the emails until I get back to the hooch.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I answer my phone and respond to emails between 8:30am to 5:30pm. Been doing it that way for 11 years. Depending on what I'm doing (never answer on the golf course just check in at the turn) I may intentionally send them to voice mail. The phone is usually on vibrate mode. Never had anyone complain about it.

Stupid busy here. 84 inspections since January 1st.

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I will not answer my phone while inspecting if the client is present. They pay quite handsomely for my time; they also get my attention.

I use an answering service to answer the main business line, schedule appointments, follow up on details, etc. I've been "lose your hair and get an ulcer" busy for a few months. The answering service is one of the smartest things I've done.

-B

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Cell phones are still relatively new in a social sense, but I think it's simply rude to answer the phone when you're on a job for someone else. It says "Excuse me while I answer this because whoever they are they're fare more important than you are."

10 years ago VM worked fine, but I find an ever increasing tendency of folks to not leave a message and instead call the next person on "the list". I know several inspectors who have switched to an answering service and have been quite happy, but it does seem impersonal (even the ones dedicated to HI).

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While I understand the comments of those who say it's "rude" to answer the cell, keep in mind that, if the client reached you by cell in the middle of someone else's inspection, they shouldn't expect you to do things anything different for them.

When I let the calls go through, they get a message telling them to leave a message, or, if they are really in a crunch, to leave a message on the other number. So, if it rings again with the same number minutes later, I know, and the client knows that it's someone calling who, like them, is probably up against some kind of stupidly too short deadline.

Cells relatively new in a social sense? You have got to be joking, Garet; around here most are eliminating their home phones and have only cell phone numbers now and they aren't shy about answering them right in the middle of something you're saying to them. This has got to be one of the most wireless attuned places on the planet.

As far as them having my undivided attention? I don't think there's any doubt about that, we're usually joined at the hip for at least four hours - sometimes six or longer. They get plenty of my attention.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Cells relatively new in a social sense? You have got to be joking, Garet; around here most are eliminating their home phones and have only cell phone numbers now and they aren't shy about answering them right in the middle of something you're saying to them. This has got to be one of the most wireless attuned places on the planet.

I'm not joking at all. I've had older clients who have never owned a cell phone and I've had younger clients who have never owned a land line. I think it will be a while before the collective "we" figure out the social rules about when it's OK to have a private conversation in a public place. By then, cell phones may be obsolete technology and we'll have chips enplanted in our brains instead. Right now there's a huge generational gap in terms of social behavior. Maybe it's just me, but I find it offensive when someone stops interacting with me to take a call - especially if I'm paying for their services.

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