We tend to like all of our I’s dotted and T’s crossed when it comes to business. With local service businesses, that usually means knowing what you are getting into before taking on a job.
And traditionally, that has worked. Cleaning companies over the past 100 years have done in-home estimates, worked the jobs and rinsed and repeated. Half of their time was spent cleaning while the other half was spent driving place to place, estimating and hoping to close a customer.
But with business moving at the speed of typing on a computer, the in-house estimate is quickly being left behind as companies who have turned to online booking grow rapidly. The concern with online booking however is- how do you qualify the customer to ensure your business runs as smoothly as possible 100% of the time.
Quick answer: You don’t.
No business runs smoothly 100% of the time and with online booking, although you are missing out on the opportunity to qualify each job, you gain hours you can devote to growing your business while customers use flat-rate booking to book based on their needs without you having to meet them and their home first.
So how do you make the transition from in-home estimates to online booking
Here are the tried and true methods many of our companies have used to switch to online booking and expedite their growth.
1. Just do it
Most Clients will welcome the ability to quickly receive a quote and to pay by credit card. If you have the choice between finding out your price instantly and scheduling your appointment when you want it vs. waiting for someone to call you back… which would you choose.
2. Charge more
Since people will welcome the convenience of booking online (and it increases trust and the appearance of professionalism), you have the opportunity to charge more. By charging your more, you will balance the times you did not charge enough. Use charging higher rates as a way to balance the scales when some jobs don’t net you as much profits.
3. Add chat to answer questions that people may have while booking
Many questions you can answer without seeing a property. Enabling chat on your website gives both you and the customer the confidence that you both have all the information needed for a successful appointment.
4. Understand that your flat rate can turn into an hourly rate if the job isn’t as expected.
Flat-rate cleaning is based on certain assumptions and experience that your business has. If a job falls outside of your parameters for the price quoted, you can train your team to call you where you can negotiate a new rate whether hourly or flat. At the end of the day, your booking form is essentially a quote on the home as they described… if it needs more work or has more bedrooms than they added, your quote can be adjusted.
Example Website Disclaimer “We are unable to perform an initial walk-through to verify the condition of your home prior to service; therefore, our flat-rate prices are based on certain assumptions about levels of cleanliness and the level of effort required to clean your home. We estimate the price of your service based on the information that is provided by (you) the customer. If the condition of the property is not the same as the info provided, the price is subject to increase.”
5. Don’t forget to subtract operational hours not spent when calculating bottom line
If you are no longer spending 20-25 hours in the field, make sure you note the time and money savings when calculating profit. Those hours can now be invested in improving your business instead of chasing leads.
So is online booking worth letting go of in-house estimates? The fastest growing companies in our industry have all adopted online booking. If you are looking to grow rapidly and build a bigger, more scalable business, online booking is the only way to compete.
Interested in learning about the tips and tricks mega companies like Handy use to grow rapidly? Sign up for our webinar with owner Rohan Gilkes of MaidsinBlack on January 21 at 2pm.