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Profiting from Design: Using a phone script

March 29, 2017 -  By

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are the lifeblood of any successful company and should be developed for every process in your business.

Let’s look at what’s typically the first business interaction with a client: the initial phone call. Just like a script for a Broadway show, your company’s phone script should have an opening, a plot and an ending. It should engage the audience (client) and ultimately produce a desired result.

The purpose of a phone script is threefold:

  1. To make sure that everyone who answers the phone does it correctly and consistently;
  2. To obtain the correct contact and project information and determine the next step in the process; and
  3. To set the initial tone for the rest of your business relationship.

Does it sound like there’s a lot riding on this call? There most certainly is. Most of the time the initial phone call is the first interaction a client will have with your company. What first impression are you making? Does the customer feel comfortable and at ease or rushed and unwanted? Will clients perceive you as a professional organization or scatter-brained? However their call is answered will determine their first impression of you and your company. As we all know, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

To be successful, you need to create a phone script that’s easy to follow yet doesn’t sound scripted. You should control the conversation, get the information you need and determine what the next step of the process will be. In other words, is the caller “appointment worthy” or not? This has to be done both pleasantly and efficiently without sounding like a robot or a detective.

Begin with a friendly and proper greeting. Something l like, “Good morning, this is Landworks Inc. My name is Terry, how may I help you?” After the caller responds with the reason for the call, ask them if would be OK if you collect some information.

This information should include:

  1. Full names of both the husband and wife including proper spelling.
  2. Complete street name, spelled out, including whether it is road, drive, court, lane, etc. If possible, get a cross street just in case it’s a new neighborhood.
  3. Town or city and ZIP code. For those of you who work near state borders, make sure to get the state, as well.
  4. Get all three phone numbers: home, work and cell, and then ask which is the best number to use.
  5. Email address or addresses. Again, ask which is the best address to use.

These days, asking for an email address or cell phone number is like asking for their home address, and truthfully it’s one of the smartest things a company can do. You can confirm appointments via email or send change orders once the work begins. Regardless of whether you get work now or not, you can add them to your email list and send out monthly newsletters or advertisements to keep your company top of mind when they are ready to do work. Plus, it costs next to nothing to do.

Also, make sure you ask the clients how they heard about your company. It’s important information that you should track. As a business owner or salesperson, you need to know if this lead is from the Yellow Pages (ugh), a magazine advertisement, a paid referral service, job signs, trucks or a referral from a friend. This information will help you understand where you should be investing your marketing dollars.

Once you have all the client’s contact information, the rest of the phone script should be about the work itself. Just ask the customer to describe, in his or her own words, what type of work they would like to have done, and then make sure you write down the exact words the customer uses. After a short time you will begin to recognize what key words and phrases people use that will help you determine if the project is a good fit for your company and who should meet with them–a designer, estimator or maybe no one at all.

In closing and before you hang up, recap the time, date and location of the appointment (if you’ve made one), and then ask the caller, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” If they say no, finish with, “Thank you for calling and have a nice day.” If they say yes, answer their questions until they don’t have any more.

On the surface this all seems almost silly. However, I cannot impress upon you enough how much work and money are lost simply answering the phone inappropriately or by not collecting basic information.

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This is posted in Design/Build+Installation

About the Author:

Jody Shilan is a landscape design/build sales consultant, editor of and former executive director of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. Reach him at 201-783-2844 or

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