Understanding the Cost of Lost Opportunities

Have you ever taken a moment to figure out the cost of lost opportunities in your plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical business? You might be shocked if you saw the numbers.

Many contractors assume that when they leave a home without a work order, they’ll never get the job. They shrug their shoulders and move on to the next home. Smart contractors will take some time to evaluate what they could’ve done differently and learn from the experience. But great contractors will learn from these experiences and end up selling the work they thought they lost.

You might be thinking, “You’re crazy, Lucas. Those are some nice rose-colored glasses you’ve got there, buddy.”

I understand why you might think I’m crazy, but let me ask you a couple of questions before I share where I’m coming from. I hope to help you better understand what you’re really losing when your business doesn’t get a job.

Question #1: What areas of your business are affected when a field employee doesn’t obtain a work order for a job?

Here are some of the common answers I’ve heard to this question:

  • You lose that tech’s labor for the time they were on that call
  • You lose that opportunity
  • You lose another opportunity that the tech could’ve been at
  • You lose the customer’s loyalty
  • You lose a Service Partner Plan renewal
  • You lose a potential install lead

Question #2: What areas of your business are affected when your call center employee doesn’t book the call?

Common answers:

  • You lose the time of the CSR/dispatcher that booked the call
  • You lose the potential to get that customer on your call board

What else? What other areas of your business are affected when you don’t book a call, or when you run a call and don’t end up with a job for the technician or installer? I’ll tell you: your entire business is affected. Revenue, profits, equipment, technicians, company morale, and more.

Here’s where my rose-colored glasses come into play. You need a new idea – one that can drastically affect your business.

Many plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical companies in the United States and Canada have turned things around by hiring a dedicated inside sales representative. I encourage you to join them.

“But Lucas!” I can almost hear it. “I can’t afford more salespeople, and even if I could, I don’t want to have to deal with them. Don’t you know salespeople? They’re finicky! Prima donnas! They’re ego-driven pains in the butt!”

Salespeople are the reason that you’re in business. Nothing in business exists without the sale.

Consider the possibilities of creating an inside sales representative position. Inside sales reps help you recoup some of those losses that we discussed earlier. They work with customers to find out what’s needed to close the sale. They find solutions and new paths to doing business with customers, where before there were just roadblocks.

Did you know you can put hard numbers to the costs of lost opportunities? You won’t like it. But you need to be in the know.

So go on. I’m challenging you to try this, right now. Do the math:

  • What’s your average ticket? What’s your conversion rate?
    • Average ticket x unclosed jobs = Lost opportunity dollars
  • What your average installation? How many jobs did you leave on the table?
    • Average install x unclosed leads = Lost opportunity dollars
  • How many calls did your CSR not book last week?
    • Average ticket x unbooked calls = Lost opportunity dollars

When you put real numbers on these lost opportunities, you’re on your way to understanding and justifying the need for an inside sales representative. You might be losing hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars every year, and until you see that, an inside sales position will just feel like a needless expense.

But when you see an inside sales representative as a potential windfall for your company, you’ll have started to see through the same rose-colored glasses as me.

Until then, your competitor across town told me to thank you for the extra business.

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Lucas is a customer experience coach at Nexstar who focuses on call-center, dispatch, and inside sales excellence. Lucas brings over 20 years of sales, customer service, call center, and leadership experience in various industries, including HVAC and plumbing.