Author – Marge Padgitt
I first heard about the concept of forward scheduling while attending a “Sweeping Hawaii” seminar by Sooty Bob Daniels in 1989.
At that time, the idea was new and barely off the ground. Since then, we used the method, and many other successful chimney sweeping operations use some form of forward scheduling in order to keep their calendar full all year round.
Employing a forward scheduling program may include something as simple as carrying a calendar while on the job, and simply filling in a date and time for the next appointment with the customer right after completing a sweeping or inspection. Some sweeps use a magnetic card and fill in the next date so the customer will put it on their refrigerator.
A reminder card may be sent out or a call made a couple of weeks in advance, to remind the customer of the appointment they set with the technician.
Another tried and true method is to have a dispatcher or scheduler contact the client immediately after the job is completed to check to see if the customer was satisfied with the work that was recently performed, and to schedule the next appointment.
A lot of chimney service companies successfully change their customer’s fall cleaning habit by suggesting that they change to an “after season” cleaning schedule in the spring when it is a better time for the company to do the work.
Reasons to have sweeping completed after the wood-burning season are that smelly creosote will be removed from the flue, and since creosote forms an acid when mixed with moisture in hot months it eats away at mortar joints and flue liners more easily during that time. Therefore, it is best to remove creosote before the hot summer. Some companies offer discounts during this time in order to encourage the change to spring instead of fall when their calendar is usually booked solid for weeks in advance.
Newer methods of forward scheduling may include the use of an Ipad or Iphone, or Android phone while in the field to access a calendar that is used by the office staff as well as the field staff. One such calendar is Google Calendar, which is free. There are other paid services that incorporate inspections, work orders, and receipts that also work well.
The forward scheduling method is something that all companies, whether big or small, can use to improve their bottom line. Forward scheduling, together with excellent customer service and professional maintenance can assure continued loyalty from an existing customer base rather than having to spend money on advertising to gain new customers.
According to the White House office of Consumer Affairs, “On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.”
And Marketing Metrics says “There is a 5-20% probability of selling to a new prospect, and a 60-70% probability of selling to an existing customer” For new and old companies alike, the concept of forward scheduling with an existing customer can assure continued success.
~ Marge Padgitt