March 1st means it is time for the third excerpt from my e-book The Business of Face Painting. Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.
The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.
Using the telephone effectively is a huge part of your business. You have to collect information and provide information efficiently and clearly. The telephone is one of the most useful tools you will have.
The following is an excerpt from Chapter Five of The Business of Face Painting.
DAILY BUSINESS OPERATIONS
Answering the telephone is a huge part of our efforts to secure work. When a potential client calls us we need to know exactly what we have to say to get the booking from them. There are questions to ask and information to provide in order to get to the close of the deal which is a confirmed date and rate.
Some people, as we all know, are just shopping around to find out prices or looking for the cheapest. Others are calling as they got your number from a friend or have your card that they picked up at an event and want to inquire about a specific function. Some are agents or possible corporate bookings wanting to get specifics for possible future events. You need to be ready to answer the questions these people will all be asking and also do a sales pitch to make yourself the most attractive option.
The best tool for dealing with telephone inquiries is an Inquiry Form that you keep handy to the telephone. A sample form is included with the document templates at the end of the chapter. On this form you have all the questions you need to ask with spaces to write the answers and you can include points that you should bring up for your sales pitch. So what are the things you should be asking the potential client?
The first thing is, of course, to answer your telephone professionally. This is easy if you have a dedicated line for your business and can answer the telephone by saying “Annie’s Funny Faces this is Annie.” If you are using your home telephone then make sure that everyone who answers the telephone knows how to answer with a smile, how to take messages, knows how to tell people nicely that you will call them back and when that will be. If you have only adults or older teens answering the phone you can attempt to train them to use the form to get as much information as they can and then tell the caller that you will call them back as soon as possible.
Get the caller’s name and telephone numbers right away… then use their name during the rest of the conversation. This is something that successful sales people do – ask you your name and then use it repeatedly while trying to sell you that BMW! It is a successful technique and really easy to do. By using their name you are forming a connection with them and most people will respond positively.
It is really useful to keep track of all calls and inquiries you receive by phone and email. Even if they do not result in a booking you will be able to assess the success of any marketing or advertising you are doing. Ask everyone where they got your information or heard of you. You could list all the options on your form and simply circle or tick the method off.
Most people will have stated right off the top what services they are calling about, so mark that off on your form to refer back to. A tick list is a simple way to do that as it is very quick to do. If they have not mentioned what they want right away ask them what services they are interested in.
Find out the date they are inquiring about, the time, the location. You do not need to confirm your availability at this stage – go through the whole form and get all the information before you “check your calendar”. You want to take the opportunity to sell yourself and your services so do not cut the conversation short by saying you are not available as the person on the other end of the phone will then not want to continue the conversation. They have called you so take advantage of this opportunity to tell them about your services.
Ask about the type of event, number of people expected, venue, and the other questions. If it is a birthday party, ask the name of the birthday person, their age, favourite things and colours – this is useful if you want to take along a birthday card or provide a little something extra for the birthday child. If it is a private party or a public event is very important too as you can determine your set-up requirements and explain them at that stage of the conversation.
So by now you should know their name, phone number, the type of event, the place, the time, how many are expected, the type of service they want and you should have been able to work in your requirements about space and set-up.
Now is the time for you to do your spiel and provide them with your information. Explain your business services related to their inquiry. You could say “I provide professional face painting services offering full face designs. I follow a strict code of conduct using a clean sponge per child and do not paint anyone who appears to be sick… etc.” Phrase this statement to suit your business. This opening statement can be pretty standard and if it helps you to say it write it out on your form so that you remember it and say it in the same way every time but be flexible enough to adapt to the event that they are calling about. Having a prepared “script” is perfectly acceptable.
Explain your rate structure. Many have a bit of difficulty with this so my suggestion is to prepare a Rate Sheet to refer to and keep that handy. I have one that is four pages long that covers every service I provide and options such as a day-rate, etc. I don’t publish or distribute it just use it to keep myself consistent. A sample rate sheet is provided in the document templates in Chapter Two. If you are prone to discounting your rate make up a chart to refer to so you can remember your terms for qualifying for a discount.
Explain your terms. A contract will be sent to them by mail to return with a deposit or emailed deposit paid by PayPal, etc. Whatever your terms are such as a seven-day hold pending receipt of deposit or that you do not paint children under the age of three; basically anything that is important for them to know before they confirm the booking.
The last thing is to get their mailing address. If they are booking you it is for mailing out the contract, if they didn’t, it will be so you can mail them some information about your services.
Keep a smile in your voice even if they decide not to make a booking and, if they say it is because they are actually looking for something else refer them to someone and ask them to say you gave them their name. It never hurts to help out others in the business as referrals work both ways.
There are different ways to set-up a form to use – you can make them small like telephone message pads or full-sized hole punched to go in a binder. Figure out what will work best for you. If you use your mobile phone more than a landline, keep a supply of forms with you in your car or kit so that you have them with you when you have answer the cell phone.
All inquiry forms should be kept, even for the calls that don’t end in a booking, as you can use the information you have collected to assess things like the success of advertising or marketing activities, etc.
© Shannon Fennell, 2009
with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007
and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008