Expert advice on how to manage customer waiting lists effectively

Expert advice on how to manage customer waiting lists effectively

A life in the trades sometimes comes with setbacks, and these can affect how quickly workers can attend requests for new jobs. Research by IronmongeryDirect found that the average waiting list for a UK tradesperson is five weeks, with roofers having the largest demand (nine weeks).

Staff shortages (28%), finding staff with the right skillset (16%) and delays with parts (17%) are just some of the main reasons for these long waiting lists.

With this in mind, Ellis Osborn, Ecommerce Manager at IronmongeryDirect, shares the following six tips to help tradespeople manage their waiting lists and keep customers happy:

Prioritising your waitlist
Prioritising your waitlist is crucial for ensuring your business runs smoothly. Review your list of jobs and identify those which are most urgent so you can complete these first. You may have an emergency call out, or some customers who have been waiting a number of weeks. Whoever you choose to prioritise, it’s important to keep all staff and customers updated and be transparent about why you have to push work back.

Keeping in touch with customers
No matter how long your wait list is, it’s crucial to keep a constant line of communication with your customers to let them know when planned work is due to commence. Be honest about waiting times from the beginning, and open about potential delays, such as materials shortages, or larger jobs taking longer than expected. Being clear with people will help to avoid any confusion and keep them happy.

Suggest alternative businesses where possible
You may find that customers were hoping to have the work conducted earlier and can’t wait for your available slots. If this is the case, you may want to suggest other businesses that may be able to take on the work sooner. Building relationships with other tradespeople can be a really positive thing to do, as if you recommend them to customers when you’re unable to take on the work, they might be able to return the favour at a later date to help you out.

Offer temporary solutions
There might be cases where you’re unable to attend a job to complete it fully, but you’re able to provide a temporary solution or workaround for the customer while they wait. This shows commitment to the customer, while buying you some time.

Quality assurance
The most effective way to keep customers happy is to ensure that when you do get to their job, you do it to the highest quality possible, justifying their long wait for your time. Nothing is more important than doing the job well, so providing a brilliant service is key to a satisfied client base.

How to keep organised
Keeping organised can often feel like a mammoth task for a lot of people, but understanding what work you have coming in and when will help your business run more smoothly.

1. Planning your calendar – having a work calendar will help you to view your upcoming jobs and when new work can be planned in
2. Factor in time off – no matter the size of your business or how busy you are, it’s important to plan in holidays and time off so you don’t experience burnout. Plan your leave in advance so you can move work around it
3. Use your time wisely – seeing both planned and potential work in one handy document will help you to plan your time effectively. You may have jobs in close proximity that you can schedule together, which will help you cut down on travel time.

For more from IronmongeryDirect, click here.

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