Written by Chris Lambrinides


Always Answer Your Phone

My friend and coworker John Lee answers the phone twenty-four hours a day. I’m not kidding; he sleeps with his Apple earbuds in and will answer a call at all hours. He says if you don’t answer your phone or if you let a customer go to voice mail, “You are in business to go out of business.”

I don’t recommend this exact technique; resting your mind is important. But I do believe there is great wisdom in it. In today’s fast-paced, mobile-Internet world, people demand an instant response. They want things now, now, now.

If they call and you don’t pick up, chances are they will go down the line and call the next person they find on Google.
During the day, answer your phone whenever you can. If you can’t pick up after hours, consider using an answering service. That way, even though they won’t get you or your office staff, at least they will be getting a live person.

That real, live person will take the caller’s info and forward it to you. People hang up on answering machines but not on real, live people. Even if you can’t talk to the customer at that second, at least you have captured their info. Call them back as fast as possible, and get that job booked. Your competition won’t do this; on the surface, it seems too hard to do.

During the busy season, call around to a few window cleaning companies. I bet anything you get 90% voicemails. In the busy
season, the customer wants their windows cleaned now. They don’t want to call around for prices or find the best deal. They want to book an appointment and move on with the rest of their day.

Twenty-four hours a day, your customers should always get a real person. Phone services are cheap. Let’s say you spend $100 a month on a phone service. If that phone service captures just a couple of leads that convert to jobs, the whole thing pays for itself.


Cell Phone or Landline

When you are first starting out, a cell phone is perfect. You are mobile in the field, making things happen, taking calls, selling jobs—it’s great!

Once you start to expand, you will be getting more calls than you can answer in one day. That’s when you’re going to want to have that number routed to your office instead.

The upside of a cell phone is the mobility and the easy access. There is also the added benefit of having the ability to text message with your clients. I know I would rather text with someone than pick up the phone. I think a lot of people are the same.

The downsides of the cell phone are phone numbers won’t scale as you grow. You are constantly answering the phone and not getting much work done. Also, it’s not as easy to pick a vanity number or one that’s easily remembered. And, of course, there is the spotty reception in a lot of areas.


Your Phone Number

Vanity or custom numbers used to be more important when a phone number had to be remembered or jotted down on the fly. Now, with the Internet, I don’t think they’re as important as they once were.

If you have the ability to pick your number, go for something with repeating numbers—for example, 234-467-5555 is better than 234-467-5982.

If you can pick your own number, try to get something sequential. If you can’t, it’s not the end of the world.

I just called Verizon to confirm, and they told me there is currently no way to pick your own cell number. You can specify the area code and first three digits in some cases. But when it comes to the final four digits, it’s out of your control. I also just called my local phone company to confirm, and I could, in fact, pick one from a list of available numbers.


Your Voicemail

If answering calls twenty-four hours a day is not an option, you will have to rely on voice mail. There are going to be times when you have no way of answering the call. If you can’t get to the phone, consider a message on your machine as simple as this:

“Hi, and thank you for calling Sparta Window Cleaning. Your call is extremely important to us. Please leave your name and number at the beep, and I will get back to you right away. For faster service, also consider texting us back at the same number. Thank you very much, and have a great day.”

Warning: There is a significant chance that the person calling will hang up on your voicemail and then call the next window cleaner they find via Google search. He who answers the phone first and fastest has the highest probability of winning.


Answering Service

You may want to consider an answering service at some point.

They can answer your phone twenty-four hours a day. They can forward you the messages in a segmented fashion. For example, they can text you all sales-related leads along with anybody looking to book an appointment. And they can then send any billing matters or customer-service-related items to your e-mail. Someone can get back to those people all at once later in the day. A sales lead is more time sensitive than a billing question.

I have used answering services on and off over the years. They have both pros and cons. The main pro is your phone is always answered, and you won’t lose any calls. The downside is the person answering won’t be able to answer technical questions. Knowing small details about your service and prices likely won’t be in their skill set. That can sometimes annoy customers.

And, of course, there is the added expense to consider. Answering services usually charge on a per-minute basis, which can add up faster than you would imagine.


Collect Data

Check this out: We called this our prospective form, a simple piece of paper to put in your hand when talking to each new client. It helps you make sure you collect all the vital pieces of information.

You are going to want to get this information into your database, whether they choose to book an appointment (active customer) or are just thinking about it (prospective customer). All the collected data is important. Log it and get it into your database as fast as possible.

You can collect whatever data points you think will be most helpful.

Here is what we always tried to collect:


You are going to receive the same basic types of phone calls over and over again. It’s important to have a couple of scripts in place. The whole key to scripts is to use one without sounding scripted. Think about that. You need talking points—that is, things to cover in each conversation.

Although this isn’t as important on the surface when you first start out, it will be important if you have aspirations for growth.

You have three basic phone scenarios:

1. Inbound calls. They will come in whenever.

2. Outbound transactional calls. You can control when and how they happen.

3. Outbound marketing-related calls. You can control when these happen, and they should be prescheduled. Put them on a set time on your calendar five days a week. I prefer mornings.


Scripts—Inbound Calls

Let’s think about the most common types of phone calls you are going to receive:

1. Hi, I have never used your service and would like a price quote.”

2. “I have used your service and would like to reschedule.”

3. “Hi, I have an appointment on the schedule and would like to cancel it.”

4. “Hi, I have an appointment on the schedule and would like to move it.”

5. “Hi, it’s raining. Can I reschedule?”

When you think about it, the majority of your calls can be pigeon-holed into one of these five categories. If you have employees, you’ll likely need a sixth category for complaints.

Take a day to sit and jot down your thoughts on each of these types of calls. Start with bullet points, and then craft them into a script.
Here is my script on how to sell any residential job over the phone. For those who think you can’t sell a job over the phone, I promise you, you’re wrong. It is possible. I used this script to sell over seventy-five thousand residential window cleaning jobs over a thirteen-year period.

Phone Script

“Good morning/afternoon, Sparta Window Cleaning.” (Say it with a smile.)

Customer: “I’m interested in window cleaning.”

Notes: Introduce yourself with your first name, and tell them that you can help them.

Gather data
“I’m going to take a couple of pieces of information from you and ask you a few questions. When we’re done, I will have a very accurate price for you.”

Grab your prospective sheet and get the basics:

1. Name

2. Address

3. Phone Number

4. How did you hear about us?

5. Do you have any coupons you would like to use?

Notes: Get their first name and use it frequently. People love to hear their name. Using it brings a sense of familiarity that will leave them more open mentally to scheduling with you.


Estimate the job

“OK, Nancy. I need to ask you some questions about your windows”:

1. “Do you open them by lifting them up and down or by cranking them out?”

2. “Do any of the windows have true divides or storms?”

3. “Do any of the windows need to be reached by a ladder on the inside of your home?”

4. “Do you have any skylights or chandeliers?”

5. “Do you know approximately how many windows are in your home?”

Notes: If you charge by the window, and I recommend you do, you will be able to give your customer a very accurate price by asking them the above five questions.

“OK, based on what you’re telling me, your window cleaning will be approximately $___. Now, keep in mind that we charge strictly on a per-window basis. If your count goes up or down, your price will fluctuate. Once we arrive on-site, the supervisor”—or you—“will take a walk around. We will add up what you have there and give you a 100% official price before we start.”

Notes: The key phrase from above is “based on what you’re telling me.”

“I would also like to mention we offer a variety of other services to enhance your home, such as pressure washing, roof cleaning, gutter cleaning, and so on. Can I interest you in a quote on any of those services?”

Notes: “Can I interest you” is rather lame because it opens the door for them to say no. It goes against the assumptive close tactic. But that’s OK because I don’t want to pressure or oversell anyone, and we will be using the assumptive close next.


Use the Close

“We do work six days a week, so we can find an appointment time that’s just perfect for you. And we start as early as six a.m. My next available appointment in your area is next Tuesday. Do you prefer mornings or afternoons?”

Notes: And that, folks, is the assumptive close. It’s brilliant, and it works! I didn’t ask them if they wanted to book the appointment. I didn’t give them the opportunity to say no. I asked them a question with only two possible answers, neither of which involved asking them if they wanted to schedule. I told them they were going to schedule. And they will! Don’t open the door for them to say no.
Customer: “Oh, I’ll take the morning appointment!”


Read the Fine Print

“All right, that sounds great, Nancy. I have you all set and entered into our computer system, and you’re good to go. We do require an entirely refundable deposit to secure an appointment. What type of credit card would you like to put that on today? When the job is complete, you can pay the balance by check or cash, or we can just add it to your card.”

Notes: Again, use an assumptive close. I didn’t ask them if we could take a deposit. I asked them what type of card they would like to use. It came out of my mouth like the most natural thing in the world. If you get any friction on this point, ask them if they could reserve a flight or a hotel without a credit card deposit. In your head, always know that your time is no less valuable than anyone else’s. A credit card deposit is in place, so your time is taken seriously. Say it with confidence, and they will hand it over instantly.

“Thanks, Nancy. We appreciate your business and look forward to coming out to your home next Tuesday. I will be giving you a reminder call the day before your appointment. Please don’t forget, we require twenty-four hours’ notice to cancel. Give me a heads-up if anything arises and you need to move your appointment.”

Notes: This is an excellent opportunity to collect their e-mail address. You can do your reminder by e-mail as a way to get the address. E-mail addresses are very valuable, so do what you can to acquire them.

“Thanks, Nancy. See you next Tuesday.” (Say it with a smile.)


Scripts—Outbound Calls—Transactional

1. Outbound returning call: “Hi, I’m returning your call about scheduling an appointment.”

2. The reminder call: “Hi, I’m calling to remind you about your appointment tomorrow.”

3. The follow-up call: “Hi, I’m calling to follow up on your appointment yesterday.”

These are scripts you should have. Think about how you can pepper them with marketing so that no contact with a customer gets wasted.


Outbound Returning Call

Simple enough, you can sell to customers over the phone and tell them about all the services you offer. This is a great opportunity to schedule them, upsell them, and ask for a referral.

On the surface, scripts two and three look strictly transactional. However, you have many opportunities to include a marketing message. You can pursue many possibilities and different angles.


The Reminder Call

“Hi, Nancy. This is Chris from Sparta Window Cleaning. I’m just calling to remind you about your appointment tomorrow. We have you set for an arrival time between ten and noon. Please have someone home at the time of service. We need to get in to remove your screens and do the insides of your windows. Don’t forget, we also offer roof cleaning, pressure washing, and gutter cleaning. We would be happy to provide you with an estimate for these services while we are out there. If you have any friends or family in the area who could take advantage of our services, please let us know. We would love an introduction.”

I made a standard customer-service transactional phone call and then used it as an opportunity not only to market our other services we offer but also again to ask for a referral. Think of how many transactional-type calls like this you need to make. Every one of them is an upsell and referral opportunity.


The Follow Up Call

“Hi, Nancy. This is Chris from Sparta Window Cleaning. I’m just calling to remind you about your appointment tomorrow. We have you set for an arrival time between ten and noon. Please have someone home at the time of service. We need to get in to remove your screens and do the insides of your windows. Don’t forget, we also offer roof cleaning, pressure washing, and gutter cleaning. We would be happy to provide you with an estimate for these services while we are out there. If you have any friends or family in the area who could take advantage of our services, please let us know. We would love an introduction.”

I made a standard customer-service transactional phone call and then used it as an opportunity not only to market our other services we offer but also again to ask for a referral. Think of how many transactional-type calls like this you need to make. Every one of them is an upsell and referral opportunity.


Scripts—Outbound Calls—Marketing Related

“Hi, I’m calling to get you back on the schedule. It’s been X days since your last appointment.”

This is where the real money is. You have produced a satisfied customer, and X amount of time has passed. It’s easy to give these people a call out of nowhere and reschedule them. As a matter of fact, it’s your duty and obligation to do so. You run a company that provides exceptional customer service. Great customer service includes reminding your clients it’s time to do the windows again.

It’s as simple as this:

“Hi, Nancy. This is Chris from Sparta Window Cleaning. How are you today? Great, glad to hear it. I’m just giving you a call because it’s been eleven months since your last service. We are going to be in your area next week, and we would love to get you back on our schedule. And don’t forget, we have the prices in our system from last year, and we can honor them with no problem. Oh, and by the way, pressure washing your whole house would be only X dollars, and your roof and gutters would be only X dollars.”

I promise you will be pleasantly surprised at how many people are thrilled to death that you called. Yeah, they missed your e-mails, postcards, and newspaper ads. Be thankful you gave them the courtesy reminder. They will be.

Once you have been in business for a year, you should have a growing list of these repeat customers. You should have enough to call a few on a daily basis. You don’t need to call them your- self, but someone definitely should. It’s easy money, and you are providing great service. Don’t hesitate to remind them once a year unless, of course, they ask you not to.


Do-not-call list?

As of this writing in 2016, the National Do Not Call Registry does not apply to people with whom you have a prior business relationship.

For further details read the following:


It says,“A telemarketer or seller may call a consumer with whom it has an established business relationship for up to 18 months after the consumer’s last purchase, delivery, or payment—even if the consumer’s number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. In addition, a company may call a consumer for up to three months after the consumer makes an inquiry…One caveat: If a consumer asks a company not to call, the company may not call, even if there is an established business relationship.”


On-Hold Music

If you have one of those fancy phone systems, don’t waste time with crappy elevator music. Use it as an opportunity to play an upsell message. It can say something as simple as this:

“Your call is very important to us; we will be with you in just a moment. When the agent returns to your call, don’t forget to ask them about our fabulous spring specials. We have great deals on all our most popular services: window cleaning, pressure wash- ing, gutter cleaning, and now roof cleaning. Is your roof looking moldy? Ask us about our new safe, effective way to remove mold and moss from your roof.”

In a perfect world, you would never leave someone on hold. As a matter of fact, you should do everything in your power to avoid it. It’s annoying, and it upsets customers and leaves the door open for them to hang up on you. But if you must leave someone on hold and you have the ability, you may as well use it as a marketing opportunity.

Once you script out your on-hold message, consider having it read by a professional voice-over artist. I have used voicebunny.com and have been pleased with their work. I got a professional- sounding message from a former radio guy for fifteen bucks. You can’t beat that.


VoIP Sucks

When choosing a phone system, be wary of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. For an example of VoIP services, look at RingCentral, CallFire, or Grasshopper. They offer a ton of awesome features for a great price.

These are the next level of advanced stuff: forwarding, call- tracking reports, on-hold music, etc. The only problem is that the voice quality sucks. Get yourself a couple of free or low-cost trials and confirm for yourself. Although the price may be appealing, I believe it is all counteracted by the poor sound quality.

Part of being able to sell well on the phone is making sure the customer is clearly able to hear what you are saying.

But more important than that, you must be able to hear what’s going on with the person you’re talking to.

To really take control of and steer the conversation, you need to be able to hear the little things in their voices—the sighs, the pauses, the ahems. It’s crucial to be able to pick up these things. You have to understand their tone and demeanor at all times. It’s hard to do that over VoIP. The technology is just not there yet. Maybe it will be by the time you’re reading this, but I doubt it.


Take Control of the Call

I mentioned taking control of the call. To market and sell well over the phone, you need to have complete control of the call.

You need to take the call over and command what direction it goes in. You need to be able to lead the customer where you want them to go and say the things you want them to say. The ability to do so is the whole key and trick to closing jobs on the phone effectively.

It won’t come naturally at first; if anything, it will be hard to do. It will require lots of practice—years, actually. But once you master it, you will be shocked at how easy it is to close jobs. Practice on your spouse. Practice on your friends. Practice whenever you can. Remember, the more you can control the phone call, the more jobs you can close.


Don’t Sound Scripted

Use a script, but don’t sound scripted. This is worth mentioning again. Have a script or, at the very least, talking points on each type of call you deal with. There is a best way to do everything; if it’s documented, it’s easier to repeat over and over again. Not sounding scripted is the whole trick. To do it effectively, you need to have the talking points committed to memory. They should flow effortlessly from your mouth like water. Practice, practice, practice!



How often should you call a past client? That’s up to you. I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling more than once or twice a year, maximum. And I don’t think I would want to receive a sales call from someone more than once or twice a year. But I do know of some very successful companies in the industry that call their clients four to six times a year! They wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t work.


Text Messaging

Text messaging marketing is starting to become more popular. Check out this service: mozeo.com. It allows you to have cus- tomers auto opt in to receive occasional messages. The site gives you a dashboard and the ability to create custom phrases and numbers. You might consider sending out a quarterly coupon or message during the slow periods. To get your customers to opt in, you could put the following snippet of text on your website and paperwork:

“Text cleanwindow to 45876 to receive quarterly discounts and promotions.”

It’s that simple. Put that phrase on your materials, and sit back and relax while your list grows. Fire off a message a couple of times a year, and watch the work roll in.

Try it out: “Text windowcleaner to 24587.” That’s my list, and it will send you one super deal per month. That’s it, that’s all.


Auto Dialers

Auto-dialers are way annoying and should be illegal. I don’t recommend using them. I did, however, come across a service called slybrodcast.com. I have been playing around with it the past year or so with success.