Delivery & Installation, Operations, V8I3

Is the Shed Site a Sorry Sight?

(Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

A couple of months ago, I got to visit one of our RTO clients that I had known from decades ago.

It was great to reconnect and catch up again. I always go in to study and see what I can learn that would be helpful to me and for each one of y’all. I was excited to check this one out! And as anticipated, this one turned into a great learning trip.

But, in order to do that, let’s go back 10 years and dig up an old story that turned into a great learning lesson for us.

It was back when I was running those 2 a.m. to 11 p.m. days every Tuesday and Thursday—and occasionally an extra day. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason, I had a couple of lots that were over four hours from my house. And then, there were close to two hours between them. It was what it was. I had some great guys selling for me (employees, not dealers) and it just seemed to be the right thing to do. Plus, I had huge dreams back then.

So it was a packed day. It was around 11 a.m. and we (my son was with me) were already on our third building at the first lot. Finish this one and head to the second lot and do three more, I mused to myself. I had them lined up where the last one off the first lot was headed in the direction of the second lot. Visions of a leisurely steak dinner at about 8 p.m. flooded my thoughts. We were trucking along.

And then, ugh, it happened. I should have known.

My sales guy had informed me when I loaded this shed that both of them had gone out and done a “site check” on this one. Everything would be fine. Psshhh. I was so busy dreaming of steak, I didn’t even catch it.

“Site checks” are what we did when customers started asking certain questions or hedging their stories about us being able to deliver a building. Mules were unheard of back in those days. Plus, the boss (I had a conversation with him later) had no use for that nonsense at that time. We wanted to know what we were up against. So when he said, “I did a site check,” it should have gotten my attention. It didn’t. We took off for the delivery address.

Pulling up at the address, I was impressed by the place. Well-manicured, long drive, and a big two-story colonial house was part of what painted the setting. Better go check it out, I muttered to my son. Walking down the gorgeous driveway, I realized how beautiful the day was. It gave me a chance to pop the clutch a second and just coast for a bit. 

Walking up the steps to the house, I was met by a vision of beauty and elegance. She had to be in her 80s but was still as agile as most 30-year-olds. Beautiful long white hair wisping around a tanned, leather face. She smiled brilliantly and cheerily said that she was SO GLAD I was there! She heard I was the best! (I was the only one … ) Way back in the back of my cobwebs, a bell began to toll.

As I expected, she was a neat freak. As we walked around the side of the house, I found out what the site check was for. “Here lie all my pets,” she whispered. Ugh. A legit, stone-laden pet cemetery. For a couple of seconds, I desperately tried to remember the size of the shed on my little trailer. Was it a 12 by 24? 12 by 30? 36? 

I yanked my tape out—14 feet from the edge of the big porch. On a slope. The sun disappeared behind a cloud, along with my visions of steak. My mood was sinking dreadfully fast. I paused.

She turned on the charm. Those two guys you sent out here said it shouldn’t be real bad, she chirped. PLUS, they said you were the best EVER.

I just looked at her. The bell was tolling loudly now. I could barely hear her. What happens if I have to drive across your cat? She didn’t like that. Not one bit. Her lip pouted. I sighed. Plus, it was a cash sale, and I hated not delivering cash sales. Okay, I muttered, we will TRY. I walked back and checked the backyard. The rest looked fairly simple.

Walking back out the driveway, I decided those worthless sales guys were gonna buy my steak.

Not only that, it was gonna be a big one. My son and I had a great system for getting sheds in tight places fairly effectively and fast, and today we were gonna need it. I pulled up and blindside backed it straight in the long driveway.

One shot. That was a minor win, I thought. And that’s when the real problem showed up.

Not one of us, the two sales guys, my son, or I, had even noticed the two big oaks guarding the driveway halfway to the house. And, simply put, no building was going through there. Not by two inches. And there we sat. It was 45 minutes back to the lot. And the wrong direction to get to the second lot. Plus, cash sale. I called the sales guy. What about the two trees in the driveway, I practically barked at him.

He was stunned. Silence. Six-foot-six Marine. What trees, he barely squeaked. I will have to take all the metal off the roof to get it to fit, I said. And there goes another hour, IF I can even get through that pet cemetery. And then we STILL have to get it in the backyard. He mustered up all the courage his small 6-6 frame had and said (gasp) that if we would take the metal off, they would come right away and put it all back on.

So that’s what happened. I had it off in 15 minutes. And inside the building. Hah! Nope, that’s not what happened. She said she wasn’t worried about the trees, so we stuffed it right through there. Instead of 24 pieces of metal needing to come off, we only squished six pieces.

Yes, yes, I know. But I still wanted steak. Around the cemetery we went, watch out for the porch, and in the backyard we went. Dropped and blocked and gone. The poor lady was in a tizzy.

Are you sure they are coming? She was worried. Yes, ma’am, I said. And I was gone.

They showed up and fixed her right up. And I got my steak dinner. Just not that night.

So, now back to our client that I went to visit. I learned that they site check every sale. I’m curious if every sale means every sale. Wow. That’s a lot. But, I see some very good points to this. 

Imagine how much easier it is to close a sale. How much more your delivery guys will enjoy their job. How much happier your customers are. Basically everyone. I can hear the sales guys already. Some of them, maybe a bunch, would just flat quit. Or maybe not, once they see the closing ratios.

Here are some ideas onsite checks:

1. Train whoever is doing them on how to do them. This could be as simple as a checklist or as much as having them ride on a couple of deliveries and see what scenarios actually happen. Shoot, do this anyway. It’s all part of team building. Everyone should go on at least a dozen deliveries. Doesn’t matter what their job is. Hop in the rig and go.

2. Work as a team. If you get there and you see an issue, talk to your delivery guys. Walk through every problem. Take pictures. Always, always take pictures. Communication, as always, is the key.

3. Learn what tools are available. It is amazing what a Google search can show you. You can even measure gates, spacing, and areas. Sometimes others work better. Bing. Huntstand. Lots of options. Have your customers send pictures. Show them the difference on a tape in 120 inches and 12 feet. Yes, that one happens all the time. (120 inches is 10 feet, by the way …) Have the customer do a walkaround video.

4. Most importantly, if the sale hasn’t been made yet, learn how to close the sale. Site checks should be 99 percent closed. If they are comfortable enough to have you come by before the sale, that’s a done deal. Get it.

5. Y’all are gonna get tired of this, but the most important is Communication. With everyone. The sales guy. The hauler. Even the builder. And mostly, the customer. Most of your problems stem from communication. Eliminate problems. Communicate.

Anyway, site checks are important. And it impresses me when a company does them. Just remember, look for the things that you don’t even notice. They all add up. Even big trees you walk right under. 

Someone get me a chainsaw.

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