Brooke Hiam, owner of Glendale Bakery, specializes in special occasion cakes. When you walk in you see a beautiful display case filled with wedding cakes. Nearby sits a photo album of more elaborate, one-of-a-kind creations.
Her shop is always busy. She has managed to develop her passion for creating decadent wedding cakes into a major profit center for her small business. It might surprise you to learn that an important element of her success has been outsourcing all of her telephone calls to a telephone answering service.
“When I bought this place,” she recalls, “I was everywhere, doing everything. From managing my purchases, to meeting with clients, I did everything you can imagine.”
“Of course, I’ve always loved to create special occasion pieces. That’s my real passion. When we got started, I did a few wedding cakes that first summer. Word got around, and soon I was doing quite a few. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that listening to clients carefully is as important as creating the perfect cake.”
“But, I found that spending an hour with the bride, her mom, or even members of the wedding party took more time than I could handle,” Brooke sighs. “I wanted to keep doing the special occasion pieces, since that’s what I love, but I couldn’t afford to spend so much time selling each job. There is just too much for a small-business owner to do, and pretty soon I was overwhelmed.”
“In the second year, I hired a telephone answering service to handle my calls. That took a lot of pressure off me, but I had no idea how much else they could do! After about three months or so, my account rep at the answering service met with me again. She helped set up a system where all my special occasion callers go through a different process when they call.
“The agent asks them a series of questions that used to take me about a half-hour to go over in person. Then, they schedule an appointment for the bride to meet with me.
“By the time they come into the shop, I already have some price quotes together, samples ready, and photos from my portfolio to show them. The whole meeting is done in half an hour. Now, I’m doing what I love, and I’m managing my time much better. I couldn’t be happier.”
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan. Contact us to learn how a telephone answering service can answer your calls 24/7 to better serve your customers.