Ask the Experts | Explaining Ride-Alongs to Homeowners

Question: Regarding ride-alongs with a comfort advisor, can you give us some ways to explain the additional person to the homeowner? We have done this in the past and found it to be a bit awkward.

Weldon Long, New York Times Bestselling Author:

That’s actually a really good question, and not one that I’ve gotten a lot. I’ve done a lot like Drew and, I don’t know if Gary has done as many ride-alongs because he’s more general business consulting and operations consulting and stuff like that. But I know Drew’s done a ton and, in fact, Drew did one with me, about 15 years ago.

What I can tell you is that I’ve only had one problem ever going on a ride-along. It was actually about six months ago, and the comfort consultant and I got to the front door, the guy comes out and he steps out on the doorstep and starts talking and says, “Well, you guys can figure out which one of you is coming in, but you’re not both coming in.” We thought he was joking, so we talked a few more minutes about whatever, and then the comfort consultant said, “Well, if we can come in we can get started,” and the guy says, “I told you, you guys can decide which one’s coming in, but you’re not both coming in.”

So he looked at me and I told him to just go in and take care of it. After the call, the comfort consultant called me, and the homeowner had actually apologized. But the reason he apologized is because he thought I was the closer and he had two sales guys coming in the house. That’s the only time I’ve ever had a problem.

Typically what I do, is I always tell comfort consultants or the service technician that I don’t want them to introduce me as a trainee, but I don’t want them to introduce me as the manager or boss. We don’t want the homeowner looking to me for questions, right, and thinking I’m the boss. But there are also going to be times when I jump in the conversation, so I need to have some credibility. So I’ve had it done a couple ways.

One way is I have the comfort consultant say this is Wally, he works with our company doing some customer service training or quality control, something like that.

Other times I’ve just had them say, “This is Wally, he’s going to be hanging out with me today.” I had one guy one time say, “This is Wally, he’s thinking about maybe coming to work for our company, transferring from Colorado.” Which I don’t’ exactly like because it’s not exactly true, I guess it’s kind of a shade of gray, so I wasn’t really comfortable with that.

As long as it’s accurate and true I’m comfortable with it, I just prefer not to be introduced as a trainee or a manager because I’m neither. The reality is I’m there essentially for customer service training, to make sure they’re dealing with their customers properly, having the right conversations. I find that’s a pretty effective way. And again I’ve only ever had one time when it’s been an issue.

I had a time once when I was training two guys in my company and I took them on a lead with me and I took both of them with. In that situation we actually called the homeowner ahead of time and asked if they would be OK with it. We did refer to them as trainees on that call, because they were trainees. But typically when I go, just typically “customer service representative,” or “he’s here to make sure I’m doing a good job today,” something like that. When we do it that way, I haven’t had many problems.

Drew, I can’t even imagine how many hundreds of these you’ve done over the last 20 years, kind of curious of your experience on that.

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