A Note from the Editor: We asked you nearly the same question in 2006, and I was curious to see if your answers would change considering the way the economy has tumbled in the last six years. Your answers did change, but not in the way I thought they would.
Here is the question: It is Thanksgiving Day, and as you check your email at halftime, you find that two new leads have come in. The leads say you can contact them at any time. Do you call them back on Thanksgiving Day, or do you wait until Friday (or even Monday)? Why?
As you read these results, keep in mind that I am far better with words than I am with numbers, and know that none of this is scientific by any means. Back in 2006 only 27 percent of readers who responded said they would call back on Thanksgiving Day. Backlogs were still robust in 2006, and life was pretty good, but now that things have changed, I was expecting that more of you would be likely to call back on Thanksgiving Day 2012. Gladly, I was wrong. Six years later, only 17 percent of you said you would return the call on Thanksgiving Day.
What did not come as a surprise is that although most of you would not call back on Thanksgiving Day, many of you would respond via email on the holiday. In 2006, only 10 percent of respondents said they’d send an email right away, but in 2012, 25 percent are ready to start typing with their thumbs during halftime.
In general, most of you said you’d wait until Friday or Monday to return the call, and most of you said the reason for that is because, well, a holiday is a holiday, a time to be with family and friends. In 2006, 48 percent would call back on Friday or Monday, and things aren’t much different in 2012, when 50 percent said they’d wait.
No, the numbers don’t add up to 100 percent, but that’s because there were also a lot of other answers that weren’t specific about how they’d respond to a holiday work request. Some of those responses are printed below and more are available online at www.awci.org/cd.
I’ll call them back that following Monday. 1) I wouldn’t disturb anyone on Thanksgiving Day. 2) I’ll be out of Atlanta fishing in Florida, thank God! Our last vacation was a year ago. I need it bad. 3) If you didn’t make wages before Thanksgiving you’re not going to make them on Thanksgiving Day either. Happy Thanksgiving & God bless you all.
—Bruce Brown, Asars Inc., Metro Atlanta
Email a response ASAP. Let them know you are interested and follow up Monday. It shows you are accessible and responsive at all times. After all, they are contacting you on Thanksgiving. Unless of course you’re too drunk at the time!
—M. Owens, Bison Drywall, Inc.
It would depend totally on whether my team was ahead in the game. Kidding aside, yes, you answer the call ASAP. Why? A customer would not usually call on a national holiday unless they were in dire need of your services. Place yourself in his shoes. Just answering his call lets him know that he has someone trying to help him. This goes a long way toward future business with this customer.
I interpret “anytime” as “I am ready.” Often times the early bird catches the worm. I call between the third and fourth quarter.
—Tim Rogan, Vice President, Houston Lath and Plaster, Seabrook, TX
It would really depend on the contents and urgency of the email. In most cases I would call back on Monday as I would like to enjoy the family time, which in this industry you have to take advantage of any free time because it’s rarely available.
—Richard Huntley, WeKanDo Construction, Inc., Rio Piedras, PR
The wonderful traditions of Thanksgiving: bountiful food, family, trying not to stab your mother-in-law with the carving knife and watching the Detroit Lions get the crap kicked out of them on television … . If a customer reaches out at any time, I reach back. I just hope they understand Western Pennsylvania and deer season. If not, I send them a complimentary DVD of “The Deer Hunter” along with promotional materials on our company and the services we provide.
—Howard Bernstein, President Penn Installations, Inc. Summerhill, PA
I personally believe you should wait until Friday. With any new client boundaries need to be established. If you contact them on Thanksgiving, you have just stated that you are available at any and all hours of the day and week. It has been my experience that serious customers will respect that you have a family and that you also make time for them. If you lose a customer to a competitor because you did not get back to them immediately on Thanksgiving, you have to ask yourself if you lost a sale or if you lost a headache.
—Michael Munnerlyn Maxtec
Whether it’s Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day, that time is for family. Unless you have no family (and I hope that wouldn’t be the case), you shouldn’t even be checking your “work” email, unless you’re a doctor on call. A lead is just that, a lead for a possible job; it can wait until you resume your normal operating schedule.
Others may think it’s critical to respond for the possibility of $$. That’s the problem with some people today. Money may make things easier, but it can’t buy you happiness. Unless it’s an emergency, someone’s going to die or be critically hurt, then it can wait.
I suppose it’s how you sum things up. I once had a boss who said, “Your job is #1, everything else comes after.” My response: “My family is #1, my job is #2, I can replace my job but I can’t replace my family.” He wasn’t real happy with my response but he couldn’t argue either. He never mentioned work that way again.
—GJ, South Texas. Git ‘em Aggies!
I wouldn’t have my phone on in the first place. There is a time for work and a time for family. The GC calling on that day has a problem getting people to bid his work. I am better off not getting involved.
—James Peterman, Executive Vice President, AA Stucco & Drywall, Inc., Naples, FL
I would contact them via email, before the second half starts, informing them that I will call them on Friday morning to discuss their upcoming project—because all leads are too valuable to put on the back burner.
—Jim Fitzpatrick, Steel Interiors LLC, Huntingdon Valley, PA
In this market, aggressively pursuing potential work is looked at as a positive, in our experience. Assuming the leads did arrive via email, then our response would also be immediate via email. Thanksgiving Day is a holiday, of course, but when you consider the activities that one becomes involved in on that particular day, following up on a business issue is certainly warranted, albeit a brief interlude.
—Howard F. Hopson, Hopson Specialty Systems, Forty Fort, PA
Depending on the time frame you define as “halftime,” I would check my email around noon and follow up immediately and touch base with the prospect(s) to schedule and estimate-visit for next Monday. A 5-minute call for each lead (10 minutes total) would not mess up your holiday, instead, may give you a better chance to earn their business since you responded promptly.
I would not get the email until Friday because I can’t get out of my chair after eating like I’m not going to eat again until next Thanksgiving!
—Chris Andrevich, Andrevich Drywall, Freeport, PA
“Anytime” obviously means any time that would be acceptable to the average person. Calling them back on Thanksgiving, regardless of how you feel, is in poor taste and a bad choice. If you received the email at midnight would you call them then? Better to just shoot an email back and inform them you will call them tomorrow and/or they may call you tomorrow at (this) number.
My answer is conditional upon the circumstances: If you want to communicate to potential clients that you are very desperate for business, that you have no family life of your own or regard for that of others, or if you are a recent immigrant and ignorant of our local customs, then you should follow up immediately on Thanksgiving Day.
On the other hand, why not contact them at 3 o’clock in the morning, when you can have their full-attention? Maybe this “Problem Solved” is directed at contractors who failed in the great recession and are now in the restoration business or seeking opportunities after Hurricane Sandy. Sorry if I misunderstood.
—Chris Ball, Ball CM,
Santa Clarita, CA
That’s like asking if you see a gold coin laying on the ground and you’re in a hurry to get to your destination, do you pick it up now or wait to get it on your way back? Of course you pick it up, and you would call to schedule the appointments regardless of the holiday. Leads are gold!
—Tom Johnston “The Basement Doctor”
Monday is the correct time to respond. You have to respect everyone’s holiday.
—John Kendzierski, President, Professional Drywall Construction Inc.
If at all possible, I will answer my phone or call the customer back as soon as I can even after hours weekends or holidays. Anyone can call the customer back during normal business hours. I feel it sets me apart from the crowd to answer or return calls as soon as possible. Also, if the customer is calling with a problem or concern, I would rather address it sooner than later.
Marek Brothers Company, Dallas, TX
If it is a contractor I know well, I would consider a call only to harass them for working on a holiday. Otherwise I would wait until Monday because if they are like us, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a great day for quiet time cleaning up the odds and ends to start the Monday with a clean desk.
—Mike Chambers, J & B Acoustical, Mansfield, OH
I’d give them a call on Friday and tell them that we’re closed on Friday but I’d take care of it first thing Monday morning. Even in this slow time we’re all working hard and need some time with our families.
Also, I’m sure if you were low bidder on Monday you would still get the job. Being that low bid seems to mean more than timeliness or quality these days.
—Pete Dittemore, Sierra Insulation Contractors Inc., Ontario, CA