Your phone room can be your greatest marketing asset — a steady, scalable lead source. Here are ways to help make it hum: • Always be selective in who you hire. One of the big problems for companies that run phone rooms to telemarket, track down show/event inquiries, set and confirm canvass appointments, etc., is that they’ll hire anybody. Don’t.

Take employment phone calls yourself. If the applicant seems suitable, have him or her come in for an interview as soon as possible. Within a day or two is ideal. People looking for work typically make a bunch of phone calls; their call to your company is one of many. Scheduling the interview makes you the priority.

Require applicants to come in for a second interview. Have them watch or listen in to someone on the phone. That way they have a clear idea of what the job entails.

Find out how they handle rejection. That’s key, since it’s not a quality you can easily train for. With a phone room, you are essentially inviting yourself into people’s homes at inopportune times. Employees can’t be demoralized by rejection, say, for instance, someone hanging up on them.

Beware of these redflags. The biggest are: unpleasant speaking voice; difficulty reading; being inattentive or not listening well. You need people to read your scripts in a clear voice and understand the response they’re getting from the homeowner.

Set a performance standard that’s reasonable. You’ll figure out what that standard is depending on the purpose of the calls being made and the intended result — whether it’s cold-calling, converting inquiries to appointments, processing sweepstakes entries, or whatever else. Let people know what the standard is and hold them accountable for meeting it. Don’t be afraid to fire unproductive people or those who disrupt your company culture. And don’t hesitate to fire liars. They ruin your reputation.

Don’t feel obligated to create contests and games on a daily basis. The better way to motivate call center staff is to create a pay plan that rewards people for doing what you want or need them to do. For example, if you need next-day leads, provide an incentive for that. Reward for confirmed leads or leads that are actually demo’d. Contests and games take time away from the phone.

Give them a break. Let call center staff break for about 10 minutes every hour. It helps people keep their minds straight. You want to create, and maintain, a fun, friendly work environment. Eliminate distractions such as background music.

Make it professional. Serious people won’t last 15 minutes if your phone room is staffed by those who feel they have no better alternative. If it’s a zoo, you’ll end up with animals. Imagine the kind of place you’d want your son or daughter to work in. Make it that. 

—Marketing and sales consultant Rick Menendez has worked for some of the largest home improvement companies. Reach him at or 757.7464664.

More REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR articles about call center staffing:

Handle With Care: A careless attitude toward lead handling can cost you big bucks. Don't blame the phone room. Learn to manage it

Turn Hang-ups Into Leads 

The First Call: One step in a prospective customer relationship that is commonly overlooked or mishandled is the first phone call