I don’t think so….
Back in 2002, this was just a fledgling business. Sure, I had over 20 years of experience, but this new business meant starting over from nowhere. I had never before sold buildings primarily through the internet.
Our building plans – two pages (granted they were full blueprint size at 24” x 36”) would “get you there”, but you had to guess a bit and pay a lot of attention.
The reason most pole builders do not want to sell pole barn kits…instructions.
If you provide really, really good instructions, you get very few phone calls and Emails for help. But, it takes crafting those directions. And it is a long and time intensive project, especially when you want to sell “custom” buildings.
When we first started, our instruction “manual” (using the term loosely), was less than two dozen pages. The directions had been written by me back in the early ‘90s, when I was a builder – we had our subcontract crews using them.
Now from the plans and those bare bones pole building instructions and my having been involved in several thousand buildings, I certainly could have put together a fine building. However, very few people (even those who pound nails and drive screws for a living every day) have my level of experience.
Over the years, every time a client would have a question or concern about either the plans or the instructions, we would add more wording, pictures and “live” drawings to the appropriate documentation. We wanted our clients to have the best possible building experience, and our plans and instructions reflected our desire.
The building plans became more and more detailed, swelling to six pages or more. And the “Construction Manual” over 400 pages!
Along with this, we got to the point where we had such a huge volume of business – we ended up with one person pretty much doing technical support full time. Technical support means helping people via phone, text, FAX and/or Email through their building project.
Now this was crazy!
In hopes of better servicing our clients, I ended up as Technical Director (meaning “Mike, you can do the Technical Support”). First it was sort of a joke, but the name Pole Barn Guru quickly had me “flagged and tagged”…and the name stuck!
Over an 18 month period, our Construction Manual was completely revamped and rewritten. Chapters were made very narrowly focused. More drawings were added as well as actual construction photos. The guide now appears in each client’s login on the Hansen Buildings website.
The chapters which pertain to each particular building are now highlighted. We’re back to keeping it simple.
So how does all of this pertain to an unemployment line?
Judy, one of Hansen’s owners, asked me today about how many total hours I have spent on true Technical Support with our clients since the new construction manual “went live” at the beginning of 2011.
While I couldn’t give her the exact number of minutes, I know it has been less than a total of a half day of time, in seven plus months!
I had worked (written) myself out of a job…..
Or did I?
See tomorrow’s blog…..