Do any of you have technicians who complain? Dissatisfaction is an unpleasant part of the week, but most of us experience it frequently.
In psychology, there is a principle that at some level your diagnosis of what is wrong with someone else is a reflection of yourself. Of course, discovering what’s wrong with ourselves is easier said than done and takes humility to do. As an owner, you are the source of a multitude of your company’s problems and this can be painful to admit. Let me illustrate.
As I was finishing a morning meeting with a team of technicians, the owner became irritated about a few things, including a simple process of keeping a record of parts that were taken from the stockroom. In this case, the issue was that some of the technicians would tell him what parts to order, but would not write the request down. As a result, parts were frequently out of stock, and the boss became frustrated. He couldn’t keep the room stocked if the notebook was inaccurate.
Frustrated, he declared, “Don’t ever tell me which parts you take. If there is anything that you need me to order, write it down in the book. Do you hear me? Am I clear?”
As soon as this outburst was finished, he was on to the next, barking orders at a dispatcher across the room, who was not even in the meeting. He exhibited the exact same behavior that he had condemned with the technicians.
At work and in life, the conditions, emotions, and circumstances that you create for others come back to you multiplied. In other words, we reap what we sow. In all cases we may reap more than we sow. The ground does not care what we plant, it just brings us the harvest. Herein lies the problem. Too often, I see owners who are planting what they are reaping and can’t take a step back to consider the facts.
For example, let’s consider Bob, a technician who is easily frustrated and tends to blame others. Bob often expresses his problems with dispatch, the company culture and the customers. Bob’s major challenge is focusing on how he can respond differently to his circumstances, achieve different results and work through his day without anxiety, stress and pressure, while maintaining company expectations.
Much of this anxiety comes from receiving four or five calls at once and is heightened, when calls take longer than dispatch forecast. While riding with Bob, the second call he received was a tune-up on a furnace, which came from a direct mail piece. Customers often try to use a promotion for a tune-up to try and fix a major problem. However, a tune-up can only be performed on a working system.
When Bob found a broken system, he became anxious and frustrated with his schedule. After all, he had it all planned out. He could “run and gun” and get it all done, only if there were no hiccups. Instead, his thoughts now turned to “How do they expect me to get all these calls done?” and “Why did dispatch give me a tune-up when it is a service call?” He could see his carefully planned day crumbling before his eyes. As a result, he was stressed, upset and mad at dispatch.
Now, let me ask you a few questions:
Even preplanned maintenance can present opportunities for additional revenue, but only if we have time to slow down.
John, a technician from another company, was with me on a ride along performing annual maintenance on a furnace. His boss texted me, asking us to hurry and get out of there. I responded, “Please relax, we have a fish on the line here.” John sold the day at 10:00 AM with a $2,300 ticket and never went to another call.
Did we know that would happen?
Obviously not, but thankfully this company already grasped the process dynamics of dispatching; the schedule changes as we work through each call. Do not rush technicians. Leave them alone and give them one call at a time. Dispatch owns dispatch and dispatching is not scheduling. Dispatching is putting the right person on the right job at the right time.
I’ve discovered many companies are leaving calls undone, unsold, and are merely patching things up because the schedule won’t allow them to stay. They are overly ambitious with their workload and setting impossible time slots, which all falls on the back of the technician who’s expected to find revenue. When you create a plan and show it to the technician, he will rush through each call and not look for opportunities because he feels like he can’t. Read last week’s blog for more on this.
We all have family commitments and it is human nature to want to go home at a reasonable hour. When you plan a technician’s day and he sees all the calls, he will either rush or fill in the time depending on how the day unfolds. Neither one of these are good for revenue.
Think back to our previous lesson on “sowing and reaping.” I have worked with CSR’s and dispatchers for years. It is well known that their desire to please the customer causes pressure. They find it very hard to say “NO” to a customer. In fact, they often don’t know how to do it.
Can you imagine your CSR’s saying something like this?
“Mrs. Jones, when were you hoping that we could come out? Well, we will try this afternoon, but if our workload changes, will tomorrow be okay?”
Unfortunately, we never know what we are going to find on each call. CSR’s may feel uncomfortable asking this, but it’s just a question. It is not a directive. We have the right to ask.
Most customers are okay with it and it gives us much more flexibility. It also prevents technicians from rushing and therefore leads to more revenue if they execute The Service Call Blueprint. If customers give you “push back” about tomorrow, provide them the best service that you can and work with them to find a satisfactory solution. Most reasonable people understand this.
What’s the bottom line? The pressure in the office causes the CSR’s to try to appease everyone, which leads to overbooking and stress out in the field. Most often, this pressure on CSR’s or dispatch originates with the owner who has their own stress about profitability. They can’t make the cognitive shift to slow down and relax, but remember, we make more by doing fewer calls.
In my next blog post, I’ll describe how to successfully book calls without giving time slots.
I always welcome your feedback, so please leave a comment.