The Relationship Between Dispatcher and Technician

Mutual respect and trust between the dispatcher and technician are the foundations of team unity. However, In the HVAC industry technicians are often mistreated, which results in a high staff turnover, mistrust and, ultimately, a toxic company culture.

If businesses want technicians to go beyond and sell extra services and products, the working hours of a technician must be respected. Everyone has a personal life, therefore reasonable hours should be established for any given working day.

In an industry with seasonal demands, when extreme conditions hit, staff will have to work longer hours than expected to help clients without heat or air.

Let’s look at the example below with Adam, a technician without reasonable working hours.

Adam has a $500 average ticket. It’s 8:00 AM and he has been called out to a service agreement to find a weak capacitor.

On this occasion, Adam showed the customer five options and the customer chose the top option with a price tag of $1,200. In this case, the service included a new capacitor, a compressor enhancement kit consisting of a hard start, solid state contactor and a surge protector. In addition, the sale included a clean of the outdoor unit and furnace to a factory fresh condition. When Adam finishes the call at 11:30 AM, the unit is in a like new condition. Adam takes payment and moves on to the next call.

Adam’s next job is a trouble call. When he arrives, he discovers a condensing fan motor. Once again, the customer picks the top option, which is a new motor, compressor enhancement kit, and restoring the system to factory fresh conditions with a $1,300 price ticket.

At 3:30 PM he has sold $2,500 on just two calls. He checks in with dispatch and is sent another job to complete – an hour drive from his home.

The decision to send him to another job was negative for two reasons.

Adam won’t arrive at the next call until 4:30 PM at the earliest. When he arrives, he’ll be tired and ready to end his day. It’s likely he’ll rush through the work and offer the minimum service to the customer. On this day, the conditions are not extreme, but dispatch has over-promised. It would have been better to reward Adam or, at least, present him with the option of another call. The technician has had a strong day in terms of sales. It would have been wiser to save both Adam and the call for tomorrow.

In the long term, Adam will become frustrated if dispatch continues in this way. Any technician will rush through calls in the morning to control their home time. Encouragement to slow down and maximize each opportunity is crucial here. If, like Adam, a technician has had a $2,500 day – It’s time to send them home. It’s how we ensure technicians trust the dispatch process for tomorrow.

When a technician is overloaded with calls in the afternoon, they lack the motivation to offer options and maximize the call. Instead, the motivation runs out and the technician does the minimum in order to get home – It’s natural and normal human nature.

  • Show technicians one call at a time.
  • Build trust.
  • Send them home at a reasonable hour.
  • Don’t base success on the number of calls a technician did or didn’t run.

Read a case study here about avoiding Run and Gun, building trust and increasing revenue in the process.

If businesses want to grow revenue per call, you must resist run and gun and not rush technicians. However, it’s not a one-sided process. Technicians must respect urgency during peak times and not become idle. Slow down while engaging with the client. Ask questions and listen, yet at the same time maintain efficiency and effectiveness. In other words: hurry when required. 

I was consulting for a company which took 100 calls in just two days, with only three technicians available. Read more about this here. At peak times like this, technicians must respond and remain focused. During my time with this company, I recall frustration with a technician who became idle. I was sitting in the CSR and dispatch area while this particular technician engaged in small talk with anyone who would listen, distracting others in the process. I had to be clear, “We have booked over 100 calls and we are not rushing you. We are under extreme pressure while you’re here wasting precious time. We have many valuable clients who are waiting for us, so get on with the job. You are not respecting us or the clients.”

In this case, the technician was abusing the system and not respecting the team. It was an example of incredibly selfish behavior, which I wasn’t going to allow.

After I called the technician out, a dispatcher thanked me. “I really appreciate you doing that,” she responded. “He always comes in here like that and wastes time.” I asked the dispatch, “Do you know why he does that?” The dispatcher didn’t know. It’s because they had allowed the technician. Too often many of us avoid conflict which results in situations that we don’t want. Click here to read more about boundaries. 

What is the bottom line? To achieve unity in any team, strong respect is crucial between dispatch and the technicians. Reasonable working hours must be established for the technicians. Dispatch can demonstrate respect by sending technicians home when they’ve had a strong day of sales. In return, technicians will go beyond for clients and pitch in when extreme conditions do hit. However, technicians must also return the respect they’re given by dispatch.

I always encourage comments and feedback.

About the author, Roger Daviston

Roger Daviston is a personal growth consultant who gets measurable results. He facilitates and encourages individuals to change behavior and make different choices to achieve better outcomes.

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