We all know the importance of a smoothly running office support team. We all know the power of effective communication between the office and the field. We all know how great it feels when there is superior customer service delivered seamlessly from the time the phone is answered to the follow-up “happy call” making sure the client’s expectations were met and exceeded.
There are certain simple steps and factors that go into skyrocketing office productivity, but for a myriad of reasons, many home service professionals don’t take the initiative to make sure their office is purring along like a fine-tuned Ferrari engine. It’s okay if you’re “guilty” when it comes to lack of office focus, but now is the time to change your mindset and improve your checkbook balance.
Just like myself, you might have grown up in this business as a technician or installer. You’ve done the best you can — you bought good trucks, tools and equipment to produce the best technical work on the planet. You’ve invested in marketing and advertising to develop a great brand for your company that resonates with your clients and makes you the premier choice for their home service needs.
You’ve invested in your business and you know where the guaranteed ROI comes from: The field.
However, I want to challenge you to take a deeper dive look into what makes your office “tick.” When and how do you focus on helping your office team develop and grow? When and how do they know they’re critical to the success of the overall company? When and how do they learn to understand that without a phenomenal office support team, it is simply impossible to deliver the highest level of customer service throughout the entire client experience?
It’s time to stop taking the office for granted and get re-engaged to draw the very best out of your office team. At The Blue Collar Success Group, our Office Champions Coaching Club is solely focused on a group of office professionals that continue to find better ways to increase productivity, create a better culture and improve client experience.
Recently, when speaking with Kathy Nielsen, our Office Champions Coach, we discussed many things that help and hinder effective office leadership. Here are five things we wanted to share that will make an immediate and permanent positive impact when implemented correctly.
Make the office a priority
Due to fact that many leaders come from the field, the tendency is to focus on what is known and comfortable, which is usually not the office.
Most owners tend to see the office as strictly “support.” It is true that one of the office’s primary functions is providing support to the field; however, it can and should do so much more for your company. I believe you need to view your office as the profit center it is and treat it as such.
What if your office team was just as important as your field team? Guess what? They are, and they need to be treated that way!
Create an awesome environment
Why do we have beautiful, shiny wrapped service vehicles, but dark, dingy and (usually) dirty offices? Sure, you can hide behind the “marketing message” of wrapped trucks, but let’s focus on the people who are spending eight to 10 hours a day in this office environment.
For years, we’ve justified crappy office environments because clients don’t come to us. However, your office team does speak with clients, and it’s time they have a clean, updated, productive environment to work in.
I remember as I was growing my service company, I purchased a brand-new van since I was running calls and was the “face” of the company, but my office person at the time was using a desk from Goodwill and an office chair that was twice my age. You must make a conscious decision to start treating the office as the profit center it is, not just an overhead item providing support.
Invest in technology
Once again, technology upgrading is an area where the office is a last consideration (unless it’s a software conversion, of course). Think about the trade shows you attend and trade publications like Plumbing and Mechanical where a lot of focus is helping us know the best tools coming out, new technology impacting codes and manufacturers, etc.
When was the last time you spent some time realizing the efficiency differences between an Office Champion with one screen vs. three screens? What about a comfortable headset? Did you choose the computer or laptop? Would you believe our office coach, Kathy, travels with her own calculator when going onsite to help our clients?
What’s important to you as an owner or field person may not be important to your Office Champion, so get them involved and learn what type of technology would help them in their role.
Focus on training and development
Most of our clients have some sort of formal training meetings on a weekly basis. However, 98% of the time, these meetings are completely geared and dedicated toward field personnel, focusing on housekeeping items, going over jobs, sales and customer service topics, and, of course, technical aptitude training. These are necessary and I recommend continuing all of the above; but, this isn’t enough.
I am a huge advocate of having specific training for Office Champion team members, as well. This doesn’t have to come with the same frequency as the field training, but still must be done consistently. I’m also an advocate of cross pollination training meetings where the office team can come to field training to better understand what is happening in the field with the people they are supporting.
The last, but certainly not least, step to helping your office productivity improve is to have some fun. Every office culture has a different personality, based on the individuals who are part of it, and many modern offices now allow team members to decorate their office space, within reason, making it into a comfortable environment where they enjoy working.
Consider refreshing the office with a new paint color (ideally a color that is in line with your company brand), and give your office team input into the exact shade. Provide snacks on Friday afternoon, have contests (for highest booked call percentage, most service agreements sold, reviews, etc.), or simply celebrate wins and give more recognition.
The individuals who are your diligent support staff also need support themselves, just as much as team members in the field. Never take them for granted, and spend the time to make sure they have the necessary tools to be as effective as possible. When the office runs smoothly, it helps the entire business operate at maximum productivity.