Tips for beefing up your selling system.

Many owners started as techs. That's where we learned that unique skill of being able to put a square peg in a round hole! All it takes is a big enough sledgehammer, enormous effort and a willingness to accept the dismal results.

It's just like working with bad systems or, worse, no system at all. With no systems, it's all a matter of luck, isn't it?

Here's what I also know: Any system beats no system, but how hard do you want to work to keep a bad system going?

With any system you could create objective measurements to know the results; you could then keep making the system better. But do you?

How about creating and implementing a really good system? It could be easier than anything tried before and more satisfying. Just like a round peg in a round hole.

Make Bad Systems Better

As I travel around on consulting visits, here are some of the nonexistent or bad systems I see you working hard with:

  • There is a selling system that has no corresponding coaching system.

    The selling system may be nothing more than “Cover your shoes!” There's nothing there to teach techs what to do, when to do it and how to have an appropriate conversation with a customer that ultimately leads to finding his or her reason for calling and what he or she would like fixed. In other words, how to take the first steps in those covered shoes.

  • There is a selling approach that turns techs into robots mouthing set phrases that don't encourage flexibility.

    It doesn't only apply to techs. If the customer service rep has a script to follow, there is no flexibility to handle the customer's responses that don't always fit the pattern. They don't know how far to go in taking the call. Some CSRs actually get into trying to “help the customer” by trying to diagnose the problem and advise the customer what to do over the phone! And, many of the scripts have not included ways for the CSRs to convey they're empathetically listening.

  • There is no set way of getting the invoices, job tickets, etc., to be what we desire.

    A good system would tell techs to include this or that on a job ticket. Or, never put this on the ticket. It's a helpful start.

    How about having a short but effective description of the task in the flat rate manual? This way the tech doesn't have to make it up. They can copy the carefully constructed description that is short and helps convey value. If they just wrote the task number and the description, your office staff could be able to post accurate information into the customer's service history.

    How about showing the techs the “perfect” version of a completed job ticket? How about all of their paperwork? I did this and it allowed my techs to know what was expected and to ask why we do it this way. And if I didn't have a good answer, we came up with a better way to do it.

  • There are usually techs or installers wandering around the warehouse picking out their own materials.

    This makes it impossible to control “shrinkage.” That's the industry way of saying materials that disappear. A good system would have bar coding in and out. Use the computer to pick what parts are needed based upon the tasks they've performed and the material pull list that goes into that task.

    Many times the tech is not stealing anything, he's just overstocking because there is no set order to his truck and he's not disciplined enough about turning in used parts for new replacement parts. How about having techs hand you the used part to get a new part?

  • There is no set order or standardized truck layout.

    Why not take digital photos and create a computer listing of what goes on each shelf in each bin? Otherwise, what happens when that tech needs to switch vehicles? They waste a ton of time trying to make sense of a different layout.

    A fully stocked spare in a standardized layout will make routine maintenance of vehicles less painful. And, of course, when a truck is disabled, the tech can move immediately to the spare and be out on the road, effectively making you money and doing quality work.

  • There may be some tracking of statistics, but not the ones that have the most impact on sales and operational performance.

    By tracking the right statistics, you will be better able to coach and manage what needs your attention and give congratulations to those who are helping the company achieve its goals.

    Using statistics like dollars/tasks sold is just one guide toward getting the greatest impact on your sales. Track how many recalls you have over a two-week period to find out what training is necessary, what sales technique needs fixing and what task you should stop doing.

    Examine all your systems at work and ask yourself, “Do I have extraordinary people making due with a bad or nonexistent system? Or, do I have a good system that anyone with training can use effectively?”