Leading The Team To Victory
Make no mistake, you have a team: technicians, call takers, dispatchers, warehouse people, administrative, accounting and often many others. Think about how the performance of your company could improve if all of them could be counted on for exceptional, consistent effort every day. What I am referring to is frequently called professionalism - doing your best day in and day out.
You are the coach. What you do and how you lead, motivate and train determine the team's performance. That performance reflects directly on your company's reputation, volume of business and, of course, your profits. Whether a technician is extra courteous, greets the customer properly, maintains a professional demeanor and effectively explains the job pricing from an attractive flat rate pricing book is determined, in large part, on how he is motivated, trained and supported by the company - your company.
Victory is a highly motivated team that consistently delivers quality service to your customers. The benefits, such as more profit, flow from that simple goal.
In today's competitive market, companies know that if they don't deliver professional quality service, the competition will. And they will win customers away, because customers know the difference, particularly customers that you seek to serve and keep as repeat customers. The ones that demand - and will pay for - quality service.
We know that not all customers fit into that category, but do you need the small fraction of the market who do not recognize top quality service (and are unwilling to pay for it) as your customers? Quality service and respectable margins go together. Let's define that level of service, then see what it takes for your team to produce it.
In the service and repair business, the technician's attitude can determine the company's revenue. Your technicians are the ones who perform the work, and at the same time, the sales force. Their demeanor will either convince the customer to hire your company or decide to go elsewhere. The same is true for add-on jobs once they are working in the customer's home. Only technicians with a positive attitude and the ability to communicate with the customer will drive your business forward. Customers know.
Another component of top-quality service is the willingness of the technician to do a complete and thorough job, including cleanup. without rushing so they can get to the next job. They must be willing to follow the installation procedures set up by your company, and follow the proven procedures for completing the service work and dealing with the customer. Customers are not technicians, but they know when a job looks rushed and the cleanup is hastily done.
Technicians need to be willing to look for additional business on the same call. Once working in the customer's home, they can save the customer money on additional jobs, and they can increase the average invoice for your company. With a positive attitude and a good relationship with the customer, a technician will have no problem inspecting the remainder of the home for additional fixtures that need repair or replacement, possibly even safety hazards. The customer will not usually ask for such an inspection, so the technician must be willing.
I won't spend too much time on pricing; you have heard or read my concern for an effective flat rate manual. However, let me offer a simple perspective on a customer's acceptance of pricing for a job. If professionally handled, it's not the price, it's the way the technician conveys the price that convinces the customer to have your company complete the work. In fact, customers are more likely to pay more for a price shared from a flat rate manual than a time and materials estimate that is not well-explained, just pulled out of the air.
Customers want predictability, and to be confident that they are being treated fairly and consistently, not given an arbitrary price.
Treat Them Like Winners
One of the first steps to developing a consistently winning team is to treat your staff like a winning team. For example, publicly acknowledge excellent performance at team meetings. Maybe read a letter commending a technician or call taker. Offer basic but attainable rewards for good performance, such as a complimentary lunch or dinner for the highest weekly sales, best customer feedback or other exemplary performance. As much or more than monetary rewards, employees like recognition, especially when it is delivered in public in front of their fellow workers.
You get what you reward. If you reward good performance, you will get more of it. If you, unfortunately, tolerate poor performance, it will continue.
Successful coaches coach. That means they are there with suggestions when problems occur. Give the technicians guidance and back them when they follow it. If there is an oversight or poor performance by a technician, counsel them in private so they know the right thing to do.
Admittedly, we have a lot of fires to put out, we assume employees are paid to do their jobs, and we may consider the motivational part of our job bordering on “coddling” or pampering them. Maybe it is - but it works.
Give Them The Tools
No service and repair business would send its technicians in the field without tools and equipment to do their jobs. Not only would this severely handicap them as they complete their service work, but limited tools is a disservice to customers, too. Yet some companies still send technicians out on jobs without the tools they need to deliver professional service. Those “tools” are training in customer service: greeting the customer, diagnosing the job, pricing the job using a quality flat rate manual, looking for add-on business and much more.
Training in these modern customer service practices is necessary for technicians to compete in the market and deliver the best service available. Regardless of how efficient a technician is at replacing a fixture, without customer-service skills, he will not exhibit the professional attitude your company needs to be a leader. No tools - whether they are the customer service skills or wrenches and a toolbox - means they can't get the job done.
Without some specific goals, excelling in your business can be a more challenging process. Games have goals, and so should your business. Specific goals help you and your team keep score, so to speak, on your progress toward your objectives. For instance, goals could include average invoice amounts, sales per technician, amount of add-on business, overall company sales or a minimal amount of customer complaints with a significant amount of happy customer letters. They can be both individual competitions and company objectives.
Share these goals with the team, and maybe display a chart showing progress. Visual reminders keep the goals in front of the team, and keep them thinking about reaching them.
Incidentally, notice I did not mention volume of service calls per technician. That parameter tends to be counterproductive for technicians because it focuses on completing the call as quickly as possible and getting to the next customer. While it appears desirable, it discourages the technician from looking for additional business on the current call, and may even lead him to showing the customer he is in a rush and not interested in doing a thorough job in his or her home.
Staying in the customer's home to inspect for other work and selling service agreements can actually benefit your company more than an expedited job. It could mean more profit and a happier customer, both desirable goals.
Just like any other job, coaching a team requires following the procedures and supplying the team with the tools and motivation to do the job. We need reminders from time to time. This is your reminder; now motivate and lead your company to a winning season.