One of the great things about my job is I get to talk every day to successful business owners from around North America. And as you can imagine, there is a fair amount of diversity in these companies. Some are great at traditional plumbing service (fixtures, faucets, etc.). Some have learned how to make drain cleaning and sewer repairs the primary profit driver in their company. Some have added a second or a third trade (HVAC or electrical service). The point is, successful service companies are not set apart from all their competitors due to the services they provide, but rather how they provide those services.
Hold that thought for a minute.
Companies that are struggling or really have never quite performed to their potential have a few things in common. In my role as a business coach I work with these types of companies every day.
A common question I ask employees when assisting struggling companies is, “Tell me how you define success in your role? How do you know when you walk to your car at the end of the day that you did a good job?”
And no matter who in the company I ask that question of, I get a variation of the same answer focused around customer or employee satisfaction.
“I try to satisfy every customer.” This is a common answer for everyone, especially techs.
“My job is to support the guys in the field.” This is a common answer for call center employees.
Do the above answers sound familiar to you? If they are the same answers I would get if I asked them of your employees, you have to ask yourself, “Is making customers satisfied and employees happy the reason I started my company?”
If it isn’t, then why is it the answer employees so often give as a definition of job success?
If you are like most owners, you went into business to provide a better life for your family. In most cases this is defined monetarily - you wanted to increase your income. Secondarily, you likely wanted to be your own boss, which you believed would lead to increased free time to pursue interests outside of work. Of course to accomplish this, your company has to be profitable and able to run without you there.
Make The ConnectionIn order for you to achieve your stated reasons for starting your company, your business has two numbers: your daily revenue and sold hour goals. These numbers should be the focus of every employee in your company. They should be on the tip of every employee’s tongue when they are asked to define what success means in their position with the company.
In each company, there is an annual revenue and a sold hour goal based on the costs of doing business and size. This number is driven down to the day and becomes the basis of job success for your office employees.
This daily goal is then apportioned across your revenue-producing field employees whether they are technicians or salespeople. If your daily revenue goal is $4,000 and 12 sold hours and you have four technicians, their measure of success is $1,000 and three sold hours. Pretty simple and focused.
You started your company to create a great standard of living for you and, of course, for the people that will ultimately help you build the company. In order to accomplish this, you have to have a very clear idea of what it will take to accomplish your goal each day. There are plenty of bankrupt companies that offered great customer service right up to the time creditors seized control of their assets.
What Successful Companies Have In CommonA clear idea of what it takes each day in revenue and sold hours to accomplish their goal is a common quality of successful companies. When you go into these companies and ask a technician how he defines success, you will get a variation to this answer, “My job is to generate three sold hours and $1,000 each day I work. I do that by exploring all options with customers, efficiently managing my day and leaving every customer thoroughly satisfied.” Pretty good answer. It had a specific goal and then stated how that goal can be achieved.
Now when you go to the call center employees and ask the question, you get an answer like this, “My job is to provide a minimum of three calls each day to our available techs, which will help them achieve $4,000 and 12 sold hours. I do this by attempting to schedule every inbound call and making outbound calls in order to schedule the required number of calls.” Again, the focus is right: first on the number and then how their position contributes to the daily goal.
Taking Dead AimIn golf, there is a concept called “taking dead aim,” which if applied to every shot will improve your score. As you are standing on the tee box ready to tee off, rather than just aiming for the fairway (which may be 50 yards wide and 400 yards long), you aim for a very small spot on the fairway, such as a tuft of brown grass. Really focus your intent, not just on hitting it long, but on hitting the ball right to that specific spot.
When that spot is your focus, a funny thing happens. Your body contorts even without you thinking about trying to hit the ball to that spot. It doesn’t work every time, as I can personally attest, but if you use this principle with every shot, your game will improve.
It’s the same with business. If your technicians and office employees are taking “dead aim” at your revenue and sold hour goal each day, they will do things almost without thinking about it to achieve that goal. Pulling calls from tomorrow into today’s roster in order to get to the scheduled call number, asking a tech to take one more call, making sure customers are given all their options (not just the basic repair) - these are all things that may be forgotten or not worth the effort if the job in your employees’ minds is just to “make customers satisfied” or “support the guys in the field.” It is a subtle but very important distinction.
And, believe it or not, if done properly it will increase job satisfaction for your employees. A key driver of employee job satisfaction is accomplishment and being thanked and appreciated. Without daily goals, employees leave work each day without knowing exactly what they accomplished. Sure, they were busy but did they move the ball forward or did they just create a cloud of dust?
And you know it, too, which gives you the ability to personally and specifically thank them for what they accomplished. No more gray area. They hit their goal. They did their part to get the company there. Job well done!
If your company is operating without a clearly defined goal that each employee can recite on demand, you are almost assuredly underperforming as a business. Take the time to land on a goal. If you need assistance, give me a call. I can give you a tip or two to help you begin to “take dead aim” on the reasons why you started your business.