Your business can’t grow and adopt modern techniques unless there is a team approach.

If one of your computers malfunctions, you know not to tinker with it too much before calling an expert to get it fixed - and get it fixed fast.

The use of experts has become essential to running a top-flight business. And it’s more than just about calling in the Geek Squad. Do you tune-up your own trucks? Not likely. Rather than spending time under the hood of a truck, your time is better spent running the business.

In other words, you can’t do it all. Maybe you did once when the business was simpler, particularly if you started with one truck by yourself. But times have changed. It’s simply not efficient for the boss to do everything, or even to micro-manage every task performed by every employee.

The business can’t progress and grow and adopt modern techniques unless there is a team approach. A team is more than a bunch of employees all performing different tasks. As the name implies, just like a sports team, the efforts need to be coordinated, managed and focused on the goals of the organization.

For example, techs rely on customer service representatives and the dispatch department to give them accurate information. The same concept works well throughout the company. The warehouse people work with the techs to stock their trucks with a standardized combination of equipment, materials and parts. The accounting department receives the invoice and credit card data from the tech’s software and the data flows through to payroll for the technician.

Each function in the business has a team that works together to keep costs low and serve customers in the best way possible.

Expert Operators

Teams can turn your business around. Your team needs to know the most effective ways for technicians to deal with customers; the best trucks to own and how to minimize operation costs; the best way to organize a warehouse; the best way to hire, train and, just as important, retain top-quality techs.

Those functions are just some of the ones needed today to keep ahead of the competition and to maintain high margins - both a little more difficult in slow economic times. Let’s just look at two functions of your business and see what you may need to do:

  • Techs. Although you could start anywhere in the business, it’s the techs who are your business’s representatives with your customers. After having some expectations set with the customer over the telephone from the CSRs, the tech is the person ultimately responsible for the customer’s satisfaction.

    Only by understanding what techniques to use in dealing with the customer - techniques that have been proven through years of experience and adjustment - can the tech accomplish a service call resulting in happy customers. Techs need to be familiar with the following: how to park the truck; what to wear; how to greet the customer; what to carry; how to explain the price of the job; how to sell add-ons; how to handle the need for more parts; how to handle the bill; and how to clean up.

    Of course, there are more activities that techs must be trained in and skilled at applying. However, the above list is a start to use as a comparison to your current company’s practices.

    The unfortunate element in dealing with customers in the service and repair business is that it is difficult to determine why a customer chose not to do business with your company when the tech is not successful at closing the job. We never know how much we have lost in business from practices that are not the most proven. Only by having techs fully trained in all the aspects of a service call can we be assured that we are losing a minimal amount of business.

  • Customer service reps. If the CSRs do not convince the caller to agree to a service call and diagnosis in a matter of seconds, all the money spent on advertising, Yellow Pages listings, signs, promotions and the other marketing activities for the company are wasted. Since those seconds are critical, it is essential that the person who answers the telephone in your business knows the following: after how many rings to answer the call; what to say; how to use a script; how to get the caller’s information quickly, courteously and thoroughly; what the caller’s problem is; how to handle price inquiries; what is the caller’s location; how to handle inquiries about the location of the business; how to deal with technical questions; how to deal with scheduling challenges; and how to thank the caller.

    Although the above list is not comprehensive, it shows some of the key aspects that the CSRs should be fully trained to accomplish.

    Do you ever call, or have someone else call, your company to see how a mock service call would be handled? Be sure you are seated and not driving if you attempt it. Service and repair business owners have been nothing short of horrified on some occasions when they called or had a person call and inquire about service work.

    Examples of some of the responses from untrained CSRs have included: recommendations that the customers fix the problem themselves; suggestions that the customer call a home warehouse to save money; hints that the competition could do the job cheaper; even technical instructions on how to perform the repairs.

    As economic times slow a bit in many areas of the country, running a trim, efficient business and employing techniques that really work is more important than in the past.

    We have only covered a few of the potential weak spots that may be siphoning money from your business. We could easily add concerns in dispatch, truck and warehouse operations and, as always, pricing manuals.

    If you add up all the practices that may not be up with the times in your business, you may find a few that are costing you hard cash every month. Don’t tolerate it.