Maintaining effective human relations throughout your shop and service department creates an enviable reputation for attracting key employees, which naturally attracts new customers. Your honesty, trust and opportunities for employee advancement are critical for assuring quality workmanship and on-time customer satisfaction. Any little mistake can easily cause good employees to slack off or quit and, unfortunately, damage your reputation with customers and potential recruits. The most common abuses are breaking your chain of command and criticizing or disciplining in front of others.
Post your written chain of command and explain your company rules and policies to all your service technicians. Your service manager must negotiate a written job description with each service tech and maintain all positive or negative reviews or comments in his performance file as they occur. This file is used for wage reviews as needed.
No one except that employee’s designated supervisor may criticize or discipline him, and only in private This is called respect and no one can be proud if he is not respected.
Recruit or fill new positions with an invite note, included with paychecks, to all your employees. They may want that opportunity or know of a close friend or relative who would be interested in the job.
Adding service to your business
Some contractors rely on service work as their primary business and many are now using service to survive in our struggling economy. Your written chain of command will define your service manager, who may have other duties. You need cooperation for manpower needs and training. This department must maintain an up-to-date database skills inventory for dispatching as well as training. Your shop, prefab facilities and salvage center provide ideal training opportunities.
Some craftsmen are not good trainers or will not share their skills for fear students may take their jobs. You need to monitor the student’s progress in his skills inventory. Personality clashes also occur in the classroom. You can overcome some of these situations with role-reversal exercises using the craftsman as a helper while the student is performing the work.
Your salvage center is the best place to identify quality service techs as they identify and remove usable parts from worn or damaged equipment and utilize them to rebuild other equipment for resale.
Both your fab shop and your salvage center provide effective day and night facilities for your Green & Gold training concept. Green is the willing student and Gold is the retired craftsman with a burning desire to give something back to our great industry.
You are not required to pay wages to the student for learning. They don’t get paid to go to school.
It is readily understood why this training effort is so appreciated by the students. Their attitude and comments to friends and acquaintances will attract qualified and ambitious recruits. That’s another justification for good human relations.
Students do not automatically receive wage increases for learning new skills. They will earn more by producing more work and quality workmanship. The best reward they earn is the pride of a craftsman.
Your service manager should monitor customer satisfaction and document any positive or negative reviews in each tech’s performance file for effective wage reviews. Ideally, your customer will complain to you rather than to all his friends. Some contractors give customers a satisfaction questionnaire with the invoice.
At the end of the service call, the tech should explain to the customer what he accomplished and recommend a cost--saving maintenance program. He should then thank the customer for calling your business for help, and collect payment when possible.
Before entering anything in the customer’s file, the service manager must read all the information sent in by your tech and ask questions. The service tech must respect the motto, “The customer is always right.” If he disagrees with the customer, he should bring the situation to your service manager.
Service techs should maintain a professional image:
- Have a clean uniform and clean truck with the company name and logo. Truck should be neat and organized with updated inventory control.
- Be a courteous driver.
- Be on time or give the customer a call if running late.
- Give a polite introduction and wear a smile.
- Leave the premises cleaner than arrival.
- Provide a polite farewell explaining what was repaired and recommend cost-saving maintenance from the survey.
- Always collect payment whenever possible.
- Call the dispatcher when leaving the job.
Offer flex-time options that would satisfy each employee’s personal needs. This will enable you to call on the many customers who prefer late-hour service, especially businesses and working families.
Always use your grievance procedure when you sense an unhappy employee. Conduct an exit interview when an employee quits so you are aware of exactly what happened to make him come to that decision. Your company may be doing something wrong and his opinion will be valuable.
Membership and involvement in a local trade association is beneficial to your company in many ways, especially the opportunity to compare employee situations with other contractors.
Human relations must remain a profit-producing priority — it really works!