Simplify Now, Diversify Later

My six-year-old has enjoyed…or hated, and I’m not sure…a summer filled with ‘summer camps.’ She’s too young to be working with mom every day, not that I wouldn’t have her answer the phone, but she doesn’t read yet, so typing articles and sending emails…well…let’s give her a few years. I couldn’t stomach the idea of her laying on a couch at her grandma’s watching TV all summer long, so lo and behold, I signed her up for everything I could find: art camp, “Singing in the Rain” camp, “Beauty and the Beast” camp, Bible camp, swimming lessons, and finally, this week, the grand finale of them all…MUD CAMP! She’s waited all summer long for mud camp at the Tennessee Aquarium; meeting new animals, discovering the ecosystems in mud puddles, exploring through the Chattanooga Nature Center, riding a school bus for the very first time! All of these things have been much anticipated…all summer.

So, I’m sure you can imagine with me my surprise when each day this week as I picked her up from mud camp and eagerly awaited the download of her day…silence. Nada. That’s right, a big fat nothing. Too tired to communicate, she climbed into my SUV each day, buckled herself in, and zoned into the abyss on the 45-minute car ride home. I couldn’t believe it!!! I mean, come on, at least tell me all this crazy schedule rearranging, and my co-working from a different office has been worth it!! At least tell me you’re having fun!

Silence.

Until yesterday, remember, she’s six. The first words she uttered on the way home yesterday? “I’m in love. His name is Owen; we shared popcorn today.” *Insert her giggles here.*

WHAT!

And just like that, she’s in love. Definitely not the moment I’d been waiting for.

You know, something else that isn’t the moment we’ve all been waiting for? That moment your customers call you in the heat of summer to complain about something your guys did that wasn’t even in the original scope of work! And now your week is backed up triple calls thick, fixing problems created by your team instead of responding to profitable repair and replacement calls.

That’s right, left-field curveball coming at you – it’s time to get to the meat of what I’m really excited to share with you today.

The number one relationship killer is unrealistic expectations.

Something that’s been inspiring me lately is the Inc. Best Book for Business Owners, Built to Sell. In Built to Sell, they make a recurring point, “You must have a sales engine that will produce predictable recurring revenue.” The word recurring can be taken in many ways, and I’m not talking about ‘recurring’ incoming from service agreement billings. I’m talking about recurring predictable service calls, even if they’re with a multitude of customers.

Stay with me here. It’s summer, the phones are ringing off the hook, and you have the opportunities right in front of your nose to make back the money you lost in the spring, or last fall, during the slow times. Watch out, don’t get busy with the wrong calls. We’ve said this before in our YouTube video, ‘Creative Call Taking,’ but this is an entirely different angle. What I mean is, watch out for the specialty calls. Don’t get stuck in the “super-specialty” scenarios right now that drain the energy out of your team and have possible room for error. Save the specialties for the fall when you’re open to diversifying. Otherwise, you risk doing those calls halfway or at less than your top quality, which could mean losing those customers in the future.  

Right now, focus on the bare-bones basic relevancy of what you do. For example, you’re a plumbing company, and you do plumbing really well. This isn’t to say that you should be doing “drive-thru,” low-quality service. That should never happen. And it doesn’t mean only doing basic repairs either. But what it does mean is that right now, it’s not the time to be extending beyond your wheelhouse. It’s the time to do what you’re best at over and over so you can maximize the efficiency of your team.  

Standardize your priority services now so you can charge upfront, and always do charge upfront. In the busy season, productize your services and cherry-pick the dispatch board for the calls you know your team does really well with and will be profitable for your company. Not only that but on those calls, track the leads for those that you could offer more diverse services to in the slow season.

Because in the slow season, that’s the time when you can afford to branch out into more specialty and add-on services; that’s when you diversify simply because it’s business, and it’s the job of the CEO to find the money and opportunities for the business. 

This is when you take the time to develop even greater expertise in those specialty jobs and new types of jobs so you can hone the craft while the demand is low…and then you’re able to carry your improvements and your new skills into upcoming seasons. 

Eventually, those might become part of your basic services, too, but the busy season is not the time to try your hand at the next obscure skill. Is this way of thinking too inconsistent for our customers? What’s wrong with scheduling ‘specialty’ services in the fall? Custom services don’t scale, and when you’re busy, you need to be scalable.

Call me crazy, but not for my focused ideas. Call me crazy cause I’m a mother trying to figure out how to get her six-year-old out of love and talking about alligators and river otters again!

 

Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate and on the Advisory Board of Women in HVACR.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Technician Accountability and Your Bottom Line

How To Utilize Technology To Improve Employee Engagement and Move Your Business Forward

No matter the industry, perhaps the most common trait of great leaders and employees is accountability. Why? Accountable workers can truly make a difference to a company by directly driving positive results.

The value add of accountable individuals can’t be denied. They take responsibility and pride in their actions and behaviors, providing full transparency into their work, strategies, successes, and any changes, challenges, or roadblocks they may encounter along the way. This openness and effective communication help create healthy team dynamics, increase collaboration, and build trust internally and externally.

In a nutshell, accountability is a key component of successful teams and businesses.

Technology Adoption in Field Service

For many field service providers, increasing technician accountability may not be the leading factor for adopting a new technology platform. The most common goals and reasons we’ve heard from service providers looking to incorporate a modern technology solution into their day-to-day service often include:

● Streamlining and improving business operations

● Improving transparency and communication with customers

● Improving technician training and troubleshooting

● Increasing customer satisfaction and trust

● Achieving market differentiation

By enabling process standardization through streamlined on-the-job checklists, modern technology solutions like XOi’s Vision app can help commercial and residential service providers achieve the goals listed above. 

The Vision app allows techs to easily and safely capture critical job site information, launch on-the-job remote support, access relevant equipment documentation, and provide customers and managers photo and video documentation of all recommended and completed work.

The result – improved and guaranteed quality of service and complete transparency into each step a technician completes while on site.

Why is improving technician accountability important?

Studies show that 82% of employees feel their leadership team had “limited to no” ability to hold employees accountable. That same study found that 91% of respondents believed “improving the ability to hold others accountable in an effective way” was one of their business’s top leadership development needs.

In addition, research has found that improved accountability not only bolsters individual employee engagement but also positively impacts your overall bottom line. According to Gallup, highly engaged workforces significantly outperform competitors, resulting in 21% higher profitability.

Instilling a sense of accountability into your business’s culture gives employees a sense of autonomy and ownership over their work. For field service providers, it’s important for technicians to feel trusted by their employers. A system of accountability, transparency, and documentation will also help give you and your customers peace of mind that their work meets certain quality standards.

 

Cydney Myers is the Marketing Manager for XOi Technologies.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Why Team Members with Weak C.O.R.E. Underproduce

Do you have a team member capable of your performance standards, yet they fail to hit the goal?

Your team member is smart. Technically, the team member is well trained. On paper, the team member should be able to meet expectations. Despite the ability, the team member continues to fail.

Why is this the Case with so Many Technicians, Sales Professionals, and CSRs? 

From my experience, team members fail to hit expectations for a few internal and external reasons.

The External Reasons a Team Member Fails:

Here are a few reasons outside of the team members control that can cause failure:

  • A non-existent sales culture
  • Poor leadership
  • Flawed Systems and Procedures

There are other reasons, but those are the top 3 external reasons IMHO.

For today’s example, let’s adopt the idea that this team member works for a good company. So, let’s turn the focus inward.

The Internal Reasons a Team Member Fails:

In my coaching with underperforming team members, I have discovered a coming trend amongst the low producers. I’ve labeled this trend “CORE.”  

Underperforming team members have a weak CORE.

Successful team members have a strong CORE.

Coachable, Open, Respectful, and Excepting of Responsibility.

If a team member can strengthen their CORE, then they can typically meet or exceed the company standards. If they cannot strengthen their CORE, then they will most likely be a drag on culture, sales, and leadership.

The key to CORE is that the team member must understand that these areas are up to them to improve.

  1. Coachable: a coachable person listens with an open mind, asks questions that create personal clarity, and applies what has been taught. 
  2. Open: a person who is open doesn’t hide the real issues they are facing. They don’t misdirect the real issues. They allow others to understand them and seeks to understand others. 
  3. Respectful:  a person that shows respect understands that they receive respect. Since no person is perfect, respect is a thing that is given to imperfect people. This means that all people should receive a base level of respect. From that base level, we add value to people for what they do well. 
  4. Excepting of Responsibility: Taking responsibility gives a person freedom. When you accept responsibility for your actions and your outcomes, then you free yourself from excuses. Excuses provide a person with no benefit. Excuses dampen your personal potential.
Showing a Team Member their CORE

Reviewing the Keys of CORE with a team member can be a super helpful experience. It can awaken the reality that success is a personal responsibility.

Sometimes, you will only have to review CORE with an underperforming team member once. These team members are ready to strengthen their CORE.

More likely, you will have to work on the CORE items with an underperforming team member on multiple occasions. It takes time for a person to change their outlook on themselves.

Will the Team Member Change Their CORE?

I don’t know.

In my opinion, I’d say you have a less than 50% chance that the team member will strengthen their CORE. It’s more likely that they are stuck in their old bad habits.

“So, what do I do?” you may be asking me.

You try to coach the team member through CORE. If you can’t do it, then give me a call. I can help.

If after a set amount of time and money the team member doesn’t change, then you make a decision about the employment of the team member with your company.

 

Todd Liles is the CEO of Service Excellence.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

How to Compete and Win in the Home Services Industry: Your Plan of Attack

It’s no secret that home service contractors have it tough. Between trying to deal with changing customer service preferences and rival businesses undercutting prices, it’s not easy to stay competitive.

As someone with decades of experience in the home services industry, working on both the manufacturer and the contractor sides, and as a founding team member of a tech company focused on customer experience, I’ve been an open ear to hundreds of contractors over the years. I know the problems you face and how to solve them. 

Bear with me while we play Freaky Friday for a minute. If roles were reversed, and I was in your shoes as a contractor, here’s my plan of attack. I’d compete on three fronts — customer convenience, technological integration, and recruitment. Let me break it down for you. 

Attack 1: Providing Radical Convenience 

Let’s face it—consumers aren’t living quite the same lives that they used to. With all of the new technology out there, consumer expectations have changed, and speed and convenience are the name of the game. Nowadays, contractors who make it easy to do business with customers will win the job. There are a few hard facts to keep in mind if you want to keep up with customers:

● Consumers are more concerned about the quality of their experience than the price. 

● Consumers are used to radical convenience from online commerce giants like Amazon and having the ability to track purchases and groceries and pizza to their front doors in real-time. 

● Consumers seek instant gratification and need you to be there when they need you. 

So, what do you need to do? 

 

Reinvent your customer service experience. 

Provide easy, convenient scheduling and contact options that allow your customers to communicate with your business how and when they want. This is crucial because, at the end of the day, if you don’t provide the experience that your customer wants, someone else will. It can be easy to think that when offering this level of customer experience, you may lose control. Yet, it is on the contrary! By configuring your website to qualify and schedule appointments, you’ll be able to mimic your top-performing CSR. 

Look for new ways to exceed expectations. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the adoption of digital technologies. More customers are more willing to turn to tech. Plus, many people are still reluctant to allow anyone in their homes due to COVID-19, so if you were able to have a third-party technician remotely view and diagnose issues through a virtual visit, it would be a game-changer. For example, there is no better time for remote service support than after hours. Contractors can use the services to screen out minor problems remotely. Homeowners save time, and on-call techs can stay at home. In other words, it’s a win-win! 

Attack 2: Leverage Technology to Reorganizing Roles 

Part of the reason you’re swamped is that you don’t have time to deal with the many responsibilities that come with running a contracting business. Meanwhile, you have CSRs sitting in call centers, unable to stay above water during the ebbs and flows of the seasons. They’re doing monotonous work and too much of it. 

If you can relieve some of that burden, you’ll be better equipped to serve your customers the right way. So, what do you need to do? 

Leverage technology to perform and eliminate monotonous tasks. Advances in technology have provided opportunities to automate some of your CSRs’ more monotonous tasks. Technology can be integrated to handle scheduling, booking, customer communications, and more. 

Reposition your existing team members.

With technology taking on some of their load, your existing CSRs can be moved into more thought-based roles, where they can prioritize higher-value interactions. This reorganization will give your employees more time to be proactive on the job and follow up on open quotes. 

And I promise this will be great for business and your team! A client of ours in Pennsylvania said:

“Wow, this is amazing! I don’t want to turn my existing employees into robots answering the phone, but into more managerial roles.”

They pushed more of their business through online channels, which empowered them to convert their CSR employees into channel managers to oversee appointment flows—a more fulfilling job and better use of skilled work. 

Attack 3: Reimagining Recruitment

Recruitment is consistently one of the biggest challenges in the home services industry. The fact of the matter is, there is too much work and not enough skilled labor.

The only way to reconcile that is to produce more skilled labor. So, how can you capture talent? 

Modernize your brand.

Nowadays, prospective employees favor businesses that are perceived positively. The best way to attract and capture this younger generation of technicians is to build a brand that personifies convenience, great customer experience, cutting-edge technology use, healthy social media presence, fulfilling career opportunities, and more. 

Show prospective employees what experience your company can provide. 

The new generation of talent wants to work for businesses where they can get behind the mission and be treated the way that they think they should. It’s no longer just about salary—it’s about the experience. 

 

Ray Clark is the Head of Sales at Schedule Engine.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Seven Steps to Create Lasting Change

“This morning, my sister left the toilet seat down! Women make men miserable.” – The Little Rascals

Earlier this week, I found myself browsing Netflix late into the night. Oddly enough, I was searching for inspiration, something funny. I nearly woke my husband and three sleeping children by laughing when Buckwheat announced to his woman-hating man club that his sister left the toilet seat down. I laughed…because of perspective. Naturally, my whole life has been, “Ugh, men leave the toilet seat up.” I laughed because both breeds are annoyed! Perspective. And until that moment, I never realized that men might be annoyed with me, too! Perspective.

Perspective ultimately leads to success or failure in your life.

I love summer. How could anyone not love summer? For all of you HVAC friends, you’re in your heyday, the phones ringing off the hook, and you can’t get to all the calls on the board. But then again, you’re either loving it…or hating it…perspective.

And it’s that perspective, that ‘positive’ perspective which seeks success, that begs the question, “how do we create lasting change, so we can keep this heyday from ending?”

 

Seven Steps to Creating Lasting Change

Ditch the excuses if you don’t have enough money, time, or friends. The excuses won’t bring them any closer. Tomorrow is always tomorrow, and one year from now is always a year away. Be specific with measurable and realistic goals…tied to a time-stamped day.

And if you really want lasting change and a more successful business next year, manifest your dream. Act with these steps:

 

  1. VISION – Clarity is Power

Are you being hypnotized by TV, Facebook, texting, emailing, and staying ‘busy’ but not productive? Choose to be fully present in life and your work. Take a day and count out loud how many times you have the urge to reach out and grab your phone, even when it isn’t ringing. Every time you do, you’re pushing your goals another moment away from you. Control your vision! With that measurable and realistic, time-stamped goal you set, ensure that everything you do is one bite-sized piece that gets you that much closer to it. In the end, if you are a victim, you’re the author of it. Every step you take will determine your success, and if your vision is clear, you’ll know immediately if your day-to-day actions are aligned with your goals or not.

 

  1. DESIRE

This is where your excitement, passion, and emotion live! Your state of feeling good attracts that which you desire. Happiness is a choice, and more importantly, the ability to reach your goals is a choice—if you truly want it and aren’t just setting your goals as an obligation, you are more likely to achieve them. And seek to master what you desire – mastery doesn’t just happen – mastery knows very little about most things – they focus their attention on areas of expertise. Focus on the strengths that are most likely to help you get what you desire.

 

  1. BELIEF

Recognize your limiting beliefs; for example: “I don’t have the family business family last name, so I’ll never be a leader in the company.” We have all heard that famous Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” Earn your place. Prove your abilities. And encourage yourself with positive self-talk. The Mayo Clinic says that positive self-talk can decrease depression and increase your lifespan. So even if you don’t believe that it increases your ability to do better, wouldn’t more time in your life alone help you get there? What are your limiting beliefs?

 

  1. ACCEPTANCE

Start by accepting yourself first. Accept your belief, acknowledge your limiting belief, and then counter it with its opposite truth. Flip the narrative! “I don’t have the means to do this” can be flipped to “creativity and ingenuity come from desperation!” “I will be a leader in this company because I’ve worked hard and have mastered my skill; I am worthy.” Tell yourself your affirmation at least once a day until you believe it and until it’s the only thing you can hear.

 

  1. INTENTION

Will-power goes a long way. You can want something in life but not intend to have it. Will-power is developed from adding the hope to have something plus the intention to do anything necessary to get it. But don’t confuse it with work ethic – it’s not just work ethic that will get you where you want to be; you must be intentional and laser-focused. No matter what happens to you in life, you redirect your focus towards what you intend to be.

 

  1. ACTION

Is your behavior in alignment with what you wish to be? Take small, reasonable steps each day that pushes you closer to your goal, and remember that there is more than one way to arrive at your destination. If you come to a bump in the road, look for ways not just to go over it, but through it, around it, under it, or take a different detour altogether. And go back a step to recognize; sometimes it’s not an action, it’s a belief issue.

 

  1. LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS

It takes a tremendous amount of effort to hold onto an expectation—efforts that could be spent getting you to what you actually want. If you want love, don’t hold onto it; be love. Have intensity for what you want with no expectation that it has to happen.

Small shifts in perspective can turn you around from dreaming to achieving.

It’s perspective. In our niche industry, our trades, let’s stop being a big fish in a small pond. Be a small fish in a big pond, so you have room to grow! It’s perspective.

 

Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.