What is Communication?
As owners and operators, we have the imminent responsibility of communicating with our staff, we have to learn to influence and manage effectively. The attitude of your staff starts with YOU. Everyone, including owners and operators need to be willing to grow, learn from each other and embrace change. As a superior it should never be, “my way or the highway.” Being haughty has never earned genuine respect. The culture needs to be all about attitude, communication and the ability to embrace change by stepping out of your comfort zone.
Effective communication in your business starts from the first line of communication, the CSR who books your calls, from there the dispatcher should be relaying accurate information to your tech or salesperson. The CSR should be required to take great notes, specific to the customer, which in turn gives dispatch the ability to properly inform the tech or salesperson allowing them to prepare and address the call accordingly. “Right Tech, Right Call.” I want everyone to understand that the dispatch board is the “money board.” Every hour operations needs to actively be confirming that everyone is on the same page of what tech is going to what call. Your dispatch board is the most crucial part of your business. If it’s not full, it’s bad, if it’s too full, it’s bad, it’s a constant balancing act to make sure everyone on the team is maintaining and communicating the board effectively with each other.
So let’s start from the beginning with the answering of the phone or the outbound call. Anything that is said on this call needs to be documented, regardless of the CSR’s opinion of its relevance. The reasons why are as follows:
1. The technician needs to know if they are going out to a customer that has had problems with other companies or maybe even our own.
2. They DO need to know if the customer likes to have their kids home or if they will be leaving soon. (Very important to know how much time they have and whom will be present)
3. All of this matters so they can have as much leverage as possible and make the most productive use of their time.
The key is getting as much info into your system as possible, you never know who it’s going to benefit. Its also an adequate way for dispatch to know and understand who does what and who has the ability to connect with certain customers differently and more completely. Too often staff gets complacent doing things their way and everyone starts prejudging calls and assigning calls with little to no information, I have been told, “the dispatcher doesn’t get along with so and so” or “That tech only wants certain calls.” If all of the calls were communicated and documented properly along with your operations staff managing and allocating accordingly, this would never happen.
Favoritism is a common accusation and sometimes practice in a sales environment, maybe because someone feels that another guy does better or that someone else gets or deserves better calls. It’s easy to just give the top sales guy all the calls that “look” the best. Maybe that guy doesn’t handle certain customers well and you are wasting a legitimate GREAT call and GREAT opportunity for another tech. This is where having proper and effective training becomes imperative. This is why it starts with accurate documentation of the initial phone call. If we all ran the calls the same and booked them the same this would never happen. This is all due to the fact that everyone, including management, prejudges the calls, you know how I know this? We all say, “a system over a certain age its called an opportunity.” This should never be the case because this is how we build monsters aka the Pre-Madonna’s of the industry that jump from company to company and they only want to run “good” calls. Then you have younger techs never getting the shot. This gives a single employee too much power and control of YOUR business. Truth is we just need to do a better job of communicating to ALL techs on how to run a call.
Every call starts with getting your mind right. What does this mean? This means getting rid of your head trash and realizing every call is an equal opportunity and every customer deserves the same enthusiasm as the first call you ever ran. Dispatch has to get excited when advising techs about their next call and introduce it as the best call they are ever going to run. The delivery by dispatch is KEY. The next step would be for the tech to call in and find out everything they need to know about this new opportunity for them. Convey it as the best opportunity ever even if it’s a brand new install and a warranty. Then type of call should never matter, it’s all about attitude and getting the tech (and yourself) hyped up for EVERY CALL.
1. On the way to the call listening to the news is not recommended, it’s all about getting into a positive mindset by either listening to music or a great book. GET MOTIVATED!
2.“Look good, feel good” be sure you look crisp and clean, including your truck.
3. When you arrive to the call park on the street, maybe wave to the neighbors and skip up to the door. I know this sounds RIDICULOUS but that is the point, you want to get a smile out of you AND the customer. It’s called getting out of your Comfort Zone!
4. Now knock on the door, step back one step, and get ready to have fun. No matter what or who answers the door smile and have enthusiasm. You can say hello or you can say HELLO! It’s not what you say it’s HOW you say it. One is happy, one is I’m only talking to you cause it’s my job.
5. Ask politely to enter and put on your shoe covers and black latex gloves.
6. Thank the homeowner for the business and explain what you are going to do and also offer to help them with anything else while you are there.
7. Your goal is to find out what they do, how long have they lived at the home and some interests or hobbies. Fine a common ground, its called BUILDING RAPPORT.
8. Make a point to ask on a scale of 1–10 10 being the best what do you like about the system and just the opposite on a scale of one to 10 what don’t they like.
9. Take notes and ask lots of questions and LISTEN don’t just hear. The key to running the call is to do the whole call and build value. If you are going out for an a/c tune look at the furnace and duct work. Vice Versa.
10. Throughout the call it is important to talk with the customer and let them know what you are doing and what you are finding good and bad and explaining what could happen and the benefits of YOU.
11. During the call be sure to take lots of pictures of the equipment and show the customer.
12. The last is asking for the deal, giving options and going over the steps of financing and understanding it enough to close it.
13. Throughout the call you need to be asking how well you are doing with the customer so they can grade you at the end of the call. Explain to them that this is just for your own good to learn to become the best tech you can be. This will help you at the end of the call when asking for a referral.
14. At the end of the call be sure to make sure that the customer is happy with what they got and they fully understand the value.
15. As you walk out after everything is done be sure to communicate about how to shut off the gas to the home and any other safety tips you might know and have to offer.
16. Now it’s time to leave be sure to hang 6 door hangers in both directions and then drive around the corner and close out with dispatch. Be sure to go over everything in detail so the next tech can see everything that was discussed. Or even it might be you it will help for another deal.
Now this is when operators come into play. We need to talk to the techs and dispatchers to keep everyone in sync. Be willing to get dirty and make the employees excited about the daily opportunities. Do not focus so much on the dollars focus more on the customer’s excitement and pleasure of doing business with them. Too many operators focus on putting a dollar amount on the customer if you do what’s right the money will come. This also creates less tension for the techs and allows them to focus on great customer service. Remember its MIND RIGHT first then attitude and everything else follows. Doing this is not saying we can lose focus on the expenses but that is a backend concern that should be efficiently recorded and balanced and not put on the techs. Periodically go over backend numbers with the whole team as in what it costs to run the shop and they will remember it. You do not need to beat them up over it. Always remember, under performing staff is a result of poor management. If you are doing it right they will hold one another accountable when they are walking up and putting up their own numbers on the board and doing the walk of shame or fame! Hold competitions during the month and make it a fun competitive culture. Remember this is all about loving what you do not just a doing a job and going through the motions. As soon as you lose the love you lose the focus and then the job!!!