A service contractor business needs three key areas of their business to run efficiently and coordinated with their production and selling area.  Those areas are Operations, Accounting & Finance, and Marketing.  All three are essential but the hub lies in the Service department and Operations.  A Service department is very dynamic and implementing some key ground rules can change the game.  Here are five ground rules which will allow you to grow and mature as business with a peace of mind.

#1 The Golden Rule 

Do unto others as you have them do unto you!  Simply put, don’t sell or deliver a job that you would not have installed in your home.  We live in a “throw away” society today.  If a customer’s service problem can be fixed verses replacing something, then do it.  Don’t sell them something just because you need to drive more daily sales.  Do the right thing for the customer.  I know many air conditioning failures are related to a bad capacitor.  However AC Sales Representatives will sell a new condenser verses repairing the unit with a capacitor.  This is a hundreds verses thousands of dollars in repair for the customer.

#2 Build Confidence & Knowledge in your Team and Business

Our customers are empowered today.  They have research at their fingertips via the internet and their smart phones.  They expect service technicians to know the latest and greatest products and services in their field.  It your job to schedule regular training for yourself and technicians with manufacturers, supply houses, and partners to give your team the confidence and knowledge on the trends and solutions for your customers.  We suggest a monthly training on a new product, new technique, and new technologies in your field.  It is this training that gives your team confidence and knowledge to deliver the answers and discussion the empowered customer demands in today’s world.

#3 Don’t Work Below Your Pay Grade: 

Too many service companies do not have a knowledgeable and empowered customer service agent answering their phones, emails, and social media requests.  Most are using their personal cell phone as their business phone and most calls go to a voicemail… which by the way is generally is too full and will not accept new voicemails.  The other tactic is to answer a phone while on another customer’s job…what are you doing? This is not acceptable. 

The reason I labeled this as Below Your Pay Grade… is because this is not your job as the business owner and lead service technician of your company.   More than 30% of customers will not leave a message on a voicemail and 79% will not call back if their calls go unanswered.  As the business owner you are losing valuable customer’s sales …you are not productive in the most important role of your business.  A live customer service agent and organized scheduling is a competitive advantage and as part of your growth strategy, it is a must! Invest a your competitive advantage of a live customer agent and scheduling/dispatching software… this is a game changer.

#4 Establish Goals and Work Them

This is an old business cliché but it makes or breaks businesses.  So many service contractors are transaction driven.  They have not determined how many transactions or jobs they need to stay in business on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis.  What happens is they work and work and then one day they do not have any work.  This leads to poor cash flow and your technicians taking the skills you trained them and working for someone else. 

The breakdown starts with setting goals and communicating the goals to your technicians and employees.  The goals should be simple, achievable, and easy to understand.  A good example of a simple goal would be to communicate how many jobs at a certain price you need on daily and weekly basis to keep your business healthy.  Don’t keep it a secret, communicate it to your company and post the information publically.  A simple Monday morning meeting with everyone to let them know what the goals are and how you are doing… it can make a difference and will get everyone working toward success!

#5 Don’t settle for Mediocracy- Rise Above the Rest

According to a recent Harris poll, 50% of customers who hire a contractor are not happy.  The top reasons for the dissatisfaction are:

#1 Contractors do not show on time

#2 Contractors do not call customers back when they leave a message

#3 Contractors do not provide details of what they are charging the customer to do the job

#4 Contractors do not communicate with customers well or if at all

These top four areas of customer dissatisfaction are a contractors “competitive advantage” if they implement systems and resources to stop the pain.  Rise above the rest and consider these recommendations for the dissatisfaction points:

#1 Field service management software which allows for scheduling and dispatching jobs and projects both on the web and on a mobile device is affordable and easy to use.  If you know what is scheduled and where scheduling opportunities exist, a service contractor can at least offer a window of time they can schedule to be a customer location. 

#2 A customer agent is priceless especially if they are empowered and knowledgeable about your products, services, and schedule.  They can answer most questions and save YOU time therefore money in your business. 

#3 Repair work and replacement work should be detailed for the customer on an invoice.  If you use flat rate pricing then list the materials and hours used and billed a job.  In the case of giving estimates, use a range of pricing with options for products and materials.  Just don’t leave the customer without information to make a decision. 

#4 Communication is the key to a business and customer satisfaction.  Customers have busy schedules and lives with their job, kids, and life.  They need to know about schedule changes, job changes on budget, etc.  Changes and revisions need to be communicated in a timely fashion so customers can accommodate and budget for these in their schedules.   Think about how you would like to be treated and treat your customers in the s same manner.