A business is a system of relationships. Individuals within the company system also come from another, called the family system. These family systems are all different, and each one has its toxic patterns. These harmful patterns carry over into the corporate structure and act as a pathogen to the system, which causes the system to become sick and function poorly.
I never really understood what I am about to tell you as a child or young adult, but I experienced it in many different contexts throughout my life from my father. His behavior was abusive and caused me unnecessary stress. My father carried this behavior into the business systems he created, and an employee once sued him for creating a hostile work environment. He was found guilty.
An instance of lost keys led to a long-repeated, unaddressed pattern of in-office abuse for the author.
It started with car keys…
One morning when I was 25 years old, I arrived at work at 6:00 a.m. in a good mood. My father and I were equal partners building a new business in Atlanta. As I was filling out a work order for an insulation crew, my father came into my office, and said:
Father: Where are my car keys?
Roger: I don’t know.
Father: What did you do with them?
Roger: I have not seen your keys and did not move them.
Father: Yes, you did. Where the @#$%! did you move them?
Then he flew into an uncontrollable rage, blaming me for something I did not do. A few minutes later, he found his keys, which he had misplaced, but never apologized. Whenever my dad got stressed, he would escape into blaming others for his problems, rage at them and never apologize. It was the big elephant in the room about which we never talked. We always swept it under the rug, merely hoping it would go away. It never did.
In clinical psychology, this pattern follows the characteristics of an “alcoholic family system.” While my dad did not drink and was not an alcoholic, the pattern was the same. The family does not talk about the alcoholic, much like we did not talk about my dad’s rage. We all lived in fear of when he would explode. My dad escaped into blame and anger, much like an alcoholic would turn into drunkenness for relief.
It’s interesting to note that when a person rages, they generally feel depressed afterward, much like an alcoholic feels after a binge. The rager does not like his or herself, but can’t help the behavior.
The owner of a company who allows this type of behavior (explosive anger) creates a hostile work environment, where words and actions negatively or severely impact another employee’s ability to complete their work. Please note that any employee can create a hostile work environment; it’s not only the owner.
Explosive anger shuts down everyone’s brain and severely impacts the team’s ability to do anything for the rest of the day. After this explosion from my father, my outlook and how I felt about him and the business went down. My performance suffered, and he continued to harass me with his accusations and blame when I wasn’t guilty. He created a hostile work environment 35 years ago, and it caught up with him and lawsuits, etc., cost him a lot of money in his old age.
Are you working in a culture of blame? Let me illustrate a mild form of the blame game. I built a call center that functions as an extension of a company’s customer service department so the company can be open, book and dispatch calls 24 hours a day and on holidays. It doesn’t take messages, and it is not an answering service. The team learns a script, and for the most part, they stay onscript, but not always because they are human.
I wrote the script so that it is not assumed every call is urgent and instead we get the customer’s expectation about when he/she would like a technician to come out. Then we book the call based on his/her expectations, not ours.
In the script, we also ask the system’s age because systems over 10 years old are like gold. If you are primarily an air-conditioning company, you know full well how hard it is to make ends meet while transitioning from a mild winter to hot weather.
On the first hot day of the spring, Tawiah followed the script, booked three trouble calls and determined that each system was more than 10 years old. These three trouble calls came in after 6:30 p.m. Tawiah followed the script and asked the customers when they would like technicians to come out, and they requested the next day.
I immediately got a text message from the owner blaming Tawiah for making a mistake: Your team just royally @#$% up! Why in the hell would I want to wait until tomorrow to run these calls?
I promptly called the owner and said: If you expect that we will steer the ten-year-old golden opportunities into the on-call night process and book these calls for tonight, that is fine. Please clarify that so I can communicate this to the team. We cannot read your mind.
He responded: Okay, I’ll give you that. He did not apologize.
We talked a few days later, and he expressed that he was still pretty angry that we did not book the calls for that night. I understand his frustration and desire to go quickly because of his anxiety to increase revenue and overcome a slow, warm winter. However, his response to his disappointment was toxic. He escaped into anger, looked for someone to blame and then did not apologize.
This pattern repeats itself throughout his culture, and there is a very high turnover at his company. Do you see the same pattern in him as in my father?
The fall out
While I was able to shield Tawiah from this toxicity, I could not protect his team. Here are a few comments from a person who decided to leave the company:
• This is a miserable place to work.
• I feel so much better having left.
• I did not realize how much the stress was ruining my weekends.
• My marriage was being affected.
• I wanted to be appreciated and valued. (Don’t we all?)
When things went wrong, the worker was blamed and belittled, or regarded as less than important, and was depreciated and disparaged. Belittlement is a form of bullying, and if you are allowing it in your culture, you are at risk of a lawsuit.
Love works better
Anne is a member of our Ukrainian team, which books and dispatches service calls after hours, on weekends and on holidays. She is faithful, honest and we can depend on her. However, Anne is not perfect—who is? Anne makes mistakes as we all do, but I am pleased when I look over her performance. Indeed, Anne needs to improve and grow, but I would give her an “A” if I were to grade her.
One year, I decided to take New Year’s Eve off, and I planned to sleep in late. Anne covers the New York Time zone from 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. I woke up at about 6:30 a.m., which is late for me. I planned a morning of relaxation, or so I thought.
I checked my phone, which I had left in the living room, and Anne had left me a message. I also had a missed call from her at 2:00 a.m. She said, Please can you help me? I went to a friend’s house to work and left my charging chord at home. My laptop battery died, and I am offline.
I was a bit distressed and aggravated about this mistake. It was 6:30 a.m., and we book a lot of calls early before clients open. I immediately logged in, looked at the call history file, and quickly determined that no one called, so this mistake caused no damage. I handled two calls, and by 7:00 a.m., all of our clients took their phones back without incident.
I called Anne after all of this was over, and she told me what happened. I merely said, Lesson learned, please be more careful in the future.
Why did I not condemn, blame, belittle, disparage or punish her? Because I am no better than Anne and have had to learn the same lessons. You see, over the last 20 years, I forgot to show up to my webinars twice. The students registered for the class and waited for the teacher, and the teacher never showed. I needed their grace, and Anne needed mine.
Moving past mistakes
To make mistakes is part of the human condition, so when we see one, why are we shocked? If there is a pattern of repeating the same errors, then the person is not learning. Handle this type of behavior firmly with consequences, but in love. Other mistakes are simply the way we learn. Mistakes are merely feedback that we need to change something.
Is your culture a culture of blame, condemnation, ridicule and punishment? If so, I encourage you to change your thinking. Ask this simple question when a mistake happens: What can we learn from this, and how can we improve?
One last note—forgiveness is a powerful spiritual principle. My dad is 86 years old, and he is moving to an assisted living facility today as I finish this article. He and I have an excellent relationship. While he does still not see his toxic pattern, I have chosen to forgive him anyway. He has not changed.
I don’t tell you the story about my father to dishonor him. I am transparent in hopes that others will connect with the account and begin their healing.
If you work in a culture of blame and feel trapped, you are not. If you are the owner of a company that fosters a culture of blame and don’t like it, embrace the fact that you allowed it or created it. Acceptance and self-awareness is the first step in changing. If you want to change it, reach out to me, and we can talk about how I can facilitate the growth and change in your culture. If you feel trapped in a toxic culture and don’t know how to respond, I can help you, too. Please feel free to contact me at Tel: 205-837-3643 or E-mail: [email protected]. ICM
Service agreements can be the cause of considerable frustration. We price them low, and if we don’t upsell anything, we are lucky to break even. This angst that clients feel as well as workable solutions are addressed in this article.
A maintenance technician on the East Coast is following the below strategies, and by the end of October 2019, he had sold and installed $210,000 worth of accessories. That is an average of $21,000 per month. He runs only 5% trouble calls because he is learning service and how to repair things. However, he is profitable and valuable, having learned the strategies outlined in this article.
You cannot learn golf by reading a magazine. Just like selling in the HVAC business, you have to do it to learn it.
Learning on the course
I was a scratch golfer in high school, and I read a lot of magazines about how to swing and put. My dad also hired amateur golf great Elvis Larkin to give me lessons and watch me play. My point is that you can’t learn how to upsell by reading a book any more than I could have learned how to become a scratch golfer by reading Golf Digest.
Upselling is a frustration for owners, technicians and even clients. In this article, taken from my book Blueprint: The Angst of Service Agreements (and How to Change It), we’ll remove the frustration from upselling.
Revenue declines in mild weather
A frequent complaint I hear from owners is that they wished their techs would upsell during the service agreement fulfillment. As a former HVAC company owner, I know the fear that comes with mild weather. I’ve been there, and I recall many sleepless nights worrying about making payroll on Friday as revenue tanked. These thoughts and conversations would swirl around my head:
* Techs hate selling
* Clients hate to be sold
Further, I heard technicians complain about being pressured to upsell. They don’t like to upsell, and they don’t want to upsell. Clients don’t like to be upsold. Do you?
As an external consultant for HVAC companies, I ride along with technicians, and homeowners are often curious about my role. When they ask, I’m happy to share my experiences.
In the words of one homeowner: I’m so glad. Every time you guys come out to my house, I feel like the technician has just come out of a sales class and is always trying to sell me something that I don’t want or need.
However, this brings us to a dilemma. If we don’t upsell, how do we reach our goals for profit? Service agreements are not profitable without the upsell, right?
Invitation vs. selling
Service agreements present an opportunity for additional revenue from working systems. Nevertheless, apply this approach with caution.
How do you act without appearing self-serving? Invite the customer to have a conversation about the concerns you’ve noticed in the property. Resist selling and do not push. Bring the concerns to the customer’s attention assertively, not aggressively. The keyword is invitation. Invite the client to a conversation and respect their right to say No.
Bridge the conversation
Manufacturers place their products in Big Box stores so customers can see them. During a service agreement call, we want clients to notice our products, like in a Big Box store, and this comes through conversation. We make customers aware by inviting them into a conversation, but only if they want to. Here are some areas to highlight once invited into a conversation:
* Aging Water Heaters
* IAQ (Duct Cleaning, Filters, Mold Issues)
* Duct Sealing
* Wi-Fi Thermostats
* Solutions to problems that concern the client
What to do
Avoid self-serving attitudes, and do not push yourself on people aggressively. This approach does not motivate technicians and it drives customers away.
Receive permission. Do not present to the client without permission and respect their right to say No. Learn the skill of getting customers to move toward you, so they hear your message.
Focus on the task at hand. Do not ask for permission to talk about accessories until the task you came to complete is done.
Create a mindset of humility, gratitude and patience. These are spiritual principles that help people gravitate to you.
Two helpful statements
Here are two statements you should remember and use:
* ” It’s up to you.”
* “You’d only want to do this if _______.”
Do not push people. Relax and allow the customer to exert their authority in the matter. Ask for a Yes or No but remain neutral and avoid willing, shaping or manipulating the customer to say Yes.
The principle is that you have to allow things–successes, opportunities–to come to you.
If a person is resisting your message, don’t push to convince them. Logic and eloquence won’t assure the customer either. At the end of the day, words used to overpower someone have no power at all.
The author offers guidance on bridging the gap between
offering regular services and adding on services.
Using the assertiveness model, you can bridge to HVAC accessories and learn how to ask for what you want. Here is an example conversation:
Mrs. Jones, have you got a place where we can sit down and go over what I saw on your property? (Direct request for what you want.)
Your system is working fine, and I don’t see any concerns with its reliability, safety or efficiency. You’re good to go for another season. However, I did notice something that I’d
like to bring to your attention. Is that okay? (Wait until you get permission.)
I looked up your water heater serial number online, and it says that your water heater is 12 years old. It is working fine and looks to be in good shape, but water heater tanks only last about ten to fifteen years. When the tank fails, it does one of two things. It can leak by dripping water on the floor, and when you notice it, you can call us. Or, it can fail and gush water until you turn the water off, which can cause significant water damage and result in an insurance claim. The average insurance claim for water heater failure is about $4,800.
(If you don’t agree that water heater tanks fail between 10 and 15 years of age, use the number that you believe in. It’s important to be congruent, which means your outside
behavior matches your inside feelings.)
I feel that when a water heater reaches this age, it is prudent to consider being proactive and replace it before it leaks or fails. (Express how you feel honestly.)
Ask for what you want
Would you like to have a conversation about replacing your water heater before the tank fails? (This is an invitation to have a conversation about considering being proactive. If they want to be proactive, this usually leads to a logical question: How much is a water heater?)
Benefits or consequences of granting your request
You can avoid the possibilities of a leak, or even worse, a tank failure, which could cause water damage to your home. Do you want to wait until that event occurs and be reactive at that point? It’s your decision. Let me know what you’d like to do.
What do we want? What are we asking for? We want Mrs. Jones to tell us Yes or No to an invitation to talk about being proactive. We are not selling. We are not willing, shaping or forming her to do anything. We invite and wait for her to decide. It’s as simple as that.
Remember, Mrs. Jones is a loyal client who trusts us, and she has the right to say No. We should respect and honor her decision. An assertive mindset honors the other person. If she says No, that’s fine. However, it is your responsibility to ask assertively.
Be sure to use the DESC (Describe, Express, Specify and Consequences) model to build other scripts for other issues that concern you; have a different script for each situation. Don’t wing it, and execute the scripts with professionalism.
Three important points to finish up:
1. Learn the script word for word
2. Learn the script word for word
3. Learn the script word for word
From my 22 years of experience
Reading my Blueprint and executing it in the field is like learning to play golf by reading Golf Digest. Few people can take what they read and implement it with success. However, reading and studying is part of learning. Personal growth and development takes time and repetition, reinforced with coaching and accountability. We will discuss my Blueprint and small steps you can take to be more successful in the next article. ICM
Whether face-to-face or on the telephone, approaching someone that we don’t know makes most of us feel uncomfortable. However, the first step in the sales process is finding someone to talk to about our product or service, and most of the time that person may not be interested. To discover the person who says yes, you also have to hear no.
A simple question
Recently, in an online coaching session, I had a memorable conversation with a technician. During these sessions, I instructed and encouraged the participants to ask homeowners questions while completing a tune-up (“tune and vac”) on an oil system. We have the right to ask questions, and I wanted this technician to ask the correct questions at the correct time.
In fact, I want the technician to ask a question that only demanded yes or no response, and it goes like this: Mr. Homeowner, I can see that your system is working fine but is very old. We feel that there are many benefits to upgrading to a new system when they get to this age, and in fact, many of our clients choose to do so.
Now, here comes the simple question: Would you like to set an appointment for us to come back and talk to you about your options for replacing?
Why hearing “no” is healthy
During the group sessions, the technician disagreed with this question because he knew the answer would be the dreaded no.
Still, I implored him to ask anyway and to let go of his presumptions about people and situations, which limit us and our growth in business.
I want him to hear no, because the pathway to yes is fraught with no encounters many times along the way. We must get comfortable with hearing no as an answer—everyone has the right to say no.
A scripted response to “no”
When I ask: Would you like me to come back, sit down, and talk about your options for replacing, and I hear no from the customer, I am prepared. My response is the same: Well, I didn’t think so, but I had to ask because sometimes my presumptions are wrong. I can see that I was right in this case, and most probably, you won’t replace this system until it breaks, right?
In situations like this, I take the opposite position and don’t push.
From my experience
During a ride-along with a technician, I noticed a stack of our company folders with details about the customer—an indication that we’ve been to his/her home on several occasions. Here, my presumption was that the customer had heard our service agreement talk, but always rejected it. See an example script with the customer:
Roger: Mrs. Jones, I can see that we’ve visited your home many times and that you do not have a service agreement. Please, tell me if I’m wrong, but I get the feeling you absolutely do not want to talk about service agreements.
Mrs. Jones: Yes, I have heard this many times before, and no I don’t want to hear about service agreements.
Roger: I didn’t think so; I won’t bring it up and we won’t talk about it.
In truth, we did bring up service agreements during this visit but in a negative-reversed way, and the customer never noticed it. In a later column, we’ll discuss negative-reversing and how to respond to resistance.
By moving away from her emotionally, I heard the no. I achieved this through confirmation: my presumption about the customer was correct. However, I asked anyway.
I am aware there are many other strategies to market and generate leads—methods that I agree with. However, remember, we don’t owe the salesperson and we should expect them to prospect. The salesperson has a great responsibility to carry his/her own weight, so make it the expectation.
Strategies for cold calling
I made cold calls in two ways. I would canvass an area or cold call from a list. I remember one salesperson, Rita, who sold HVAC for us in the mid-1990s, and would call from the white pages with great success.
Although the laws regarding telemarketing are different today, there are creative ways to get around it.
Sponsor a giveaway
Find a neighborhood grocery store, in the right environment, with potential systems that are approaching 13 to 15 years of age, and organize a weekly giveaway, such as a gift card for several hundred dollars of groceries at this store.
When I ran these giveaways, we would create a company display in the store and the contestant would fill out a short form with name, address and phone number. Once a week we would draw the winner and inform the manager who won and pay the store the money. Then we would contact the winner and give him/her the gift card.
Then, equipped with a strong list of prospects in the area we had targeted, we started to cold call the numbers; it’s a great way to build a database and rapport in a neighborhood. With consistency, you’ll set appointments, tune-ups and build your customer base.
Let’s take a look at the script for the cold call:
Roger: Mrs. Jones, this is Roger Daviston with ABC Heating & Air, we are the company who gives away the $200 grocery gift card at the Kroger supermarket over on Main Street. Did I catch you at a bad time?
Mrs. Jones: No, please go ahead.
Roger: Okay, let me tell you quickly why I called and then you can decide if you would like to talk further. How does that sound?
Mrs. Jones: Sure.
Roger: Thanks, I appreciate that; I’ll be quick. Two things, I got your number from the contest that you registered for. I wanted to let you know that Mrs. Smith won the drawing this week. However, we wanted to encourage you to continue to play. We’ll be holding a giveaway each week.
Mrs. Jones: Okay.
Roger: Can I ask you one more question before I hang up?
Mrs. Jones: Sure.
Roger: I am looking for homeowners in the neighborhoods around the grocery store who are concerned or frustrated with their heating and air conditioning systems. Maybe their utility bills are high; maybe it just doesn’t keep up like it used to; maybe they are in the market for a new one. Are you having any of these issues? Does this sound familiar to you?
Mrs. Jones: No.
Roger: I hear that a lot. Sounds like you are happy with the system that you have. We feel that it is important to keep your system maintained for reliability and longevity. Would you have any interest in us doing that for you?
Mrs. Jones: No.
Roger: Okay. Keep trying to win the groceries because I’ll be drawing every week.
Now, let’s go back and imagine Mrs. Jones said yes.
Roger: I am looking for homeowners in the neighborhoods around the grocery store who are concerned or frustrated with their heating and air conditioning system. Maybe their utility bills are high; maybe it just doesn’t keep up like it used to; maybe they are in the market for a new one. Are you having any of these issues? Does this sound familiar to you?
Mrs. Jones: Yes, that sounds familiar.
Roger: Tell me more about that.
Mrs. Jones: Well… (Mrs. Jones tells us about her pain)
Roger: Do you think it would make sense for us to sit down and talk about it?
Mrs. Jones: Yes, that would be great.
Roger: Get out your calendar, and we’ll find a time that suits you.
The HVAC industry does not have to be seasonal if we take responsibility for building up business and expect our salespeople to prospect. Every other industry expects it, so why don’t we?
Finally, ask yourself this question: Why do I not expect this of myself or my salespeople? Altering the way you think and shifting your expectations will help guarantee your business thrives in all seasons. ICM
Reaching out to your database is the easiest way
to be proactive. During a slow period, both salespeople and customer service representatives (CSRs) should have a list of numbers ready to dial and customers to reach. To make this as proactive as possible, don’t waste time looking through a customer’s history: dial and execute the script.
Call the people in your database that you have not reached for six months to three years.
Organizing the list
Filter the call list by the date of the last transaction. Mine your database and generate a list of people you have not transacted with for six months to three years. These customers are the hottest because they are the most current customers who need your service. Often these customers answer the first time or will call you back if you leave the right voice message.
When you strategize to sell a tune-up, you use the opportunity as the first step in the sales process. Many times, scheduling a tune-up will lead to an appointment for a salesperson to visit the property. If this is the case, ensure that the salesperson who sold the tune-up also runs the appointment. Otherwise, your salespeople will lack the motivation to make these calls.
A script that works is one that has generated high revenue even during the slow months of February and March. Furthermore, it can generate tune-ups that lead to service revenue and sometimes these tune-ups lead to turnovers that sell systems. This process works and will level out your net profit losses. If you focus on generating tune-ups and getting enough activity, profits will grow in the difficult months.
From my experience, the main reason why customers choose to have maintenance on their heating or air conditioning system is to reduce breakdowns and increase reliability. Another reason could be to maintain efficiency. To a certain extent, safety is also a concern for customers during the heating season—less so during the cooling season.
Sell the why
Before you read the script, remember never to discuss what’s behind the tune-up. Only talk about the why, because that’s what motivates people to buy. Sell the why even when customers ask about the what. Even though customers will ask what is included in the tune-up, resist going through the checklist and details. I’ll cover how to do this in more detail later.
CSR: Mrs. Jones, this is Roger from ABC Heating & Cooling. Did I catch you at a bad time?
This first sentence is a small pattern interrupt, and an invitation for the customer to allow you to talk. We want to get the customer moving toward us emotionally. Do not use your words to overpower anyone. When you do, your words lose their power to influence.
Mrs. Jones: No, I am okay—I’ve got time.
CSR: Thanks, I appreciate that. Let me tell you quickly why I called and you can decide if you want to talk further. Is that okay?
Here, notice another small pattern interrupt. However, most importantly, this opens the door for the customer to say, “No.” Furthermore, it demonstrates respect and hands the control to the customer. I gain control by giving up control. Gratitude is also crucial here. We don’t hold enough power to force people to listen to us, so, when they do, I am grateful and I express it sincerely.
Sell the “why” even if customers ask the “what.”
Mrs. Jones: Okay.
CSR: We’ve noticed that you have not had your AC system tuned up this year. We feel that doing so increases its reliability and efficiency. Would you like to set a time for us to do that for you?
Notice that the script is short and we ask for what we want: an appointment. Ask and let the customer say “Yes” or “No.” It’s that simple. Did you notice I did not mention the price? If a customer wants to know the price, they will ask, “How much?” Sometimes they only say “Yes,” and you schedule an appointment. Then confirm with a simple sentence. “So that you know, the price of the tune-up is $ ______.”
Other questions and queries
Sometimes customers want to know what happens during a tune-up. Respond with the script below.
CSR: That’s a good question and I hear that a lot. The technician has a specific set of objectives focused on reliability and efficiency issues. Is there anything specific that you want to ensure that he checks?
Again, notice here that I do not go through the checklist. Instead, I focus the customer’s attention on the why. I also asked another question that evokes the reason he asked. I want to direct the conversation into why he asked about the checklist—usually, that kind of a question is an indication of pain.
What is pain?
As an example of pain, the customer may want to know if the tune-up includes Freon. If this happens, we want know more about why the customer has focused on Freon. “Tell me more about Freon. What is your concern?”
This is a great question to ask. Then the customer may tell you more about comfort problems. Comfort problems are painful. So, his Freon question is an indication of some pain in the area of comfort.
When reading this script, I’m sure you noticed it’s short and to the point. Equipped with a healthy list of contacts to dial, 25 to 30 dials per hour are reasonable, and provide healthy results. Again, through my experience, I have found that it is best to allocate one hour of uninterrupted time increments and then take a break—stay at it for at least two hours. Hang in there to build momentum.
Measure the number of dials, conversations and appointments. With the consistent execution of the script, people will listen to you, and you will set appointments. However, the technician must be skilled in the implementation of The Service Call Blueprint to set replacement appointments in high numbers for both salespeople and to garner service revenue. ICM
The most important message to take from this article is this: If your salespeople don’t have an appointment set up with a prospect, customer or client, they need to be out in the field engaged in an activity that will generate an appointment.
Preparing to make a cold call, planning to meet someone or even changing the oil in your vehicle are not included in my classification of an activity that will lead to an appointment. However, don’t worry; I’m here to help you get unstuck.
Of course, these examples are tongue-in-cheek. Sales teams across all industries are notorious for creating excuses as to why they are not making a call or knocking on a door.
Within a small radius of your office, there are hundreds, if not thousands of change-outs taking place. Find the right neighborhood, present the right script and target prospects at the right time of the day. Follow these steps and they will lead to successful appointments.
Knocking on doors in the age of digital marketing
Often, people say: Roger this is the age of social media; knocking went out style with the tin siding sales guys in the 1960s. This belief, however, is not true.
Not too many years ago, I answered a ring at my doorbell, where a neatly dressed man stood at my door. I don’t remember his exact script, but he was offering a special deal package for a well-known golf course I had played at before, about an hour’s drive from my home. On this occasion, I said No, thank you to the salesman; I wasn’t going to drive an hour away to play golf.
However, this man had done his research and he was knocking in a very productive neighborhood for golfing prospects. I played golf. All my neighbors played golf, too. In fact, a few days later I got a call from a neighbor who invited me to play golf. Guess where? Yes, they had all bought a package from the neatly dressed gentleman at their front door.
The three golf package buyers
Let’s look at the demographics of the three buyers. One of my friends was a VP for a national snack company and he managed $500 million in revenue. Canvassing worked for him. Another neighbor was a VP for a national company. He managed the national sales force that sold state-of-the-art technology for eye surgeons, and again, canvassing worked on him. Finally, the third man who purchased was the owner of his own roofing business and canvassing worked on him, too.
Although I did not purchase the product, I went to the door and listened carefully. Considering this example, why do you allow your salespeople to sit on their hands and feel entitled to leads? While we support our teams with leads, we don’t owe them anything, and they don’t deserve anything. In other sales professions, the managers expect that salespeople will prospect. Why don’t you?
From my experience
In 2011, my wife Inna and I were strolling down the street in Brighton Beach, NY. A gentleman stood on the sidewalk with a board hanging over his body with a promotion that read “Free Eye Exam.” As I walked passed him, he handed me a postcard and eventually sold me a free eye exam.
The next thing I know, I am sitting in a chair getting my eyes checked. Thirty minutes later I walked away with a pair of nice new glasses—$700 less in my pocket but feeling good about the purchase and taking care of my eye health. Seven years later, I still have those glasses. For me, it was a good decision to buy them.
Let’s consider how that gentleman got the sale. It was a proactive activity.
Harris, a technician for a client of mine in Lincoln, NB, struck up a conversation with a man at the gas station as they were both filling up their trucks. It was the lettering on Harris’ truck, similar to promotion in Brighton Beach, that caught the man’s attention.
Seizing the opportunity, Harris asked the gentleman if he would like to set an appointment for him to come out and tune up his air conditioner for $99. The prospect agreed.
When Harris arrived for the appointment, he found some serious issues on the older system and moved into discussing a new system. From the conversation at the gas station—proactive activity—Harris sold a system worth $8,500.
When I purchased my eyeglasses, this was the same process I went through. Very different products, but the action was the same.
Get out of the office and play golf
In my previous column, I mentioned how I’d told a salesperson “Please get out of my office and go play golf.” With this in mind, it’s all about talking to anyone who might listen. When you don’t have any leads, execute this behavior.
A final example
During a ride-along with a plumber, the boss of the company came along because he wanted to understand how the canvassing process worked. While the plumber was selling at a pre-arranged appointment, I took the boss and knocked on a house in the neighborhood. A gentleman opened the door, I executed my script, and smiling, he said ‘‘Actually, I’m in currently looking at replacing both of my systems.” Bingo.
In the next issue of ICM, we’ll look at different strategies for setting appointments for new equipment sales and how to set appointments for tune-ups that lead to system sales or other additional service work.
I want to add that very few people are willing to do this. I encourage you to read further with humility and an open mind because these processes and behaviors can release you from the cycle of weather-driven profits. Most certainly, it freed me. ICM
From my decades of experience in the HVAC industry, I’ve realized that our industry does not understand pure sales and many businesses wait for the phone to ring. What’s more, we don’t expect sales teams to prospect, and instead we believe that as owners we owe our salespeople leads.
Surprising to many, you do not owe your sales team leads and they don’t deserve to receive them in your business. However, there is much more to this concept to explore.
Knocking on the door is just the beginning of a successful sale.
In fact, any individual in a relationship has a responsibility to carry his or her weight. When one person doesn’t contribute as he or she is expected, another has a responsibility to confront this behavior, rather than expecting the person to make an unprompted change.
While we want to support our salespeople with leads, it is their responsibility to prospect for those leads.
An example from a client
With this particular client, our relationship developed from a prospect and grew into the loyal and respectful relationship that the term “client” defines. In the Deep South, unlike many other areas of the U.S., the first quarter of the year is mild; many businesses in the South dread this quarter as they wait for the weather to warm up. Sure, they have HVAC service agreements, but those alone don’t solve the issue of profitability in a slow, mild February.
The client said to me: Roger my entire year—in terms of profits—hinges on how much money we don’t lose in the first quarter. If I can minimize my loss, my year goes pretty well. If I have to overcome a big loss, well … it ain’t pretty.
Here, the unfortunate truth is that our industry is at the mercy of the weather—and in some years the weather has no mercy.
What’s happening vs. What to do
In March 1990, I was 30 years old and I had lost as much money as was possible to lose. Truthfully, I was terrified. At the right time, I heard a sermon by Dr. Raymond Culpepper. Through his teachings, I learned that what was happening to me was not significant. In fact, the most important aspect to consider was what was I going to do about it? How was I going to challenge, adapt or respond to the situation?
After the sermon, I was energized and full of hope. Until this point, I had felt lost and desperate, not knowing how to solve my own problem. I remember the terrible feeling of having to pay the weekly payroll and overhead expenses knowing that the line of credit at the bank was at its limit.
I became busy solving my dependence on the climate rather than focusing on the issue of weather. Fast-forward to the first quarter of 1999, where I made a net profit of 9% in the first quarter of that year while paying myself a six-figure salary—and this was in very mild weather. Remember, nine years earlier I was failing and terrified.
How did I achieve this? I did this by learning about sales and implementing what I learned. At first, I was really terrible at execution. Honestly, it was embarrassing, but I kept going and until I learned.
In those early days, I would knock on doors, which absolutely did not work for me. I was not equipped with the skills I needed for success. The process worked like this: I would knock, tell them who I was and hand them a flier. Until June, few results came from going door-to-door. However, in June of 1990, I ran a lead; when I asked the gentleman how he found out about us, he said that I knocked on his door in January. You reap what you sow.
From this lead, I gained hope and could consider the next steps. Now, the question was how to get this guy to call in January when I really needed the revenue. The answer was so simple that I could not think of it.
Earning $1M in HVAC replacement sales
Some of you may remember Tom McCart. Back in the 1980s, Tom proudly announced that he was the first $1 million HVAC replacement salesperson and eventually he started offering sales training. When I found out about his class, I flew to Dallas, TX to attend his seminar.
I took a lot of valuable information away from the seminar; however, the most influential moment came during the smoke break (and I don’t smoke). Outside, I told Tom about my problem and, in response, he was amazed that I would knock on doors; he respected it, too. However, he offered me further advice, which was to ask them a question. Just ask: Would you like to set an appointment for me to come back and talk about it further?
I returned from Dallas and started to knock on doors again with a new script:
Roger: Hi, my name is Roger Daviston and I am with Hamrick Daviston Heating & Air right here in Bessemer. So that you know, Bessemer Electric and TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) have financing available for homeowners who want to upgrade their old heating and air system. Would you like to set an appointment to see if you qualify?
Much to my surprise, people started saying yes, and my calendar started filling up even in mild weather.
With a full calendar, everything changed. Most of all, I was now free. Free from what? I was free from the dependency of the weather. I can remember selling three systems on a Saturday all from “walk leads” (the name we gave to clients from knocking on doors). In 1992, selling three systems was a huge deal and my average sale was $7,500 back then.
Duplicating my approach, I expected each salesperson to prospect for leads. While we did support them and generated leads for them on occasion, they always prospected on a regular basis. In the sales process, this is the first step. If a salesperson does not have an appointment, he should be performing some activity that leads to an appointment. Usually, that step involves talking to somebody who needs your service.
During a slow period, again in the 1990s, a salesperson was hanging out in the office as no leads were coming in. I told him that since he did not have any leads, it might be a good idea to play golf. With surprise, he asked, Why golf?
Salespeople should be out and about wherever they can score a sale.
My response: Nobody in this office needs anything that we sell. If you play golf, you might find someone on the course who needs a furnace or air conditioner. But please get out of this office.
During my time at Hamrick Daviston Heating & Air, I didn’t allow the salespeople to even have a desk. We had a conference room to work in the office when they needed, but I did not want them hanging out in the office when the prospects and customers were out in the field. This process worked because I had a high level of accountability. Each morning we would have a 20-minute meeting that went similar to the script below:
Roger: Mike, how many appointments did you have yesterday?
Mike: I did not have any.
Roger: Okay, how many doors did you knock on yesterday?
Mike: Well, I had to go here, and I had to go there and then…(excuses)
Roger: Mike, I can appreciate what you had to do yesterday, but I just need a number. How many?
Mike: I did not knock?
Roger: How many was that.
Roger: Okay. Can you fix this?
Set the expectation that they will be proactive, and provide the coaching and training. If you don’t know how provide it yourself, that’s where I can help you learn the skills you don’t know.
When we canvassed neighborhoods, we measured knocks, discussions with prospects and appointments. On average, it took 13 discussions to schedule an appointment. If I could get 13 people to come to the door, I would guarantee an appointment. So, for two hours we knocked and executed the script.
From my experience
One slow August, with no leads for the next day, I went canvassing in different areas of the city with two other salespeople. In one day we achieved a total of four leads, and I had an early flight to Crested Butte, CO the next day. By the time I arrived in Crested Butte, two of the leads had been sold and the work had already been started. That was about $15,000 of revenue that we found by being proactive.
The bottom line is you don’t owe your salespeople leads and they do not deserve them. If they are not proactive, change the expectation and expect that they will. Maintain these boundaries with daily morning meetings and check-in with your sales team. ICM
What should the conversion rate of my salesperson be? I frequently hear this question, and while it’s a reasonable question to ask, the answer is always: It depends. More importantly, it depends on the level of relationship that you have with the person you want to influence into purchasing your products or services.
Clients with high conversion rates
Clients or customers with a broken system or an older system that needs replacing soon are the low-hanging fruit in your business. These customers offer high conversion rates—even achieving as much as 80%–90%. Clients and customers in these situations are in pain, and you’ve built trust with these loyal clients. They respect your business and want to deal with you.
An appointment with a salesperson is always set on a calendar by a dedicated office person.
The relay race metaphor
In a relay race, the service technician hands the sales baton to the salesperson. The service technician offers a free appointment with a sales representative. Here, I define “an appointment” as a day and time on a calendar for a comfort advisor or salesperson to visit the property to outline possible service and product options.
Setting up the appointment
Notice that an appointment is always set on a calendar and the service technician does not call a salesperson or provide a lead. In the office, an individual should own the responsibility for running the sales appointment calendar. We call these type of appointments “turnovers,” and these “turnovers” are the staple—the bread and butter—of your business. Treat these opportunities like gold.
Closing a turnover
What many people don’t realize is that it doesn’t take much skill to close a “turnover” with a client, especially when your business has served them for many years. Additionally, this is true when a system is down, and the weather is extreme—think summer and winter. A combination of pain and trust leads to high sales.
During consultation work with many businesses, this simple shift in the process has produced 35%–40% growth in revenue over the following year.
How can the technician contribute to these results?
The technician has to be trained to ask and set the appointment. Moreover, he or she should be motivated to ask and set these appointments by a spiff (salesperson bonus) of 2% of the sales price. To introduce another metaphor, think of the service technician as your “bird dog”—he or she finds the prize by asking and pulling the trigger. Once the appointment is set, it is a sure sale in most cases.
A successful call script
Let’s look at how to do this correctly. In my book The Service Call Blueprint, I reveal, in detail, the key to the service call process.
Technician: Mrs. Jones? Do you have a place where we can sit down and discuss what I found?
Mrs. Jones: Sure.
Technician: I found a concern with your _____ but there is no need to worry, I can fix it. However, your system is about the age where many of our clients consider replacing. Do you want to look at options to repair or options to replace?
Mrs. Jones: How much is a new one?
Technician: Well, that’s a good question, and I hear that a lot. Would you like to set an appointment for a comfort advisor to come out and talk to you about all those options?
Mrs. Jones: Well, when can he come out?
Technician: Let me get Jill on the phone, and she can schedule that for you.
Technician: Jill, this is Roger, and I am here with Mrs. Jones. She would like to set an appointment for a comfort advisor to come out and talk to you to hear about the possibility of replacing her system. Here she is.
Pass the baton to a person who sets the appointment. The first step in any sales process is setting the appointment, and it must be sold for free. Do not miss this simple process. Too often I’ve seen businesses lose out because the potential appointments are not booked when the technicians are with customers. When we neglect to schedule appointments, customers can change their mind—or the customers are never followed up with.
Set an appointment with the person in the office with the sole responsibility and authority to organize the calendar of the sales team or salesperson, depending on the size of your business.
Don’t allow the salesperson to answer the phone and book the appointments with leads. A team member should be dedicated to scheduling books, measures and accounts for the leads. The salesperson runs the calls and reports results. This is an issue of boundaries and who owns what. A salesperson owns the sales process and another person owns the salesperson’s calendar and measures appointment results.
Without accountability, salespeople are notorious for creaming the leads, whereby a salesperson does not run the lead because he perceives it to be a problematic prospect or situation, or rushes through to the next appointment not willing to hang in tough. Why is this bad for your business? In this situation, the salesperson always takes the cream of the crop and conveniently does not run the difficult lead. Alternatively, he might only communicate with the lead over the phone, not taking the time to visit the property and build rapport, which is a must.
In my upcoming book, Lap 4, I outline why the salesperson must run the difficult lead and go through the sale process and not just pursue easier leads. Remember, always treat these problematic leads like gold, too.
Think of the service technician as your “bird dog,” the person
who finds the prize by asking and pulling the trigger.
Limit the leads
Do not let salespeople run too many leads. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way when I gave my best salesperson 25 leads in a month, but he would close only about 18 of them. This salesperson worked on commission, and was dependent on this income for his high expenses. When I gave him 40 leads he would close about 22, and when I gave him 60 leads he would also close about 22 of them. In this case, he was creaming the leads. Lesson learned.
The right amount of leads is about 40 in a 20-day month. More than that and you risk the salesperson creaming leads. On certain days he or she may run three leads and on some days may run only one. Three leads is an extremely busy day when you consider travel time and sales skills.
The Service Call Blueprint
Let’s take a look at the method from The Service Call Blueprint. Sometimes a customer says to fix it, even after the technician executes the presentation as taught. When a customer wants the system fixed, the natural question arises : How much is a new one? Then the technician flows right into the turnover script, again, as taught. Each lap in the relay race must be run properly to maximize results:
Lap 1: Book the call properly.
Lap 2: Dispatch the call properly.
Lap 3: Use The Service Call Blueprint.
Lap 4: Booking, dispatching, running and selling the call.
Without a successful handover of the baton, your sales team won’t win the relay race in the final lap. In my upcoming book, I’ll focus on the final lap of the sales process and how to avoid a terrible lap. ICM
Roger Daviston is a cognitive behavioral specialist. His new book The Service Call Blueprint is available on Amazon.com. Watch The Service Call Blueprint webinar at rogerdaviston.com Twitter:
An assertive person is a person who thinks proactively and does not wait for events to occur. In other words, they don’t wait to react; they plan and move ahead of anticipated events. Obviously, we all have to react to events that come at us but an assertive person understands that he/she needs to plan ahead and is comfortable with non-urgent matters.
As a result of planning ahead and moving ahead of events, the assertive person has much less chaos in his/her life because he/she took care of it beforehand. The more you plan and work ahead, the less chaotic your life will be.
Let me illustrate this point from the perspective of The Service Call Blueprint with a greeting. The greeting is filled with assertive characteristics. Let’s look closer:
Tech: Mr. Jones, We appreciate your business and thanks for letting us come out. How can I help you today?
Mr. Jones: I noticed that my house was getting warm and then I noticed that the A/C would not come on.
Tech: Okay, I can certainly help you with that. Just to confirm, did the office share with you the service fee of $79? (Proactive move: Past experience taught me that sometimes this becomes a problem later so I learned to move ahead and be proactive).
Mr. Jones: Yes. I’m fine with that.
Tech: Okay, just to let you know so you’re comfortable with how I do things, I will go and get my tools, take a look and figure out what we need to do to get you going. Once I know, I would like to sit down with you and go over your options. Then you can tell me what you would like to do. You’re the boss. How does that sound? (Proactive move: I am moving ahead of the event called the “presentation.” I don’t want any issues with getting him to sit down so I planned it. I asked for it and I got agreement.)
Mr. Jones: Sure, not a problem.
Tech: Good. How are you on time? (Proactive move: Experience has taught me that often times homeowners will leave when I least expect them to. So I move ahead of that event, too.)
Mr. Jones: I’ll be here all day.
Please don’t miss this. The question about time is critical because even though it is rare, sometimes customers do run off. When they leave, you lose leverage because you can’t get them involved visually. Sure, you can send them a video or pictures but there is nothing more powerful than letting a homeowner hold the front panel of an air handler covered in fuzzy growth.
Raising another person’s pain level helps him/her make a decision. Looking at and holding a problematic component makes them feel real pain much more so than seeing a video. Our solution eliminates the fuzzy growth, and at a deeper level, eliminates the customer’s pain.
Recently, I was coaching a client. He called his customer proactively and set up an appointment for a tune-up. Even though the weather was mild, he managed to set appointments by calling his customers and selling tune-ups for $99.
One of his customers was a radiologist at a local hospital. She lives in a big house and has four systems. My client found about $3,000 worth of indoor air quality (IAQ) issues that he wanted to bring to her attention, but couldn’t, because he forgot to ask, “Are you good on time?”
As you know, it takes three or four hours to do maintenance on four systems. Obviously, his customer did not know this and had to leave. When she got the technician’s attention, he became flustered and quickly presented some ideas, which was a mistake. If he had been proactive he would have anticipated this and set a time to come back and let her see, and maybe even hold, the fuzzy growth.
He may get this sale, but if he does not, it was a very expensive mistake. It is only five words: “Are you good on time?”
How many times have you done a beautiful presentation only to hear that they need to talk it over with someone else? Would it not be a more proactive move to ask that question before you present? I have a rule. No presentation until I talk to ALL people who are going to expect this new system to work and have authority to say “Yes,” or “No.”
This is a very proactive and assertive move and may feel uncomfortable. Even if it feels uncomfortable, do it anyway. Fear paralyzes us but fear is normal. Break through the fear. Most of what I do today comes easily, but in the beginning, I was afraid to feel uncomfortable. Get through your fear, grow and become better. ICM
Roger Daviston is a cognitive behavioral specialist who helps clients achieve and maintain behavioral change. His new book The Service Call Blueprint is available on Amazon.com.
In the HVAC and plumbing industry, the dispatcher’s purpose should be to maximize revenue. To achieve this goal, he or she must select the right technician for the service call at the right time.
Time and time again, dispatchers sacrifice revenue to avoid conflict. If businesses are serious about increasing revenue, the order in which calls are received shouldn’t interfere with when and how they are dispatched. With that in mind, note the mistake made in this case study:
On the first scorching day of summer, I was riding with an HVAC technician. We had a full schedule, with more service calls than capacity would allow us to complete in one day.
The dispatch for our second call read like this:
- Noise issue with a new outdoor heat pump.
- Recently installed.
- Warranty call–do not charge.
We arrived at the service call, the HVAC technician thoroughly checked the operation of the system and he found nothing wrong. Why were we running a non-urgent call on the hottest day of the year with no chance of generating revenue?
Yes, we remain loyal to customers and provide aftercare for installed products. However, we could have handled this differently. How? This call should have been scheduled for another day. Prioritize all calls based on two factors in order to maximize revenue:
- Prioritize based on the quality of the customer relationship.
- Prioritize based on the level of urgency.
The three levels of customer relationship.
- Client Relationship: Mutual trust exists at a high level.
The company and the client have completed transactions many times. A strong and trusting relationship has been established over time, where the client likes the company and we love the client. Clients have a profitable account, they don’t complain about price and understand that when extreme weather hits they may have to wait. Clients are the VIPs and service agreement customers should be highlighted in your database, so when they call they can be put to the front of the line.
- Customer Relationship: Completed at least one transaction, level of trust is still developing.
The hope is that the relationship will grow into a mutually trusting client relationship. However, it is sometimes clear that the relationship is going nowhere. Complaints may arise about price and customers can be demanding and not reasonable. Never dispatch this call in front of a client relationship. At peak, you may even want to refer this type of customer to the competition. Wouldn’t it be great to be in the position to say: We can only take care of service agreement customers (VIPs) today?
If businesses are serious about increasing revenue, the order in which calls are received shouldn’t interfere with when and how they are dispatched.
With first-time customers, consider seriously how to develop a client relationship. Book the call, but vet the potential for client building. How did they find out about us, Google or referral? A referral from a client (VIP) has potential. Did the prospect from a Google search push back on the service fee? If so, this may indicate a pattern of price sensitivity, so be careful. With a prospect also consider:
- Where do they live?
- Are they in a neighborhood with other clients or far outside of our core area?
- How many HVAC systems do they have? It would also be important to know how many bathrooms they have if it is a plumbing call.
Potential to maximize revenue through client relationships
The urgency of the call should also be considered. If a non-urgent problem is reported, even a VIP can wait in order to pursue better revenue opportunities. If they are not agreeable to waiting in these circumstances, they are not clients.
What is the bottom line? If a VIP client calls at 3:00 PM with a down unit that we know is 15 years old, that should be the next call. Why? We are in business to maximize profits. The customer who complains doesn’t come before the VIP client. None of this is possible unless dispatch selects the right technician for the right service call at the right time. ICM
Roger Daviston is a cognitive behavioral specialist who helps clients achieve and maintain behavioral change. His new book The Service Call Blueprint is available on Amazon.com. Watch The Service Call Blueprint webinar online: www.rogerdaviston.com
Do you employ technicians who complain? Dissatisfaction is an unpleasant part of our week, but most of us experience it frequently.
In psychology, there is a principle that, on some level, your diagnosis of others is actually a reflection of yourself. Of course, discovering what’s wrong with us is easier said than done and requires humility. As an owner, you must be the source of a multitude of your company’s problems and this can be painful to admit. Allow me to illustrate.
As I was finishing a morning meeting with a team of technicians, the owner became irritated about several things, including the simple process of keeping a record of parts taken from the stockroom. In this case, the issue was that some of the technicians would tell him parts to order, but would not write the request down. As a result, parts were frequently out of stock, and the boss became frustrated. He could keep the room stocked only if the notebook was accurate.
Frustrated, he declared, “Don’t ever tell me which parts you take. If there is anything that you need me to order, write it down in the book. Do you hear me? Am I clear?”
As soon as this outburst was finished he was onto the next, barking orders at a dispatcher across the room who was not even in the meeting. He exhibited the exact same behavior that he had condemned with the technicians. Don’t tell me a list of things to buy, write it down.
At work and in life, the conditions, emotions and circumstances that you create for others come back to you multiplied. In other words, we reap what we sow. In some cases, we may reap more than we sow. Too often, I see owners who can’t take a step back to consider the facts.
Let’s consider a technician who is easily frustrated and tends to blame others. He often expresses his problems with dispatch, the company culture and the customers. His major challenge is focusing on how he can respond differently to his circumstances, achieve different results and work through his day without anxiety, stress and pressure, while maintaining company expectations.
Much of this anxiety comes from receiving four or five calls at once and is heightened when the call is taking longer than dispatch forecasted. While riding with a technician, the second call he received involved a furnace tune-up, which came from a direct mail piece. Customers often try to use a promotion for tune-ups to try and fix a major problem. However, as most technicians know, tune-ups can only be performed on a working system.
When the frustrated technician discovered a broken system, he became anxious and frustrated with his schedule. After all, he had it all planned out. He could “run and gun” to get it all done only if there were no hiccups. Instead his thoughts now turned to “How do they expect me to get all of these calls done?” and “Why did dispatch give me a tune-up when this is a service call?” He could see his carefully planned day crumbling before his eyes. As a result, he was stressed out, upset and angry with dispatch.
Let me pose a few questions:
• Why plan the entire day for a technician and only let him see the schedule in the morning?
• How does dispatch know how long each call will take?
• Do we really know what the technician will find when he gets there?
Pre-planned maintenance can present opportunities for revenue, but only if we have time to slow down.
John, a technician from another company, was with me on a ride-along performing annual maintenance on a furnace. His boss texted me, asking us to hurry and get out of there. I responded, “Please relax, we have a fish on the line here”. John sold $2,300 at 10:00AM and didn’t go to another call that day. Did we know that was going to happen? Obviously not, but thankfully this company already grasped the process dynamic of dispatching—the schedule changes as we work through each call. Do not rush technicians. Leave them alone and give them one call at a time. Dispatch owns dispatch and dispatching is not scheduling. Dispatching is putting the right person on the right job at the right time.
I’ve discovered many technicians are leaving calls undone, unsold and are merely patching things up because the schedule won’t allow them to stay. The company is overly ambitious with its workload and setting impossible time slots, which all falls on the back of the technician who’s expected to find revenue. When you create a plan and show it to the technician, he will rush through each call and not look for opportunities because he feels like he can’t
We all have family commitments. It’s human nature to want to go home at a reasonable hour. When you plan a technician’s day and he sees all the calls, he will either rush or fill in the time depending on how the day unfolds. Neither one of these are good for revenue.
I have worked with customer service representatives (CSRs) and dispatchers for years. It is well known that their desire to please the customer causes pressure. They find it very hard to say “NO” to a customer. In fact, they often don’t know how to do it.
Can you imagine your CSRs saying something like this: “Mrs. Jones, when were you hoping that we could come out? Well, we will try this afternoon, but if our workload changes, will tomorrow be okay?”
Unfortunately, we never know what we are going to find on each call. CSRs may feel uncomfortable asking this, but it’s just a question. It is not a directive. We have the right to ask.
Most customers are okay with it and it gives us much more flexibility, which prevents technicians from rushing and therefore leads to more revenue if they execute the Service Call Blueprint*. If customers give you “push back” about coming tomorrow, provide them the best service that you can and work with them to find a satisfactory solution. Most reasonable people understand this.
What is the bottom line? Pressure from the office causes the CSRs to try to appease everyone, which leads to overbooking and stress out in the field. Most often, this pressure on CSRs or dispatch originates with the owner, who has their own stress about profitability. They can’t make the cognitive shift to slow down, relax and remember that we make more by doing fewer calls. In my next column, I’ll describe how to successfully book calls without giving time slots. I always welcome your feedback, so please reach out. ICM
*Roger Daviston is a cognitive behavioral specialist who helps clients achieve and maintain behavioral change. His new book The Service Call Blueprint is available on Amazon.com. Watch The Service Call Blueprint webinar online: www.rogerdaviston.com