It happens every year – summer comes around, and a shop that normally runs three to four service calls per technician per day gets a flood of customer calls. As an owner or manager, you think your business needs to take advantage of the sudden onslaught of business, so you start scheduling technicians for five to six service calls per day.
What could go wrong?
Everything, that’s what. Your technicians can only run so many calls in one day and provide each customer with the service they expect from your business. If you ask them to run more calls and give the same service level as usual, your techs will have to work too many hours to keep up with all the calls coming in. No one can work overtime every day, and you know what will happen: your techs will get overwhelmed and begin calling out. When your technicians start calling out, your business will be understaffed. Meanwhile, the customer calls won’t stop – they’ll just keep pouring in.
So what will you do? You’ll ask your techs to run more calls in less than their normal amount of time. But hold up – if you do this, you’ll find a new crop of problems. Customers won’t be getting the full value of your business’s services because your techs will feel rushed; customers will sense this, and also feel rushed. Not good. Customers who feel rushed don’t trust your company, and if they don’t trust your company, they won’t use your company again. Constant rushing also makes for – you guessed it– overwhelmed techs, and what do overwhelmed techs do? They call out more. Or quit.
True story: there was a company we worked with whose technicians ran an average of four calls per day. When summer hit, they decided to ask their techs to run an average of six calls per day. After one month of this new schedule, six techs quit in the same week. Six! You know the story: one technician feels resentful and starts complaining, and the others listen to the gripes and follow. But the technicians aren’t actually to blame, here – a business that focuses only on running as many calls as possible creates a workplace culture where money is more important than people.
And that’s not a sustainable business model.
You don’t make money by rushing from call to call. You make money by slowing down, listening to your customers, uncovering their wants and needs, and selling them the products and services they want and need.
When your technicians are entirely focused on getting to the next call, service inconsistencies are created within your business. If techs are rushing, they also don’t have time to grab the low-hanging fruit for your business – the calls that could be juicy if only enough time is taken to dig deeper with customers.
What do you do?
You plan. Your busy season comes every year – you can count on it. You need to create a weather-enhanced business instead of a weather-driven business.
When you make your yearly budget, decide how many calls your business will run every day. Then, stick to that number. Be firm. Work hard to recruit the people you need in advance to prepare.
What if you didn’t see running extra calls as an option for your technicians, unless they volunteered for extra hours? What would your company’s service look like to your customers? To your techs?
Your service would be consistent, year-round. And your techs wouldn’t get burned out and quit.
But what do you do with all those bonus warm-weather calls, then?
You need to classify your calls by determining the best opportunities for your company. Let’s say your technicians normally run 30 calls per day, and you’ve committed to 30 calls as your company’s maximum per day. If you suddenly get 50 calls per day during your busy season, you must decide which calls are going to be the best use of your techs’ time.
Here’s the secret to maintaining a hard maximum of calls, no matter the season: 33% of all the calls you take each day must include an opportunity for a larger job.
That’s 1/3 of all calls – roughly 11 of your 30 calls per day. When you’re selecting which service calls will be run each day, make sure that 33% of them will be for equipment that’s at least 10 years old. Does this always create a larger job? No. But at least the opportunity is there every day.
Reschedule those extra 20 calls in the nicest way possible. The 30 calls you do take should be chosen with intention.
You may be getting more calls than usual; that’s normal for a busy season. It happens every year. But that doesn’t mean you have to run all those calls. We’ve seen shops run too many calls, burn everyone out, and then not have any techs left to generate revenue during the busiest season of their year. Every time you lose a technician, the problem gets worse. Don’t be like this. Be selective. You’re the one in control; you need to become a weather-enhanced business instead of a weather-driven business.