With any good company to be consistent, you need systems. Systems for everything: how you answer the phone, how you dispatch your techs, how you process your paperwork, how you do anything in your business. With systems everyone can learn and do them the same way. Those systems are what makes franchises, especially food service, so successful. If you have ever been in a fast food kitchen, there are pictures on the wall of how to build a hamburger! Every hamburger is build the same way. Consistency will help you grow your business and make it great at the same time.
Next is training all your employees on those systems. And cross training is very important. All the office people need to know and understand how to do each other’s job. If anyone leaves or even goes on vacation everyone picks up the slack and the job gets done. With your field personnel it is a little more complicated due to experience and licensing. But, everyone should be taught how to properly do drain cleaning. They don’t teach that in any trade school. It will make your field personnel more versatile and able to handle different kinds of calls. If you don’t do drain cleaning you are just losing a ton of profit!
Now you have the systems and have done the training. You, the owner needs to get out of the way and let them do their job. One of the challenges of growing a business is not having enough of you. You can’t do it all. The problem you face is you think you have to tell everyone what to do in every circumstance. You do not trust your people to make the proper decision, so they defer everything to you. And you wonder why they can’t make a decision? YOU won’t let them! They fear they will lose their job if they make a decision without consulting you. You created a monster. Leadership is not micromanagement. Let people make a few mistakes and take ownership and learn.
Here is a real life situation that I faced. I got all the complaint calls. If a complaint came in it was automatically given to me. My office staff was afraid to do anything on their own to take care of the customer. I created a mess for myself. I had just gotten off the phone with a lady who had a valid complaint and I got really frustrated I had to handle another one. I walked into the main office and looked at the four ladies who worked there and asked for their attention. I pointed to each of them and gave them a new title. Office Manager. Each one of you is now the Office Manager. The next time a customer calls with a complaint and asks for the manager, you can say “You are talking with the Office Manager.” Then, I want you to listen to their complaint and ask one simple question; “What will it take to make you happy?” Listen to the answer and then do it! I guarantee you will not get reprimanded or lose your job. Just please think of the company and the customer and do the right thing.
Well, I never took another complaint. These wonderful teammates that worked in our office handled every complaint from then on. And, they were not refunding money like I was! They would send another tech out to take care of the issue, or they provided additional service, or just sent them coupons for future work. I was amazed at how well they did the job when I got out of the way and let them.
After each complaint, they would let me know about it and what they did to resolve it. It gave us the opportunity to discuss what occurred and offer other methods to take care of the customer. Never was anyone told they did it wrong. This teachable moment, built self-confidence and team spirit and gave them ownership in their job. They never “gave away” the company like most owners fear. In my management career, it was probably one of the best decisions I ever made.
Teach them, train them, and then get out of the way. People like to be responsible. It instills self-confidence and pride. And, it is also a great retention tool. You are The Manager!
If you want to improve your plumbing business, contact me at ThePlumbersCoach.com.
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