How important is having the right crew size to running a successful operation?
It’s one of the core elements. We are in the business of selling time. Our number one line item on our profit and loss statements is labor. Labor, it’s either efficient or inefficient. One of the big factors in determining if it’s efficient or inefficient is the size of the crew. There are a number of different factors that go into a crew, but the crew size directly affects how productive we are. It affects how efficient we are and if we’re achieving our target man hour rate.
Now is the time to take a look at your business and figure out how to hire the right people to elevate your company to the next level.
If you’re running a little bit bigger organization, I think the question you want to be thinking about right now is, “Who could we hire next year, or by the end of this year that would be business changing in the next calendar year? This person’s going to cost some money, but if we could find this person and they could bring an entirely new set of knowledge, experience, understanding to our business, take a ton of stuff off my shoulders, take a ton of stuff off some of my really talented team members so that they could move onto other things and this person could show us new ways to do things that we’re doing now, possibly incorrectly or not as efficiently or optimally as possible. What might that do for our business?”
Are you emailing lawn care customers? Use caution. It could just get you fired.
Text messaging, emailing, or trading Facebook posts with your clients, and even with your team, can really get you into a lot of trouble. It is really cool, convenient technology and you and your clients want to use it, but I’d really caution you based on some experiences I’ve had in the past, solely relying on this technology for convenience.
First, there’s nothing that will replace human interaction and building a relationship through human action. Second, as you know, there’s no way to interpret tone. For example, years ago, I was a partner in a company and we did not let our district managers when they were dealing with our clients who were property managers, we did not let them trade emails.
We didn’t even publish their individual emails. There was basically one email. We didn’t want them giving out their email addresses. We wanted them talking on the phone. If one of our clients messaged in or sent an email and said that they needed to get something taken care of, or that they had a problem, or were unhappy about something, we didn’t want our team emailing back.
We wanted our team to pick up the phone, call that individual and get it straightened out. We wanted our client to hear the tone and we wanted our team member, our district manager, to hear the tone of the client and make sure it truly got resolved.
I was just reminded of this today when I received a text message from one of my vendors and the text message basically made me mad. It made me think I could replace this person. I just didn’t like their tone and the way they were handling something. They were sort of blaming something on me that had nothing to do with me. I never picked up the phone and talked to them, but I did continue the text message and realized that they were completely wrong in their assumption.
I’m not giving you the details but basically they made an assumption, they were frustrated at me. Had I not continued the text, I wouldn’t have realized why they were frustrated. They were just simply wrong and when I corrected them, problem solved.
That kind of stuff, had I just stopped that text message, I would have continued on thinking I’m ready to just get rid of this individual. Think about that with your team. If they’re trading messages with the client, if they’re trading text messages or phone calls or Facebook posts, how is your client perceiving what they’re saying? Is your team member even perceiving what the client’s saying correctly? Are they understanding their tone?
We’re moving into all kinds of really interesting technology and convenience. It does not hurt, in fact it pays to continue to pick up the telephone and use the phone to really build relationships and provide great service.
Set yourself apart from your competitors and win the sale…
I experienced really good selling recently, and I wanted to share the experience with you because I think it can be applied to your business and my business. It’s a really great lesson to remember. We’re putting together our 2nd annual Service Autopilot Conference. It will be in November. We’ve pretty much finalized everything at this point.
About a month ago we were finalizing the hotel that we were going to hold the event at, and it’s an expensive proposition. We’re signing a contract with the hotel for about $125,000 to put on this event. We went, 5 or 6 of us, and we toured the final 3 hotels that we had decided will work for us.
One of those hotels is pictured on my screen. You can see it in the back, it’s the Anatole Hilton in Dallas. We went and they did a first class job. As soon as we walked in the door they had several people waiting for us, and then they ushered us into the hotel and took us to one of the 6 restaurants. They had desserts and drinks and all kinds of things set out for us. The lady that was essentially running the show, and she had 5 or 6 people there with her to help answer questions, she was asking us all kinds of questions about what we cared about, what were our top concerns, what kind of problems did we have last year at our conference at a different hotel, on and on. She was fact seeking. She was looking for selling points, all while we enjoyed drinks and dessert. After that, they did a fantastic job showing us the property.
Somewhere in the course of that conversation, it was mentioned by John, my business partner … In one of the auditoriums that we looked at there were some candies sitting in a little bowl on one of the tables, and he made an offhanded remarkable about “Oh, this is a great hotel, this is my favorite candy.” That was it. We spent a couple hours with them. They gave us gifts on the way out, and that was it. We went on to the next hotel.
About 2 hours after we got back to our office, and our office is a good ways, it’s, I don’t know, 10 or 15 miles away from this Hilton, a courier came to our office with this big bag that you can see on my screen, and a thank you card. They filled this bag with tons of these candies that John loves, and they delivered it with a thank you note. You can see Ashley was running the show on this one, that’s why her name’s on it, but then you can look inside the card and you can see that she wrote a card to us, and was thoughtful enough to send these candies.
We were really happy with the hotel, but we also have 2 other really good contenders, and almost immediately it was like “We want to do business with them.” It completely re-framed how we were thinking about them and where they stacked up in the line-up of the final 3. Like, “If they do this trying to make the sale, what might they be like when we actually do business with them? Maybe they should get the contract.” It was dramatic how through the rest of the day the way we talked about them as compared to the 2 other hotels changed.
Why I wanted to share this with you is what is it that we as business owners and as salespeople can do to change the way our potential customer looks at us? What are these like things? This cost them 20, 30 bucks in courier fees, some candy and a few minutes. Nothing, something really small. That would even be worth it if your sale was only a 1000 bucks; in this case it’s 125,000 dollars. Even if it’s a small sale, that’s hardly any money to spend to really put yourself in a position where there’s a high probability that you’ll win that deal. It’s really smart business, and she did a really smart job of paying attention and probing for what our needs were so that she could answer objections and put herself in a position to win the business.
The other thing I’ll mention, I think I’ve said it before, is over the years at Service Autopilot we’ve received tons of cards. I’ve received a bunch of, and other people have received a bunch of gift cards to local restaurants. We’ve received catered-in lunch to our company from our clients. A lot of clients have sent us all kinds of gifts and said thank you. The clients that do that are known by our team and they’re remembered by our team. Our support team and our training team almost feel differently and see them differently because they become more human, it becomes more personal. Of our thousands of customers that we have here at Service Autopilot, those that actually do things like that, they suddenly stand out. Our whole team knows who they are. That’s a really great lesson. How can we as owners and salespeople do that so that we stand out among the pack?
I hope this helps and I hope you can find a way to apply it to your business.
Watch this video to find out how taking care of your team helps your service business.
A question that I received recently is, “Have you found that offering perks to your employees helps to offset the low pay scale common to labor positions?”
Absolutely. What I have found is that the better you treat your team and the little things that you do for the team, though you might not always get a thank you for those things, they add up.
A lot of companies just aren’t that great to work for and they’re not that fun to work for, and their culture isn’t very good. It’s hard to create a culture out in the field, but you can do the little things for your team. You can surprise them with things. You can bring in food. You can arrange different activities.
There’s stuff you can do. Just simply treating people nice and with respect and not cussing at them and having empathy and understanding for the things they’re going through, and then helping them do extra things like find an apartment or get a checking account or whatever. There’s lots of little things you can do. If you just generally care about people, and you care about your team and the people that you hire that are part of your management, and if your core office team also care about others, then you’ll take good care of your people. That is how you keep people.
In my opinion, investing the extra money to surprise them with things … maybe not TVs and things like that, but food and snacks and maybe some surprise gifts or little bonuses, or a gift card, things of that sort, when they work really hard and they go over and above. Our weather’s been a nightmare and they do extra for the team or the company. You can think of a million different ways that you can just generally be of assistance and care about the team and help the team. That stuff adds up.
Then they refer you. Your team refers you and helps you find new employees. They stick around longer. They have a generally happier attitude out in the field. They’re more likely to smile at your clients. It just adds up.
In my opinion, yes. Every cent you spend to take better care of someone else, to take better care of your team and give them a better life, it’s a smart way to run your company.