If you are wanting your crews to improve their quality out in the field, watch this video.
The question is, how can I get my techs and my crews to up their quality level?
I’ve heard different versions of this question many times. At the end of the day it all comes down to training. But, it’s also about communication. What I believe you want to be doing, is going over with your crews and your techs every single morning, any new notes that you’ve put on their route sheets or their mobiles.
I personally like the concept of standing out at the gate, at the yard, or however you operate, and as your crews leave your facility, I would assume if you’re a bigger company they’re staggered, you’re going over very quickly with any changes to the schedule. Anything that’s changed. Anything you need to tell them about, or your manager, or somebody’s doing this, and then they’re pointing out notes. Notes such as, “This client was unhappy about this last time.” “This client asked if you could please do this.” This client said, “While you’re there, could you please check on this?” You can do this very quick.
If you’ve done it right in your software system or from your software system on your printed route sheets or work orders, you can have this highlighted or notated, and you just run through it very quickly. This is a communication thing. You’ve got to literally talk to each of your techs, your teams, your crews about this. Just make sure it’s crystal clear. It only take a few extra minutes, but it results in a higher level of quality, what would be a better level of customer service, fewer redo’s, fewer call backs. It just saves money and it builds your reputation so that all of your marketing works so much better.
Then on top of that, I would highly recommend pictures. If there’s a problem, if there’s a complaint, or if there’s an accident, something safety related, there’s pictures taken of everything. Then those pictures are talked about. Depending on the software system you’re using, you can have that picture attached to a job so it shows up on the mobile. If you’re using mobiles or if they’re using paper, you could print out those pictures. Who cares if it costs you a little bit of extra money to print in color, because it’s worth so much more to you in terms of being great. Terms of doing a really good job with high quality and excellent customer service because again, that makes all of your marketing work so much better. It earns you so many referrals. A little bit of money spent on paper and ink to produce a much higher level of service, has so many major benefits in term of revenue and profits down stream. Print that stuff out stand out there and talk to them about it.
Meet them in the field. Show up at the job unexpected and point things out. Show up unexpected and walk the property with the team. Show up unexpected and show them how to do a better job performing whatever the service is. Show up unexpected with a tech and say, “Hey, last week when you diagnosed whatever brown spot and it wasn’t, it was actually grubs, here’s what you look for,” and you go through that stuff with the team.
It requires lots of training. Lots of in person communication. Lots of in field communication. Lots of showing up at the job site and getting your hands dirty and showing the team, “Here’s how we do it,” and setting that example. Then showing them best practices. Watching what they’re doing, analyzing and saying, “Hey, have you tried this? Hey, have you considered this? Maybe you can do it this way and you’ll save yourself some time and you’ll get home earlier. Maybe if you do it this way, the three times you had to go back to other jobs last week, could have been eliminated because you could have got it right the first time.”
You’re thinking through the actions that are happening with the team and you’re think of ways to take steps out of the process or add steps to the process to either improve and make them even better or to subtract, meaning take away things that are negative that they’re doing that again will make your quality, your customer service, and everything else so much better.
In the end, make your team a lot happier because they’re getting home faster, they’re not pissed that you just had them go back to a property again. All of these things go together, work together to build a really great company and to get your teams, your techs and your crews to do what it is that you want them to do.
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.
Dealing with business problems can be stressful. Listen to the video to learn how Jonathan has come to embrace it…
If you’re anything like me, you probably get really tired of dealing with problems. You get tired of dealing with the same thing, over and over again, whether it’s an employee problem, or you’re fed up with dealing with some stupid mistake that somebody out in the field made, and now you’ve got to deal with the client. You’ve got to apologize for the twenty-fifth million time.
It gets really old. It gets really frustrating. Or, maybe you’ve got to deal with money problems, or you’ve got to deal with figuring out how you’re going to coordinate a project. It goes on and on. It’s like everyday, what’s going to hit you now, what’s going to be today’s problem? It just never ends, and so the hope is that, one of these days magically everything will be perfect, or maybe one of these days I’ll have somebody run the company for me, and I’ll never have to deal with these problems again.
I’ve definitely felt that way, and I’ve gone through years of feeling that way. It’s like, “Gees, this frickin business. I mean, when are we going to get our stuff together here, and get our problems solved, and quit screwing up? When is all the different crap that we deal with, marketing that’s not working good enough, money that’s not coming in fast enough, hating some of the work we do, and we can’t find any employees, when is that going to get better? When am I going to have to stop dealing with it?”
There was a point, I don’t know when, but it was a while back, that it sort of dawned on me. It’s like, man this is what I get paid to do. It doesn’t mean that it won’t get better, it doesn’t mean that it won’t ever get fixed, it doesn’t mean the company will mature, and grow up, and things will smooth out, but this is what I get paid to do. I mean, if I were to go get a job working for somebody else, and I want to make a lot of money, this is what I’d be doing for them, and that’s the point.
What I did, and maybe it’s of help to you, is I finally mentally adjusted to the fact that, you know what, this is what I get paid to do. This is why I make the big money, or back in the day, this is why I hope someday I’ll make the big money, because I deal with the problems. I make stuff happen, and if you’re on my team and you make a lot of money, it’s because your the person that helps fix problems, and deal with all the crap that goes on with running a company. The guys that make all the money make all the hard decisions, have to apologize and deal with all the problems. They work the longer hours, figure it out, go through stress of all of that.
Everybody, in fact if your a CEO of a big company, it’s not smooth sailing. You’re dealing with one problem after another. One person after another is coming to you, you’re helping solve the problem. You’re dealing with the problems of dealing with the right team. You’re dealing with the problem of when your best person leaves your company. You’re dealing with the problem of, there’s a cash crunch. That is why you get paid the big money, and when you hire more people to be on your team, and those individuals within your company want to make a lot of money, the only way they make a lot of money is to solve big problems for you.
You don’t just pay somebody tons of money within your organization to do the easy job, to not have to deal with the problems. Those team members never make the big money. Even a really exceptional sales person, who makes the big money, has to deal with all kinds of crap, all kinds of stuff. They have to negotiate things. You get the idea, it’s not easy. The guys that make a lot of money selling, work really hard and they do hard stuff, and they deal with hard problems, and they’re constantly having to apologize. Somethings going wrong with the sale, somethings going wrong with the project. They’re fixing it, that’s what we do, that’s what people that make money do. There’s no business that exists that’s smooth sailing without problems.
A great company knows how to minimize those problems, and a great company knows how to quickly deal with those problems when they occur, and after a couple of the same problems happen, they know how to fix them so that they stop happening. But, then that company gets to the next level of it’s business and all of it’s systems, and all it’s procedures, everything starts to break, because it’s becoming a whole new organization. It has to go fix the next set of things, so that it can get to the next level in business, and then that stuff starts to break and you’ve got to fix it again. Every time the company reaches some new plateau of gross revenue, and employee count, lots of stuff starts to fall apart, and break, and problems start to happen.
It’s your job to fix those. It’s your highest paid employees’ jobs to fix those things. So, the point here is that life will never be perfectly smooth sailing until you cash out. But, then on a side note, with your money you now have to figure out how to manage it, and protect it and grow it. That will just be a different set of problems. The point here is, that if you mentally adjust to, this is what I’m getting paid for, I’m a problem solver, I’m a fantastic problem solver, I’ll take the problems, I’ll fix them, and we’ll be a better company. When you get there, life will be just a little bit less stressful. I finally adjusted to that years back and I have to remind myself of that quite frequently.
If you are not doing this, you will struggle to grow your lawn care company.
We’re working on a project right now at ServiceAutopilot. It requires that we call about 10% to 15% of our members, about 300 companies. What we’re finding is that to get them on the phone generally takes a couple calls. That’s a broad generalization, because there’s a whole bunch of clients, members that answer on that first call. However, there’s a lot that we have to leave a voicemail for. We’ve been having this discussion internally and that’s the point of this video.
It is absolutely imperative that you answer your phone and that I answer my phone. Your marketing doesn’t work very well if you don’t answer your phone. Your customer service isn’t very good if you don’t answer your phone. The most common scenario is that when someone is looking for a service provider, they have a list of a couple people that they probably found on the web or they got door hangers off their door. They called the most interesting one first. If they don’t answer, they don’t leave a message generally, and then they call the second one, and then the third one. If that third one answers, and they sound good and give a fair price, they get the business.
The game is speed, and when you don’t answer your phone, you’re losing the game of speed. Clients want things to be easy and fast. When you’re the guy that doesn’t answer, when you’re the company that doesn’t answer, you don’t win the business. Your competitor does. After you spend all that money on marketing and you don’t answer your phone or I don’t answer my phone, then it feels like, “Oh, this marketing thing just doesn’t work. None of this marketing works.” It’s generally because the calls aren’t getting answered.
Sometimes that even means not answering the calls on Saturdays. If you want to win the game in the big selling season which, depending on your business, might be spring, it might make sense to answer the phone on Saturdays. It might make sense to answer the phone into the evening. This is really interesting, because at ServiceAutopilot, of all the cloud-based software systems out there in the industry, we tend to be the one that attracts the bigger or more successful companies.
If you were to analyze our clients, you’ll see that we have a lot of bigger companies. We have a lot of companies, a lot of people, but if anybody is going to cancel ServiceAutopilot, it’s the little bitty company that’s just got a crew or a tech and it’s because they won’t do even a single training with us. They won’t learn the systems, so they just go to another system that’s really simple and super, super basic that can’t do that much because it’s easier to use.
The reason I wanted to say that is I wanted to point out that when I say that many members aren’t answering their phones, one, we have some incredible companies that do. That’s how they built their companies is they’re willing to do the things that the little guys aren’t willing to do. That’s how they got big.
I wanted to point out that even within our client base that tends to be bigger and more successful than the clients that other companies have, we still see many of our members not answering their phone. It’s absolutely imperative, critical that you answer your phone. It’s the difference maker. It’s the thing you cannot ignore.
I wanted to record the video to remind you that if you’re not answering the phone, spend the money on that. It will improve your customer service and it will make all your marketing work better. You’ll sell tons more work. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes. Figure out how to answer the phone. It’s a difference maker.