Here, is a tool you won’t find in your toolbox, nor can you buy it at the local supply house. Without it, succeeding in business is just a gamble; do you have that kind of money? I know I don’t. As much as I have always enjoyed working on a customer’s system repairing or installing, I learned early on that good communication has to come first, so let’s talk about communication and how we can put it to work for us. Throughout Part 1 of this article I would like to share some of the means of communication that have been successful for me. And it doesn’t stop with the customer; this involves owners, managers and co-workers. They’re each as equally important as you and I. Let’s begin with the Customer and then we’ll jump around a little.
ARRIVAL AT A CUSTOMERS HOME:
Upon arrival, unless I have been otherwise instructed, I always go to the front door. Even though I have a uniform on, I announce who I am and what company I represent. It’s just plain courteous and professional, in my opinion. Immediately after that I ask what entrance to their home they prefer I use. We can’t assume because the kitchen floor has some mud on it that it’s OK for us to add to the mess. Whenever possible I would ask if there was an outside entrance directly to the basement. If not, and I had to walk through the house, if I knew I had mud or other dirt on my work shoes I would remove them and take them with me until I got to the basement steps. This goes for the $20,000 house, as well as the $3 million mansion! Besides, this is how I got in the habit of wearing clean socks like my Mom always asked me to do. You can also get surgical booties that slip over your work boots, but you really need to be careful walking in them. Again, I prefer taking off my work shoes.
There’s something else I want to mention about entering a customer’s home. Anytime a child would come to the door I would encourage the child not to open the door and if they did, I would suggest they close the door and go get their parent or any other adult. It may sound a little silly, but this is what I would want my child to do and I would imagine most parents would feel the same way. It’s a good lesson for the kids and shows a lot of respect to your customer. Again, this is one of those things I’m speaking on from experience. I once had a young lad let me in a house and by the time I got to the living room his Mom entered the room in a towel asking him who was at the door. It was a very embarrassing moment for both of us. I quickly turned and excused myself letting her know I would
be outside until she said it was OK to reenter. I sat outside thinking how I would feel if this had happened at my home and from that day forward I started teaching and encouraging children to get an adult before allowing anyone in the house. I also trained and instructed my technicians to handle this the same way.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE CANCELLATIONS:
Now, here’s a good subject, and while we are on the topic of communication I want to share something with you. It’s very easy to forget things in our day-to-day lives and that’s almost something I did here regarding this subject.
I was communicating with a few of our fellow technicians on my website, www.oiltechtalkcom “when along comes my friend Ron Poniatowski Jr. from New York. Ron asks, “How do you handle cancellations?” Now, before I show you my response, I would like you to think about something. What does this say about Ron and technicians like him? I’ll tell you what it says; it says he cares about his customers his trade and our industry. You see Ron had a situation take place during the day and it concerned him enough to get input (communication) from his fellow technicians. I’m not the only one who has said this, but it is a proven fact that when you learn to ask questions and you’re willing to say “I don t know.”You’re going to grow leaps and bounds in this industry both personally, professionally and intellectually.
Now, I’m not saying Ron did not have the answer but he was interested in how others handle this situation. Ron knows we can learn from each other and he knows that “The knowledge we share today will make a better industry tomorrow.” Here are my thoughts on this subject for both installations and service calls.
I would definitely say it would be prudent to have it noted within any installation contract given to your customer outlining the rare chance of cancellations occurring. This is not an uncommon practice and most contracts will have something like this in writing: “Starting this project and completing it on time as promised is contingent upon accidents, strikes, severe weather conditions and/or any other delays beyond our control. It has been my experience that most customers understand if you’re up front with them on how you handle these situations.
I would also try my best to have a plan of action as a standard operating procedure in place for these instances.
Do you remember the commercial that had the slogan “If you fail to plan, plan to fail” To prevent this you can create your own operations manual, and feel free to use ideas and thoughts from this blog to implement into your own operations manual. You could also hire Oil Tech Talk for some consulting and helping you with this, I would love to be a part of your success.
Here is why an operations manual can be so important to your business. Employers and employees should be aware that the day may come that they need to come in on a day off, work later when necessary or be a helper even if it just means running parts and cleaning fittings. A guy who drives an oil truck may not have any experience in service and installation, but I’m sure he would have more than enough knowledge to be a helper, loading and unloading parts and equipment, removing old equipment, clean up, drilling holes and cleaning those fittings we were talking about.
And by the same token, let’s say some day that guy that drives the oil truck sprains his arm? Now he’s still able to drive but pulling the hose is going to be tough. And there is no way he can be as productive as he would normally be. So if things are a little slow and you’re looking for something for your service technician to do now he can return the favor and hop in the truck to help the delivery driver.
Now, here’s a part of the procedure you don’t want to ever forget any employee that rises to this occasion should also be rewarded. They will be there more often when this appreciation is shown. This is a two-way street though if the owner takes off his hat as an owner and jumps in as a helper it does not hurt to reward them by taking the time to say thank you and letting them know you appreciate working for them. Please trust me on this one; when it comes to people in general, we are all on the same level. We all like to hear a simple “thank you.”
Now, most importantly as most of us know, don’t delay making a call to your customer if it looks like you’re not going to make it. You’d be surprised how many customers will be more understanding when you’re on the phone with them the day before or the morning of the occurrence Our customers live and breathe the same air we do and events come up in their lives that prevent them from keeping schedules. So, again, just be honest with them, keep it positive and watch that positive energy flow right back to you. Remember positive energy plus positive thoughts equal positive results. You can multiply those two for greater results and sometimes you may need to divide them, and that’s OK. Just don’t ever subtract these two! I think you know what the results would be. And that’s math you can’t argue with!
In a business course I took we learned the importance of how we think of things and how we tend to think of certain things as good and bad, like a good idea or a bad idea. A better way of thinking would be a good idea and a greater idea. See the difference? We removed any negative thoughts just by how we focus on things. Isn’t that cool? Well, that’s all the time I have for now. We’ll cover more on this subject in Part II of The tools you need to succeed!
This Months Blog has been made possible by our friends from NRGMAX