One of the most common pieces of advice given to business owners is, “You should be spending less time working in your business and more time working on your business.” Words to live by, for sure. However, if you don’t dedicate time to spend on the front lines, you lose focus on your vision. Unchecked, it can become someone else’s.
I’m not suggesting micro-management, just that ownership look in on their human assets. The fact is, if a technician isn’t offering the club membership at every opportunity, it’s the owner’s fault. If call takers aren’t recording system age with every service booked, it’s the owner’s fault.
Here are 5 ways to spy on your own company:
The initial call into your company sets the customers' expectations moving forward - good, and bad. It is estimated that only 40-50% of incoming calls are real opportunities. This is why every opportunity should be treated like gold. If you listen to calls currently, you know this can ruin your day. If you’ve been in the business for years, you will recognize every missed opportunity. You might find a process needs to be changed, or a script that is outdated. Listen to general service call inquiries as well as calls with the lead team scheduling the Comfort Advisors.
Offer a reduced price or free service call to a new customer in exchange for their honest feedback. I don’t recommend using a friend or relative as they may sugar coat the results. Prior to the call, arm the customer with a secret shopper outline and questions that cover every step of the process. Having the form ahead of time allows the shopper to be aware and watch for the areas of evaluation. Once you have results from a few calls and resolve any issues, it’s not a bad idea to make it known from here forward you will be deploying secret shoppers a few times throughout the year.
This is certainly not a covert operation, but it does allow you to evaluate his/her manager. Let it be known only to the technician and not until the morning of the ride-along. You should be doing regularly scheduled ride-alongs. Don’t leave it all to managers. This takes you off the front lines. They are a chance to be present and personal with your field staff. Teach him something so he benefits from the experience. Use drive time to share your long-term vision of the company. Ask him/her for their vision of the future.
Don’t call just any customer. Contact someone who had an adverse experience and went through resolution with a manager. This way you’ll gain feedback on the entire process. How were they treated by each staff member they had contact with? Almost all conflicts arise out of bad, or lack of, communication. Attentiveness and swift follow up goes a long way after a screw up. The customer is still always right. Management should be exhibiting and cultivating this throughout the company.
Assemble a small group of customers and gather feedback. You’ll have the chance to hear about their recent experience, as well as gather insights on how to market to prospects. The latter is the real gold in hosting a focus group. You’ll want to invite a group of like customers and plan to have enough to account for no-shows. Decide your questions ahead of time and keep the conversation moving. For help hosting a successful event, use this focus group questions and planning guide.
Since 2009, Wendy has been developing marketing strategies to help residential HVAC companies gain and retain customers. Wendy Burrell is Founder of HVAC Profit Vault, a library of done-for-you HVAC marketing, social media, news letters. Contact [email protected] and visit www.HVACprofitVault.com