So here we are in another new year. I hope you have your seat belt on, figuratively speaking, because we are in for a wild ride. Maybe 2016 will be similar to other new years, but there is a chance it will be turbulent. Maybe tougher to do business. We have a lot of distractions, starting with the political circus, the roller coaster economy (the stock market is moving faster than a Tesla), and ending with the available labor pool. I found a few lessons about these in my travels.
The labor issue
Janah Morehart has a company in Phoenix called Morehart Air Conditioning and Heating. Her and Josh have been in business for a while and have seen how hard it is to get and keep great employees. A few years ago, she was in an office supply house getting some printing done when she met a young man who provided exceptional customer service. She asked him a few questions and ended up hiring him to come to work in her office on various marketing packages. A year later, he was helping in the field, and then moved into service. This year her distributor rolled out a new high efficiency inverter driven compressor system with all the bells and whistles. This same young tech she hired from the office supply store sold 6 of these systems in the first month of introduction with an average sales price of around $16k. WOW!
So if you ask Janah how to find good employees, her response will be quick. They are all around us. They are at your local Starbucks, Kinko’s, Applebee’s and alike, doing what they have been trained to do and performing it to near perfection. They always provide excellent customer service and you can easily notice them. Janah’s general manager used to run the office for a chiropractor. Janah became highly impressed with her management skills and made an offer to work in HR. So keep your eyes open always in the most unexpected places. Be ready to ask an employee that has outstanding customer skills if they are happy with their current job? Josh Morehart says he can get a new guy productive in 6 months, even coming from another industry. The new rule for finding employees is, hire for attitude, train for skill. Find the one in the crowd who serves others and has a great attitude. They can always be taught your business and trade.
Profit in Maintenance
I am still surprised at how many companies still do not do much with Maintenance Agreements. Grow the customer relationship today; it has value for your company. I mentioned this in another article recently, but it bears repeating. Figure out what you want to accomplish on a maintenance program that offers value to your custoemrs, establish the minutes needed for each task, total up the minutes, add in some travel, a spiff, and there you have your one or two year maintenance agreement. Another option is to set it up to debit the customer’s checking account or credit card monthly, and offer it as a continual maintenance program with no end until they cancel. Pay your technicians a better spiff when they sell a program on a monthly basis, maybe with a set amount per month, that they receive commission on until the customer cancels. And don’t cap it because this can be the glue that holds that employee to you. While in that neighborhood, add in additional services to your maintenance agreement for additional revenue. Include changing smoke detector batteries and other plumbing, HVAC, and electrical services that are easy for your plumbers and technicians to do but hard for the customer to do.
It turns out; this year will probably be tougher than last with more on the consumer’s plate. So we have to get creative on how we get new customers. Team up with a local company who is in homes on a regular basis with pest control, pool maintenance, or alarm services, etc. Get them to include your service with each new customer they add. Maybe you can offer a tune-up, an inspection, or something the customer does not pay for. So it adds value to the pest control company as an example. You end up with a name of a customer who trusts you since you came in with a company they are already doing business with. Now offer them a reduced price maintenance agreement or something to show that they are now within the inner circle like a friends and family that receive special pricing.
Also, I recently sat in on a webinar and saw an info chart that showed direct mail is the second best form of advertising (except in 18-34 year olds) to reach new customers. Direct mail followed up with a phone call, still gets effective results. Yes, calling your customers is the best way to make that phone ring, just pick it up and dial. You already have a relationship; you are not selling land in Puerto Rico but a valuable service they need.
Outside the box revenue generation
I just read an article about an Uber car driver named Gavin Escolar, who made $250,000 + last year. A little above the average for that industry. But he also sells jewelry for both men and women. He has a couple of flyers and catalogues in the back seat pockets of his car which is immaculate. He made about $3000 per month from Uber, and the rest of his income came from custom jewelry he made for many of his customers, customers he has in the car for 10-15 minutes at a time. What a great concept. He has new people coming into his show room each day with an income level perfect for his target market. He says that even going door-to-door would not come close to the response he gets from my passengers. He has great reviews from his passengers with an averaging 4.85 out of 5 on Uber Black, the high end Uber service. Uber is fine with him selling his jewelry in this manner and says they want to improve the local economy and his Uber ratings are at the high end of the scale. But he has not forgotten his roots. He used his money last year to buy 3 new cars and hire 6 drivers. He recruits unemployed Filipino immigrants, his homeland, and gives them a helping hand.
He is a great example of doing something different by creating a niche market. This is the example we need to do today, something different. The old ways will not be as effective this year and beyond to generate additional business revenue and profit.
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