Time Management

By Jeff Atwell, Nexstar Network NexTech Academy Coach       Wait, what did he just say? I was sitting in on a management meeting at a business owner’s invitation. The information he’d been sharing with his team had, up until that moment, seemed straightforward – you know, staffing for the day, inbound calls, calls Read more

By Jeff Atwell, Nexstar Network NexTech Academy Coach




Wait, what did he just say?

I was sitting in on a management meeting at a business owner’s invitation. The information he’d been sharing with his team had, up until that moment, seemed straightforward – you know, staffing for the day, inbound calls, calls converted to demand service appointments, the usual. Then the owner tossed out a metric I’ve never heard before: lost calls for the day.

Lost calls for the day? He had my attention.

I had so many questions. Were those today’s numbers? How could there be a metric for today when the day wasn’t over yet? What was considered an acceptable loss in this category? How could the lost calls be such a large percentage, based on the booked calls? How many calls did the techs run on an average day?

The owner explained that eight of the 40 demand calls (20%) on the board were being written off for the day, with no hope of getting a technician to the call. Naturally, an attempt would be made to reschedule those calls, but the odds of a recovered and rescheduled appointment were poor.

I couldn’t wrap my head around this. How could 20% of the calls on the board just be written off, as if that was normal? I needed more information.

The owner told me it wasn’t uncommon in his business to have callbacks, warranty calls, and jobs that went over on their allotted time; these jobs all became a scheduling priority the following day. This created a domino effect that had become the status quo. The practice was so accepted that lost calls were an everyday metric to track in the managers’ meeting!

This was a vicious cyle that had grown into a problem affecting nearly 20% of this owner’s daily business. And it was all completely avoidable.

Callbacks or warranty calls (technician warranties) are the most frequent and expensive kinds of calls for any home service company. They have a profound impact on revenue and profitability. The direct cost of returning to a customer’s home is nothing compared to the lost opportunities and subsequent income of the calls you lose because you’re scheduling callbacks. Furthermore, as if they weren’t expensive enough, those lost opportunities cost a small fortune in advertising dollars spent to get them in the first place.

If this is happening with your business, it’s time to take control.

Callbacks or warranty call are usually caused by one of the three “P’s”– people, processes, or products. So what’s the solution?

Training! Yes, training. You can reduce callbacks and increase your revenue by providing your team with on-the-job technical training. Here’s how you start:

  1. Perform a historical review

In the past 6-12 months, what kinds of warranty calls or callbacks have you received? Thinking in terms of people, processes, and products, what do many of those calls have in common? Make a list of traits or topics some of your callbacks might share (e.g. warranty calls, time management issues, etc.) Once you have a list, prioritize those traits or topics by impact, meaning that if you were to put forth a training effort on a few of those topics, which ones would have the most significant impact on your business?  Congratulations: you’ve just developed your first training plan.

  1. Determine your approach to training the topic

What are the main things you want your employees to understand, fix, or learn? What will your team members be able to do after training that they couldn’t do before?

Once you determine the ‘what,’ you can focus on the ‘how.’ There’s no need to go it alone! Lean on your senior staff or senior technicians – the people who regularly deal with the issue you’re going to be training on. There is a particular brilliance in collaboration.

Don’t forget to use outside resources, too. Many manufacturers offer training on their products. In some cases, the local representative can come to you and help with your training efforts.

  1. Develop your plan to teach the first topic

Schedule the training and don’t postpone or reschedule it. Training that never takes place doesn’t help your customers or your bottom line.

  1. Keep your eye on the ball

It’s vital to monitor everyone’s progress after training to see the effects of your training initiatives. Using key performance indicators (KPIs) is generally the easiest way to see those effects. What KPIs do you track? Calls run, conversions, average ticket totals, closing rates, turn-overs, warranty calls? Whatever you track, successful training will move those KPIs in favorable directions. Paying attention to these numbers will also help you get ahead of unfavorable trends. The numbers matter. Keeping tabs on warranty calls and callbacks also provides a wealth of information and helps to highlight your team’s training needs.

Technical training may seem intimidating at first glance, but you can do it! Identifying training topics and hashing out the key takeaways will help develop technical training that will expand technician skills and the overall abilities of your team. Training will also help you move closer to eliminating those pesky warranty calls and callbacks that fill the calendar and empty your business’s coffers.

Jeff Atwell started in the plumbing trade the first business day after his high school graduation. He has more than 30 years of experience with residential and commercial service, as well as with residential new construction, and discovered a passion for teaching as an instructor at his local apprenticeship school. Jeff was the first technical coach hired to work on Nexstar Network’s NexTech Academy program. Since then, he has been working to create the best program focused on residential plumbing service. He can be reached at jeffa@nexstarnetwork.com.

Entrepreneurship is a large part of the world of business, and it is only getting more prominent, which means that it is vital to stay on top of all the tools available to facilitate success for your small business. Over the years, countless tools such as Field Pulse have been engineered to offer business solutions Read more

Entrepreneurship is a large part of the world of business, and it is only getting more prominent, which means that it is vital to stay on top of all the tools available to facilitate success for your small business. Over the years, countless tools such as Field Pulse have been engineered to offer business solutions and increase their overall productivity.

Since other small businesses are actively implementing these tools, you will likely fall victim to comparison; therefore, you should consider working smarter. To allow yourself to focus on the tasks most essential to your business and keep your efficiency up, you must be able to determine what tools would work well for your small business.

There are multiple business-oriented technologies, platforms, and services on the market, which might make it hard to determine which ones are best suited for your business. Business proceedings need to be done in haste, and adopting something new may take up more time and involve high costs. Continue reading this article to familiarize yourself with tools that will guarantee your small business’s success and save you the hassle of tedious searching for the best tools and futile adoptions.

Field Pulse

This cloud-based service helps businesses manage communication, job scheduling, and dispatching with teams in the field. It has tools that include work order management, billing, remote access, and routing.

Field Pulse was designed for contractors and mobile service businesses to help provide employers access to client notes, customer information, and project updates. It also has a tool that allows businesses to offer cost visibility across the pipeline and assign pricing to every line item. Field Pulse will enable you to supervise subtasks assigned to individual team members and track their performance as they work on projects.

Additionally, it comes with a time tracking tool that helps establish employee accountability and monitor both the time and location of teams.

Online Business Plan Service

Having a solid plan in place is the key to launching any successful business. Online business plan services make this possible for multiple entrepreneurs. This service offers a myriad of templates and tools necessary for transforming good ideas into profitable ventures.

Some of the tools include chart generators and financial calculators to help crunch numbers and embody the business’ vision in a quantifiable way. Also, they feature goal achievement monitors and performance graphs that will allow you to track your progress and make necessary changes to your business when an issue arises.

Anti-Virus Software

Since every business requires a network connection, it is crucial to protect your business’s connection. Anti-virus software guards networks and computers against spyware, dangerous viruses, worms, trojans, and other malware. Without this protection, you could soon end up with an infected computer that will lead to lost productivity, stolen information, and down networks.

Web Hosting

In today’s online world, it is hard for businesses to thrive without an online presence. With a web hosting service, you can create a website that stores your business’s files and uploads them directly to the web when you need it to.

This will provide an internet connection that will enable consumers to access the site through any domain name they choose. Web hosting offers numerous options, including an unlimited number of email addresses that include the site’s domain name, email functionality, one-click installation of supported apps, and website builders that you can use to design the site.

Online Data Storage

Running your small business will require that you rely on computers more than ever; therefore, it is critical to ensure your information is appropriately stored. Online storage services offer a place to store your files in case something happens to your computers, like theft, accidental erasures, and hard drive failure.

Since the data is being stored online, you can always access your files from anywhere provided you have an internet connection. Plus, an online storage service also offers a place to store large files, which enables you to free up more space on your computer’s hard drive.

Online Project Management Software

For your small business to be more productive, it is important that you stay on track. Using online project management software offers a means to manage and organize complex projects from start to completion efficiently. This software will help you allocate and manage resources including, generic and external resources, team members, physical assets, and documents.

Additionally, it offers ways for clients to view reports and status updates and tools for teams to communicate through. Generally, online project management software increases efficiency by issue tracking, centralizing requests, communication, scheduling, resource availability, and document management.

Time Management and Tracking Software

With a lot to accomplish, it is essential for you to maximize the productivity of your small business. Time management and tracking software will help you monitor what is being accomplished so that you can better manage both the time and productivity of your employees.

This software will monitor and record individual employee hours, including work hours, projects, overtime, sick leave, and vacation time. The software also has the ability to track customers, expenses, individual projects, and invoices.

Credit Card Processing

Using hard cash has become almost unnecessary over the past few years; since shoppers prefer using credit and debit cards, it is expected that they will want to be able to use them everywhere. Adopting credit card processing services will enable you to accept every form of payment, such as electronic checks, traditional checks, debit cards, and major credit cards, anytime and anywhere. This service uses encryption technology to provide protection against credit card fraud for your business by making sure every shopper’s personal information is protected.

Start Implementing These Tools Today

Success does not come as naturally as most people would want it to. In order for your small business to become more productive and overall successful, you would have to make the necessary changes to achieve that.

Investing in a few new services that offer exemplary tools is a simple way to get your small business off to a good start. Although it might be a little challenging to change your thinking about some of your business processes, these changes will significantly enhance your business’s efficiency. Consider implementing the tools outlined above and watch your small business thrive.