Showing posts with label contractor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label contractor. Show all posts

Friday, January 17, 2020

Oh No! My Service Manager Just Quit!

Losing key people in your business is always difficult. It could be a senior Technician, a Service Manager, or an important Office Staff Member. They may leave your business for any number of reasons. Many of those reasons you believe you do not have any control over and so you just to “buck it up”. Here is a partial list of reasons employees leave our type of businesses:

·        Moving out of the area  
·        Family issue such as divorce, new baby, or family illness
·        Pursuing another career
·        Health issues
·        Distance from the office
·        9 to 5 Hours
·        Not really suited for the service business
·        Pressure for change from the spouse
·        Benefits
·        Pay
·        On call
·        Going into business
·        Being a stay at home parent
·        Conflict with other Team Member or Members

I know there are others that I did not include but these are the ones I hear about the most. From owners I hear that it is often a total surprise that the employee is leaving. They had no idea it was coming. I don’t accept that in many cases. To me it is a fundamental issue the owner has failed to address in their business. That issue is communication with each and every employee on a regularly scheduled basis to discuss that employee’s performance and future with the company. Every employee should know how well they are performing and what the future for them with the company looks like. These are not the sit downs to discuss a pay increase, although those do need to occur. These are quarterly sit downs to discuss the progress the employee has made in the previous three months and what is expected in the next three months, one year and even five years. At these the owner should get a sense of where the employee is in their position at the company. Employees want to know how they are doing, what they can do to be better, and what the future holds for them.

Here is a method you could use. Get out your calendar and write in a ½ hour block of time for each employee sit down each quarter for the next twelve months. On your calendar mark ten days prior to each sit down with a note to give that employee an evaluation form for them to fill out and return to you at least two days prior to your sit down. Your will review the form and add your comments (constructive comments) and a plan of action for the next quarter, year and perhaps five years to the form. When you have the sit down with the employee you will review that form together, come to a consensus of the review and plan and have the employee sign the form and provide them a copy. Regular communication about their future will provide a way for the employee to be more open about what’s up in their head. Each time you meet you will use the previous meetings form and the new form to conduct the review and plan. This process goes hand and hand with a specific blueprint for each employee’s progression within your company in career development and pay. I call it “Blueprint for Success”. Between the reviews and the blueprint the owner will have reduced much of the “Where am I going” uneasiness of the employee. There are no magic bullets but regular communication and a plan will provide a more stable environment for the employee thus reducing the chances they will seek other opportunities and be lost to your company.

If you would like a copy of a form you could use in these sit downs and a sample of a “Blueprint for Success”, email me at and I’ll send you a copy.  

Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. Contact him at

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Until You.......

Yes You
Until you as a business owner decide to change and improve the performance of your company, profitability won’t change.
Until you decide to improve the look of your business and your Technicians, your company will still look like amateurs rather than pros.
Until you begin to understand the financial side of your business, you will continue to operate like a “Ma & Pa” operation rather than a business.
Until you understand that an employee won’t always do the way you would do it, you will micro-manage every phase of your business and limit it’s potential.
Until you expect and strive for the very best customer experience, you will just be another contractor, not memorable to your customer, not recommended by your customer if they even remain as a customer.
Until you enforce your company standards, you will have none.
Until you look at your employees as customers who deserve the best customer service, you will only attract mediocre employees.
Until you improve your marketing, you can expect that you won’t attract large numbers of new customers.
Until you have menu pricing (flat rate) and keep it current, you can expect customer complaints and low profits.
Until you plan and put aside money for retirement, you will be working until you die.
Until you train you Technicians, you can expect other companies to take you customers with better knowledge and better customer service.
Until you set goals, your future will drift like a ship without a rudder.
Until you check costs in each part of your business, you will loss profit by over paying to that friendly salesman.
Until you have your call takers use a script and check on 
them, you will loss opportunities to other contractors.

Until you work with a consultant or a contractor group, you will not grow in knowledge and learn from other’s experiences.
Until you set financial controls in your business, you open your business to employee thief and dishonesty.
Until you decide to change, your business is falling behind and will eventually fail!

Need help with change? Give me a call or email me, I can help if you are ready for cultural change.

You can get more information at our website 

Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. Contact him at

Also check out these Posts:

Minor Leaguers

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Do You Need a Mobile Solution?

Helping Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electrical Service Contractors
The continued march of technology has given us access to information in the palm of our hands. We can find any business, service, or product information on our cellphones. We went from "bricks that could only make calls to cellphones that easily fit into our shirt or pants pocket and allow us to open the internet or so to say everything in the world. It's not just us as business people but your customers and potential customers are becoming more and more dependent on their mobile technology. Although I started out by discussing cellphones, that mobile technology includes tablets and phablets. If you are not up to speed on technology a phablet is an over-size smart cellphone. The demand for desktop computers and laptop computers has dropped substantially with the power and ease of smartphones, phablets, and tablets. Website Magazine had an interesting 5 question quiz so you can understand the magnitude of use of these devices. Here is the quiz which you can take yourself. You will be amazed at the numbers.
1. What is the amount of time spent on mobile devices per day by the average U.S. consumer in 2014?
a. 20 hours and 14 minutes
b. 12 hours and 14 minutes
c. 5 hours and 57 minutes
d. 2 hours and 42 minutes
e. 38 minutes
2. What percentage of worldwide Google Play revenue do Freemium apps account for?
a.  98 percent
b. 72 percent
c. 38 percent
d. 17 percent
e. 53 percent
3. In what app category do U.S. smartphone users spend the most time interacting?
a. News/Info
b. Communications
c. Shopping/Commerce
d. Games
e. Social
4. What percentage of consumers are watching videos on their smartphones?
a. 75 percent
b. 93 percent
c. 25 percent
d. 42 percent
e. 12 percent 
5. As of June 2014, how many mobile Internet users are there worldwide?
a. 890 million
b. 1.2 billion
c. 106 million
d. 7.1 billion
e. 3.4 billion
Answers at the end of this post
Helping HVAC, Plumbing, and Electricial Service Contractors
So what should you do to tap into this market and assure your website is best viewed on every type of device? There are at least three choices. One is to have a responsive site  which means your website display changes when your customer uses their mobile device to access it. If it is a desktop or laptop it displays the way you had it built. If it is viewed on a smartphone, phablet, or tablet it displays differently to make it much more useful for the viewer. Another option is to build a totally separate design when one of these mobile devices opens your website. You could also develop an App but then the customer would need to upload your App to see your content. Probably not the first direction a contractor should select. Each of these solutions are time consuming and costly to develop but as with everything in business "It costs to attract customers". Begin to investigate the options and costs. As you put your 2015 budget together you should put this cost into it to meet this new trend. The numbers are only going to grow as more people have these devices and learn the convenience they provide.  

You can get more information at our website 

Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. Contact him at

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Answers to the Quiz: d, a, e, a, b

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

First to Try Guy

Let me relay an experience I had a number of years ago and then a repeat of that experience 15 or so years later. I guess I didn’t learn from the old adage, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”
The New Rooftop Units
I was a sales engineer with a large HVAC equipment manufacturer right out of college. I was teamed up with a great mentor and partner. We had submitted bids to contractors who were bidding on a low rise office complex which would require multiple 20-30 ton rooftop units. Our old units were not very competitive since the curbs, plenums, dampers, and other accessories needed to be assembled and installed on the basic unit. Our competitors had fully assembled units which saved the contractor labor, making the installed price less than with our equipment. Well the powers to be at corporate saw the light. They redesigned our units so they would be fully assembled at the factory. We also had some features available in the units that engineers, owners and installing contractors would find of value. The installing contractor who got the job liked our bid and we were selected to provide the equipment with our redesigned units.
This was the largest order the factory had to date on these new units, so one of the engineers flew in to see the installation and be there for startup. As we were driving him from the airport to the jobsite, we passed another low rise office complex going up. Just the structural steel was in place but the roof curbs were set in place for the roofers to install the roofing material. The engineer commented,” Is that the way they support the roof curb and unit?” We discussed this for several minutes when my partner and I looked at each other in sheer astonishment. The engineer thought much more structural steel was used to support the rooftop unit. We knew we were in trouble! The type of fans used in these units caused a lot of vibration when installed with code approved structural steel which was much less than the engineer had thought would be used. We had a problem job! We did eventually solve the problem but the lesson was IT IS NOT ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA TO BE THE FIRST TO TRY GUY.
The New Furnaces
Leaking Chimney
I moved on after several years in that position to take over a family plumbing business. Years later, after adding HVAC to my plumbing business, our major equipment supplier held their annual dealer meeting and introduced the furnace of the future. It eliminated the flue damper, had a new heat exchanger, had a new circuit board to control the unit and could vent into a masonry chimney just as the less efficient units did. It increased the efficiency from the mid-sixty percent efficient to eighty percent efficient. Wow! We immediately began to market and sell the units. Obviously most every customer wanted a more efficient furnace in their home and we were ready to provide it. After installing dozens of these units, we started getting calls about water on the basement floors below the chimney cleanout. What was going on? We asked the factory engineering staff and they said it was condensate forming in the chimney. They asked if our chimneys had clay tile liners inside of the brick. Well of course they did since this had been code for many decades. What they didn’t know that most clay lined chimneys do not have a consistent air gap between the clay tile liner and the exterior brick so the chimneys were too cold to carry the moisture out of the chimney before condensing. What can be done? No one seemed to have an answer. By trial and error we found that installing an aluminum liner the problem went away.  After several years the flue piping began to rot out and had to be replaced with B vent. The aluminum liners rotted out and had to be changed. Several generations of circuit boards had to be replaced. Problem after problem gave us the privilege of satisfying many unhappy customers at our expense for issues that was not our fault. I recall one contractor who did not jump on board with the new and improved units for two plus years. He avoided many of the headaches we endured .The lesson was IT IS NOT ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA TO BE THE FIRST TO TRY GUY.

Although it can be exciting to have newest products, the newest truck designs, the newest software, it can be costly and create unhappy customers, employees, or owners. Tread cautiously when and if you decide to be the first to try guy!

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Often owners and managers need assistance in using their time wisely to grow the business or improve the business. We can help. Contact us.

Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. Contact him at

Monday, December 30, 2013

Did I go or grow in 2013?

As the year 2013 comes to an end and the New Year, 2014, starts perhaps it’s a good time to reflect back on the year and ask myself a few questions. This could go on for quite a few paragraphs so I’m going to limit it to one question. That question is, “Did I go or did I grow?” I saw this dichotomy in a daily Bible reading I do each morning. It applies to our spiritual life but it can also apply to our daily business activities.

Each and every day our businesses have challenges we must face and problems we must solve. We have a tax audit, a key employee quits, an angry customer threatens to sue, the checking account is a little thin, a Technician has an a fender bender or some other issue. We sometimes think it’s only our business or our industry that has challenges but every business both big and small must deal with the circumstances they are dealt. The question I ask myself and I’m asking you is “How do we really deal with those challenges and circumstances?”

Do I just go through the motions, through the challenge, through the circumstance and move on to the next challenge, the next circumstance, the next crisis? If I just go through them I probably am not any better off when the next one appears before me. This does not mean I don’t solve the issue, correct the problem or meet the challenge. What I am asking is “have I become a better owner, a better boss, a better service provider for my customer? Has the problem taught me anything other than becoming more of an angry cynic? Has the circumstance made me bitter? Has the challenge created health issues? Has the crisis affected my mental state?” When we just go through the problems our health, our mental state, and our attitudes are definitely changed for the worse.

On the other hand, when we grow through a crisis, a problem, a challenge, or an issue we look at it with a different frame of mind and attitude. We can ask ourselves, “What can I learn from this? What can I do differently to avoid this from happening that makes real sense?” Look at the crisis or problem after the immediate rush necessary to handle the emergency and find a constructive way to avoid a repeat or very similar happening from causing the frustration and stress. The answer could be a new policy, training, passing some responsibility down the chain, replacing a problem employee or a myriad of other solutions. But you are not going to find solutions unless you take the time and effort to correct the situation so the issue won’t pop-up again. Time and again I hear owners whining about a problem, an employee, a situation but they do nothing to eliminate the issue and formulate a plan to keep the issue from reoccurring. Learn. grow, and change to make things work better within the business.

So make a New Year’s resolution to GROW not go and your life will be a lot less stressful and your business a place to feel good about!

Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to grow and prosper. Contact him at
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Is this Customer Care and Service?

This week my wife, Lynn, was in the hospital for elective surgery to have a hip joint replaced. Although there is a lot of talk about customer service over the air waves from many of the hospitals, our experience did not show the level of customer service that is expected by the public today. The average HVAC/plumbing contractor has much better customer service than we found in our experience. I will not name the hospital but it is a major player in the Metro Detroit area.

Let me give you a few examples of our experience:              

1.      Lynn would hit the call button to ask for additional pain medications and she would often wait more than 40 minutes for someone to respond. It would often be the nurse assistance who would then need to find the nurse to administer the medication. This was not a life threating situation but very disappointing.

2.      After surgery and being transferred to her room, she had three separate people check her oxygen level within 15 minutes and none of these people were aware that she had just had it done. The right not knowing what the left was doing.

3.      I went down to the pharmacy to fill a take home prescription for Lynn. They took it and told me they would call be on my cell in about a half hour when it was ready since we were waiting for it to be discharged. Over an hour later and no call, I went down to the pharmacy to check on the prescription. It was ready but they never called as promised.

4.      A nurse assistant was walking the halls on the floor of Lynn’s room, looking confused. They had changed his room assignments but did not provide him with sufficient information to effectively do his job.

5.      Lynn often heard the staff speaking to each other saying they didn’t know the answer because they were just getting on shift or it was someone else’s responsibility.

6.      We finished all the discharge paperwork but getting a wheelchair and staff member to handle it so Lynn could be wheeled to our waiting car took over 90 minutes with several calls.

7.      During this wait, an orderly came to Lynn’s room to take her to physical therapy. That department was not aware that she was discharged and just awaiting a wheelchair to take her to the waiting car.

The preoperative situation and the surgical waiting area were run effectively. None of the staff were rude or a problem throughout the hospital stay. The level of treatment for the patient and the condition of the facilities were not the issues. The problem seemed to be at the patient floor level. Here the staff tried to meet the patient needs but management had not provided the tools to do it with true customer care and service. The entire floor where Lynn was recovering was orthopedic patients. The care needed for the patients would be similar day in and day out. Some patients would require more care, have special needs, or require additional time from the staff. Not a whole lot different that our businesses. With effective training, proper staffing, correct tools, and regular oversight this floor could provide much better customer service. Records here are all computerized and information should be available to every department and every care giver. Tasks are repeated day in and day out. A routine and detailed operating formula could be established, taught and monitored.

So let me ask you, “Is your customer saying the same thing about your customer service?” There are only a dozen or so hospitals for us to choose from in the Metro Detroit area, but there are literally hundreds of service contractor options for a customer to choose from. If you are not providing excellent customer service, your customer is going to find an alternative contractor who will do that. “Are you asking your customer their thoughts on the service you have provided to them? Are you changing what you do to provide better service to you customer?”

Change or be left behind, you have to decide.

Dan has been in the service industry for nearly 50 years. He has operated a large plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company and for the past 12 years has helped small companies in the service business to
grow and prosper. Contact him at