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Where Seldom Is Heard an Encouraging Word

May 10, 2010
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Randall Murphy

How do I get my employees motivated? How do I get the phones to ring more? How do I keep busy all year long and avoid the slow seasons? How do I make more profitable sales? Just about every service contractor complains about one or more of these issues, but they all can be eliminated with very little effort. It’s a known fact that happy employees are highly motivated and productive. An important truth, which many business owners aren’t aware of, is that the No. 1 employee complaint isn’t about low pay or a lack of quality benefits, it’s about not feeling appreciated.

Before I became involved with the service contracting industry, I was a corporate headhunter with over 15 years of success under my belt. I’m often asked how I got involved with the contracting industry and the truth is the contracting industry involved me. I had no idea the need to locate and hire quality talent was so great. Over a two-year period, I developed a program specifically for the contracting industry that taught the heavily-guarded trade secrets of professional recruiters. I then secured onsite consulting gigs and hit the road. What I learned from these visits completely transformed my business into something entirely different; I became a sales trainer.

The transformation wasn’t because the program didn’t work; it worked beautifully. It happened because it was the next logical step. One of the most important concepts, when it comes to recruiting, is that a company can only attract top talent if they offer an environment that’s attractive to them. Every company wants to hire the ideal candidate, but the unfortunate truth is not every company is worthy of the best candidates. One of the most common requests I received was for candidates to earn over one hundred thousand dollars a year. The irony was that most of the requests came from companies that had no employees earning that amount. When salespeople look for new employment, they look at a company’s sales board to get the real truth about the company. Technicians are no different. If a company lacks high producers, a top candidate would surmise there is something wrong with the leadership, the marketing, the incentives, or the training; whatever the case may be, the offer will be declined.

Is there a lack of HVAC, plumbing, and electrical technicians? No. Is there a lack of quality, high-producing techs? Yes. It all boils down to the Prado Principle: 20 percent of techs are good to great, and 80 percent are mediocre to awful. The cold hard truth is it all balances out because companies also follow the same profile; some provide exceptional service, while others are awful. There are plenty of repair shops, but very few service and repair shops. The industry has outstanding technicians delivering the highest quality service and earning well over one hundred thousand dollars a year. I’ve seen them; they’re working for the best companies.

Being a consultant, as all consultants will attest to, one of our great advantages is our perspective view of companies. Visiting a new client is like going to dinner at the home of a new acquaintance; you never know what you’ll get. Will I be served a delicious grilled-to-perfection filet mignon with all of the finest trimmings or a shake-and-bake drumstick with their “world-famous” carrot raisin salad? When it comes to company culture, I see everything from incredibly enthusiastic and excited teams of motivated and willing professionals to a whole lot of yelling going on. Being a technician is one thing, but being a tech-type that is required to sell is another, and it requires an upbeat, enthusiastic environment to be productive.

Success all boils down to one issue: We all have a choice when it comes to our destinies. Abraham Lincoln wrote: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution [or decision] to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” The decision: To be or not to be the greatest service provider in your area; one that delivers impeccable customer care that promotes word of mouth advertising and referrals to stay swamped all year long; one that attracts the best, qualified talent in the industry. The truth is the best companies don’t just happen; they are carefully planned for and the pursuit is diligent and relentless. The reason why many companies never achieve greatness is they never decided to be great in the first place.

To review, the question is asked, “How do I get my employees motivated?” The problem is you can’t motivate anyone to do anything worthwhile; they must be inspired. Inspiration creates motivation; the burning desire to achieve greatness. Therefore, we need to look at the acronym: WIIFM, which stands for “What’s in it for me?” Everyone knows that salespeople are paid incentives; that’s what motivates them to not only sell more, but to acquire more clients. That’s why most contractors today have incentive-based pay plans for technicians. Techs are also being properly trained to sell and treat customers like VIPs. This not only brings about more profitable sales, but it promotes testimonials and referrals. Many business owners complain that their techs aren’t getting referrals. Here’s the secret to getting referrals: Only thrilled customers give referrals.

The next two questions are “How do I get the phones to ring more?” and “How do I keep busy all year long and avoid the slow seasons?” It’s an unfortunate fact that most contractors spend exorbitant amounts of money to maybe service a customer twice. There’s gold in your customer database and this can be mined only if customers are thrilled. Service maintenance agreements are also an incredible way to keep employees busy. Check out this article for more about maintenance agreements: How to Dramatically Increase Service Maintenance Agreement Sales.”

The last question is “How do I make more profitable sales?” This is really a two-part answer: 1) Techs must acquire selling skills through a proven system to make not only more sales, but profitable sales; and 2) Techs only sell what they know how to sell. Knowledge is the key and training is the answer. Most of a business owner’s frustration stems from under-trained employees. Most financial burdens are caused by low volumes of low profit sales.

When a business owner puts forth the effort to train his employees properly, the customers win, the company wins, and the employees win. Nothing says “I appreciate you” more than investing in an employee’s future.

Publication date: 05/10/2010

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