Let’s face it, the home service industry hasn’t changed much over the past 30 or 40 years. Oh, we have computers, cell phones, tablets, websites, and a whole slew of really cool tools. But the way we conduct our business really hasn’t changed. Back in the 70s and early 80s nearly all businesses were open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Back then you couldn’t buy gas or groceries after 6 p.m. Many employers closed early on Fridays so their employees could get to the banks before they closed at 5 p.m. If you were sick or hurt, the only way to see a doctor was to go to the emergency room. Society has changed dramatically; today 24-hour grocery stores and gas stations are common, banks are open on Saturdays with some branches open on Sundays, we can even see a doctor in the middle of the night without going to the emergency room. This level of availability is expected today and the idea that a business would be closed on a given day is almost seen as radical. Yet the vast majority of service contractors advertise Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with emergency service available.
There are a few progressive contractors who have recognized the opportunities they were missing and have gotten with the times. They understood that by working only five days a week until 5 p.m. they were missing 30 percent of the time they could be servicing customers and collecting revenue. It was time for a change. Most started by keeping their offices open later in the evening and scheduling non-emergency calls when it was more convenient for the customer. Making Saturdays a “normal” work day usually came next, and then Sundays, until eventually they were open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What these companies discovered is that their customers loved the change. More importantly their competitors’ customers loved the change and became their customers.
For the first time customers didn’t have to suffer through a weekend to get something installed on a Monday. They didn’t have to take time off work to wait on a technician. They didn’t have to pay overtime rates just because something broke at the wrong time of day. The end result is that the progressive service companies are doing more business after 5 p.m. than during “normal hours” and they do more business on the weekends than any other two days of the week.
Reading this I am sure that some of you are thinking “You can’t work 24/7, all your people will quit” or “The overtime will kill you.” That would be correct if you still have your head in your past. Below are some simple steps you can take and be well on your way to doing 30 percent more work and taking your competitors’ customers.
1. Hire a full time night technician. This person’s day starts at 9 p.m. and goes to 7 a.m. They are responsible for running every single call that comes in, no exceptions. You will still have on-call people to provide back-up if the night technician is overloaded. This person works Monday through Friday and is guaranteed 40 hours pay per week. There are people who like this sort of arrangement. It gives them the flexibility to do other things during the day. The other technicians like it as well since they are not called out as often in the middle of the night.
2. Stagger your hours. Have some of your people start the day at 7 a.m. and some start the day at noon. This will allow you to schedule routine calls in the evening when customers are home. Start by having your call takers offer times in the evening. Most customers will be surprised at first but word will soon get around and you will have people requesting later appointments.
3. Stagger your days. No one can work seven days a week all the time. Have some of your people start their week on Monday, some on Tuesday, and some on Wednesday. Then have them rotate so that everyone works the weekends evenly.
4. Start recruiting technicians. With any significant change there is always the risk of losing someone. Some technicians will even use the threat of leaving as a way to control company policy and avoid change. You can prevent this by actively recruiting new technicians when you start this process. Besides, as you gain more customers and your business increases you will need more technicians.
With planning and getting your head out of your past you can enjoy 30 percent more work and a lot more success.