In these recessionary times, layoffs seem to be an unfortunately common occurrence. Just listen to the headlines; layoffs are popping up throughout the country. But how do you make sure that your job isn’t the next one on the chopping block?
As a call taker, dispatcher, or accountant, you’re normally in a support role to the revenue producers. And when you’re a nonrevenue producer, even though you’re valuable, you’re still a cost, and that can put you at the top of the list when layoffs happen because the easiest jobs to cut for a company are the ones that take money out of the company rather than put money into the company.
Before your name is called, what steps can you take to protect your job and avoid becoming an HVAC Layoff Victim? Below are a few ideas.
STRATEGIES FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE SUPERSTARS• Look for ways to increase sales. Just because your job isn’t normally considered a revenue generator in the company doesn’t mean you can’t begin generating revenue. One way to do that is by making outbound calls. If you have downtime, get out your client list and make calls. See if you can book a few tune-ups among your current clients. You may even want to offer to make those calls in the evening on your own time. Another great way to boost sales is by saving the calls that may have otherwise been lost. If a homeowner hangs up without booking an appointment, call them back and close the call. Generating appointments and saving lost ones are two ways you can go from being a cost center to a moneymaker.
• Cut expenses and let your boss know. Almost as good as bringing in revenue is cutting your company’s expenses. Can you find vendors with lower prices than you’re charged today? Can you come up with a plan to cut overhead? Whatever you can do to cut expenses will help keep you from being cut, but be sure to let your boss know what you’ve done. You could start reusing folders, printing on the back of used paper, or asking vendors for any pens or promotional office supply items. Share your plans and share your results so your managers see how you’re putting the company in a position to succeed.
• Volunteer to answer the phone after hours. When you step up to be the one that answers the phone after hours for a few bucks per booked service call, you’ll be a hero for several reasons. For one, if you’re a call-booking all star during the day, then your manager will know that the company’s customers are in good hands. Plus, if you volunteer to answer the phone, the company can probably save on the expense of an answering service. Allowing the owner to put the after hours calls in your trusted hands and only pay you for each call you book will be a huge plus. In addition, you’ll be able to earn extra money for yourself, too.
• Increase your call conversion ratio. If you want to be indispensible, then perform your job better than anyone else could. If you’re a call taker, that means turning more callers into booked appointments. Each ring of the phone is an opportunity for the company to make money, and giving your technicians as many opportunities as possible is the perfect way to recession-proof your job.
STRATEGIES FOR DISPATCHNG DYNAMOS• Watch those special orders. If you’re in charge of assigning the calls, be sure that special order calls aren’t scheduled until that part is on the technician’s truck. There is nothing worse that forcing your technician to spend time making a special trip to the supply house to pick up a part when they could be generating revenue in the home.
• Match geography with qualifications. Getting the right technician on the right call should be your first goal, but if you can match your technicians with calls that are close to their location, you’ll save the company some fuel and some time - both of which will add to the bottom line.
• Keep the hot hand going. If one of your technicians is on a roll with sales, be sure to keep them going with calls that match their skills or provide replacement opportunities. A technician on a roll can have a big week. Big weeks lead to big months, which lead to big years, and when you can play a part in that, you’ll be very valuable.
• If calls are stretching, raise the flag. If calls are few and far between, it’s not unusual for a technician that is paid hourly to drag out calls a little more. There is a balance between spending time with a client and dragging out a call too long, so if you see the call times creeping up, it may be something of which to make your manager aware.
STRATEGIES FOR THE FINANCIAL FRONTLINES• Get financials done on time. If you’re a bookkeeper or accountant, the most important thing you can do to avoid becoming a layoff victim is to get the financial reports done accurately and on time. Those reports will help the managers of your company make important and timely decisions. Those decisions can impact profitability, and your reports will play an important part in that success.
• Forecast the flow. Take it upon yourself to do a daily cash flow analysis. You can do a stress test to make sure the company has the resources it needs to meet its financial obligations. If you notice a problem, bringing it to the attention of your boss can help the company avoid a severe problem later.
• Be an A.R. Watchdog. In tough times, every dollar counts, so help your company collect those dollars that it deserves. Keep an eye on the accounts receivables, and you can even go to work on collecting those amounts. That will make you a real hero for your company.
• Watch the percentages. On the financial frontlines, you can see when the company is headed for trouble. Make it a point to know the numbers your company needs to hit in key areas, and then watch them like a hawk. If your company gets out of line, let management know about it. Your early warning could help the company avoid a disaster.
KEEP UP THE ENTHUSIASMThose are a few ways for you to make sure your job survives the tough times when you’re in the office. Some of these ideas might make you uncomfortable, like making outbound calls or collecting accounts receivables, but recessionary times require you to move outside your comfort zone.
One of the most important things you can do is be a cheerleader in your company. Keep your enthusiasm up. Everyone in your company is in this together, and if you set a good example by applying some of these strategies, you’ll increase your value, stand out in the eyes of your manager, and drastically reduce the probability that it’s you who is cut in tough times.
Besides protecting your job, these strategies are great ways to make sure you help your company make money every day.
Terry Nicholson is the president of AirTime 500. He is offering contractors across the nation a FREE CD entitled “How to Recession-Proof Your Business in Tough Times: 15 High Octane Strategies for Wealth and Prosperity.” E-mail him for your free copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication Date: 05/11/2009