When running a business, when is it time to react? Is it after one day of poor performance? Should you wait a month to see what happens? Should you react in real time? After coaching hundreds of service businesses across the country over the last decade, I can tell you with confidence: three days is a trend. If you react too quickly, you can create chaos. Too slowly, and you can fall behind.
Obviously, not all trends are negative — there are plenty of positive trends that your business may experience. Action is required for both. Negative trends need to be addressed. Positive trends need nurturing to continue.
I would encourage leaders across the country to adopt a philosophy that I call “Three Days is a Trend.” Three Days is a Trend is a management practice where everyone in the business is looking for and reacting to trends. It’s a philosophy where negative trends are identified quickly and action is taken to get the department or individual back on track before the negative trend becomes a habit. After all, most of us in the service world understand that business is won each day. Bad days can add up quickly and before too long, the business is running you.
Across the nation, I noticed that many departments have a bad day, then a bad week, a bad month, and ultimately a bad year ― all while no action has been taken to correct the negative trends. The Three Days is a Trend philosophy will help you avoid falling into that spiral.
Given the business climate going into 2023, let’s focus on negative trends for a minute. In particular, let’s look at the three areas that negative trends can hurt your business the most.
1. The Call Center
A call center not reaching its goals daily will have the most significant impact on your business. The call center is the most important part of the business. Without calls, your business is dead. The phone not ringing can’t be an excuse. If it’s not ringing, fill your board with outbound calling. Do not let your call center lose three days in a row without taking action.
Every call center I have ever visited, from the smallest company I coached at $1M of revenue per year to the largest doing more than $80M, the math is the same: If customer service representatives (CSRs) book two calls per hour — inbound or outbound — your three-day call board will be at goal every day. To achieve this math, simply divide the number of calls you need each day by the number of hours you are paying CSRs.
If you notice that your call center is missing its call count goals three days in a row, press stop and react to fix the negative trend.
2. Conversion Rate by the Service Techs, Plumbers, or Comfort Advisors / Sales Team
Once your call center is focused on getting calls on the board, your business must now convert those calls. Simply running calls does the business no good if those calls are not converted. Conversion rate is defined as the number of calls run that have a dollar value above the amount of money you charge to go to the home. In other words, if your business charges an $89 diagnostic fee and your tech leaves a call with just $89, that call was not “converted.” Yet, even though many of our field employees are not able to convert calls, we keep giving them more.
I once coached a company that had a comfort advisor go 1-for-22 on his leads through the first half of the month. When I finally saw the report, I called and asked the business owner: “How many more leads are we going to give this person? You know at some point he was 1-for-10. There was no need to give him another 12 leads to burn. Particularly, leads that cost you $300 apiece. We need to address the problem.” The Three Days is a Trend philosophy would have come in handy for that business. It would have had the business owner on the lookout for trends and ready to react once one was identified. Obviously, when a comfort advisor has converted only one of his first 10 leads, there is a problem.
When a comfort advisor, plumber, or service tech misses their company goal three days in a row, press stop and take action.
3. Average Sale and the Amount You Charge for Your Service
Now, let’s discuss the importance of converting calls at the proper average sale. If your business isn’t charging the right price, there is no way to hit the company goal. This is another area where the Three Days is a Trend philosophy can help you keep an eye on the business.
An example: A service tech runs three calls in a day, converts all three calls for sold capacitors, and nets $200 each call. In this case, the tech collected $600 but missed the business’ daily goal of $1,400 per tech. Even if your business charges well above $200 for a capacitor, the point is: three band-aid repairs on three calls still results in a miss to your goal.
Don’t allow your frontline teams to lose on average sale for three days in a row without taking action.
I can’t overstate the importance of keeping your eye on the trends within your business daily, especially those around the most critical metrics — call count, conversion rate, and average sale. It’s important not to overreact after one rough day, but even more important to not sit idle after three straight days of subpar performance. The first step is to have clearly defined goals for your business so that you’re properly able to identify when trends are leading you toward underperformance. If you and your team aren’t running the business around a clear set of goals, I would encourage you to connect with a best practices organization like Nexstar to help.