Getting Ready for the Summer Busy Season

by

Lauren Pszonak
March 29, 2018
/
minutes to read

Get to the Point

  1. Prepare Your Team - Make sure your office staff is ready for the extra calls, and filing. Holding some team meetings to help focus works great. Make sure people take time-off before, and during this time.
  2. Prepare Your Equipment - Get your trucks serviced, your tools checked, your inventory stocked and be ready to roll!
  3. Prepare for Efficiency - Implementing new technology can help make the busiest times run more smoothly. You’ll also want to prepare for emergencies and Emergency Rates that are reflective of the busy season.

Summer is Coming…

Summertime the “busy season” for many field service companies. Landscapers take care of lawns, roofers capitalize on nice weather, HVAC techs install new air conditioners, and more!

Preparing for the extra business is difficult. Any inefficiencies in your off-season will be accentuated and can cost a company potential business and revenue!

Here are some ways you can make sure your company is ready for the extra hours.

1. PREPARATION IN THE OFFICE

Refocus the Team - Before you hit your peak business, make sure everybody in your company is on the same page. You can have a company-wide meeting making sure everybody knows what to expect in the upcoming months. Be clear in what you expect from your techs, your office staff, and what they can expect from you!

Training! - There will be phone calls and questions in the field that will be asked over and over again. If your office staff and field techs are ready for these commonly asked questions, they can answer without fumbling through their words or making calls.

2. PREPARATION IN THE FIELD

Routine Maintenance - Before you start experiencing an increase in calls, YOU can contact people who may need a tune-up on their equipment. Not only does this show initiative and help strengthen relationships with previous customers, completing these services “early” will free your time in the summer for new customers/ new installations/ and emergency jobs that comes up.

Equipment/Inventory - Check your own equipment / inventory regularly. Having a service vehicle break down mid-season, or running out of your most commonly replaced part can be catastrophic. Not only would you have to reschedule appointments that can not be completed, you may also lose long-term customers to a better prepared company.

3. GIVE TIME OFF

It may seem counterintuitive to make sure your employees are taking the appropriate time off during the busiest time of the year. However, if you keep the morale high, your employees can perform better, and are less likely to burn-out.

Many companies have a policy limiting vacation time during certain times. If this is the case for you, make sure you are valuing your employees and allowing them to still take some personal time, even when it’s busy.

4. EXPEDITED RATES

You may already have a policy in place for “emergency rates.” If you don’t, you will want to adjust pricing for some of your services to have a higher rate charged for ‘rushed’ jobs.

While it is important to get to a house with a flooding basement as soon as possible, you will want to reflect that in the price the customer is charged.

You may even consider adding a bonus or incentive to a tech that takes an emergency call, so they can feel compensated for the added pressure to their already busy schedule.

5. NEW TECHNOLOGY

If you don’t have field service software to streamline your workday, you should strongly consider finding a digital solution.

Having software that eliminates your office manager’s processing time, and reduces the amount of paperwork necessary at any given field call can revolutionize your business.  

If you feel like the window of opportunity has passed, and you’ll have to look into a software solution after the busy season ends, we beg to differ… incorporating software into your business is relevant and important as early as possible… even if it is in your peak season.

Look at Pricing

The start of the year is a great time to look at pricing. Usually, you have an idea of how your company fared the year prior, and you want to ensure you will continue to grow in the months to come. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with respect to spending or saving in our personal lives, and it’s no different for business owners. Making sure your pricing is in line with where it should be is one of the strongest ways to start the year the right way.

Part of looking at your price book is finding where the issues are, and that can take time. An HVAC company in January is going to be very busy, so it’s a difficult time for a close look. However, a plumbing company might not be as busy. Whenever you tackle this job, your best bet is to look at what your labor rates are. Start there, and let it trickle down across the board. Ask yourself, “Are my labor rates helping my business stay profitable?”

Remember, there are many different services out there and many different groups or communities that you can engage. Never hesitate to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner in Florida. What should my labor rates be?” You can build your price from there. There are also some great billable hour calculators available.

Set Goals

There is no better time of year for looking inward than January. Set your personal goals and company goals for the following 12 months. If you can break those down into departmental goals, even better! Perhaps that means a CSR booking closing rates a little better, or a truck doing 250,000 a year rather than 200,000.

Many companies have found that using an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) goal-setting system pays off. Looking for a guidebook when it comes to OKRs? Check out Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. 

One key question is the best way to handle setting goals: Is it smarter for business owners to handle this solo, together with staff, or to delegate completely? 

The best approach is to set goals at the department level. As an owner, you need to take the time to understand what the goals are in each department, and make sure they are in line with your goals for the company. No one likes to set unattainable goals for themselves, so make sure you push your departments to set goals that are lofty, rather than simple ones to feel good about hitting. Entrust your staff to aim higher, and watch how they respond.

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