What Part of My Business Should I Focus on Improving?

Paul Riddle
Contributing Writer
Success Group International

You went into business to make a lot of money and work less right?  Well, this can be the case if you focus on the right things.  If you’re not sitting on a beach counting money, ask yourself why… What have I been focusing on?

So many contractors ask, “What’s the one thing?  What should be focused on first when trying to improve your business?”

Well, you certainly need to know your numbers.  Knowing how to generate sales is important.  But what about the customer, the one who gives you money in exchange for your services?  The people you spend thousands of marketing dollars to acquire?  Have you really focused on them lately?  Consider this…

Have you paid any attention to how your phones are answered or are you exited that your call takers can book a call in just 30 to 45 seconds? That is not being efficient— that’s the service you get in a poorly run fast food place. 

Are you still running your techs from east to west 12 hours a day so you can keep everyone happy?  You can’t serve a client in 30 minutes. But I fixed it you say!  Great, did you do everything you could for that client?

Did you offer to do a free heat exchanger safety inspection, even though you were called out for the AC?  Did you offer a free water heater inspection?  How about leaky faucets or dead receptacles?  Did you talk to the homeowner about new gutters?

Serving a client requires solving as many of their problems as you are trained to do.  To do this, you must first learn to communicate with them.  Ask questions, explain what you can do for them, and see what it is important to them.

We can agree that not all of the contractors in your area do the same quality of work.  Yet, everyone commits that they provide quality work.  No contractor ever feels like he’s lousy, and he certainly would admit to being a hack!  But when you focus on nothing but the work, and avoid the customer, a hack is what you become.  Well, at least I know that my guys aren’t hacks, you say.  Oh really?  When was the last time you read a happy call report?  Only the best contractors focus on the customer, and it starts with a happy call.

Customer service, diluted by loopholes in guarantees and unreturned phone calls, has become a phrase to raise caution.  “We provide great customer service” translates to “We are just like everybody else. We over promise and under deliver.” If you’re not performing Happy Calls to ensure your people are doing what you’re promising, you are disappointing customers.

So many people say they don’t do Happy Calls after each appointment because “We hear all the time about how great our techs are.”  Of course you are!  Your techs tell you what you want to hear.  “Your 15 year old system is fine.  It was just a contactor.  And you might want to change that filter.”  The customer thinks you have done them a favor but you did not inform them about the utility savings and peace of mind a new system will provide.  Instead, you left them with an old unit and a dirty blower wheel and coil.  How friendly are they three months down the road when the coil finely ices up and they lose a compressor?

If you’re not doing Happy Calls, here is what you may learn when you do: Your techs are not wearing floors savers; they are often late to the appointment, and they were on their cell phones the whole time they were there. The good news you will learn is that the only reason you’re not selling club memberships is that they are not offering them.

It’s pretty simple; serve your customers from the heart.  Don’t pre-judge and remember they are people to. Be through and communicate what a disservice it would be for you to not inform them of all of their options.


About the Author: Paul Riddle, Vice President, Success Group International

Paul Riddle has over 25 years of hands‐on experience as GM, COO, CEO, and owner of service companies specifically in the mechanical and restoration segments. Throughout his career, he has personally trained the owners and employees of hundreds of businesses, including several turnaround situations.  His hands‐on training for owners and their employees has been in the areas of business planning, sales & marketing, and company culture. Paul enjoys applying his knowledge and experience working directly with business owners and their employees to increase profits, improve the company’s present value, and unlock the intrinsic value of the business when sold. Paul joined SGI in 2009 as the VP of Operations.

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