The Culture Flaw That’s Killing Your Company

By: Joe Crisara

CultureFlawWould you say your company has a “customer first” culture?

Would you agree that providing the best possible customer experience, and preventing as much stress and hassle as possible for your customers is at the very top of your priority list?

Is it safe to say that providing for the safety, health, and comfort of your customer and your community is “Job One”?

I really believe that if you asked them, most owners and managers in our industry would say that describes the way their company feels toward their customers, and I’m sure you feel that way about your customers, too.

Now, I don’t want to be the guy to rain on your parade, burst your bubble, or do unspeakable things in your Cheerios – but I may have some bad news for you.

I believe that all of those things are important to you. In fact, I have complete faith that your intent is to be all that and more to your customers.

But what if I told you that despite your best intentions, the way you operate on a day to day basis might be contrary to those values?

What if you were unintentionally doing a disservice to your customers because of one major flaw in the way you approach your business?

The Flaw in the System

See if this sounds familiar…

Your people spend the majority of their time on emergency calls. And by emergency calls I mean no heat, no cool, or an equivalent emergency in plumbing, drains, electric, or any other service you offer.

Your emergency calls come before everything else. Everything revolves around them, and non-emergency calls get attention when you’re done with all the critical problems.

Emergency calls are the calls that come in after something critical breaks, and the customer needs your help immediately just to get back to operational. You might be thinking that there’s nothing backward about that at all… that it’s normal in this business to operate that way.

But by operating this way, your whole company adopts a culture, intentional or not, of scrambling from emergency to emergency, diagnosing the one issue that broke the system, fixing that one thing, and dashing off to the next emergency.

It’s not good for your customers, and trust me, it’s not good for your bottom line either in the long run.

Let’s look at this situation in a different light for a minute…

Would you consider it good service and customer focused if your doctor told you not to call their office until something major in your body stopped working all together? Or would you consider a doctor who encourages regular checkups and does excellent follow-up to be a better service provider?

What would you think of a mechanic who said, “Oil change? Tire rotation? Nah. Don’t waste your money. Call me when something is smoking or the truck won’t start at all?”

You’d think he was totally incompetent and find a new mechanic.

So why is it that it’s perfectly acceptable in our industry to behave that way toward our customers?

Short answer: It’s not acceptable.

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A Look in the Mirror

You might argue that the emergency service is the nature of our business because that’s how your customers view it. But the reason your customer sees it that way is what you ought to think about.

If you want to know why your customer treats your business like an emergency only service, you only need to look as far as the nearest mirror for the answer.

They think of you as an emergency only service because that’s what you’ve taught them to do.

They run the AC until it stops working, they ignore their floor drain until it belches sewage into the basement, and they neglect their pipes until they burst because you’ve taught them that they only need to call you when something breaks by not constantly promoting the benefits of regular checkups.

You should ask yourself: Do your customers deserve any less comfort, health, or peace of mind than a patients of a good doctor? Don’t they deserve regular checkups and follow-up to ensure that the odds of a major catastrophic event with their systems are as low as possible?

Of course they do.

But you can’t give them that peace of mind when you run your company under an emergency call culture.

The good news is that your business doesn’t have to operate that way.

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The Alternative to an Emergency Culture

The right way to provide top-notch service to your clients, eliminate the constant scramble and panic associated with running emergency calls all day and night, and ultimately improve your company’s profitability is to dump your emergency culture and adopt a Planned Service Agreement Culture instead.

A planned service agreement company embraces a culture of planning ahead for the customer and preventing emergency calls, and on a daily basis places a higher priority on service agreement calls.

A company with a Planned Service Agreement Culture operates in almost the exact opposite way as a company with an emergency culture.

Some characteristics of a Planned Service Agreement Culture include…

  • Everyone in the company from the CSR’s to the techs to the warehouse staff understand that planned service calls come first.
  • Planned Service Agreement Culture companies track their service agreements funds meticulously (in their own separate account), so they always have the funds available when it’s time to perform the service.
  • At least 67% of all calls are planned service calls. (At one time, 80% of all the calls at my company were planned service calls)
  • Planned service techs understand that it’s the company’s priority AND good customer service to run planned service calls, diagnose the entire system, and provide multiple options to prevent emergencies and provide for the customer’s health, safety, and comfort.
  • Everyone in the company understands that a planned service agreement is NOT a discount program, but rather a premium service offering.
  • Planned service calls typically come with no trip or “dispatch” fee. The call is free, and you charge for the solution.

Just looking at that list, you can see that it’s quite a culture flip to move from an emergency culture to a planned service agreement culture. And that’s why it’s vitally important for the owner and management to beat the planned service drum every chance they get and drive the point home to the entire staff – including providing the appropriate training.

A tech who is in the habit of only diagnosing and fixing things after they break can have a hard time adjusting to a planned service mentality unless they’re provided with very clear direction and training.

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How to Start the Planned Service Agreement Culture Shift

The first step in making the shift from an emergency call culture to a Planned Service Agreement Culture happens before you roll the concept out to your staff.

First, you have to design a planned service agreement that will work for your customers, be profitable for your company, and at the same time is so simple that even the newest employee of your company can explain all the details.

That may sound like a big task, but the process is actually pretty simple if you know the right steps to take. In a future article (coming soon), we’ll walk you through the 5 key steps in designing your company’s perfect planned service agreement.

In the meantime, take a look at the benefits you’ll get when you make the culture shift from an emergency mindset to one of planned service.

  • Your cash flow will stabilize, helping to offset the seasonal peaks and valleys that occur
  • You’ll be more able to invest in the important things for your business like personnel, training programs, and capital improvements
  • Your company will become more proactive
  • Your employees will buy into the pure motive service mentality
  • You’ll develop a reputation in your market as a premium service provider

These sound pretty good right? And these are just the tip of the benefit iceberg…

If you’d like to learn more about how to set up a simple, profitable PSA for your company, click below and grab my FREE 33 Point Planned Service Agreement Strategy Checklist!

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