Ralph who is one of the senior techs working at an hvac, plumbing and electrical service business suddenly blurted out a question to his boss, “Hey Bill, where’s Jimmy? I haven’t seen him for a couple weeks now.”
Ralph was referring to one of the newer techs who joined the company about a year ago. “I think he’s on vacation, right Bill?” said Karen who is one of the CSR’s at the firm. Bill, who has owned the company for 29 years set the record straight, “No, we had to lay him off two months ago when it got real slow.”
Bill of course was just being nice. What he didn’t say was that Jimmy was a dispensable employee. He failed to add enough value to the team, his customers and the bottom line to even keep himself employed, much less to be considered a star player.
Didn’t Miss Him
Think about it. Two people in the company never even noticed he was gone for over 2 months! Talk about minimum impact. Was it really the economy? Or could Jimmy have changed his fate of lining up at the unemployment line and hoping to win the “job lotto?” Now Jimmy’s master plan is to hope. Hoping to get “lucky” enough to have someone even read his resume in the stack of thousands looking for work.
How Can You Be Indispensable?
Things could have turned out differently for Jimmy and thank goodness for most of you it still can if you are willing to wake up and start taking action. Author Seth Godin talks about how we are conditioned by society to try to fit in and NOT stand out in his book “Linchpin – Are You Indispensable?” He writes, “If you choose to be indispensable it is entirely possible that you may not be loved by the same people who are your friends right now.” I know what he means. Breaking from the pack and doing something different will make the rest of the crowd very uncomfortable. Seth explains, “In time they will come around if they really do love you. If they don’t come around, they probably never were your friend to begin with.
Here are the three things that make hvac, plumbing and electrical technicians indispensable…
1. Become the “Go To” Expert
Yes your technical skills DO count. You have to be great at engineering total system solutions that are custom fit and “on-code” for each client. Plus you have to be good enough to be able to teach your teammates these skills as well. Your education is an investment that you need to make in yourself. Going to seminars when you’re tired after a long day is tough. It is an investment however that will ALWAYS pay you back as you learn more and become the “go to” expert on your team.
2. Create Raving Customer Fans
I know you think you are good with people. But how good are you? Do people give you other opportunities after you already just sold them a solution? Or is it one and done? Do clients call asking “only” for you? Do they trust you enough to purchase any solutions you offer them? Remember that this is a business about how well you can focus on your customer and their lifestyle and then how well you can custom fit solutions for them. These are the marks of the customer service champion.
3. Bring Home the Bacon
Indispensable service employees know exactly how much money every truck needs at a minimum. Then they pride themselves on blowing that amount away every week by at least triple what is expected. They are a cash cow that helps the company have enough money to reinvest in technical training, great service experiences for clients, top benefits and pay for employees and oh yeah… a profit for the owners.
The Facts Of Life – Service Style
Try to understand the facts of life. Being indispensable is a three legged stool and if any one of those legs are missing, your future in the service business becomes unstable. Do you think being good with customers is enough? Not if you have callbacks and fail to meet the financial numbers your company need to succeed. You think that being technically sound is all you need? This is a people business not a “broken parts” business. You can sell a lot and bring in the money? It’s worthless if you are churning and burning through customers and creating more frustrations than solutions.
How Do You Know You’ve Made It?
You’ll know if you are indispensable in the service business because you are excited to learn more even when your already pretty great. Also you want to use what you’ve just learned to help customers and teammates feel as excited as you are. Finally, you have learned to convert your technical skills and customer service skill into a tangible financial result that you can deposit into the bank.
Remember that your job is not about getting your needs met. It is about how you contribute to the greater purpose AND getting paid for it. I’ll see you at the bank.