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Read any trade magazine over the past 20 years and you’ll see that contractors have constantly been told that they need to work on their businesses — not in their businesses. Get out of the truck, they’ve been told, and tackle sales, marketing, finance and strategic planning.
And to do that, the best leaders hire great people and set them up for success by casting a clear vision and equipping them with the tools necessary to fulfill it.
Those tools are increasingly found in new technology that can automate processes in such a way that the contractor and staff don’t need to worry about tasks that they previously had to do manually or that took multiple steps.
Less time dealing with processes and procedures means more time for thinking and planning.
Strong team communication: Empowering a team to achieve major results starts with strong communication. One communication platform used by nearly all high-performing companies is Slack. This communications platform is easy to set up and use, and helps leaders improve alignment and collaboration across different teams and departments. Teams want to know what others are doing to move the business forward and leaders want visibility to frontline problem solving.
Better communication increases the speed of decision-making and problem-solving to better serve customers. The technology should make it easier for team members to ask questions and get answers in real time.
The solution should enable you to celebrate progress in real time. Everyone wants to be appreciated and the best time to show appreciation is immediately. Positive reinforcement drives teams to accomplish things they never before imagined were possible.
Marketing automation: A small marketing team can do the work of an army with the right MarTech platform to manage campaigns, communications, social media and your overall brand. These are critical to building your brand and driving demand for your services. There are many platforms out there capable of serving your needs. Your marketing leaders should know what’s best for your company.
24/7 booking solution: Make it easier for your customers to do business with you around the clock because that’s a minimum expectation. Customers should be able to make appointments for everything online, and that’s becoming the norm whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or getting a haircut. Leaders who put their customers first always prevail. At the same time, the 24/7 booking solution also has to make life easier for your dispatchers. At Schedule Engine, for example, our technology is designed to allow you to meet evolving customer expectations without asking any more from your own people.
Communication and knowledge support: XOi is an all-in-one communication tool that seamlessly connects technicians, managers, and customers while enabling on the job photo and video documentation, workflow automation, real-time remote video support and training, and access to an extensive knowledge base of relevant equipment documentation and training content.
Field service management: You need a solution that will keep track of all fundamental business activities required to get the job done right and get paid. The best field service management systems make it easy for you to do this.
The right choice for your business depends on what you do and how big you are. Find out what your peers are using and schedule a few demos. Include your key managers in the process. The right field management system keeps you in control of your operations and provides managers with the information they need to make better decisions. Finding the right one is worth your time.
Employee and customer feedback: You must be able to capture feedback from both your employees and your customers. A good tool for employee feedback is called Office Vibe. It invites candid feedback from your people on how things are going. People want to be heard. Simply listening will drive up your employee engagement and shape your decision making for the better.
For customer feedback I recommend a product called Podium. There’s no better leading indicator for where your business is headed than feedback from your customers. You’re only as good as your customers perceive you to be. Listen and use the feedback to grow your business.
A strong leader has to lead the changeover to new technology. They can’t just hand over a technology to their CSRs and service technicians and say, “Here, run with it.”
People hate change. It creates uncertainty and a fear of loss of control or loss of autonomy. They think it will make more work. They’re afraid that they’ll screw up their use of the new technology and be embarrassed in front of their peers.
Contractor leaders have to sell the usefulness of the technology to their team and train their people on it to show them that it will make their work easier. Once they see that a new technology automates processes that they previously had to do manually or in multiple apps or online forms, they’ll be won over.
But don’t forget that you’re talking to a real person. Acknowledge their experience, value their input and make sure they know you’ll thoughtfully consider it. Once your team members understand the reasoning and how the new technology will benefit them personally, they’ll buy into the idea. They’ll stop resisting and start embracing the new tools.
Not all technology has the desired impact on Day One. The key to driving adoption is helping team members understand how it will make their lives better. Be patient and remind your teams that the goal is to make their lives easier and to better serve the customer. The best companies find ways to get the most out of the tools they use.
Austin Haller is founder and CEO of Schedule Engine.