We’ve talked about branding, customer service, and advertising. But guess what? All the effort you put into these things can be wiped out if a customer has a bad experience with one of your employees. Even a polite employee can create a problem if he isn’t prepared or shows up late. As a business owner, your responsibility is to put your employees in a position to show their best work and reflect positively on your brand. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through smart scheduling of employees and the work they do.
When people are put into situations where they are successful, a lot of good things happen. Customers see a motivated, skilled person taking their work seriously. That is probably the most valuable validation and will help earn you repeat business and word-of-mouth approval. But the employee is also rewarded because he or she is doing something they are good at, and that generates a positive feedback loop that encourages them even more. It helps with employee retention and job satisfaction, which ultimately makes your life easier.
The reality, however, is that your jobs and customers are different, and your employees don’t operate in a one-size-fits-all model. The woman who’s skilled at wood refinishing may not have as much experience when it comes to sheetrocking - don’t put her on jobs where sheetrocking is required. Or, you might have a customer who likes a quiet house and minimal interaction while jobs are being done; putting “Loud Larry” on a job at this guy’s house would be a disaster.
At the most basic level, it’s best to operate off the principle of: For every job, assign the person who is best equipped to create a successful outcome. Here are things you need to consider when figuring out the best way to maximize employee effectiveness:
Skill set: You have smart, skilled people working for you, but not every employee is good at every task. That means the actual work itself needs to be matched to what the employee is competent at.
You probably have some generalists who can handle most jobs, but on staff are likely people who have unique capabilities. Make sure you know what they are capable of and find ways to get them work where they can highlight those skills. That will demonstrate your commitment to them, and it will impress customers who will benefit from quality, specialized work. For these people, either place them on projects where there is a natural fit, or try to up-sell customers on additional work where these employees’ skills can be be especially valuable.
Working with customers: Some people love to press the flesh while others want to be left alone to get to work. It’s important that you know both your employees’ ability to connect with people and the types of customers you have. Some customers want a connection - for those people, get your outgoing types on the job. Others prefer to have the job done quickly and with as little intrusion into their life. Those gigs are probably better suited to employees who are introverts and not as likely to randomly strike up conversations about their recent fishing trips. Just like any relationship, it’s important to know personalities of your customers and employees and match them up accordingly.
Know your employee’s strengths: The Institute on Character published a study about worker happiness and engagement. They found that people do better work and are happier in their jobs when they are able to do things that map to their strengths. The first issue for you is to know the people who work for you. Don’t just presume that someone is good because you’ve never had any complaints about him or her. Make time to talk with them about the work they prefer and how they approach customers. Get time to watch them in action. It will help you in the long run if you can avoid putting square pegs into round holes.
Implement training: You’re not doing anyone any favors if you allow employees to be stagnant. It’s important to identify both tactical and customer service traits that you want employees to demonstrate to customers, and work with them to improve. Through regular training, mentoring, and feedback, you can help your team get better at the work they do and the way they perform it. This type of training is hugely valuable for employees and shows that you’re willing to make a commitment to them; it’ll be great for retention.
Your team is the most valuable piece of your business. While you’re investing in marketing, equipment, technology and other parts of your business, don’t neglect the simple aspects of helping people be successful, which in turn, will help make your business more successful.
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