Can Your Employees Be Stealing Your Calls? Part 1


What ran on 2/20:

Yes! And when I hear the pain in the voice of contractors who have fallen prey to their own staff stealing their calls it’s sickening. Even if you haven’t been stung by it yourself I’m sure you can understand the pain you feel when you’ve been betrayed by an employee(s) stealing the hard-earned calls away from the business.

It can be tough to detect but more times than not when I talk to the owner for awhile they admit that they’ve had a sinking feeling for awhile that it has been going on. But, they also admit they felt powerless as if they were a hostage to their own staff. If they confirmed their fear the consequences of finding out for sure might mean they, the owner, would have to climb back into the truck and run calls themselves.

I want to make sure I contrast the stealing of calls from someone who is on your payroll vs. someone who leaves your company to setup their own shop. This is America and they’re entitled to do that. And if they do that and they can steal your customer because you haven’t built enough loyalty to you and your company you can rightfully expect that the allegiance of the customer may go to the employee they’ve grown to know through the years. And there is a danger to that.

But at least it’s above board. That is unless the employee skipped out with your customer list and/or sensitive customer information or proprietary information that is covered in your policy and procedures manual. That would mean they’ve crossed the line and you should at least be on solid ground to address what’s called “Predatory Practice,” which means their targeting your customers alone. The same goes for getting relief if they’ve violated copyright and intellectual property rights.

All bad things for sure…but…what I think is far worse is when they’re still on your payroll and they’re working in their own self interest by pirating away calls that are rightfully the company’s, so they can come back and do them on their own time.

Sometimes they compound this unethical behavior by using your vehicles and/or your inventory to do this side work and they pocket the money for themselves. They’re denying the company the money it rightfully deserves from serving those who have called you seeking service or installation work from your company.

So, what can you do about it?

Here are just 5 helpful suggestions:
1. Set up Mystery Shoppers to confirm what is and isn’t going on in the field by your Techs. It’s the only true way to catch someone red handed or at least put some fear into them by letting them know ahead of time these people exist. It helps to minimize the stealing of calls by Techs.

2. Set up Mystery Callers to call your office and find out what is and isn’t going on by your inside staff when it comes to who and how the give out the calls. It’s not uncommon for the Inside Staff to be working hand in hand with the Techs to steal the calls.

3. Recording calls for training purposes is always a good thing. But it’s also a way to find out what is being said, what calls going through the office actually get directed to and converted into calls converted in the field.

4. If you have confirmed that calls are being stolen by your experienced Tech(s), fire them. And if you can’t find already experienced Techs, you need to commit to hiring two willing Apprentices that you can build into the type of Techs you can trust and help them build a career. Make sure your hire two because there’s built in competition. When there’s only one Tech, the tendency is that they feel entitled and they know they have you over a barrel.

5. If you have confirmed that calls are being siphoned away by the office or they’re being directed to a Tech(s) that they’re working together as a team, hire new office staff. If necessary, hire two part-time office people to fill the hours with people who are appreciative of the opportunity.
Remember, to interview them over the phone to make sure they sound alive because their first task will be answering the phones. Two people will once again keep you from being a hostage.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll give you five more helpful tips to keep you and your company safe!

What was submitted in total on 2/20/11:

Yes! And when I hear the pain in the voice of contractors who have fallen pray to their own staff stealing their calls it’s sickening. Even if you haven’t been stung by it yourself I’m sure you can understand the pain you feel when you’ve been betrayed by an employee or employees stealing the hard earned calls away from the business.

It can be tough to detect but more times than not when I talk to the owner for awhile they admit that they’ve had a sinking feeling for awhile that it’s been going on. But, they also admit they felt powerless as if they were a hostage to their own staff because if they confirmed their fear the consequences of finding out for sure might mean they, the owner, would have to climb back into the truck and run calls themselves.

I want to make sure I contrast the stealing of calls from someone who is on your payroll vs. someone who leaves your company to setup their own shop. This is America and they’re entitled to do that.  And if they do that and they can steal your customer because you haven’t built enough loyalty to you and your company you can rightfully expect that the allegiance of the customer may go to the employee they’ve grown to know through the years. And there is a danger to that.

But at least it’s above board. That is unless the employee skipped out with your customer list and/or sensitive customer information or proprietary information that is covered  in your policy and procedures manual. That would mean they’ve crossed the line and you should at least be on solid ground to address what’s called “Predatory Practice” which means their targeting your customers alone. The same goes for getting relief if they’ve violated copyright and intellectual property rights.

All bad things for sure…but…what I think is far worse is when they’re still on your payroll and they’re working in their own self interest by pirating away calls that are rightfully the company’s so they can come back and do them on their own time.

Sometimes they compound this unethical behavior by using your vehicles and/or your inventory to do this side work and they pocket the money for themselves denying the company the money it rightfully deserves from serving those who have called you seeking service or installation work from your company.

So, what can you do about it? Here are just 10 suggestions:

  1. Setup Mystery Shoppers to confirm what is and isn’t going on in the field by your Techs. It’s the only true way to catch someone red handed or at least put some fear into them by letting them know ahead of time these people exist. It helps to minimize the stealing of calls by Techs
  2. Setup Mystery Callers to call your office and find out what is and isn’t going on by your inside staff when it comes to who and how the give out the calls. It’s not uncommon for the Inside Staff to be working hand in hand with the Techs to steal the calls.
  3. Recording calls for training purposes is always a good thing. But  it’s also a way to find out what is being said, what calls going through the office actually get directed to and converted into calls converted in the field.
  4. If you have confirmed that calls are being stolen by your experienced Tech or Techs, fire them. And if you can’t find already experienced Techs, you need to commit to hiring two willing Apprentices that you can build into the type of Techs you can trust and help them build a career. Make sure your hire two because there’s built in competition. When there’s only one Tech, the tendency is that they feel entitled and they know they have you over a barrel.
  5. If you have confirmed that calls are being siphoned away by the office or they’re being directed to a Tech or Techs that they’re working together as a team to the detriment of the company, hire new office staff. If necessary, hire two part-time office people to fill the hours with people who are appreciative of the opportunity. Remember, to interview them over the phone to make sure they sound alive because their first task will be answering the phones. Two people will once again keeping you from being a hostage
  6. Become an active Sales Coach by watching what the Tech is producing with each opportunity. If you have scorecards it’s easier to spot trends where they’re consistently bringing back minimal sales because they’re cutting special deals with the customers to come back during their off hours.
  7. Watch the Conversion Ratio for your Techs which means how many calls do they  run where they get nothing more than the Minimum Service Fee.
  8. Watch the Conversion Ratio for CSRs which means how many calls come in that they turn into calls run and also see how they are dispersing those calls. Especially so if you have more than one Tech you want to see if the potential big ticket calls are always magically going to one or two Techs but these calls don’t seem to materialize into sales made. That’s a red flag!
  9. Have GPS tracking for trucks and then be disciplined enough to be spot checking where your trucks are both when they’re supposed to be on duty and when they’re not and the truck is supposed to be sitting at their home. You’d think they’d be smarter but they’re counting on your being too busy, too gutless or too lazy to check.
  10. Engage the power of the manuals that contain your policies and procedures to be always recruiting, hiring, orienting and training so there is always competition to own a place at your company and they can’t feel they’re indispensable.

It’s hard when you’ve been burned to trust again. But, you must. Just commit to trusting and verifying.

Al Levi teaches contractors how to run their businesses with less stress and more success with operating manuals. To get control of your business and grow the right way, get his Build Your Operating Manuals Online Program at 7powercontractor.com/byom today.

Also, check out Al’s latest business adventure, Zoom Franchise Company, at www.zoomdrain.com/franchise-opportunityIt’s a living example of the power of manuals and more in action.

More Ways to Become a 7-Power Contractor

The 7-Power Contractor book lays out 7 simple business powers to help you run your business with Less Stress and More Success. And now, it's available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

The Build Your Operating Manuals (BYOM) Program provides you with 90% completed manual templates plus step-by-step instructions on how to edit them, roll them out, and train with them.

The 7-Power Contractor Radio is a podcast series hosted by Al Levi in which he shares insights on how to better run your business. Listen wherever you are.

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