“We’re a 24/7/365 business because we made a promise to our customers to treat them like family, and that means we’re there when they need us,” my dad said to my brothers and me as young boys.
We ran calls with my dad as little boys in the middle of the night. We loved it!! My dad not so much as he had finally gotten to bed after an exhausting day of work.
As we grew up and took our place working in our family’s plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical business, that message was always at the forefront of our culture.
One illustration… my brothers and I were at my dad’s 70th birthday party. The Tech on one of the late shifts reached out to me that he was stuck and couldn’t get the heat working at one of the nursing homes we served. Keep in mind that heat isn’t a nice idea but a life critical thing, especially in this case. So, my brother and I told my dad we were headed out to go help and he just smiled.
It’s a cultural thing.
And even though our shop was a NYC Union shop, all the staff knew what our promise was when it came to providing service when needed, and they too were committed to making our promise a reality.
This meant rotating shifts and not just on call. All took a turn. We were truly a 24/7/365 shop. To be fair, we had grown to 25 techs and so we had shifts of:
- 7 AM to 4 PM
- 8 AM to 5 PM
- 10 AM to 7 PM
- 2 PM to 11 PM
- And in the dead of winter 5 PM to 2 AM
Know that Techs on this rotating shifts didn’t just take off when it was super busy because their shift had technically ended and not because they wanted the overtime. They believed in the good they were doing.
Yes, offering emergency service meant that sometimes I had to climb out of my bed at 2 AM to run calls!
That’s why this recent trend of contractors NOT offering service after 5 PM, weekends, holidays or even emergency service has gotten my attention.
So, why the trend?
Well, I believe it’s either to try to keep the Techs at their company who now feel they’re in control and/or they don’t have any Techs coming up the pipeline to staff the existing demand, let alone their growing demand, for the company’s services.
IMO… either scenario is because they’ve not committed to building Techs from scratch. There is no pipeline, which means they have to lure Techs away from competitors with big pay and ending their Techs needing to take and handle after hour calls pretty much anytime for any reason.
I get it.
Decades ago we too looked to pirate away Techs from our competitors. We felt it was just easier to do and, hey, we always had more work than we could do in a given day. That is until we finally decided that this approach wrecked our culture, our pay scale and made us feel like we were hostages. It’s what caused us to finally commit to building the operating manuals, the hands-on training center and the training curriculum for all the trades we did.
We had full blown never ending Apprentice to Junior Tech classes, Junior Tech to Senior Tech classes and finally Senior Tech to Field Supervisor training. Was it a lot of work? YES! Was it worth it? YES!
Many of my clients (if not most) are today still providing after hour service and emergency service in this environment while still having big growth because they have committed to building willing people with no skills into willing Techs with great skills.
They have done what I did at my company and that is the vast majority of their existing Techs are homegrown talent. They grew up under this system and learned from other people they reported to as to why providing after hour and emergency service is the right thing to do. No one ever forgets that what they do is so important.
I’ll share what I taught my clients’ Techs when I did Sales Power: “Would you be okay if I didn’t respond to your mom when she called after hours and there was water cascading from a pipe or a fixture on the 3rd floor? Would you be okay if there were sparks flying all over? Would you be okay if there was no heat on a frigid night? Or would you be okay if there was no air conditioning in the extreme heat?”
Those who have already cut out after hours service and emergency service (or those who are contemplating doing so) may not see profits decrease. They might even make money and the Techs will be happier.
Hey, who wouldn’t be happier without the hassle of after hours and emergency service?
The bigger question is, will your customers be very happy with this? As the marketplace tends to catch on to what you’re doing and not doing, are you willing to risk customer’s anger and disappointment, which of course these days spreads like wildfire online and in social media. Remember, no actions remain secret for long!
My belief is, at least my hope is, as things return to what used to be more normal, we will be back to after hour and emergency service. For those companies who are committed to this path, I believe you will be the company of choice.