We’re going to talk about a painful topic,” Callbacks”. I bet I just made the hair stand up on the back of your neck. After being a contractor for 23-plus years and speaking to contractors daily, one of the most proverbial pain points in owning a contracting business is callbacks. Callbacks can be highly frustrating, a waste of valuable time, increase technician turnover, very expensive for the company, and in some cases, the loss of a customer. Throughout this article, will talk about dissecting the cause, and I will give you four steps you can implement to reduce them.
If we break callbacks into four categories; human error, manufacturer defects, lack of training, and inadequate operations it will be much easier to identify a rationale to track them. We are all human and prone to make some mistakes and even the best manufacturers have some defective products that find their way to the wholesaler’s shelf. Training is one of the best areas to maximize your efforts as it improves technician confidence which customers will immediately notice when speaking to them. A company-wide training culture also creates validation that a tech fully understands the product “before” being asked to service or install products. Operations afford owners and managers to be transparent with their techs when an event occurs and how to prevent them from moving forward. Using technology can help mitigate callbacks by bringing consistent operations to the top of mind, customer communication, and customer specifics, when techs are in the field.
Unless the mistake is repetitive, or constantly not following company operations, human error is a hard one to have a resolution for. Good coaching, knowing and interacting with your techs, and being transparent with technicians are some of the best procedures to help with human error. Look at the data and see if there is a pattern. Perhaps something is happening with that senior tech outside of work that is causing the errors at work. Tracking the errors by the technician and job type is a best practice to reduce them.
Contractors attempting to get paid for a manufacturer defect is challenging. We all know most times if a product fails under the warranty period, it will replace the part but not pay for any of the labor. Even on a DOA (dead on arrival) issue, this policy stays true however, there are exceptions. The key takeaway for handling defective products is to track them. Tracking them gives you the availability to see trends and make adjustments to the product or manufacture. It’s also worth noting to differentiate between the product and the tech doing the work. Specifically, make sure it is the product and not an install or service procedure the tech is not doing correctly. Once you track how many manufacturing defects you see in the course of the year, then calculate and it should become a line item in your pricing structure as a cost of doing business. Yes, this is a normal expense item that is a cost to run a business. Large corporations operate this way as they know there will be mistakes and contracting is no different.
Constantly monitoring and adjusting your operations can play a role in reducing callbacks. There are numerous CRM’s that help automate tracking the data to make adjustments. Data like trends in a job type, what products were used, which tech did the work, and the amount of time the tech was on the call. Automation also helps to mitigate confusion between the customer, dispatcher, and the original call. Defining and adjusting operations that affect callback mitigation is key to reducing them company-wide. Be completely transparent with company procedures between the technicians and their manager as to what happens when there is a callback.
Teachable and trainable moments on an individual and company-wide basis can be produced through callbacks. Decide if there is one tech or several techs on a given call type having callbacks. If it’s several techs on the same callback, bring them together and reinforce the training on the hows and whys and just as importantly track the outputs of the training efforts. Make the adjustments from the group to individualized training accordingly if the callbacks persist with one technician. If the callback is from an individual and it’s identified as a training issue, assign or implement the training and as an interim, use your CRM to prevent that tech from doing the call type until it is confirmed the tech thoroughly understands the original mistakes made. Providing, implementing, and tracking training for your tech is one guaranteed way to mitigate technical and operational mistakes that lead to callbacks. In the fast-paced business environment, numerous contractors don’t value training or implementation of activity at the level it should be. There are other, less expensive options available to contractors to use a training tool instead of traditional brick-and-mortar training models. Digital and virtual reality software is available at one-third the price per technician. This training can be done asynchronously and not affect workflows and scheduling. All of the metrics are available to track the progress of a technician’s performance against the training activity assigned to a technician and help with callback mitigation.
There you have it! Implement and or refine these four tactics in your business and you will start to reduce some of your callbacks. It should be noted that one of the impacts of a callback not mentioned in this writing is the financial impact and opportunity costs of a callback on the company’s bottom line. Look for a breakdown and explanation of that in future articles. Happy Contracting!
Guest Blogger: Ken Midgett, has been in the plumbing and heating industry for over four decades. He has worked in every facet of the plumbing and heating industry. He has owned two successful PHCC businesses, is a licensed Master Plumber, a two-time national award-winning educator for plumbing and heating CTE classrooms, with a 100 percent placement into the industry for all eligible seniors from his program. Ken was noted throughout the CTE industry for the inclusion of non-traditional workers in his classroom, including young women. He has placed several of those young women in the workforce. Ken is passionate about the skilled trades and he continues to stay active in PHCCNA and PHCCPA. Ken is the current president of his local PHCCLV association. This role has allowed him to continue mentoring and coaching young apprentices in the field. He is currently employed at Interplay Learning as the Plumbing Market Director. You can follow Ken at www.linkedin.com/in/kenmidgett.