Ask the Experts | Growth During the Summer Busy Season

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Question: How do I get my techs to up-sell when they are really busy?

Weldon Long; New York Times Best Selling Author:

When our technicians are busy, they’re going to run in, fix the problem, and probably bolt because they have three more calls lined up. You can definitely lose revenue when this happens. This might be a great clue that it’s time to grow your business. I understand you can’t staff for summer then lay people off in the fall, but think about it this way.

Let’s say for example, you have 50 service calls. If you run those 50 service calls and you’re understaffed, let’s just say your average ticket is $500. But if you were fully staffed and your people had the time to do their job properly, you might generate $750 or $1000 on each call. So, your revenue could be significantly higher if you were properly staffed. That’s revenue that you can put back into your business, grow your marketing, and keep those new technicians you hired busy during the shoulder season.

The basis of this question is, “How do I manage all this stuff without suffering any of the consequences without growing?” Well, you’ll have to deal with the consequences of having your technicians driving lower average tickets and giving a substandard performance. If you want to avoid that, and you’re not willing to grow, you’re going to have your hands full.

The reality is, if you’re that busy, it should be a clue that you need to grow. Drive the extra revenue in the busy seasons, segregate that additional revenue, use that to drive marketing in the slower seasons. Say you hire three new employees this summer. If you do your job and manage your revenue, maybe you only have to let one of them go in the fall and you can keep two. The next year you hire three and keep two of those. That’s how you grow your company.

There should be no prejudice against growing the company. If the question is, “How do I keep my company the same size and not suffer all these consequences during the summer?” there probably isn’t a way to do that. Unless you have managers that can fill in the gaps. If you have service managers or warehouse guys that have some mechanical skills that can do some minor service, you can send them out in the field in the summer time without having to grow. In the fall, those people return to their normal positions.

You just have to decide what your objective is – what’s the big picture? Are you thinking, “Man, I really want to grow this company?” Well, there’s your sign. In that case, these are all good problems to have. You have to take the money when you’re busy to reinvest in the company. You don’t have the extra money when you’re slow, so if you’re ever going to grow your company, you have to grow when you’re busy. That additional revenue fuels and funds the growth.

You have to take that money and put it in retained earnings. It’s either going towards equity in your company or it’s going to your fall marketing strategy, which you should be planning now. You should have your whole fall marketing plan at least one business quarter earlier. You should know what you’re doing September 1, now. If you’re looking at September 1 and you say you want to do A, B, C, and D, you have to think of how much that’s going to cost you. When you do that, you’ll know how much you need to set aside during the summer time.

I did just that this weekend for my company. I went through and looked at the cashflow projections – here’s where I want to be, here’s how much it costs, here’s how much cash is necessary to do that. That’s called managing a business! There’s an entire course that EGIA has on financial planning as part of the Ten Core Curriculum.

This is all about managing a business. You should stop looking for a short-term solution and start thinking about these issues as a long-term opportunity. This is when you get your chance to grow! To me, that’s what it’s all about – it’s what we’re all dreaming about!

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