Recently, I came across some research that could be a useful tool. In August 2016, Security Sales & Integration (SSI) published its annual Operations and Opportunities Report, which reveals key trends in the security dealer and integrator market.
To many contractors, it seems easier to justify buying new tools and equipment than it does to invest in items with more intangible benefits, such as printed resources and training seminars. But, both investments will have a positive effect on a contractor’s bottom line.
The SSI research report clearly applies to all contractors involved in systems installations. Under the report’s “Increasing Profits” category, two of the most effective ways contractors could increase their profits include “reduce expenses associated with callbacks” (i.e., do the job right the first time) and “sell more to the existing client base.”
Training is an important topic in almost every issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, and you can see why. Ensuring your technicians receive the proper training and that you empower them to make decisions on the job are two of the most effective ways to reduce callbacks. Technical training and some basic business training will inevitably create better technicians. The most common excuses for neglecting technician training include an insistence that it’s too costly and that the workload has become too great to spare the time.
If you keep doing what you’re doing, you will keep getting what you’re getting. How will you reduce callbacks if your technicians don’t perform more efficiently and correctly?
If a contractor could purchase a new tool or type of equipment that had a quick return on investment and would add to its bottom line, it wouldn’t hesitate to make that purchase. Training and empowering employees to make decisions is one of those tools because it will reduce callbacks.
The training does not have to be expensive, nor does it have to take up days of a technician’s time. Most contractors already have a person that performs as the best technician in the force. That person is sent on all of the “important projects” to ensure the work will turn out correctly the first time, because the relationship to that particular customer is crucial. That technician is probably sent on callbacks as well, because he or she knows how to fix other technician’s mistakes. Here lies a significant training opportunity called “mentoring.”
When a callback occurs, the technician who originally did the job incorrectly should be teamed up with the mentoring technician. This approach will ensure the person who needs the training will see what he or she did wrong and learn from the mentoring technician how to do it correctly. This will tend to reduce the callbacks in the future.
Such one-on-one activity may prove easier to implement than requiring all technicians to take additional training without the hands-on benefit of this mentoring plan. In addition, it might be a good idea to implement some form of online training as well.
In past columns, I have shared a number of strategies on how to increase profits by selling more to the existing client base. Of course, some strategies bear repeating.
Selling more to existing customers often proves much less expensive than bidding work to potential customers. Here, again, the mentoring idea may have merit.
When a talented senior technician is used for callbacks or for a training moment, he or she can also speak to the customer about any other needs they may have. Assuming this contractor sold the customer the fire alarm system, the senior technician may see that the customer also needs a communications system, security system, access control system, or video surveillance system. The more times a contractor can “touch” the customer with its services, the better the chance it has to generate increased sales.
While the mentor technician works on-site with the customer, he or she will have the opportunity to offer these services and offer the important services of inspection, testing and maintenance contracts—not only for the fire alarm system that was installed but possibly other systems that the contractor did not originally install.
I believe profits will increase by using the simple suggestions outlined above. What contractor can’t use more profits to fuel their business?