Early on in my career as a district service manager visiting dealers, I made a scheduled visit to see a service manager. When I walked into the dealership, the service manager told me that he did not have time to meet—he had to go run service calls. I have seen this misuse of time, in various forms, over and over in my career.
Value Categories of Labor
In each dealership, there are different levels of talent and responsibility, and I categorize them by assigning a numerical value to each one. The numbers are not necessarily what a person at that level earns. Instead, the number represents the relative value of his or her time.
The highest value labor in each department or company is the most senior management. They need to focus their time and energy on tasks that only they can solve.
The next highest value of labor is that of service supervisors. They need to focus their time on the teams they lead. They spend their time in the field solving customer and...
Disasters can come in a variety of flavors. This year, we can think about the pandemic as a disaster and see that it affects every business differently.
The pandemic was not something most people would have planned for, and most disaster plans probably didn't specifically address it. However, the process of creating a disaster plan would have benefited those businesses with them.
Following is a story of an unexpected event and the impact of not having a disaster plan in place. Again this was not something this company expected, and its effects on their customers show it.
My internet, which is the lifeblood of my business, is provided through a cellular reseller. I had loved their service until this incident hit.
On December 31, 2020, ATT had a server fail. This particular server was the device that handled renewing the monthly service for many ATT resellers. The result was thousands of customers like myself lost internet for an extended...
Many dealers still do not automatically protect the power of the devices they sell and of all the poor decisions that dealers make, this may be the worst. There seems to be a variety of excuses. The client does not want it. The salesperson does not want it included in the deal. It is too expensive. You do not really need it the power is ok.
But all of those are lame excuses. Build it into the deal just as you would build in the cost of setup and delivery. And don’t show it as a separate item on the invoice: that way neither the salesperson nor the customer can try to negotiate it out of the deal.
When I owned my dealership, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the ways that power protection saves equipment and therefore money. One of my clients had an electrical event that caused catastrophic failure to devices in one area of the building. Devices that were not even powered on were destroyed, including calculators, monitors, and PCs.
In that same area, I...
I am sure that you have heard the adage; Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail. Yet too many businesses don't have practical working business plans. Most have a fanciful fairy tale they use for the bank, filled with rosy projections.
The plans businesses need will guide their response to the ever-changing business environment. These are real plans with actions to take for the entire company. These plans will serve as a real roadmap to the success you want to achieve for your company.
There are seven subjects we will discuss in this series. This article gives a brief description of each, and we will take a deep dive into each in later chapters.
The disaster plan is the one you hope you never need, but I am placing it first on the list because your company's survival will probably be at risk if you need it. Failure to have a good plan, when something happens, can...
It is important to provide regular customer service training to your technicians. They are the face of your company. In most cases, your customers will see your technicians regularly and respect their opinions. If a positive relationship is maintained and the conversations properly filtered, the results will help your company grow.
Recently, I was helping a client with a major install and he related a conversation he’d had with the previous vendor. It was an example of a conversation that shouldn’t have happened. It was so bad, in fact, that it might have cost the previous vendor the account.
It seems that the technician for the previous vendor was constantly highlighting internal problems. For instance, he told the client that his company could not get the machine fixed because he had no assistance in troubleshooting the issue. He also stated that he could not order the parts that he needed because they were too expensive.
This client’s experience...
Once upon a time, there was a young woodcutter, and he was sure he could cut more wood than any other woodcutter. He came into a logging camp and asked, "who is the best woodcutter here?" Everyone agreed that a particular older gentleman was the best.
The young woodcutter said, "I can cut more wood than he can; I want his job." The foreman said, "Sure if, you can cut more than he does, you deserve the job."
So the older gentleman agreed to the challenge, and they decided they would each go into the forest and cut down trees, and when the day ended, everyone could see who cut the most.
They both went out into the woods, and you could hear the saws cutting. But pretty soon, the older woodcutter stopped for a while, and when the younger one noticed that, he thought, "I have this won. I don't need a break." That pattern repeated several times during the day, and by the end of the day, the younger woodcutter was sure he won.
Yet, when they measured the...
As a business owner or as a manager, you should want to create not just good service but amazing customer service. Yet, most businesses provide mediocre service. Why?
To create the kind of customer service that turns customers into raving fans requires focus and effort. It is worth the expenditure of both.
I encourage you to ask the hard questions. Ask questions that generate answers that are difficult to hear. It is these questions and these answers that can transform your company.
You see businesses that talk about their unbelievable customer satisfaction scores. Those scores could be the result of asking easy questions. But those scores don't help the company improve.
I will share the two questions to ask if you want to improve. But understand, if you ask these questions, you may not like the answers.
The first question is one that you ask customers that no longer do business...
In our last two articles, we discussed the value of a technician and steps you can take to improve the success of your new hires. For this discussion, we are going to assume that you have a new hire coming into your department today. What are you going to have him do? What is the plan to get him up and functional as a technician as quickly as possible?
Too many times, a new technician is brought back to the service manager’s office and they visit it for a while. Then because the service manager does not have a specific plan, and there are three people lined up to see the service manager, he calls a technician in and has that technician take the new employee with him for the day.
This pattern may continue until the new technician goes to school. The result is a waste of the new technician’s time, the service manager’s time, and a less than optimum outcome.
The first step in solving the issue is to develop a new hire...
When someone gets promoted to a supervisory or managerial role, they might think they automatically become a leader. Nothing could be further from the truth. They may have become the boss, but that doesn't make them a leader, and acting like a boss can damage team morale.
Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal. We will consider three separate points in that statement.
First, leadership is a process of social influence. Leadership does not relate to a title or position. A leader can be anyone that can influence others.
Second, a leader maximizes the efforts of others. Because they have influence, other individuals are willing to be led by them, and they listen to them.
Third, a leader is heading toward some goal. People won't follow someone who is wandering around and not going to a specific place or goal.
If we're meeting for the first time, my name is Ken Edmonds. And on this blog, I share information to help managers get better at managing people, growing their profit, and achieving success in every area in their department.
In my experience working in the copier business, something I saw happens way too often was an owner would walk up to his best technician and tell him, “Congratulations! You're our new manager!” Then they turn around and walk away. And that was the end of their training.
Here is one experience where that happened. A technician who was probably one of the better technicians I met in my career was very good at fixing equipment. So the company wanted him to step up and be a supervisor and promoted him to the position of supervisor, but they didn't give him any training.
It was interesting because I got to see him struggle and try to succeed in leading his team. But he failed at that. The result was he quit working for the dealer and went to work...