Productivity in Scheduling

Last week I introduced a series about productivity. I started with the principle of taking control of the conversation when the customer calls and you book the job. This week I want to address the second principle: Don’t promise something you cannot deliver.

The most common place for broken promises to occur is during the mobile run. When your leave your shop, you give up some control. All kinds of problems can cause you to be late, in the wrong place or unable to do the job when it is scheduled.

Specifically timed appointments are the biggest problem. Traffic delays, installation problems or even miscommunication between the dispatcher and the technician can all contribute to delays. There are too many variables involved to accurately and consistently predict arrival time on a mobile run.

Some companies figure that an hour or an hour and a half per job is a good rule of thumb to use to approximate arrival time. However, throw in one curve, such as a wrong part, into the mix and the entire day is behind. Worse yet, you are inconveniencing not just one customer, but every customer who is scheduled after your setback. Does that build a good customer base? No.

The best way to deal with the question, “When will the technician arrive?” is to simply not promise anything. You can say, “It is difficult to give an exact time of arrival due to uncontrolled circumstances with mobile installation; however, we will go to where the vehicle is located during the day. Where will the vehicle be and when?” If your customer’s schedule is tight, suggest bringing the vehicle to the shop where timed appointments are available. Another popular option in this age of cell phones is to have the technician call before arriving to the appointment to share his estimated arrival time.

Being a mobile technician myself, there is nothing that ruins my day more than not having the vehicle where it is supposed to be. Some techs will attempt to contact the customer and track down the vehicle. Other techs will just leave and go do the next job. Whether you take the time to track down the customer or miss the job entirely the ramifications are the same. You promised something and didn’t deliver.

I know, you are may be saying it was the customer’s fault for not being there. Do you really think it is in your best interest to blame the vehicle owner for missing the appointment? No. You promised something and did not deliver. You lose. It is up to you to instill in the customer the importance of keeping the appointment and putting in place the process by which the customer will be reminded.

Lastly, the implied promise you give all your customers is that you know what you are doing; you know the type of part you need for replacement; you know the moldings, clips and materials you need to properly install the part safely; and you will get it there in one piece. What if the part breaks before you arrive? What if you have the wrong glass part to install? What if you don’t have the moldings, clips or correct adhesive? You know these situations can occur. If this does happens, you broke the implied promise and your customer is further inconvenienced. They may say, “Oh, that’s okay,” but you know that they will call someone else the next time they’re in need of a replacement or repair.

The bottom line is that promises sound good when you say them but if they are not kept they will ruin your business.

In the words of Denis Waitley, a famous American motivational speaker, “Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep.”