In this episode, I talk about how to start working toward the goal of getting out of the field – working more ON your business instead of working IN your business.
Here are the basic steps:
Understand your Expenses in fine Detail – Fixed, Variable, and Operating.
Understand your Revenue in fine Detail – From Products and Services.
Document both of these so that you know in advance exactly how much expense, revenue, and profit you will have on each job BEFORE you take it.
Once you understand your financials in fine detail, the next thing up is your company procedures. Procedures give your employees a specific way to do everything in your business so that every client gets the experience you want them to have.
Document every aspect of the operations of your business in procedures.
Educate your people on your procedures. If they ask you questions that are answered in a procedure, kindly point them to the procedure.
Improve the procedures regularly and involve your staff in their improvement.
The procedures will allow the business to run in “auto-pilot”
At this point, you know and are confident in your numbers, your business is on “auto-pilot” – once you’re financially comfortable with it, look to hire a replacement for yourself.
Your job now is to work ON the business.
One word of caution: You’re in charge as you do this but it’s important to involve your other employees. Listen to what they have to say. The changes are your call and your new way of doing things may not be compatible with some of your employees. If you meet conflict, take a deep breath, chat with someone if you need to, and make the best decision for YOUR business. Some people may not be able to deal with the new way and that’s okay – you’re allowed to let them go.
In the episode, I also mention the Slack Group. You can click here to join that if you’d like. The link is also up at the top. I hang out on Slack a good bit – if you have questions or suggestions or resources for me or the community, feel free to drop me a line.
In this episode, I talk about tool expenses and decisions like whether you should buy a Zoomlock kit . I talk about the differences between being an employee, a lone wolf, and an entrepreneur when it comes to lifestyle, expenses, and income. Strategically, you need to decide which one of these categories you belong in so you can be clear on the decisions you make toward achieving your career or business goals.
Employee – this is the easy choice and where almost everyone starts. Go to work for someone else and give it all you’ve got. As an employee, you’ll learn the trade from others, learn how the business works and how other companies run their business, and make connections in the trade. If you decide you’d like to work for yourself or grow a business, this will be great experience.
Lone Wolf – Lone wolves are self-employed – they work alone primarily and have no desire to grow a business. I don’t consider them entrepreneurs because they’re not concerned about growing beyond their own capacity. Typically, word of mouth marketing can satisfy the work needs of a lone wolf though they’d be well served by using some marketing and sales strategy to maximize their income.
Entrepreneur – building a business and working every day to get yourself out of the field. Entrepreneurs have clear business objectives and they’re taking active steps to achieve them. When they’re ready to retire from their businesses, succesful entrepreneurs will be able to continue to run their businesses with minimal involvement or sell them for profit.
After the strategy talk, I share a brief overview of my own story – what types of jobs I had from high school until now and my education and career progression. I forgot to talk about why I chose the HVAC industry but if you remind me, I’ll discuss that in a future episode.
I also shared 2 tactics for the HVAC industry – one for employees and one for lone wolves and entrepreneurs. Check out the episode for those.
If you’re new to the site, you might also want to check out the previous episode about using an HVAC answering service. I had the pleasure of interviewing Sam Carpenter, the CEO of Centratel, the highest quality answering service in the US.
These links don’t make much sense on their own but I touch on each of them in the podcast so they’re here for reference.
What happens when you don’t answer the phone? It’s pretty simple – you lose business. When customers really need to talk to you, a human better answer when they call. Want to answer your phone 24/7? What about when you’re already on the phone? If you don’t have one, you seriously need to look into using an HVAC answering service.
Benefits of an Answering Service
Everything gets captured, nothing gets LOST which means more business.
Screening – wrong numbers, telemarketing, out of service area calls never bother you.
Procedures are handled exactly the same by each representative.
Messages get relayed to you based on their priority and importance which YOU decide.
Customers can contact you any time for appointment cancelations, saving you time and money.
After hours, non emergency calls can be logged and you can call them back during business hours.
Emergency calls can be passed through to you.
Complex sets of rules can be used about who to contact and in what circumstances.
Call routing based on where the client is located if you have different techs covering different regions.
Call routing based on the type of call – sales vs. service, for example.
How does it Work?
A specialist works with you to figure out your script when they answer your phone. The specialist makes recommendations based on what works with other HVAC clients. You decide how you want the phone answered and how they process all your calls.
If the message is something simple and not urgent, they can save it and send it to you during business hours. If the caller says it’s an emergency, they can patch that call through to you as well as follow a protocol for who to contact in that situation. They can also be sure the caller is aware of any emergency call-out fees you charge before they bother you.
Messages are usually delivered back to you via text message. They can also be sent in other ways.
How does Centratel Compare?
They have 300+ HVAC accounts.
Customer reported error rate (wrong number or wrong name, etc.) is 1 in 15,000 calls, very high quality.
All calls are answered in Bend, Oregon by accent neutral representatives. There are NO off-shored calls.
They don’t sound like robots, they’re real people and act like it but they’re all trained to handle calls exactly the same for each client so you get the same experience and quality no matter which representative is answering your calls. Reps are also evaluated every month on a random set of calls for the potential to get up to a 35% bonus of their previous month’s pay.
Costs for service start at about $59 for 30-40 messages and average around $250/month for about 300 messages. 300 messages per month is about 10 per day. The cost is based on operator time and number of messages. To figure out exactly what it would cost you, take advantage of a no-cost trial of the service for a month to see what your expenses would be if you decided to continue with them.
An HVAC answering service ensures you don’t lose business by dropping calls. The reps gather information quickly and super efficiently. Take care of the clients you’ve got. Capture new business. Use an HVAC answering service!