Why (and how) you should support your ‘front line technicians’

Every year each of my employees had to change roles with a someone in a different department. For example, each office worker had to spend a day as a tech out on the truck! And every tech got to ‘enjoy’ a day working in the office! (They HATED it!) Here’s why I put my staff through this ‘role changing’ exercise…

Because I wanted my techs and office workers to Feel The Pain of the ‘other side’! This was a ‘peacemaking effort’ to build a truce in the ongoing Cold War between my techs and my office staff. And it definitely helped! Yet when you have to make a choice between your office and your techs I strongly suggest you…

Support your front-line workers!

Jan Carlson, the former CEO of Scandinavian Airlines and the spiritual father our SFS Value Added Service concepts was famous for saying, “If you’re not on the front line face-to-face serving our customers… you better be serving someone who is!” Think about it…

In an organization chart of a traditional cleaning or restoration company you have management at the top, then the office workers and finally down at the very bottom- the lowly techs! And yet WHO is most responsible for creating a Cheerleader out of each customer- this very same tech! And the life of a ‘front line tech’ is not an easy one…

Think about it. Your technicians fight traffic and balky equipment while working in bad weather plus they deal with ‘discriminating’ (OK, difficult!) and often suspicious customers which brought constant pressure! (And my techs were usually running behind while performing physically demanding work!) I’m stressing out as I type this!

And yet too often my office staff did not ‘Feel The Pain’ (FTP) of these under-appreciated front line employees! Instead, I constantly struggled with my clerical workers trying to shift office work onto the backs of my technicians! And if you’re running a mult-truck company this is probably happening in your business too! So here was my rule…

My office was tasked to do everything possible re: helping my techs with paperwork and the logistic details of their day.

In other words, the job of my office was to ‘support’ my workers (techs) out there on the front lines! My managers job? Support BOTH the office staff AND our front-line! And my mission? ‘Keeping the peace’ between ALL parties involved!

Here are some examples of work I assigned my office staff instead of allowing them to dump it on my front line techs. (And the 10 tasks below are probably why in a 1.4 million per year company we kept 3.5 people in our office very busy!)

  1. Immediately after booking the job emailing out a ‘How to Get Ready for Your Big Carpet Cleaning Day’ checklist.
  2. ‘Pre-introducing’ the tech with an emailed Employee Profile. This was a huge help for my techs since it helped ‘break the ice’ before they rang the customer’s bell.
  3. Calling ahead to let the customer know our crew’s arrival time. This let my tech focus on driving.
  4. Filling out Production Day Sheets (PDS). When my techs walked in their entire day was laid out and with all information clearly written down.
  5. A fully stocked Job Folder for each stop. Every job had it’s own folder with all needed paperwork inside. Then all Job Folders were clipped to the PDS.
  6. Easier van restocking. Having a rolling cart loaded with common chemicals is faster and less tiring.
  7. Better chemical inventory and re-ordering procedures. It is super demoralizing (and inefficient) if chemicals are out of stock.
  8. An easy to fill out Equipment Repair Sheet. Yep, the office can’t know everything. But once our tech let management know about the problem (in writing) we took care of it from there!
  9. A part time ‘Maintenance Tech’ to do nightly routine restocking. It was a huge morale boost for an exhausted tech to drive in, finish their (simple) paperwork and… go home.  (OK, so maybe they went to the bar instead but that wasn’t on me!)
  10. And finally our office always made an ‘Immediate Quality Check Call’ to our residential customers. All our tech had to do was call (no paperwork!) when leaving the premises and give our office staff a ‘heads-up’ on any potential issues. they took it from there!

The result? My techs could focus on A) building a relationship with each customer while also B) ‘gitting ‘er done’ out there in the field! Meanwhile my office employees could efficiently support my front line techs! (While comfortably sitting in a quiet, climate controlled office!)

Come be a part of our Strategies for Success: Growing Your Business Facebook Group and share your office/tech ‘peacemaking procedures’! (You don’t have to be a SFS graduate to join our thousands of cleaning and restoration contractors.)


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