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A Service Story

May 16, 2024

Dollar-Wise Dispatching

May 1, 2013
A good dispatcher following smart dispatching procedures will boost your bottom line 20% this summer over a poor dispatcher following sub-optimal practices.

A good dispatcher following smart dispatching procedures will boost your bottom line 20% this summer over a poor dispatcher following sub-optimal practices. 

Prioritize the Calls

The first step is to decide what calls get priority.  At the top of the list should be the jobs with the greatest revenue opportunity, like a no-cool call for a 15 year old system.

Since service agreement customers represent a better revenue opportunity than new customers, the service agreement customers should get priority service in apples to apples situations.  If both have 15 year old systems that aren’t cooling, dispatch the service agreement customer first.  If the new customer has the old system and the service agreement customer has a three year old system, covered by a manufacturer’s parts and labor warranty, the new customer should get precedence.  

The exception is situations where it might be hazardous for a homeowner to wait.  If the temperature is in the triple digits and the call comes from an 80-year-old shut-in customer, try to find out if a caretaker can get the customer to a cool location.  If not, put this customer first, even if it adversely impacts revenue.

Optimize the Opportunity

If your most skilled tech is ‘Mr. Fix It’, who never saw a system he couldn’t repair and considers offering a replacement option to be borderline unethical, don’t send him to the 15-year-old system.  Give him the warranty calls.  

Send the tech who excels at setting leads or selling replacements to the 15-year-old system.  Send the best tech to the best revenue opportunity.

Be Efficient, But Not at the Expense of Maximizing Revenue

While it makes sense to dispatch the closest technician, it makes more sense to dispatch the best technician for the opportunity, even if it results in an extra half-hour of windshield time.  If the money you save by focusing on efficiency first is less than the gross profit potential of sending a tech better suited to the opportunity, don’t worry about the loss of efficiency.

Dispatch One Call at a Time

First, dispatching one call at a time maximizes your flexibility.  More important, it discourages technicians from hustling through calls and overlooking opportunities for additional repairs, talking with customers about system enhancements, and so on.

Keep Customers Apprised

No one wants to wait for service.  Leave people in a black hole of information and they will be tempted to call another company.  Prevent this by keeping them informed.  Explain what’s hold up your technician and how it will be resolved.  Most people are more reasonable than we give them credit.

Handle Leads as Though They are Stacks of Money

If a technician creates an opportunity for a replacement sale, try to get a sales consultant to the home immediately, while the tech is still there.  If not, set the appointment as soon as possible.  Consider offering temporary cooling by loaning customers window units, portable air conditioners, or older, functioning condensing units that you replaced previously.

Conduct a Thorough Debrief After Every Call

No matter how busy things get, take the time to find out that the work is complete, how much was collected, the form of payment, whether a service agreement was purchased (or whether one was left for the homeowner to mail in, if not), age, condition, model, and serial numbers of the equipment, whether stickers were applied, door hangers hung, and a disposable yard sign left.  

Pay According to the Job’s Importance

Your dispatcher is the point guard on your team.  Don’t be cheap.  Pay well for above average talent and the bottom line will benefit accordingly.

Support Your Dispatcher

This is a high stress job with the summer being the most stressful time.  Make sure the dispatcher takes breaks.  Back up the dispatcher’s decisions, even if you disagree with some of them (you can talk about those later, in private).  Use humor to diffuse the stress.  It’s okay to have a little fun at work.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable, HVAC’s largest contractor alliance.  Call a Service Roundtable Success Consultant today at  877.262.3341.  Mention “Contracting Business Magazine” to try the Service Roundtable through the month of May for $10.