By Mike Gambino
My Company Gambino landscape Lighting in Los Angeles California recently experienced a system callback of epic proportion for a problem created by an $8 tube of faulty silicone sealant. In this case the failure was beyond our control and there was no way to avoid this and no one person was to blame but it got me thinking. Callbacks are costly. Each time we go to a client’s home it can cost as much as $250 or more. Field service techs want the right service vehicle, tools, parts and a minimum of distractions. Service companies want constant contact, on-the-fly updates, and solid record-keeping. The company wants to get the job done with one visit. And of course, the client wants the work done correctly and in a timely fashion for the lowest possible cost. Sometimes, these goals all work together. But sometimes they don’t. What can we do to improve this situation?”
The Advantage Today’s Techs Enjoy
With all the advanced diagnostic training and tools in the landscape lighting and electrical service industry, we all know that our techs have the knowledge to do the job right the first time. Also most dispatchers know who the right guy to send to get this work done. So the question is, Why do callbacks still haunt the landscape lighting and electrical service professional?
Here is the answer that nobody considers… The client influences you to fail
Get the job done Cheaply
That’s right, the client by the very nature of communicating to the tech that they only want the one problem fixed because of a limited budget has essentially told the tech to get this done as cheap as possible. So the “good” tech tries to show his empathy to this challenge by doing the work as cheaply as possible which also means to cut corners and do it hastily. Thus, the callback is generated and the unhappy customer blames you and your tech to get the second or third call for free. Congratulations, you have been set up by the “sophisticated” client. Now you have opened yourself up to fixing other pre-existing problems when you are called back because your competency is now in question. After all you were called out to fix a problem, paid to fix said problem and it was not properly fixed on the first trip. So who is to blame? The tech who could not spend the proper time to properly diagnose and repair the problem or the client who influences the outcome by making it clear they want this one symptom of a problem repaired and they want it done fast and cheap when that may have only been a part of a larger problem which had gone undiagnosed due to extenuating circumstances. Thus setting up the callback.
Quality Has Its Price
Now we know there are also techs that get NO callbacks. These are the strong willed techs who although are great with people, REFUSE to do the job superficially regardless of the pricing issues. These techs will diagnose the whole SYSTEM and not just the immediate problem. Unfortunately, this tech who is determined to fix the whole system will then get turned down more often by the dysfunctional customer who can’t believe the cost to correct the age, neglect, design and installation issues as well as the problem.
Options, Not Ultimatums
So what is the solution? The answer is in providing options and prices to every customer to give them a choice for doing the job the best, most all-inclusive way, the mid-range way and also the basic single fix only way. Let them make their choice of how they want this fixed either permanently or just for time being. The customer then assumes responsibility for their choice with the full understanding of the repercussions of that choice.
The best way is RENOVATE the whole system not just the problem. Naturally this way cost more but also includes more warranty and service. The mid-range way is to renovate just the part of the system that is in question. Basically a partial renovation of the part of the system in question. This of course will have less warranty. The basic way addresses only the immediate issue and nothing else. (the way that is most likely to generate a callback) This way you can give very little or no warranty.
If we give options and not ultimatums we shift the responsibility for “callbacks” where it belongs, to client and not us or our techs. I have implemented this in thousands of service calls and the results has taken callback rates from a starting point of 20% to 30% down to 2% to 3%.
This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 27 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to www.Gambinolighting.com . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .
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