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To be successful, the Crew Leader must be constantly aware of the three things on a daily basis: (1) the customer, (2) the job, and (3) the employees.  During last Friday’s teleconference, Field Management expert, Conal Mulreany, discussed bad habits that may take a Crew Leader off course and how to right the ship.

Part one of this three-part blog will focus on the first bucket – the customer. Included are 10 common mistakes Crew Leaders can make when dealing with customers.  These mistakes occur across all industries; it makes no difference if your customer is a General Contractor, Project Manager, Property Manager, or homeowner.

Mistake No. 1:

Not introducing the crew to the customer and getting on a first-name basis.  Part of being an effective Crew Leader is getting the customer “in the palm of your hand.” That means developing a solid relationship. It is the Crew Leader’s responsibility to get the customer on the company’s side, to address customer’s concerns, and to eliminate the customer’s concerns as soon as possible.  Shake the customer’s hand, look them in the eye, and ask them if they prefer being called Claire or Mrs. Smith.  Remember – the sweetest sound to a customer is the sound of their name.  Develop a relationship with them – do not let them refer to you or your crew as “They or Them!”

Mistake No. 2:

Not showing up to a job on time.  We all know that things happen in life; traffic, car problems, sick children, etc.  If you’re Crew Leader is running more than 5 minutes late, he or she must call the customer to let them know they will be late.  Not doing so sends the wrong message. It says “My time is important, yours isn’t.”  Customers have commitments as well – and ignoring this can cause a job to go downhill real fast!

Mistake No. 3:

Not maintaining a neat, clean appearance (and its brother – job cleanliness).  Respect the customer’s castle! The Crew Leader only gets one chance at a great first impression.  Keep an extra clean shirt in the truck.  Have breath mints or gum on hand.  One quick way to get on the customer’s bad side is to knock ‘em over with cigarette breath!

Mistake No. 4:

Not setting expectations.  Customers have their idea of how the project should go, but reality can be very different.  Did the customer purchase a Chevy, only to turn around and expect a Cadillac?  Setting expectations will help to bring the customers back to reality and prevent them from taking control of a project.

Mistake No. 5:

Not performing +1 service.  What separates you from the competition?  If all you’re doing is painting, paving, cutting grass, or building – your business won’t grow.  Crew Leaders and the rest of the crew are responsible for providing an exceptional experience to the customer.  What does this mean?  It means the crew should go above and beyond; help the customers with groceries, bring in that newspaper, move that shopping cart on the driveway, etc.

Mistake No. 6:

Not asking for additional work to be paid for.  Developing relationships with customers should help us, not hurt us.  Doing “Plus 1’s” can help. But, Crew Leaders have to be careful not to let their kindness turn into a weakness.  Doing a little extra for the customer is expected, but giving away the farm is dangerous for business.  Have AWO’s on hand.  Use word tracks such as “That shouldn’t cost much” to help out with pushy customers.  If a Crew Leader can sell AWO’s effectively, developing a relationship will be a friend, not an enemy.

Mistake No. 7:

Not giving regular updates to the customer.  The customer needs to be made felt part of the project.  Let them know you are leaving at the end of the day.  If they’re not there, leave them a note!  Make sure they know when rooms are not complete – especially over a weekend. It will prevent them from nitpicking your work – and arriving in an angry customer on Monday.

Mistake No. 8:

Not listening to a customer.  The Crew Leader needs to have a notebook with him or her at all times. Write down the customer’s concerns, and repeat these back to them.  And then do whatever is possible to put these concerns to sleep.

Mistake No. 9:

Not confirming with the customer that they have done their job to prepare for the work ahead.  The customer needs to complete tasks prior to the start of the job.  Give the customer a to-do list (ex: move the painting off the wall, clean up the closet, etc.).  The Crew Leader then follows up with a customer to ensure those tasks have been completed prior to arriving at the job.  Not doing so can result in more hours and adversely affect Gross Profit.

Mistake No. 10:

Moving expensive, breakable items. Do not touch that grandfather clock or move that grand piano across the hardwood floor.  Your company may be liable for any damages done to these items (even if your crew is not at fault).  Unfortunately, customers are not always truthful and are looking for ways to get paid…don’t be a victim!

As you can see, the most important part of this is the Relationship. What sets your company apart from all the others are the relationships – and loyalty – you have with customers.  Make sure your Crew Leaders are doing everything they can do to nurture the customer relationships that the sales reps have started.

That concludes Part I.  Parts II and III of the Deadly Sins will be posted in the upcoming weeks.  Till then, have a great week!

Bryan Evans

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