In a time when it’s not easy to find skilled workers in the trades, it’s important to keep the best people.
Understanding the causes of churn is the first way to avoid it. An analysis of ServiceTitan internal data from thousands of contractors revealed five main reasons employees seek work elsewhere: Overbooking techs, underbooking them, excessive driving time, working weekends, and lack of a sound underlying culture.
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Fortunately, those who take advantage of the tools offered by ServiceTitan, the cloud-based software for the trades, can leverage the software to fight turnover. They just need to know which features to leverage.
“If they use those tools and expand on those tools, their business, their people and their company will not only retain the people they have, but will start seeing an increase in revenue,” said Bill Powers, a ServiceTitan Senior Industry Advisor.
That brings about the best of all worlds: Keeping the staff intact during a time of technician shortages while increasing revenue for growth.
“Technicians are creatures of habit,” Powers said. “Our software basically gives us the ability to create good habits. As long as they know the expectation, they’ll commit to and complete it.”
Powers pointed to several features of the software that can help, and highlighted three: smart dispatch, Adjustable Capacity Planning, and GPS tracking integrations.
“All of those create not only retention, they create a culture of care because people can look at it and say, ‘Wow, they’re going to look at my schedule along with their schedule and we’re going to work together on this,’” Powers said.
Here are the key steps Powers said can be taken within the software to fight technician churn:
1. Turn on Adjustable Capacity Planning
Adjustable Capacity Planning (ACP) allows a business to look at technician capacity on a given day and maximize it, Powers said. If someone calls in sick or is off, the business can adjust, which avoids overbooking or underbooking the available technician staff.
“It’s a great tool because it gives you more flexibility,” he said. “And by doing that, you’re showing in many ways how you care for your staff.”
2. Get Google Verified and turn on Local Services Ads integration.
The integration of ACP with Local Services Ads by Google also helps. The integration means that quality booked jobs, not just leads, come directly through to the Call Booking Screen on the software.
3. Leverage memberships to fill the schedule.
An active customer membership also allows businesses to know when regular maintenance is due and needed. And he cites a statistic from Ron Smith’s “HVAC Spells Wealth” to emphasize the revenue benefit.
“You can get a readout at the beginning of the month of everything that has to be run that month, and you can then put those appointments into your scheduling,” Powers said. “It also will help you grow your business in the maintenance area. The simple fact is for every 1,000 customers you have, that's $1.25 million in revenue for a company just sitting on your books.
“All you have to do is run the calls. That’s all.”
Maintenance visits fill the schedule in shoulder season, get technicians in the home for a chance to address other problems, and increase the stability of the business.
The process can be so easy that ServiceTitan automatically sends a text to customers to remind them the maintenance is due. Once the customer receives the text, they merely follow the link and schedule the maintenance. It’s as easy as two or three clicks.
Being aware of expected maintenance helps avoid overbooking and underbooking your technicians. Knowledge is power when it comes to the schedule.
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4. Use the follow-up tab and Marketing Pro to address unsold estimates.
ServiceTitan’s follow-up tab works in a similar way. One business got so much business from follow-ups on unsold estimates it was able to temporarily turn off its other marketing efforts. Powers said he knew a franchise that used Marketing Pro for follow-ups and generated an additional $160,000 in revenue in 60 days.
ServiceTitan’s Chris Hunter estimates that a follow-up coordinator could be worth $1 million in additional revenue because of the way they turn potential work into booked jobs, just by asking again.
“It pays for itself,” Powers said, highlighting that ServiceTitan, when used properly, can be much more investment than cost.
5. Set up specialty reports with your CSM.
Finally, reports can be generated to show the number of jobs per month and revenue earned.
“Calls run, calls closed,” Powers said. “It’s a special report that they build with their CSM. Is it there? Absolutely. Can people be using it more and getting their CSM involved? Absolutely.”
6. Reduce drive time with smart dispatch and GPS integrations.
When it comes to avoiding excessive drive time for techs, Powers said solutions can be found with smart dispatch and GPS integrations, which can show where trucks are at a given moment and where they need to go.
He also recommends being aware of the skill levels of technicians and where they live, so the right mix of skill and ability is available in a particular area.
“You have to make sure that you equally disperse what you need as far as talent level throughout your company and build your company that way,” he said.
7. Implement a recruiting plan based on data.
ServiceTitan reports can show which zones require which technicians, which is valuable for planning.
“I would do a revenue by ZIP code report and then be able to determine on the map where the bulk of my revenues are coming from and the type of calls that are being run out of those areas,” Powers said, “and then start pinpointing my recruiting to what I need in that area—if I don't have it.
“A recruiting plan gives us the ability with that information to be able to draw up through the software.”
8. Add technician skill sets in ServiceTitan to guide dispatchers.
The software also can alert a dispatcher if they are trying to send a technician to a job that doesn’t match their skills. Once skill levels for each tech are entered into ServiceTitan, that situation can be avoided, reducing frustration for technicians and customers.
9. Be aware of long drive times, and explain the reasoning.
An alert can be set in ServiceTitan if a drive is going to be above a certain length—45 minutes, for example. The simple notice allows the dispatcher to call and explain the job and why the drive is needed on that day.
“That’s all techs want to know,” Powers said. “They just want to know why. They understand the business.”
The combination of factors leads to true “dispatch for profit,” Power said. In the past, these steps had to be done manually. Now the software’s machine learning capacity allows it to learn on the go so it gets better over time.
10. Use a custom report to monitor weekend work.
Ensuring a company does not ask employees to work too many weekends can largely be a matter of paying attention—with the help of ServiceTitan reports.
Some techs, Powers said, prefer to work on one or two weekend days, to match a spouse’s days off or some other factor in their lives. Others want to be off on weekends, or even need to be.
“That’s a report that we can pull right out of ServiceTitan,” he said. “So it will allow them to schedule the technicians on the best days they want to work vs. the best days we want them to work.”
Most businesses have a rotating call schedule for the weekends to make sure the workload is shared.
“How you manage that is just by simply watching what tech is running what call and when they’re running it,” Powers said.
11. Improve the culture of communication by using ServiceTitan’s Content Portal.
The Content Portal can keep the staff informed about marketing campaigns or specials. It can even be used for training.
“The communication level throughout the whole company becomes 100% better (when the content portal is used), which creates better sales opportunities, better trained technicians,” Powers said. “It just changes the culture because there are no hidden agendas and the communication is wide open.”
The bottom line: Pay attention to the data.
The steps that can help avoid churn are as simple as setting the software to pay attention, and then paying attention to the data.
“It's very easy,” Powers said. “All they have to do is work with their CSM to make sure the right features are leveraged and the right configurations are turned on.
“And there is so much training out there for all these configurations. It just takes dedication to go through the training so that they understand how to use it once it’s set up.”
Taking advantage of the software addresses the one overarching cause of churn: company culture. The better it is, the more people will want to stay.
“It comes to whether you want to make your staff’s life easier or more complex,” he said. “And the software in itself, if you set it up correctly and you have the expectations out there, it makes the job 10 times easier.”
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.