The solution to the problem of underbooked technicians lies within.
“Companies that do a great job with their marketing and their club memberships and their proactiveness to keep these technicians in a home are the ones that are growing and are winning,” said Chris Hunter, ServiceTitan’s Director of Customer Relations and founder and co-owner of the GoTime Success Group.
Data from a ServiceTitan study into churn in the trades shows how underbooking contributes to turnover.
Installers who have fewer than 50 jobs in two months are 16% more likely to churn, and maintenance techs who have between 50 and 110 jobs in two months are 27% more likely to leave. The data takes into account all trades, with HVAC and plumbing totaling 84.1% of the numbers.
Bottom line: People want to work. They don’t want to be idle.
Hunter said in the 14 years he ran Hunter SuperTechs, he actually hired some of his best techs because they were unhappy being underbooked elsewhere. With a shortage of skilled labor in the market, a tech with experience has an advantage.
“If comfort advisors or people in sales are underbooked, they're 20% more likely to churn, to leave,” Hunter said. “People have to get paid. At the end of the day, no matter how great a culture is and how awesome it is to work there, if companies can't provide and meet employees’ basic needs financially, it causes them to look elsewhere.”
Go in-depth on field tech hiring demand
Time to go on offense
Hunter said a business’s top priority is keeping technicians in the home.
“That could mean ramp up marketing, be more strategic on scheduling, grow our membership base,” Hunter said. “That way they can continue to have jobs. That way, we're not just going, ‘Hey, I'm sorry guys, kind of slow this week.’
“No. Go on offense and make sure that we're doing that because it's important. They need that stability. When it's not there, they're going to start looking.”
ServiceTitan is aware of one plumber in Los Angeles who started to pay closer attention to follow-up calls and got so many jobs he turned off his advertising and simply booked follow-ups in ServiceTitan.
“That’s insane,” Hunter said. “But he’s not the outlier. I would venture to say a lot of contractors operate this way.”
The anecdote stressed the importance of simply checking in with potential customers. Sometimes calls can be as easy as asking about a job estimate that sat in the system.
“For us, it was that simple,” Hunter said. “It wasn't any slick sales tactics. It was just being consistent and actually following up and catching them at the right time.”
Staffing, marketing and consistency
Hunter applied a leadership quote he heard to the practice: Successful people do consistently what others do occasionally.
“If you will just be consistent and follow up with these things, you're going to be successful with it,” he said.
One other important factor: Paying attention to staff size so it is right for the area and the work, which fits hand in glove with marketing and follow-ups.
“Create opportunities year-round, not just during the busy season,” Hunter said. "The best companies that I see are staffing for year-round.“