“If you take care of the customers, we're going to have jobs for the technicians, and if you keep your technicians happy, they're going to turn around and take care of your customers”
— Margie Baker
Margie Baker is a team player who wears many hats. She’s operations manager for One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky Electrical in Richmond, Va.*
On “Toolbox for the Trades,” she fields questions about building teams with younger employees, home-growing your own techs and creating smarter communication between departments, all while serving up grade-A baseball metaphors.
Here are Margie Baker’s top coaching tips for all facets of managing teams in the home-services trades:
*Since the recording of this episode, Margie Baker has joined the ServiceTitan team as a Customer Success Manager.
Key TakeawaysYou can build a strong team with young people.“Family business” doesn’t just mean working with relatives.Companies have to home-grow their own techs. Home-growing techs takes time and strategy. The benefits of the Clockwork family. Create smarter communication with ServiceTitan. A major benefit: CSR-to-tech communication. Introduce dispatch incentive programs. Dispatch Pro Tip: Send the right tech to the right job. Women in the trades boost business. Recommended research and reading
You can build a strong team with young people.
Baker says her company’s team is unusual in that it’s predominantly Millennials and Gen Z-ers.
“We don’t have many people who are afraid of technology, which is really great with ServiceTitan,” she says. “They grew up with technology. You don’t have anybody fighting that training.”
She says the age demographic also helps with culture.
“Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers might disagree, but it helps with a family-type culture,” she adds. “All of us work to live, nobody here lives to work. We value that as a company.”
“Family business” doesn’t just mean working with relatives.
Even though she’s not a blood relative to the owner of the business, Baker says she’s been made to feel like family. That was apparent three years ago when her baby was born prematurely.
“I had to go take care of him and there was never a question about my job,” she says. “I rarely get vacations because I get phone calls all the time. When I was away for the baby, except for well wishes, I didn’t get a single phone call.”
Companies have to home-grow their own techs.
Baker has a distinct take on the shortage of available techs in the workforce.
“We decided it’s easier to find people who look good, talk good and smell good,” she says, “than it is to find people already in the trade and teach them to look good, talk good and smell good.”
Home-growing techs takes time and strategy.
As part of the Clockwork franchise, Baker says her company has access to educational programming for new techs.
“We can teach them how to talk to customers,” she says. “We take them out in the field for ride-alongs for 6-12 months—where they learn front-to-back how units come in and out. We do one-on-ones. We teach them how to present solutions to customers. And we train them to ask for the sale.”
The benefits of the Clockwork family.
What is Clockwork?
“It’s like Masterminds on steroids,” Baker says. Masterminds is a Facebook group for ServiceTitan customers only. Clockwork is a place to bounce ideas off peers.
“It’s a place where everybody is willing to share and help everybody grow,” she says.
Create smarter communication with ServiceTitan.
Baker raves about the communication facilitation provided by the ServiceTitan platform.
“With ServiceTitan, communications between dispatch, operations, and the field are consistent, fluid and accurate,” she says. “It cuts out the verbal communication and you get less human error.”
A major benefit: CSR-to-tech communication.
The ServiceTitan text messaging feature is a particularly effective form of communication, Baker says.
“It allows the communication to stay tied to the job or right there on the dispatch board,” she says.
“There’s also an alert feature that’s super nice. We want CSRs to be on the phone with customers, not with techs. And same—we want techs to be talking to customers—not to the office.”
Introduce dispatch incentive programs.
Dispatch is not usually a revenue-producing position, but the best way to motivate people is with incentive programs, Baker says.
Dispatchers can get SPIFs (sales performance incentive funds) and stand-by time for techs.
“We go through all the idle and stand-by times in the weekly report, and we have KPI goals for those,” Baker says.
They base SPIFs on those numbers.
Dispatch Pro Tip: Send the right tech to the right job.
“One of the biggest setbacks you have with dispatching is training your dispatcher to learn about the technicians,” Baker says. “ServiceTitan helps dispatchers with that.
“You can have notes for what a tech has in their truck. Or if a guy is on fire with system sales, he’s the one who should be sent on as many estimates as possible.
“Honestly, this software gives this kind of knowledge about techs to the dispatcher.”
Women in the trades boost business.
Baker says a woman walking in the door superficially reduces credibility to a customer—but if you know your stuff you win the day. Especially if the customer is a woman.
“We have a genuine compatibility in speaking with another woman,” she says. “And, I can’t tell you how many times I got the sale because I talked to both the husband and the wife.
“You’ll be surprised how many times it’s the wife who’s the decision-maker.”
Recommended research and reading
The Power of Consistency by Weldon Long
The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster by Darren Hardy
In Praise of Difficult Women by Karen Karbo