8 Best Practices from CE Pro 100 Integrators
CE Pro 100 integrators offer advice ranging from fleet management to credit card usage to increasing productivity.
Members of the CE Pro 100 offered some great tidbits for dealers during the CE Pro 100 Integrators Summit.
The group offered some key advice that has helped each of them succeed.
Set Up Technicians in Remote Locations
George Hall, president of Questron, needed to figure out the best way to cover the five-state area of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, and West Virginia.
He also wanted to deal with rising fuel and maintenance costs for his vehicles. So the company:
- Centrally located all its technicians into territories
- Let them take the trucks home
- Provided them with laptops, printers, fax machines, wireless Internet
- Ships all products and material directly to their houses
- Reduced all company meetings to one per month
Every Monday morning, the technicians email or fax their form to the company's purchasing manager describing all material used the previous week.
The purchasing manager then places all necessary orders to replace used material and to supply technicians for upcoming jobs.
All shipments are sent directly to the technician’s house using free shipping from the suppliers. The technicians bring all packing slips into the office during the monthly team meetings.
In addition, all technicians have computers and VPN (virtual private network) access to the company's main office servers where Questron's scheduler manages the entire technicians' schedule using database software. Each technician uses the VPN to check their daily schedule and look at the jobs for the week.
“This plan has helped the technicians complete an average of two more jobs per week, less windshield time driving to and from the office and jobs, reduced fuel expenses and maintenance by 15 percent,” says Hall.
Create a Credit Card Authorization Form
“The check is in the mail” is the phrase that Ralph Scrofani and the team at Home Systems in Pompton Plains, N.J. hear all the time.
“I used to assume that our affluent customers were, for the most part, organized people who opened their mail promptly and scheduled their payments according to due dates and need,” says Scrofani. “I learned that I was wrong.”
That situation led Home Systems to create a Work Authorization Credit Card Form that allows them to automatically charge progress payments to clients' credit cards.
The document gets emailed to all new project clients and to existing clients before any service call. The form allows the company to keep credit card information for up to one year. It's faxed or emailed to the customer for approval prior to any charge to their account.
The company also has a newer version of QuickBooks Pro that features an online credit card payment and authorization service that stores sensitive client information in a password-protected format.
These changes, which were implemented in early 2008, have resulted in:
- A dramatic improvement to cash flow
- A 53 percent reduction in aged receivables at the same revenue levels compared to last year
- Increased efficiency in invoicing and collection
- Credit card processing fees are mitigated by revenues generated with service call fees and a 5 percent fee on all projects for design and management costs, both field and administrative
Establish a “No Rack, No Installation” Policy
Home Systems has set a hard rule that it simply won't do a job unless there is a rack. Why? It not only allows the company to sell the rack itself, but it leads to the sale of fans, expansion panels, wire trays, surge protection equipment and more.
“All of our systems include professional equipment racks or we refuse the installation,” says Scrofani.
He says it has increased efficiency and the serviceability of its systems
Start Monthly, Annual Employee Awards
Audio Video Interiors in Medina, Ohio has established a detailed employee recognition program that boosts morale.
Each month the staff nominates individuals for the following awards:
- Technician of the Month
- Salesman of the Month
- Employee of the Month
Each winner receives $250 of “AVI Money” that can be redeemed for 50 percent cash value, or 100 percent for products, and educational expenses. Winners are posted on plaques in the lobby and acknowledged at a quarterly meeting, according to company president Michael Pope.
The management team also selects the Technician of the Year, Salesman of the Year, and Employee of the Year. The winners are presented with trophies, have their names added to the award plaques in the lobby and receive “AVI Money.”
Employees can also submit ideas they think will improve a company process, increase customer service, or generate or save the company money. The ideas are reviewed and voted on by management. Each winner receives $250 of “AVI Money” and acknowledgment at the quarterly and annual meetings.
Finally, AVI has a “Wall of Fame” in which technician’s certifications are mounted. The sales staff brings prospective clients to the Wall of Fame prior to demonstrating any products.
Create Educational Credit for Employees
Audio Video Interiors established a $2,500 Educational Advancement Fund for every employee. It can be used for college courses, certifications, trainings, books, seminars, and industry conferences.
Every employee must submit two-year goals that coincide with the program. The results have proven to be a huge differentiator in the business and increased staff pride.
Pay Techs for Being on Time
Liberty Bell Alarm & Home Theater was having a problem with its 20 technicians being tardy in the morning and with productivity being down.
The problem is made worse when you have two-man crews and one guy is on time, being paid, waiting for his partner.
Its solution is to pay technicians a $1 per hour bonus for being on time for the daily 7 a.m. meeting and for being out the door with the trucks fully loaded by 7:30 a.m.
This has resulted in productivity being way up.
Put Together an Administrative Package for Managers
Logic Integration in Englewood, Colo., doesn't want anything to fall through the cracks when it comes to handling employees.
The company has created a comprehensive package of forms for managers and employees to use:
- Employment contract
- New employee checklist for managers
- Payroll deduction authorization form
- Direct deposit authorization form
- Disciplinary notice
- Manager's pre-termination checklist
- New Employee information
- Performance Review
- Job Descriptions
- Work order form
- Delivery receipt
- Extended maintenance contract
- Residential job contract
- Commercial job contract
- Trade ally/builder contract
- Employee Handbook
Hold Weekly Cash Drawings for No Accidents
Liberty Bell Alarm & Home Theater also wanted to reduce on-the-job accidents. So it came up with a weekly cash drawing of $1, $5, $10, $25, and $50 for employees who do not have accidents.
Accidents, as a result, are way down.