Please allow me a moment to preface what you’re about to read. I know there are a fair amount of home services businesses that buy popsicles, water, chips, and electrolyte drinks for the busy season, and feel like they’ve earned the right to expect their team members to put in sixty or more hours per week for several weeks in a row. While those incentives are nice, I wouldn’t put them on the list of the most impactful actions we can take to build team morale during the busy season. Instead, let’s talk about the things that I believe have a significant and authentic impact. Lastly, a whole book could be written on some of the individual topics below. I’ll only be able to scratch the surface on most of them but hopefully, throughout the series, I can deliver enough on the topic to allow you to pick up where I left off. I hope you find this insight effective and use the ideas to improve your business.
Being Intentional, Empathetic, and Transparent
The busy season for home service companies is one of the most important times of the year to be intentional about team building and creating healthy morale. This is the time of year when our team members are under the most physical and mental stress. When employees feel stressed, the odds are much greater that they will allow negative paradigms about the company or their team to fill their minds. Remember, they’re not only stressed about what’s happening at work, but if they have people who love them outside of work, those people are likely feeling disappointed at their lack of presence during this highly demanding time which compounds the stress. Negativity is infectious. What sometimes starts with just one person’s complaints, over time can spread like wildfire through an entire organization. During a sensitive time like this, given that the highest productivity is expected, that can be damaging. If we do a good job leading our team through the busy season, we’ll likely end up with a healthy surplus of cash, as well as team member and client satisfaction. If we don’t, we risk the opposite outcome. Part of that preparation and my advice begins here, beginning with making sure the entire leadership team is empathetic to the stressors of the season and to the work we do as leaders to keep the company healthy. Be transparent about this, especially during very stressful times at least until demand gets back to normal.
How do you make sure this intentional work is effective? There should be planning meetings with the leadership team in preparation for every busy season, every year where the things below are discussed as well as any other relevant topics.
It Starts with Why
As Simon Sinek says, “It Starts with Why”. Your home service company should have a compelling mission in place that motivates your team. A mission that speaks to serving other humans in some way is the most appropriate place to start, especially for our industry. Any mission with this type of focus is usually something that teams will get passionate about. Hopefully, your company has a compelling mission already. If not, it’s something that I suggest getting in place ASAP. There are plenty of great articles and books on this subject including in this publication. Assuming you have a compelling mission, remind the team of the mission regularly and use it as the reason why you’re all working so hard.
Teams will rally together around a mission that they believe in, especially when the going gets tough. If written and communicated properly, the mission can play a huge role in giving your team the motivation they need to push through the most difficult time of the year.
The Morale of Each Team Member
A team is a group of individuals choosing to work together to accomplish a common goal. If the individuals each love the company they work for, they’re far more likely to be motivated to behave like team players (selfless thinking), which is what we need from everyone during this time. Therefore, it’s important to regularly consider how the individuals in the business feel about the business they work for and constantly work at improving that morale if we want to have remarkable teamwork and good retention. I won’t be able to give this deep topic any justice here, but the bottom line is, if your morale isn’t in good shape, everything you do in your business is going to feel a lot harder than it should be – that is true, regardless of the season. The busy season will simply amplify any morale issues that may exist. The most important piece of advice that I can give on this topic here is to try to resolve any individual morale issue that you become aware of immediately (the same day you learn about it). Don’t let it fester. Like cancer, the longer it’s left unattended, the stronger it grows.
Leaders Lead by Example
During the busy season when the field teams are out doing grueling physical labor, the entire leadership and office team should be as committed (internally) and available to help. Few things will kill team morale faster than knowing the leadership/office side of the business isn’t matching the frontline commitment. Many companies make this fatal error whether it be in outside sales departments, customer service, or this case, field service. During this time, find ways to ensure that everyone on the team is giving a similar level of support to the business – that means both within their departments and as a team. The first step to achieving this level of synergy is to talk about how you’re going to accomplish this goal in your planning meeting.
A few ideas that can get you started on brainstorming on this topic:
• Open Door Policy - Leaders are available by phone at all times when they have direct reports in the field.
• Check-Ins - Call or text team members that are out late.
• Provide and Communicate Support - Regularly ask how they’re doing or if you can help them in any way. This must be done genuinely. Your tone of voice and body language should be such that it says you truly care to know and are looking for an answer. When done properly this simple action is extremely powerful and validates team members who are working hard.
• Be Ready with Inventory - Grab things from supply houses for team members to save them time.
• Address Systems and Inefficiency - Look for opportunities to get your teams home sooner or to make their day go more efficiently.
• Review Schedules Daily - Leaders look for calls on the call board that could be pushed to another day or could be a waste of time.
Long story short, when the team feels supported and they can tell through your words and actions that you care about them, they will scale mountains for you.
Justin Carrol is an esteemed entrepreneur and visionary. His professional journey is characterized by a dedication to personal and business growth, and a mission to elevate lives. Carrol began a career in the HVAC and plumbing industry in 1999 and by 2006, he had founded his own HVAC and plumbing company, Perfect Home Services. In November 2021, driven by an ambition to expand his mission in a more impactful way, Justin made the strategic decision to bring a private equity partner on board. This partnership infused the company with capital and paved the way for further growth and nationwide expansion. In 2023, fueled by his unwavering dedication to the mission of elevating lives, Carrol made the courageous decision to step down from his position. This year he embarked on a new chapter by launching Elevating Lives, a family and team member-owned venture based in Naples, Florida. Carrol’s commitment to his mission, coupled with his strong belief in the power of faith, is reflected in the exceptional reputation of the businesses he manages.