At Garvin’s we created a Code of Conduct that includes 6 Core Values. Today we want to explain Communication and what it means to us.
We define Communication as:
Information is given and received with confirmation. We will accept responsibility for all communication we are involved with, from start to finish. We will give appropriate information and provide confirmation of receipt of information and instructions.
How Communication Looks for Us
In full transparency, communication is a value we work on developing each and every day. There is never a day where our team looks at each other and says, “Wow, we’ve finally perfected communication.”
Don’t get me wrong, there are days we do pretty well, but it is a conscious, ongoing process to keep communication healthy and active. This is true one-to-one and organizationally. With so many methods of communication these days: text, phone, chat, e-mail, meetings, Zoom, memos, handouts…. It can be easy to get a message lost.
“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”
– Nat Turner
Consider for a moment the customer journey, which many of you have experienced, but may not know the workflow, or thought of it before:
A customer calls us, or emails us with a work order.
We gather all the needed information, including contact information and diagnosis of the problem so we can send the best technician for the job. The information we gather informs the dispatcher who to send when and informs the technician what they need to bring to the job and what they should expect.
Sometimes, the office needs to call the customer to confirm details, schedule, or get more information. Sometimes, the customer misses our call, has us blocked as spam, or makes an assumption about our arrival. These are all areas where communication can fail. We do our best to stay proactive.
The dispatcher assigns a technician to the service call.
We use technology that provides the job information to the technician. It is their responsibility then to call the customer with an estimated time of arrival and mark themselves on route to communicate to the dispatcher that the information was received and acted upon. When a technician doesn’t do either step, there is a hole in communication that can result in customer confusion and the . It can result in us running late for an appointment window and the dispatcher needing to make changes in order to meet customer expectations
To help close this hole, we are installing GPS units in our vans this year. We hope this will give us a clearer picture of where technicians are in their day, so we can better dispatch and get more customers taken care of. We understand technicians don’t always have cell service, especially when they are in basements and crawlspaces. They are also not able to always answer a phone, such as when they are running a drain cleaning machine, talking to a customer, or being walked through a building by a property manager.
The technician notifies us about the progress of their call.
Once the technician is onsite, they mark themselves as working. This is a safety protocol for our technicians and also alerts dispatch so they can queue up the next service call. When the technician completes their service call, they mark themselves done, which also notifies dispatch so they can be given their next call.
In their job summary they tell us:
- What work was done
- What the blockage was and how far (this helps customers understand why the problem occurred in the first place)
- The access point used to clear the drain (this helps future techs know where to look, and let’s the customer know for ease in the future)
- How long the work is guaranteed (typically 30 days on commercial lines and 90 days on residential lines, except for abuse or broken lines)
- Any other remarks or notes, including pictures
- How the customer paid (this helps accounting keep good records)
“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen is to life. Without it, it dies.”
– Tony A. Gaskins Jr.
Weekly, we run a report of all calls.
This report helps us generate statistics and more information that keeps our business running. It helps us to pay our technicians their flat rate per job, restock parts, issue materials and supplies needed for future work, invoice, pay payroll and bills, and address any concerns.
We all know that a major key to lifelong relationships starts with communication. It is part of every practice and procedure in business. All of us working together and communicating is what has kept us in business for over 80 years.
We hold regular meetings
Twice a month, we meet with our technicians to go over administrative announcements, a safety topic and a training topic. We also celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and answer questions. This year we are further expand on our core value of communication by offering weekly “virtual office hours” where technicians can bring questions, comments, and concerns to the management team.
The management team meets weekly to discuss a variety of topics to keep everyone in the loop. Because we are a small office, anything that comes up of an urgent need is addressed right away. We have an open door policy and rely on each other for sharing information and knowledge. I believe this is one of Garvin’s strengths.
Part of our management training includes focusing on communication. We’d have training on communication across the generations, understanding ourselves in the light of the DISC assessment, and we’ve had facilitator led brainstorming sessions to help foster more communication as a management team.
While we are a small, family-owned business, we aren’t a “mom & pop”. We have a lot of foundational habits that take the best practices of business plus human-focused considerations to build a strong company for years to come.
A few questions for you
If you are our customer, how have we done with communication? What could we do better?
As a business owner, how do you ensure communication with the right people, at the right time, happens consistently in your business?
How have you seen communication help or hinder a relationship? What advice do you have to help those of us who are continually improving communication?
Looking for a plumber who holds themselves to code of conduct that includes communication and organizational development? Garvin’s Sewer Service would like to earn your business.