Expert Tips: Managing People and Culture in a Growing Service Company

When your service company starts to grow, it can be difficult to maintain the same culture you had when you were a smaller organization. Finding the right team members and maintaining the job satisfaction and attitudes of the entire team can be a challenge as you expand.

We asked the experts: What tips do you have for service companies for managing people and culture as businesses grow? Here’s what they had to say.

1. Jeff Toister, Author

The most important thing a home services company can do to build a strong culture is create what’s called a customer service vision. This is a shared definition of outstanding customer service that gets everyone on the same page.

Employees often work alone or in pairs in a customer’s home. They each have their own personalities, experiences, and ideas, so you can’t assume they will consistently represent your business without training and guidance.
A customer service vision provides that guidance. It’s a simple statement, typically just one sentence, that describes the service the business is trying to provide.

Service Company Example

Ideal Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical is an award-winning service company in San Diego. Its customer service vision is: “We promise to provide you with the highest standards of workmanship and service in our industry.”

Ideal’s technicians visit each customer’s home knowing they are there to do more than just fix a problem. Their goal is to do the best work and provide the best service in the industry. To maintain consistency, Ideal’s technicians meet every other week to reinforce the vision, share best practices, and discuss ways to continuously improve.

Jeff Toister is the author of The Service Culture Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Employees Obsessed with Customer Service. Book Authority has named his book one of the top customer experience books of all time. In 2019, Jeff was named one of the top customer service professionals in the world by Global Gurus.

2. Lindsay Anvik, Business Coach and Keynote Speaker

I’m a business coach and keynote speaker specializing in leadership and productivity.  Here are a few thoughts on service companies that are growing.

Delegate Responsibilities

Creating a team lead or assistant manager can help you focus on the bigger picture, while the newly promoted staff member can take on day-to-day tasks, questions, and issues.

Get a Virtual Assistant

They cost between $10-50/month and they can offload so many administrative tasks that soak up your time.  Whether it’s scheduling, bookkeeping, receipt gathering or data entry, a virtual assistant can help free up your time for more pressing issues like client services or business development. 

Have a Way to Communicate with Your Team All at Once

Whether it’s through an open text message thread or a more formalized platform like Slack, it is important to be able to notify your staff of updates, employee policies, and reminders. 

Take Away Headaches

Get a cloud-based system to eliminate headaches like invoicing, scheduling, client inquiries, and inventory. If your business is growing, you’re likely having a hard time keeping up with your growing list of clients and employees.

Being able to easily access this kind of information on the go, manage it and delegate from there can help the customer tremendously. Vonigo is a solid option for anyone looking to streamline the process when their business is growing.

Lindsay Anvik is a fourth generation entrepreneur and CEO of See Endless, Inc. She travels the world giving seminars on productivity, leadership, and marketing to everyone from Fortune 500 companies to major museums to mom and pop companies. Her company, See Endless, is focused around helping leaders and employees tap into their endless potential. Her marketing and business development strategies have led to coverage in the New York Times, InStyle Magazine, The New York Post, Metro New York and many others.
field solutions software, field service technician, field service businesses

3. Aleassa Schambers, Director of Marketing, Root

70% of consumers make their purchase decisions based on how they’re treated. To build a customer-first culture, leaders should be focusing on:

A. Define the Customer-First Culture

There’s no one-size-fits-all company culture. Attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, etc. are how companies differentiate themselves. Leaders need to be clear on their definition of customer-centricity and loyalty. What do customers want? How is it delivered? Is the frontline equipped to make customer-focused decisions that achieve those goals? Are the right processes and thinking in place (internally and externally).  How to do this?

  • Put words to what a desired culture looks and acts like for the business – be as specific as possible. Senior leaders must be aligned and clear on what that means, in all functions. Every frontline and back-office role impacts the customer experience.
  • Develop a “story” with actual visualization of that culture. Visuals eliminate the fuzziness of words. Here’s an example.

B. Managers are Critical to the Process

Frontline managers are very critical to delivering world-class service. Empowering managers to “act like owners” helps them make good decisions that support the strategic customer-first priorities of the business. That requires investing in building skills and providing critical information. How to do this?

  • Help managers understand their role. Don’t assume they know it. Engage them, coach them and have an open dialogue about how to act like an owner. Managers link senior leaders and the frontline. Understanding the strategy, connecting that strategy to their teams (how they support the strategy), and coaching their people so every individual understands how their job impacts the customer strategy.
  • Drive ownership of the team’s results with tools like Customer Experience Scoreboards. 

C. Individuals Must Create Authentic Customer Experiences

The frontline must understand the brand promise, behave in ways that support that promise and be 100% consistent. Being authentic means understanding the customer-first culture, but having leeway to make it personal for themselves and for the customer. How to do this?

  • Make sure each person in the company understands the big-picture approach to customer experience. Use a variety of methods (because everyone learns differently).
  • Build employees’ sales and service skills and give them easy references and tools for doing their jobs well
  • Set clear service standards and guide employees on how to make tradeoffs and decisions in the moment.

Here’s a couple of case studies if you’re interested: American Airlines or Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.

Aleassa Schambers is Director of Marketing at Root. She has 20-something years’ experience marketing B2B brands for both large ($1B) and small (start-up) organizations. A passionate advocate for Root, Aleassa spends her days thinking about how to get more organizations and leaders to recognize the value of creating strong company cultures that can deliver positive transformations for both their people and their customers. She is an equally passionate alumna of the University of Michigan.

4. Stan Acton, Founder and CEO, Acton ADU

Aside from having a culture that matches your company’s values, we’ve found that the centerpiece for what makes Acton ADU culture strong is accountability.

We very specifically reward accountability. If a team member feels comfortable with making a mistake, for example, and sharing the result of that mistake.

They’ll be more motivated to think in terms of solutions, instead of trying to cover up or not own up to their misstep.

Stan Acton is a housing advocate, builder, and Founder of Acton ADU, a company that specializes in design, navigating regulations, and building personalized Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Northern California. Stan is a 30 year veteran of navigating California regulatory environments, as well as helping families realize the positive impact, accessory housing can have on families.

5. Julia Monahan, Director of Marketing,  The Alternative Board

I work with The Alternative Board, we help forward-thinking business owners grow their businesses, increase profitability and improve their lives by leveraging local business advisory boards, private business coaching, and proprietary strategic services. 

We have done business owner surveys in the past and have one that focuses on Culture.

Survey Results

  • Owners who say that they have a Strong Culture (41%) are much more likely to spend the majority of their time on Employee Motivation & Collaboration than those who say that they have an Average or Weak Culture (28%).
  • Business owners who say that they have a Strong Culture (50%) are much more likely to strongly agree that their culture increases their profitability than those who say that they have an Average or Weak Culture (20%).
  • Owners who say that they have a Strong Culture (69%) are much more likely to get feedback from their employees about a prospective candidate fitting their company culture than those who say that they have an Average or Weak Culture (58%).

Work environments where people feel like it’s “every man for himself” will hasten burn-out and end with a severe drop in morale. Creating cross-functional groups that bring together colleagues in other departments to work as a focused team can create a better understanding of the work and company as a whole.

Julia Monahan is the Director of Marketing of The Alternative Board, an organization that helps owners and leaders of businesses reach their goals through local advisory boards and business coaching.

Software to Help Your Business Grow

Interested to learn about how software designed for service companies can help you grow your business and make it more profitable? Book a free, private demo of Vonigo.