The Real Cost of Being Ten Minutes Late to a Customer’s House – 2019

plumber at customer's house

The Real Cost of Being Ten Minutes Late to a Customer’s House – 2019

It’s easy to be late. Some bad traffic here or a late appointment there, and suddenly you arrive at a client’s house a few minutes after you’re supposed to. It doesn’t seem like a big deal. But regardless of whether or not you intended for it, the short and long-term costs of this mishap can be devastating.

In many ways, field service professionals have to contend with unpredictable scenarios. Among difficult customers, billing problems, and jobs that are difficult to access, being late seems like the least of your worries. Still, understanding its costs can help you prevent a small issue from turning into a significant problem or lost revenue.

The Danger of Customer Reactions

Let’s begin with a focus on what happens immediately after ringing the doorbell. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. They’ve been waiting for an electrician or HVAC professional and may have even taken time away from work. They’ve planned their day around the appointment. Now, you’re not available.

Annoyance at that point is only natural. That annoyance, in turn, can lead to a less pleasant call, and less goodwill towards the technician. You’ve inconvenienced them, so they’re less inclined to be as cooperative as they could be. And who could blame them?

You might well have a legitimate reason for being late. It could be traffic, or simply due diligence on your previous call. The system may simply not build in enough buffer time between appointments. But your clients don’t know that. They just know that you made a promise to show, and didn’t keep that promise on time.

The Loss of Revenue

Customer annoyance is not great and can lead to some of the long-term problems we’ll discuss below. The issues, though, are not just qualitative. When being late becomes an issue, your field service business will face very real monetary consequences as well.

First, consider the strained business relationship that could result from a late call. A customer who heard about you from a friend or family member will not trust you anymore if this is their first experience with your expertise. Next time they have a problem that requires help from your industry, they’ll call your competitor instead.

It doesn’t end there. If being late happens during an initial inspection, that loss of credibility could call into question your conclusion and repair/fix recommendation. First impressions matter and translate to other aspects of your business. The customer doesn’t know what to think of your quote, gets a second opinion, and might well go with that second opinion in making sure everything gets taken care of.

Finally, don’t underestimate the very real incremental cost of being late continually. Each 10-minute delay adds to each other, making it less likely to be on time for your next appointment.  That adds up, and can cause you to lose enough time to actually drop a customer for the day. The lack of efficiency, and potential loss of sale, that results significantly impact your bottom line.

The Long-Term Implications of Being Late

All of the above effects of being late are very real. They’re also largely short-term, affecting your business that day. At the same time, it’s worth discussing the real cost of this type of mishap for your business in a long-term time frame.

Customers who are unhappy with you will not be nearly as likely to recommend you, which would have likely resulted in new business. Two thirds of consumers are 67% more likely to choose a company if it’s been recommended by a friend, and word of mouth is consistently among the most effective marketing tactics for field service industries. Lose that advantage, and the loss of new business could be significant.

It doesn’t end there. You likely know that online reviews have become increasingly important in today’s consumer environment. In fact, 85% of consumers trust online reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations from friends. It’s why some of the most successful field service businesses today have put such an emphasis on managing their reviews and online reputation.

Of course, it’s difficult to manage reviews after the fact if they’re negative, to begin with. You can only apologise to unhappy customers so many times. And even then, it takes four five-star reviews to make up for a single one-star review. Consider the fact that 60% of consumers have turned a business away because of negative reviews. The message is simple: you need to keep your clients happy.

That doesn’t happen by being late. It happens by showing up when promised, getting the work done right, and treating your clients well in the process. Even if you get the last two right, the sour taste in your audience’s mouth may still leave them rating you lower because you didn’t hold your power.

How Can You Improve Your Field Service Timeliness?

repairmen at a customer's house

A team of repairmen arrive at customer’s front door to make requested home repairs.

The real cost of being even 10 minutes late to a service call is significant. Both in the short and long-term your business (and its bottom line) will feel its effects. That’s why you need to take active steps to minimize the dangers of this seemingly small issue.

That starts with the right scheduling software. It should allow you to build in buffers between calls, and keep your customers apprised of your progress. Even if your technician’s truck is a few minutes late, it doesn’t hurt to let your clients know ahead of time so they can adjust accordingly.

Communication is key to that approach. Encourage your drivers to track the reasons why they might be late, to take preventative steps. Meanwhile, remain in communication with both them and their customers to set expectations, and deliver on your promises.

Learn More About the Cost of Being 10 Minutes Late to a Customer’s House

It’s a strategic approach that requires more than just software. Still, the right software is absolutely vital. Rather than relying on your team to be on time, make their job easier through scheduling and dispatching software that’s intuitive, flexible, and transparent. We want to help you get there, growing your business without the threat of credibility or revenue loss. Contact us to learn more about our solution, and how you can get started.

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