Every manager usually has some headaches waiting for them when they get to the office. Not Craig Greenwood, service manager at Birkey’s Farm Store’s Hoopeston, Ill., location.

Why? Because he usually learns about one of the things that concerns him most during his 30-minute commute from his western Indiana home.

“When my phone rings on the way here, I know a technician isn’t coming in,” says Greenwood. “The only thing I have to sell is a tech’s labor, so if one of them isn’t here, I can’t sell that time. And if we’re down a technician, a customer’s repair is going to get pushed back somewhere along the line.”

Even with business backing up in the shop, Greenwood warns that service managers shouldn’t make the mistake of doubting that person’s word or pushing back to convince that worker to come in. For Greenwood, that person has made a decision and to challenge it lessens their respect for the manager.

 “If the tech is sick enough that he thinks that he can’t be here, then he probably doesn’t need to be here,” says Greenwood. “Besides, most techs are rough and tough farm boys — they come in lots of times when they probably shouldn’t.”

Whether it is a missing tech or a missing part, Greenwood understands the danger of losing a sale. It’s his job to inform the customer and protect those dollars. Greenwood has the following advice for satisfying the customer:

  • Be honest and regretful that the repair won’t happen as scheduled.
  • Be realistic when offering a resolution.
  • Offer a solution to the customer knowing you will fulfill it.

A service manager must understand that these situations can be minimized, but not prevented. Flexibility and calculation are required for the service manager to ensure that a delayed sales opportunity doesn’t become a missed sales opportunity or affect other sales.

“You can’t just jump around on a whim,” says Greenwood. “Adjust on the go, but recognize what might become more important real quickly.”