Owners look at top-performing service techs as future leaders for the service department. The logic is simple: top service techs understand the ins and outs of the process, they know your clients and they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty. Transitioning a service tech to a service leader has potential, but there are challenges you’ll need to deal with.
Management is a completely new function. Your service tech might not understand what good is, what the expectations are and how to align the department’s work with overall business goals. In this article, we’ll be walking you through the 3 key areas where MSP operations coaching can help transform exceptional service techs into true service leaders.
Understanding how the service department’s work ties into overall business finances is a key lesson that service techs need to learn when making the transition. For technicians, finances tend to matter in terms of a particular project. What’s the most cost-effective solution for this project? How do we save money in the short term by addressing this problem?
Understanding the big picture
Service leaders need to look beyond the tactical level and understand how the department’s work impacts your business’ overall financial objectives. This means learning about the gross margin, what costs are at a big-picture level and how to optimize profit centers. This forces your new service leader to take a wider view of things. What makes sense at an individual project level might not be optimal in the big picture. Certain strategies – like a mid-tier subscription service – might not look appealing at the service tech level but are actually major profit centers.
It’s also important for emerging service leaders to understand the operations margin. Business costs don’t just factor in the rates of doing. Risk mitigation matters too. If your business faces legal action or a data breach, or even if the sales pipeline for the last quarter didn’t move as much as projected, the costs are far higher than nominal project expenses. Understanding this can help service leaders rationalize costs and create project plans that align with the business’ objectives while still providing value to end clients.
When they were a service tech, your emerging service leader probably saw your departmental budget covering half the need-to-haves and none of the want-to-haves. The service department’s budget matters. But it needs to be seen in the context of overall business expenses, quarterly sales figures and the gross margin. Yes, it’d be great to get new PCs, but the question is whether or not the outlay translates into an ROI multiplier in the big picture.
The journey from service tech to service leader takes you from doing to empowering others. A successful service leader must think beyond the grunt work and understand how the department can work toward fulfilling overall business objectives. This means reorienting the thinking process from We need to resolve this ticket in 48 hours to How do we grow profit margins by 20% this quarter?
Accountability and alignment
Service leaders need to think about accountability. Instead of taking responsibility for a particular project, leaders are accountable for the department’s overall growth and success. There are practical ways to help service techs understand their new leadership role. For example, weekly alignment sessions can help emerging service tech leaders touch base with the team and senior decision makers to ensure that on-the-ground work aligns with overall objectives.
Operational Process Skills
Implementing and operating effective processes is a key part of being a service leader. The right processes can increase operational efficiencies, help your team meet or exceed targets and enable a superior service experience for clients. Sea-Level’s coaches leverage our Operations Guide and 5 Phases of Operational Excellence to help organizations design, implement and follow through with rock-solid processes.
Learning and implementing the 5 Phases of MSP Operational Excellence
The 5 Phases of Operational Excellence help leaders understand best practices, customize it to your organization’s needs, get buy-in from your team, implement those changes and then evaluate how successful those changes were. Once processes are in place, service leaders need to identify the right KPIs to measure and track success.
Leaders Step into a Vacuum: Create Space for Them
Your star service techs aren’t going to turn into leaders overnight. If you want new leaders, you need to create space for them. It is the responsibility of the leader to intentionally create a vacuum for your new service manager to step into. No one will step up to fill a need as long as the need is already being filled by someone else. This means you take short-term risks in on quality of service. There is a steep learning curve and, in early days, you may see a drop in customer satisfaction. Trust in the process. Service delivery will recover.
Coach and nurture your emerging service leaders
Consistently coach service leaders in their new roles, provide feedback and have the courage to let them fail. As a business owner, tell your leaders first – tell them what needs to be done. Then show them, help them and watch them work independently. There are going to be teething pains. Accept the risk, work with your leaders and build sustainable delivery processes that work without your direct involvement.
How Sea-Level Can Help
At Sea-Level, we have decades of experience as IT service provider coaches. We’ve built a process that helps emerging service leaders learn the skills they need to thrive. If you’re an exceptional service tech looking to become a service leader, or if you’re a business owner who wants to nurture and leverage in-house leadership, sign your team up for IT Nation Connect here. Be sure to attend The Journey from Tech to Service Leader and gain the expertise you need to excel as a member of the executive team.