We talk about P1 Group’s 24/7/365 Service all the time, and extreme weather puts that promise to the test.
For those of us who don’t work in the field, it’s easy to forget that during times of extreme weather, our field personnel don’t have the luxury of hunkering down indoors – or knowing how many calls they’ll have to handle in a given day.
Service General Manager Todd Andrews and Service Operations Manager John Cobb explain the difficult and tenacious work our service teams put in during the recent summer heat waves.
“The last weeks of July and August were monster weeks for all of the field,” Todd said. “Some techs put in 20-hour days, late nights, and still showed up for their first call the next day at 7 am.”
“There were stories of techs working through the night into the next day, then still taking an over-time (OT) call the next evening. All the while, temperatures were above 100, with the heat index up to 110,” Todd noted.
Putting “Safety First” not only for themselves, but for others, Todd says techs were watching out for one another, helping one another with breaks to make sure their partners stayed safe, all in an effort to take care of P1 Service customers.
John notes staying focused is the key to safety. “In the heat, exhaustion and staying focused are the major challenges,” he said.
“It’s a demanding job in good conditions, but when you work in high temperatures and sticky humidity, coupled with relentless sun beating down on you, it can sap the energy out of you quick.”
“Making sure to drink plenty of water, take breaks out of the sun, and pace yourself are all critical," he said.
Magicians. Jugglers. Multi-taskers. Without our coordinators, things simply don't go as smoothly. Todd said the heat waves tested everyone’s ability to manage multiple balls in the air, including expectations and demands from internal and external customers.
“Part of being a successful coordinator means being able to make the people you work with feel important and acknowledge difficult situations with empathy," Todd said.
“I heard our coordinators offering constant reminders of drinking water, being careful in the heat, and signs to watch for before a serious health situation occurred,”he added. “There was genuine caring from the coordinators to the field.”
John notes it’s a constant balance between what is urgent and what can wait until tomorrow.
“If we had enough guys to handle all calls and projects the moment they came in, we would have a lot of people sitting at home when things slow down,” he said.
To the credit of our coordinators, John says constant communication and making sure the field gets the support they need to make the job as easy as possible improves success.
“Our coordinators do an amazing job of keeping tabs on guys, knowing who is worn out and needs a rest, and who can cover a call,” he said.
“Customers come out of everywhere during extreme weather weeks,” Todd said.
Todd notes that the upside to this is that the carefully discovered recommendations our preventative maintenance sales staff spend time delivering to customers often come to roost.
“Whether it be for a proactive repair or replacement, or a proactive maintenance solution, weeks like this are when all the warnings come to light,” Todd said.
“Long days with customers who want to be the only priority test our sales team’s abilities to cover everything. But we do, out of empathy and effort, and sacrificing time with family and friends.”
Todd says management gets their fair share of juggling in extreme conditions, too.
“Supporting the process, supporting the field, and engaging with customers is complicated work during weeks with extremely high volume,” Todd said.
Todd says it is often the manager’s role to problem solve, deal with an upset customer, plead with a technician to take one more call for the day, and help with all the priorities and urgencies that happen nonstop.
“All of this has to be done with the customer’s best interests in mind, while also protecting P1’s greatest assets - our field and office associates.”
“Service and project managers are always checking in and making sure we are proactive with our support,” John said. “Our crew in the field also make sure they are taking care of each other, letting each other – and us - know if someone needs a break to get recharged.”
“We have all worked outside for a day on a project at home and been exhausted at the end. In extreme conditions, multiply that by five, maybe more if you work on the weekend,” John said. “And after that long day in the heat, you might be heading home only to get a call that a customer needs someone on site tonight. Will it be one hour or 10? You don’t know until you get there and dig in to the issue!”
Even with the strain peak season can cause, John says P1’s teamwork is unparalleled and makes all the difference.
“We all understand the importance of this increase in business, and that this is when we are most needed by our customers,” he said.
“It’s easier to take care of a customer’s needs when you have one or two jobs going on in a week of mild weather. But when it gets hot, equipment starts breaking, customers start getting frantic, and the calls pile up, you can really see how important it is to have a good team that supports one another.”
“It’s one of the things we think separates us from our competition. I’ve heard it time and time again from technicians who come from other contractors - you’re not on an island when you work at P1. When you need help and support people always step up!”
P1 offers a huge “THANK YOU” to all the field personnel who put in incredible effort, and to your families for supporting you as you have to prioritize work during tough and demanding times.
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