May 2, 2017

United Airlines Overbooked; It Has Cost Them Tens Of Millions. Do You Overbook Your Jobs?

By Paul Bieber

Unless you have been on vacation for a month, you know of the disaster in public relations created by United Airlines. One estimate I read said this will cost them about thirty million in real dollars. And, their stock value has decreased by hundreds of millions.

Mostly, we in the glass business do the same.  You book four stops for your two-man team on the road.  But at stop three, the simple screen replacement turns into a nightmare when the aluminum frame breaks and your men have to come back to the shop and build a new screen for Mrs. Hastings.  Stop four is not going to be made today.

You call Mr. Lester at stop four, explain the situation and attempt to reschedule the visit.  Mr. Lester is not a nice man.  He says he left work at noon to meet your team.  He asks, “Are you going to pay me for another afternoon’s lost wages?”  No, you are not going to do that.  I have not found any glass company that would.  But then, Mr. Lester writes a letter to the local newspaper condemning your customer service, comparing you to United Airlines.  “What is this world coming to?” he asks in his letter.  In the next month your incoming orders fall off by twenty per cent.

Is this realistic?  Yes.  Certainly not for every service call made by every glass shop, but it can and does happen.  Don’t think that you are immune to this type of horrible backlash just because you are a smaller company than United Air.  But you have to book the extra calls on most days because your average is that one person isn’t home and then your men finish early and you still need to pay them.

Let’s prevent this situation.

  • Call three days before the appointment to confirm what is to be done, the approximate cost and the time your team will be there.
  • Call the day before to double check the timing.
  • Have your team call one hour before they will arrive to triple check the customer is there and again, the scope of the job.
  • Educate our team about what to do if the job conditions are not as expected.  If they now have to move furniture or a display case at a retail store, what impact will that have on their time to get to their next call?
  • It is better, in my opinion, to reschedule this stop, with more time to do the job, then to cancel the next customer of the day.

Maybe you have more than one team out there.  Can you shuffle schedules to make every stop?  These are a couple of ways to solve this problem, but remember, keep your promises throughout the day and you won’t end up with bad publicity.