Dispatch Procedures / Lockout Protocol
( That could save your life! )

Posted by C.D. Lipscomb, CML, CPS - Navco Safe And Lock Co.on January 23, 1998 at 07:07:36:

Over the years, I have had this same situation happen enough times that I have modified my dispath protocol as follows:

1. Allways talk to the "owner" or "driver" of the vehicle and get a statement verbally that they want you to come out, and are the authorized person to do call you out..

If you let anyone else call you out, the owner/driver can regnege successfully because "they didn't call you".

2. If you must talk to a third party, explain to them that the person that requests the callout is the only one that you can hold liable, and explain the cost to that person. Usually the owner is magically available to talk to you at that point. Be nice to these third parties, as they are the ones who may call you again.

3. Allways quote at least an estimated price. Having them tell you " no" is better than argueing about the price that they didn't ask for later. It is important legally, later.

4. Allways explain to the caller that there is a charge for the trip, and that the charge will apply unless they cancel before you leave.

5. Settle the method of payment. Ask "will you be paying by cash, check, or credit card?". This settles that question up front, and avoids conflict later. If they have no money with them, terms can be better worked out now. Amazingly there are people that don't think that they have to pay anything at all, ( particularly people from third world countries), or think that you are obligated to extend credit to them.. You may or may not want to extend credit, but this way you have a choice.

6. Allways get an exact location. If the customer is not familiar with the area, ask to talk to someone else who is.
Servicemen say real nice things about a dispatcher that gets an incomplete address or directions.

7. Allways get a callback number, even if it is a phone booth. If no number is posted, ask them to call the operator, or dial "211", and get one and call you back. Caller ID is good here. Lots of things can happen to cause you to call back, but if the directions are bad, sometimes you can get a location from the phone number.

8. If there is even a hint that the call might be bogus, call back the number to confirm. If no-one answers, reconsider going until you can confirm. There is a real good reason for this that I will cover in a later post. This is a "gut instinct" thing, but extremely important. ALLWAYS follow your gut instinct on what to do. It is nearly always right.

9. When arriving on the job site, get the customer to sign an authorization, establish ID,( if possible,) and agreement to pay BEFORE opening the car. This firmly establishes your position and puts you in a better position to get paid.

10. When you open the car, immediatly get the keys if they are visible. If they are not, ask where they are. If they are in a purse, ask the person to get them out for you, saying something like, " because you have to write down the codes". Do whatever you can to get your hands one the keys. Then, you know that you will get paid. Once in your possession, they are legaly yours until the debt is settled.

11. (This is sometimes a real hard one) When doing ALL of the above, ALLWAYS be nice. Let your professionalism show. BE NICE!!! Be respectfull and calm, even when confronted with anger, and bad manners. BE NlCE!! This may or may not be a future customer, but there will be customers, and future customers watching you. BE NICE !! Don't give a disgruntled customer any ammunition to use on you, such as bad language, bad temper, attitude, or unfairness. The rule of thumb is, "When in doubt, or not, BE NICE." Take a deep breath..., count to ten..., ect. ect. ....and then BE NICE!!

There are a lot of other rules that are good to follow, and all of them, and the ones above, have good exceptions to them. These are some of the more important ones. Dispatching, and service call procedure is as important as anything that we learn.

James, I am sure that you already know and practice everything that I have written. I have posted this for the benefit of those just starting out, and as just another perspective for those experienced servicepersons reading it..

Thanks for the time and space.

CDL


Posted by C.D. Lipscomb, CML, CPS - Navco Safe And Lock Co. on January 25, 1998 at 00:11:21:


Hello All,

In a recent post related to dispatch protocol, I stated the need for caution if things just don't seem right when talking to a potential customer on the phone. I said that I would post later about why. This post is one real good reason why. The following is a letter sent from me to the secretary of the Texas Locksmith Assn. and the people listed below as carbon copy recipients in december of 1988.

I apologize for the Caps and the length. I copied it from the original file. At the time I wrote this, I was very upset and couldn't type very well and did everything in caps. However, please read it all and take heed. This happened in 1988, but could easily happen again to someone tomorrow, next week, or even tonite.

12-30-88
TO: THE TEXAS LOCKSMITHS ASSN.
C/O MS. ANN THOMPSON, SECRETARY
P.O. BOX 43556
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78745-5675

Re: PASSING OF MARVIN WEBSTER, TLA LOCKSMITH

DEAR MS. THOMPSON,

THIS LETTER IS TO SADLY INFORM YOU OF THE UNTIMLEY DEATH OF FELLOW LOCKSMITH, MARVIN WEBSTER. ON THE MORNING OF 12-29-88, HE WAS ANSWERING A CALL TO OPEN A LOCKED CAR AT 1:30 A.M. IN THE MORNING, AND DIDN'T RETURN. HIS VAN, STILL RUNNING, WAS FOUND WITH HIM SLUMPED OVER THE WHEEL, AT DAWN, BY A PROPERTY OWNER NEAR THE MOTEL WHERE HE WENT TO MEET HIS PRESUMED CUSTOMER. HE HAD BEEN ROBBED OF HIS BILLFOLD AND SHOT WITH A 22. CAL. GUN THREE TIMES AS HE SAT IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT. THE SHOTS APPARENTLY CAME FROM THE PASSENGER SIDE OF THE CAR.

MARVIN'S RINGS AND HIS GUN UNDER HIS SEAT, HAD NOT BEEN TOUCHED. NOR, APPARENTLY, HAD ANY OF THE TOOLS IN HIS TRUCK BEEN STOLEN. HE HAD APROXIMATLY $80.OO ON HIM AS NEARLY AS WE CAN TELL AT THIS POINT. THE POLICE, AT THIS WRITING, DO NOT HAVE A SUSPECT IN CUSTODY NOR IS THERE ANY MOTIVE OTHER THAN ROBBERY.

MARVIN WAS 49 YEARS OLD, HAD A WIFE, A GROWN DAUGHTER AND SON, TWO STEPSONS, AND SEVERAL GRAND-CHILDREN. HE OWNED AND OPERATED "WEBSTER'S LITTLE REPAIR SHOP" IN CORSICANA, TEXAS FOR SEVERAL YEARS. ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO HE BEGAN TO ACTIVLY PERSUE THE FIELD OF LOCKSMITHING AND IN THAT TIME HAD BECOME AN EXCELLENT LOCKSMITH. WITH HIS EXTENSIVE MECHANICAL BACKGROUND, AND A SUCCESSFUL APPLIANCE REPAIR BUSINESS ALREADY ESTABLISHED, HE WAS A NATURAL TO LOCKSMITHING. HE WAS A MEMBER OF THE TEXAS LOCKSMITH ASSOCIATION, SECRETARY FOR THE GREATER DALLAS LOCKSMITH ASSOCIATION, AND HAD EXPRESSED TO ME THE INTENTION OF JOINING ALOA IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

ONE OF MARVIN'S GREATIST JOYS WERE THE QUICK MINI-VACATIONS WITH HIS WIFE TO A RESORT COMMUNITY CALLED "HILLTOP. HE ALSO LOVED FLYING HIS CESSNA AIRPLANE, GOLF, MEETING AND DEALING WITH PEOPLE AND, WORKING ON LOCKS. HE WAS WHAT ALL LOCKSMITHS SHOULD STRIVE TO BE, A VERY "PEOPLE ORIENTED" PERSON.
MARVIN LOVED HIS CUSTOMERS SO, THAT HE HAD EXTABLISHED A TRADITION OF A FREE "POT-LUCK" LUNCH AT HIS SHOP EVERY WEDNESDAY. MANY OF US CAME AND ENJOYED THE FRIENDSHIP AND GOOD FOOD.

MANY PEOPLE, WHO KNEW AND LOVED HIM AND CAME EVERY WEDNESDAY THAT THEY COULD, WILL MISS HIM AND THOSE SPECIAL TIMES. EVENTS AND PEOPLE LIKE THAT ARE NOT MADE, THEY JUST KIND OF HAPPEN, AND ONCE GONE, MAY NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE, I FEEL A GREAT SENSE OF LOSS. PEOPLE WHO ARE FRIENDS WITH YOU FOR THE SOLE MOTIVE OF JUST BEING FRIENDS ARE SCARCE. I HAVE LOST SUCH A FRIEND AND I WILL MISS HIM VERY MUCH. (Note: I still do in 1998)

IT IS OF NOTE THAT I HAD RECIEVED SEVERAL BOGUS LOCKOUT CALLS IN THE LAST SEVERAL DAYS, LATE AT NIGHT, FROM WHAT WE THINK WAS THE SAME PERSON. IN FACT I HAD GONE TO THE SAME LOCATION THE NIGHT BEFORE AND DIDN'T MAKE CONTACT WITH THE CUSTOMER. WE DETERMINED THAT, IN DEED, THERE WAS NO LOCKOUT. I AM CERTAIN THAT IF A POLICEMAN HAD NOT BEEN DRIVING BY JUST PRIOR TO MY ARRIVING AT THE LOCATION, IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ME KILLED INSTEAD OF MARVIN.

I WAS SO DISTURBED BY IT AND THE PREVIOUS CALLS, THAT I CALLED MARVIN THE NEXT MORNING AND DISCUSSED IT WITH HIM. HE HAD HAD A SIMILAR CALL WITHIN THE LAST WEEK. BOTH OF US HAD VIOLATED WHAT I NOW BELIEVE TO BE A CARDINAL RULE. THAT IS TO VERIFY THE EXISTANCE OF THE CUSTOMER, THE LOCATION, AND THE TRUE NATURE OF THE EMERGENCY, BY GETTING A PHONE NUMBER, AND CHECKING IT OUT BY CALLING BACK OR CALLING THE POLICE. IN SHORT, WE WERE NAIVE, AND IT COST DEARLY.

WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THINGS LIKE THIS DO AND CAN HAPPEN TO US AND NOT JUST OTHER PEOPLE AND NOT BE CAUGHT UNAWARE. THIS CAN BE A DANGEROUS BUSINESS THAT WE ARE IN, IF WE INCLUDE LATE NIGHT CALL-OUTS IN OUR BUSINESS AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH.

PLEASE NOTIFY THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE TEXAS LOCKSMITH ASSN. AND WARN THEM THAT THERE MAY BE SOMEONE OUT THERE THAT IS PICKING ON LOCKSMITHS AS EASY TARGETS. BY DOING SO SOMEONE ELSE MAY BE SPARED THIS TRAGEDY.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. I AM
RESPECTFULLY YOURS

C.D. (DAVID) LIPSCOMB
NAVCO LOCKSMITHS
CC:
FILE
MARIAN WEBSTER- CORSICANA, TEXAS
DEE BUCHA-L.A.S.A., FREDRICKSBURG, TEXAS
STEVE ALBRIGHT -G.D.L.A., DALLAS, TEXAS
DIANE LUTHER, EDITOR, KEYNOTES
BILL REED, EDITOR, LOCKSMITH LEDGER
MARC GOLDBURG, EDITOR, THE NATIONAL LOCKSMITH]

Post Script:

This is why I say be careful out there, folks. Awareness, common sense, and attention to your natural instincts are propably your best defence. Just having a gun didn't help Marvin at all. When found, he had it still in a holster right between his knees. Beware of being called to a remote place. If the call doesn't seem right, don't go, or call the police to meet you there.

For those of you that are interested, in 1992, a young man, who was a thief and drug addict, was convicted of murder and sentanced to life for killing someone else in 1988, with what ballistics proved was the same gun used to kill Marvin. He remains the prime suspect in Marvin's murder, but to date, no one has been charged with my friend's death.

I don't want to read something like this about any of you.
So, be carefull out there.
CDL