Running a field service business successfully is a marvel of coordination, logistics, and teamwork. The office team manages the customers and books the work orders, the garage team keeps the vehicles in good condition and ready to go, and your technicians are responsible for everything in-between leaving the facility and coming back at the end of the day.
As a field service business owner or manager, your job is to make sure the facility, policies, and business back-end continues to support the rest of your business and service structure.
One of the responsibilities of leadership is also making improvements where they can be made and increasing productivity is one of these improvements. But how figuring out how to make positive changes without causing workflow disruptions requires careful thought and implementation.
If you're on the lookout for low-impact ways to subtly improve the productivity of your field service, consider the following ten suggestions and how easily they could be implemented for your individual business.
1) Keep Vehicles in Top Condition
Your technicians rely on the vehicles they drive and customers rely on technicians to make to appointments on time. Needless to say, the vehicles matter a great deal in the efficiency of your services delivery.
Every flaw in an engine or lingering untended maintenance problem could be causing your field service fleet to burn gas too quickly, leak, or shake in a way that manages to irritate your technicians when they're on their way to help a customer.
Motivate your mechanic team not just to maintain, but to take constant active interest in the repair state of each vehicle. Engines should be fine-tuned to eliminate rattle or unnecessary vibrations, tires should be checked for blow-out risks, and the internal systems should work well.
When your technicians enjoy the sensation of driving or riding in a vehicle with a clear radio and a working air system, they will arrive at work sites faster and with greater energy because their mobile work environment is enjoyable.
2) Pack Each Vehicle Like a Go-Bag
One of the most inefficient possibilities in field service work is the need to go get a missing or needed part or to reschedule so that a part can be ordered. This is especially problematic when the need for the part was on record, but it was simply forgotten back at home base.
The best way to make sure that you never lose time or irritate customers by needing to swing back for something missing is to treat morning pre-departures like you're packing for a survival camping trip.
Each vehicle will inevitably have a number of customers it will be visiting during the daily rounds. This means that you have a mobile storage unit for everything your team might need during these jobs.
Start with the basics like a complete industry-appropriate toolbox and some simple survival gear including:
- a flashlight
- first aid kit
- emergency blanket
- portable jump starter
Then stock the vehicles with everything that could be needed like
- spare tools
- extra zip-ties
- foot covers
- popular up sell items
Finally, consider hidden or secured storage for a few things that are needed occasionally like spare parts for common repairs.
3) Install GPS Navigation and OBS Monitoring
Next comes vehicle technology. Remember that these are essentially moving offices for your technician teams so they should not only be comfortable, but also well-equipped with the right mobile tools. Perhaps the most useful from your field team's standpoint is a GPS navigation system that points them efficiently toward the next customer.
Consider looking for a version that takes traffic into account and can help your team plan for faster alternate routes. With GPS, you may also be able to track the location of your teams in real-time.
OBS monitoring, on the other hand, is a small device that can collect and transmit data about how the vehicles are being driven. Everything that shows up on your dashboard and a lot more data than you normally see can be accessed through a simple port usually somewhere under the steering wheel.
This is more useful for your analytics than the field service teams themselves, and can let you know approximately how safely each vehicle is being driven. Data includes speed, acceleration, breaking rate, and turn radius, along with dashboard information like tire pressure.
4) Equip Each Vehicle With a Tablet
Tablets have very quickly replaced the traditional clipboard in modern field service methods and they are a great way to interface with clients on-site.
They can be used to show clients a well-organized quote, a list of options for how to resolve their repair problems, or a friendly invoice copy after the work is done. However, not every single member of your technician teams needs a tablet, so instead assign the devices to the vehicles.
With one tablet per vehicle, this ensures that no matter who is going out, the team will be equipped to provide high-tech and efficient service to customers. Your customers will never have to read illegible technician handwriting again.