Digital Navigation for the Modern Field Service Business
What technology is your team currently using for navigation? Even going with the free Google Maps app that comes with every non-Apple device is a massive improvement over paper maps, printed instructions, and even the Tom-Toms and Garmins of a few years ago.
The accuracy of phone GPS or, even better, the accuracy provided by a dedicated GPS device can give you the exact location of your service vehicles both for drivers on the road trying to catch a sharp turn and for managers back at HQ keeping track of the teams.
The extensive mapping data for both addresses and road pathing allows for constant re-routing if there are obstacles and the fast little computer chips ensure that your re-routing is a quick and smooth process providing the next turn well before you need it.
But the true question is how your field service business can benefit from industry-specific improvements and integrated management software. We have a few ideas to get you started.
Efficient Route Planning
When scheduling your teams, no doubt you try to give them addresses in nearby neighborhoods for teams to fast in-sequence. This minimized the amount of drive time and allows you to service several customers in quick succession.
Of course, routing doesn't always go the way you planned and sometimes schedules get mixed up causing more driving than necessary. With software that connects your schedule to your digital mapping, you can select one team or technician and immediately see the route their schedule takes them on.
When your routing software connects to a mobile app for your team, you can even take the time to fine-tune a route using shortcuts and streets the auto-router wouldn't have chosen.
Then send your custom route to the driver's phone or an emplaced nav device to save hours of driving a day in five- to ten-minute segments. Skipping troublesome lights and arranging customer locations to be en route of one another is a powerful tool in field service navigation.
Knowing exactly where your vehicles are is useful in more ways than we can reasonably list in a single paragraph. Most notably, it allows office staff to remain coordinated with what is happening in the field and to provide accurate information for customers who call in asking for an estimated time of arrival.
You might even already have a fleet tracking solution but is it integrated with your route and schedule management system? If not, it should be.
This would allow your GPS tracking interface to not only tell you where a truck is but also whether or not it is ahead of, on, or behind schedule and create a record of movements related to customer services.
When you send your teams out with a list of directions and a carefully balanced route, rescheduling customers can cause real problems.
While you don't mind coming at a different time, one customer who wants to move up, cancel, or schedule for another day can throw off your entire perfect routing plan, especially if coordination relies on sticking to that plan from beginning to end.
Of course, field service must always be flexible and integrated navigation software allows for that. With the right interface, you can manage your route in real-time and adjust the schedule to suit the customer's new requested timing needs.
Sourcing Break-Time Locations
For longer jobs, it will be necessary for your field teams to take breaks and eat lunch while still on-location.
Some customers are fine seeing everyone sit down and eat a sandwich while others are bothered by the sight of hired workers being idle. This is why it's generally better to find a nearby location to take the fifteen and half-hour breaks needed.
Whether you choose a lunchbox picnic in a nearby park or to grab burgers at the fast food place across the way, real-time navigation and search features can allow your office staff or your field team to search and locate a safe place to take breaks away from the work site.
Finally, from time to time one truck of technicians isn't enough to finish a job. Whether an appliance exploded or one of your trucks dies on the road, it may be necessary to send backup to the precise location of your team in need.
With responsive GPS location, you can set one vehicle as the destination marker for another vehicle in order to send rescue or backup. You can even use your tracker to source the team closest to the emergency to summon backup as quickly as possible.
The advancement of digital mapping technology has been incredible for the field service industry. Even in the MapQuest days, simply having access to a digital map was better than an atlas.
But today, the capabilities of a single smartphone mounted in each vehicle can massively improve your productivity, driving efficiency, and team-to-office coordination. For more tips on how to optimize your field service fleet, contact us today!