Drive Your Fleet Forward

Improve the Productivity of Your Field Service Business - Pt 2

Posted by Scott Crawford

field service business productivity

5) Get Feedback and Ideas from Every Team Member

Many managers get into the headspace of thinking that they are the only source of innovation and must bring in productivity methods from the outside. However, both your office staff and your field technicians have a great perspective on how to eliminate inefficiencies because they work closely with the existing system every day.

While not every idea will be actionable, be sure to let your team know that every member's opinions and ideas about how to boost productivity will be heard and considered.

From time to time, call everyone together and ask them to share their thoughts on how any aspect of the business could be run more efficiently. You might be surprised just how much improvement you can get simply by implementing the ideas of people who are very familiar with the current flaws in the system.

6) Schedule with Cancellations in Mind

Time is money, and so is time between field service work orders. When your office dispatchers book jobs, they usually try to do so with gaps between the scheduled appointments for emergency calls and traffic drive time.

However, this doesn't take into account that up to percent of jobs are canceled each day, leaving even more free time when your technicians aren't actively in transit or helping a customer.

Instead of leaving large time gaps in your schedule, consider booking with the possibility of cancellations in mind. It might be helpful to give customers both an estimated time and a window in case you finish preceding work orders earlier and can get to them sooner in the day.

This would allow you to compress the schedule and get back that extra time. If you've got time at the end of the day, call everyone back and take care of a few backed up tasks in the office like cleaning the vehicles or completing reports.

7) Designate a Time Window for Emergency Calls

Of course, you do still need a few available hours during the day for emergency calls. Sometimes one of your customers is in a tight spot and being able to get to them same-day or next-day at the latest is the key to remaining their go-to emergency number.

Rather than creating loose time gaps between appointments during the day, designate an emergency time slot, perhaps in the late afternoon. That way, you can be sure that at least one emergency can be picked up during the day and it gives emergency callers much of the day to reach out before you close up shop in the evening.

8) Drill Teams on Arrival and Departure Efficiency

When you're talking about productivity and efficiency during a work order, you might be surprised how much time can be lost simply climbing out of and back into the vehicle. This is especially true if your team needs to bring a reasonable amount of equipment into a client's house with them and then pack back up when they're finished.

These tasks can take anywhere from two to fifteen minutes and, naturally, you'd rather they tend toward two minutes of set-up or tear-down.

 One way to decrease the time that these processes take is to run drills back at home base. Doubling as a team-building exercise, have your technicians practice loading out of the vehicle with all the right gear and then practice packing up the gear and getting into the vehicle as quickly as possible.

When you make the drills a game by playing energetic music and competing for best times, your teams will even enjoy becoming super-efficient speed techs.

9) Enable Communication Between Customers and Field Service Teams

If you don't already have a communications channel by which customers can contact the technicians assigned to them or technicians can contact customers, it's time to have one.

Asking dispatch to relay every little concern or confusion becomes inefficient because there's no need for a middle-man. In many cases, the best solution will be two-way email, live chat, or SMS. Choose something that can be prepared, tested, and accessed on the vehicle tablets. 

This allows your team to contact customers if it looks like they'll be arriving earlier or later than expected or to ask for directions if they can't find the client's home in a complicated neighborhood.

Two-way communication also lets your customers answer these questions, ask the technician team about their ETA, and possibly to reschedule at the last minute. They may also be able to deliver special instructions like "Come in through the side gate. The dog doesn't bite".

10) Measure Your Results

Finally, you'll never know how well your productivity goals are being met unless you measure the progress. Every industry and drive for productivity is a little different so you should use whatever metrics you consider relevant to your productivity goals.

Whether it's drive time to customers, a number of customers per day, or even more efficient gas mileage, don't forget to measure your success so you can celebrate when your goals are met or exceeded.

Managing your field services fleet is no laughing matter, no matter how much fun you can have doing drills and preparing the vehicles at the beginning and end of each day.

With the right fleet of service vehicles, regular maintenance, and a well-trained team both your customers and your bottom line are sure to notice the difference. For more tips on how to improve the productivity and service quality of your field service business, contact us today!

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Topics: Fleet Management, Vehicle Leasing, Fleet Maintenance

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