Automation is nothing more than the latest buzzword. A gimmick for companies with too much time to waste. But your field service business is different, right? Let’s say you’re a busy manager of a fire and security business and you don’t have a Silicon Valley budget to spend on digital schemes. This is why we’ve put together 5 reasons why you shouldn’t bother using mass scheduling software to manage your technicians:
1. “My fire and security business doesn’t have a scheduling problem.”
This is what you tell yourself whenever you have to ask your admin staff to do overtime so they can catch up with scheduling. As you sift through dozens of Excel spreadsheets, post-its, and notebooks, you remind yourself that this is just how fire and security businesses are meant to be run. You use a clunky, antiquated piece of software that a pushy sales guy sold you on a while ago, but at the end of the day, all it does is tell you where a tech should be. The techs themselves, together with the customers, are still waiting to get the news because there’s no automated workflow to update them. That’s all fine though, because surprise is the spice of life, right?
2. Variable labor costs are easy to manage and keep track of.
Since all your technicians work the same shifts – fire and security is strictly a 9 to 5 sort of industry – you don’t need to worry about calculating overtime or budgeting in advance. You’ve also hired a magic accountant who can produce forecasts on variable labor costs in no time at all, saving you the trouble of planning taxes and making sure you keep a healthy cash flow.
3. I know all the fastest routes around and so do my admin staff.
And if they don’t remember how to get from 24 Islington Street to 24 Eslington Street, there’s always time to Google it, even when they’re scheduling dozens of work orders. If you’re starting to see that your staff can’t keep up regardless of how much overtime they’re doing, then just hire more admin to solve your technician scheduling challenges. That’s definitely sustainable growth for your business!
4. My customers are very happy taking time off work to wait around for a tech.
After you’ve spent literally days manually scheduling a couple hundred installations, you’ll find some poor intern to email every customer a date of when the tech is supposed to arrive. There’s no need to send them any reminders, since they’ll definitely be taking the full day off to wait around for someone to get to their house some time between 9am and 5pm. After all, that’s not too vague a window…afterwards, they’ll definitely take the time to write an eloquent 5 star review about your service and recommend your business with their friends.
5. My company doesn’t do commercial maintenance contracts, so doesn’t need to invest in better management tools…
You’ve got plenty of domestic work and other odd jobs, so you don’t need a guaranteed income with a predictable schedule that doesn’t fluctuate according to the market. Learning how to bid for contracts is a hassle and so is upgrading your business to be able to compete better with other fire and security companies. After all, they’re just suckers that gave into the hype around automation, right?
Just like all those clothes retailers who started selling online and are now in big trouble. Or that Amazon company that went downhill years ago.
Oh, wait: that’s not what happened at all. It’s the clothes retailers that didn’t start selling online that are shuttering their doors. Amazon is doing just fine – if you define “fine” as a company whose net worth is $134.5 billion – it’s the bookshops that didn’t keep up with the times that folded. There are many, many other examples of companies and industries that refused to invest in innovation and, as a result, are suffering the consequences now.
Mass scheduling, also known as dynamic scheduling, is not some gimmick meant for corporations, but rather an incredibly useful tool that most fire and security businesses – and many other field service companies – use to facilitate their scheduling processes. Field service businesses schedule and dispatch hundreds (or even thousands) of work orders per day. It’s the responsibility of their office staff and schedulers to process those appointments, assign them to a technician, and find a suitable date and time for the work to be completed, which is no simple task.
Dynamic scheduling software can help improve workforce utilization, increase first-time fix rates, maximize efficiency, and allow businesses to complete more work orders per day. This means that you can easily schedule domestic work orders in bulk and keep your individual customers happy with automated notifications and reminders. Additionally, the easiest way to achieve sustainable growth and have the peace of mind that your bottom line care handle market fluctuations is to balance domestic work with maintenance contracts. These bring in a guaranteed fixed income and allow you to plan your schedule in advance, but they do require a powerful management system be in place.
Whether you’re thinking domestic or commercial, it’s hard to deny that customers want to be in the loop these days. A good field service customer experience implies an existing workflow that informs every party involved (admin, technicians, customer) of any changes that occur in a work order and calculates a fixed service window on the date of the appointment. These are not features reserved just for the likes of Uber these days: it’s what your customers expect. Disappointing them is not a sign of strong old-school business values, but of a company that has fallen behind the times. They won’t hesitate to look elsewhere if you don’t catch up.
These features will allow you to schedule technicians in bulk, dozens or hundreds at a time, within certain parameters (what shifts they’re available for, the time range you need to get the appointments scheduled in, etc.), calculate labor costs, produce a report and ensure you’re staying within budget. Additionally, it will take into account the addresses assigned to the work order so that the suggested appointments are optimized for the ideal route that won’t waste your resources or your techs’ time. All this in a matter of minutes, without having to hire additional staff that aren’t actually going out in to the field, thus increasing profits.
It’s not easy to cut through the noise of the media when it comes to automation and software in general. Many people in business either wildly overestimate what it can do, thinking that once they buy into software they can just sit back and watch the company run itself, or severely underestimate how much more efficient they can be. However, for a company to grow in a sustainable manner, the fact of the matter is that implementing a job management software is the way to offering a great customer experience and improve employee wellbeing.