What's the best way to schedule my engineers?
Scheduling the right way impacts everything in your business, from your customer satisfaction ratings to your employee motivation. And, of course, your profits.
Let's tackle the basics first with these helpful tips and resources about best practices, intelligent scheduling, and more.
Key quote: 'Schedule optimisation software (also known as dynamic scheduling or intelligent scheduling software) helps field service business owners and operations managers send the right engineer to the right job, by considering which engineer has the shortest travel time and also has the best qualifications or certifications to perform the repair or installation. Some solutions also offer a “map view”, where you can see where all your jobs are in relation to the one you’re booking at the moment.'
Key quote: 'By taking advantage of the benefits of IoT in field service and automation, businesses can move to using predictive maintenance processes. Use sensors on equipment that can send signals and collect data to advise when equipment is broken or in need of maintenance so that your business can plan with anticipation and therefore schedule more effectively. These types of preventive processes have business benefits for both you and your customers; you get to reap more potential profit, have fewer scheduling challenges, and your customers experience less potential downtime.'
Key quote: 'The reason why scheduling is so excruciating of a task is that there are numerous factors that a field service organisation would need to create and evaluate to determine the optimal assignment for each field service engineer. This is a time-consuming activity that requires an extensive amount of computational power to achieve. Many companies have suffered from a loss of time and resources in dealing with confusion and potential human error. The solution is Dynamic Scheduling Software.'
Key quote: 'Consider introducing a service agreement plan, where customers pay monthly for a certain number of maintenance visits. This will give you a good idea of how many jobs you'll need to do each month to fulfill those contracts.'
How can my business survive the busy season?
Whether you're a plumbing and heating company that gets slammed in the winter, or a pest control business that's crazy busy in the summer, the busy season creates scheduling (and other) challenges.
Here are resources to help you even out the feast-or-famine nature of field service work with optimised scheduling, smart engineer management, and service reminders.
Key quote: 'Because maintenance work can be scheduled at the company’s convenience, it’s usually performed during seasonal slowdowns or other periods of slack demand. This means hourly employees have work to do and are not sent home.'
Key quote: 'Automate as many tasks as you can. For example, schedule your email newsletters and blog posts in advance, use automated service reminders, and set up a digital invoicing and payment system so you don't need to manually send invoices.'
Key quote: 'Hire extra staff about a month before the busy season starts. You want to allow time for new employees to be oriented before the busy season hits, not during it. Otherwise, training new staff will be another task employees don’t have time for.'
Key quote: 'Your plan for handling the busy heating season might include hiring temporary staff, implementing new productivity tools, triaging so your engineers tackle the most urgent jobs first, and taking steps to spin the busy winter into a profitable summer.'
Key quote: 'Employee scheduling not only helps ensure that you always have someone available to service your customers but that you are doing so in the most efficient way possible. With employee scheduling, you can optimize where and when engineers serve customers to reduce non-revenue generating periods—the time employees spend traveling or waiting between jobs.'
Key quote: 'You may fear you're annoying customers with emails or texts reminding them of needed boiler servicing, but in reality you're doing them a favour. Without your reminders, your customers may wind up with no heat in the middle of winter, expired gas certificates, or worse.'
Should I offer emergency services?
Offering 24/7 emergency services is another scheduling challenge. These resources can help you decide whether it's right for you—and, if it is, how to make it happen.Adding emergency services can boost your profits, but there are pitfalls. Here's what you need to know.
Key quote: 'When an emergency call comes in, you may need to reschedule or reroute your engineers to get someone to the emergency ASAP—and an intelligent scheduling solution can help keep everything on track.'
Key quote: 'Less than 11 percent of workers on “regular” work schedules report “often” experiencing work-family conflict in contrast with as many as 26 percent of irregular/on-call shift employees, and 19 percent of rotating/split shift workers. Similar differences appear for reporting that they “never” experience work-family interference.'
Key quote: 'Ten percent of emergency field service work will be both triaged and scheduled by artificial intelligence by 2020.'
Key quote: 'Long-term projects such as bathroom fittings which take weeks of work may give you a nice lump some of cash but if you’re not being paid until the job is finished how will that affect cashflow? Emergency call-out jobs, where you invoice and receive payment on the spot, can be a much steadier form of income during the early days.'
Free job status spreadsheet
Need help with your job scheduling?
Try this free, simple tool for field service businesses.
If you need help with organising and tracking your jobs—but aren't quite ready to go digital—download our free job status spreadsheet. This simple tool is loads more helpful and efficient than a manual system (or no system at all). Just fill out the form below and you can download your spreadsheet immediately.