Field Service Technician Scheduling Tips
Few industries rely on scheduling management in the same way as field service businesses. Being skilled and strategic at managing schedules is a necessary and critical function for any business that relies on field service technicians and other similar types of employees.
The typical office job may have a wave—or two to three—of employees scheduled to arrive in the morning and depart in the early evening. Perhaps scheduling is further complicated with an evening shift or an overnight shift. But even these scheduling scenarios are considerably less dynamic than the challenges and nuances facing field service businesses.
A mastery of scheduling distinguishes one field service company from the next.
Managing a field service business requires a capacity to anticipate issues, adjustment on the fly, and implement proactive planning. Scheduling customers and providing assignments to technicians is a complex challenge that can be unpredictable for numerous reasons. Equipment, machines, customers, and employees all play interconnected roles that can be difficult to foresee.
Scheduling management in the field service industry can be understood as a practice that incorporates both art and science. Management necessitates the capacity to remain nimble and improvise in the face of inevitable fluctuations, but it must be informed and structured within an architecture of best practices.
9 Tips for Field Service Technician Scheduling
In this article, we explore nine tips that inform your ability to develop a strategy for schedule management that can heighten your ability to anticipate issues, while remaining grounded in real data and strategy that enable you to adapt efficiently in real-time.
1. Prioritize Employees
Field service scheduling can include a diversity of employee types, including full-time, part-time, and freelance technicians, with varying skill or specialization levels. It is paramount to successful schedule management to centralize priority around the needs, abilities, and desires of employees. Communicating that an employee’s life and work is at the core of any business strategy will result in a sustained satisfaction that drives employee retention.
The key to prioritizing the needs and concerns of employees is maintaining access to management. When management is accessible for communication and feedback, healthy work culture can be sustained. Taking the employee into consideration with scheduling should balance with the demands of the business, and it can account for such things as a technician’s specialized knowledge of particular equipment or their strong rapport with a customer.
2. Assess overall labor force
Any attempt at schedule management should begin with an assessment of available resources. This process can be informed by focusing on two primary areas: historical trends and establishing a baseline.
The first of these is developed through reflection on previous trends in the business. Your company can execute a full audit of all the elements that contributed to the most efficient days on record. One such example would be assessing a day when the highest volume of calls was received and executed. Analyzing such sample days for efficiencies that can be mirrored is a best practice in developing future strategies for scheduling. Similar efforts can be made to reflect and analyze less efficient days as well.
Once an audit of best and worst performances is analyzed and mined for clarity, a company can establish a baseline. This can involve figuring out the minimum necessary labor for an average day and then affect further estimations on how many additional resources or hours are required for response to any additional calls.
3. Develop a system of prioritization
In an ideal world, every customer and every call would receive the same priority. Unfortunately, limited resources and shifting demands do not permit such a luxury. As a result, it is necessary to establish a hierarchy of precedence for types of customers. These priorities can be informed by such dynamics as a type of work, urgency, or any elements unique to your business. Establishing such priorities also provides the benefit of being able to decline work that would detract from defined priorities and potentially interfere with profitable decisions for scheduling.
Once the architecture for priority has been established, it is critical to communicate the system with everyone on the team, especially essential technicians and the dispatcher.
4. Emphasize the role of dispatcher
Too many field service companies attempt to cut costs by hiring inexperienced dispatchers or deemphasizing this function in general. The role of the dispatcher should be given high priority and sufficient resources. Cutting back on this critical role sets a shaky foundation for effective schedule management.
A capable dispatcher will excel in customer service and manage to multitask. They must also be supplied with the correct tools. Tools such as FieldDispatch software from FieldConnect are invaluable for creating a dispatch system that ensures fluid operations. This type of solution permits mobility and flexibility, allowing for quick troubleshooting and simplifying scheduling for preventative maintenance calls, emergency rescheduling, and accommodations for new business opportunities.
5. Balance Manual and Automated Scheduling
As with the resources applied to dispatch services, the best performing schedule management strategies take advantage of innovation in technology. Automating scheduling will save time, produce efficiencies, and redistribute necessary resources across a broader spectrum of operational needs. To maximize the technology available for automating scheduling, a manager should always be ready to improvise essential changes. The ideal solution builds a foundation on automation and blends it with the adaptability of manual scheduling.
6. Use reminders
Effective schedule management develops plans ahead of time. When appointments are scheduled in advance, sending out reminders for management, technicians, and customers is essential. This can assist in identifying scheduling issues early on and being able to pivot appropriately. Customers forgetting about appointments or running late consistently propose complications to established scheduling that can be mitigated or reduced by using technology to send reminders.
7. Empower analytics
We cannot emphasize the need for effective and exhaustive technological solutions for the management of scheduling. It is critical to track all data related to jobs, monitoring numbers such as first-time fixes, emergency or unscheduled calls, delays, and the myriad other challenges that arise specific to your operations. Work can be scheduled according to the days of the week, month, or seasons when call volume is highest.
To collect, analyze, and properly implement such data, key resources such as FieldGateway can be installed. Data can even be provided in real-time to create a seamless integration between your back office and the field.
8. Implement GPS tracking technology
Using GPS technology to track field technicians is illuminating for both management and the customer. Management can know which technician is closest to a job site or if they have arrived at the customer. This software can also inform the customer of a technician’s location, offering
them comfort and assurances that result in satisfaction. Tracking such information can also inform future audits of business operations and clarify where efficiencies can be amplified.
9. Technology that integrates with current solutions
Whether you are a new business or further expanding your horizons, it is vital to leverage modern scheduling tools for your company’s growth and success. As with most innovations, it is essential to find tools that integrate seamlessly with your current tools.
FieldConnect offers an array of resources that integrate with your current systems and go beyond even the best practices listed in this article. If your field service division still uses outdated systems and workflows, you are missing out on the measurable benefits that impact customer satisfaction, service capacity, and productivity, as well as field service staff retention.
FieldConnect offers a full suite of complete service solutions that will enable your scheduling management strategy to function at its peak performance.
You can easily request a demonstration of these many resources with FieldConnect today.