As your field service business grows, so do the demands on your operations manager. While it’s relatively simple to schedule ten engineers using traditional diary management software, when you get to 20, 30, or 50 engineers, scheduling becomes much more complex.
Are you relying on a traditional diary management system to schedule your engineers? If so, that means your operations manager is assigning jobs to engineers based on estimating the shortest time travel and lowest overtime risk...based only on their intuition.
This works well when you have a handful of engineers, but as your business grows this can create a problem. Staying with a system that no longer serves you costs the company more than money. Here’s how a manual scheduling system impacts just about every department in your business.
For more help solving scheduling problems in your growing plumbing and heating, HVAC, electrical, fire and security, or property management business, download our free report on how automated systems are helping growing field service businesses streamline their scheduling.
How A Manual Scheduling System Costs You More Than Money
As your field service business expands, you may be wasting money, time, and resources by sticking with a scheduling system that can’t keep up with your growth. Here’s how a manual scheduling system impacts every department in your company:
Operations: Your operations manager is too busy working on scheduling to help improve the business.
Customer Relations: Lower customer satisfaction translates to fewer jobs.
Sales: The operations manager can’t handle the demand from sales.
Accounting: The accountant has trouble tracking costs.
Human Resources: Recruiting and retaining staff is difficult due to engineer burnout, and salary costs are higher since you need more operations managers.
Fleet Management: The fleet manager can’t see key data that would help them increase productivity and lower costs.
Keep reading for details on the problems that are caused by outdated scheduling software—and that can be solved with automated scheduling.
The Department: Operations
The Problem: Your operations manager is too busy scheduling to help improve the business.
Using a traditional diary management system, one operations manager can handle a maximum of 15 to 20 engineers each day. At that point, however, they’re not doing anything but scheduling—which leaves them no time for improving the business.
Even with all the data that’s available through field service management software, there’s always a role for intuition in business processes, according the article “Big Data and the Role of Intuition” in Harvard Business Review. The thing is, the smart business manager uses intuition to decide where to apply analytics, and to delve into the scheduling data to improve the business. Day-to-day tasks, like the scheduling itself, can be automated to free up time for more high-level work.
The Department: Customer Relations
The Problem: Lower customer satisfaction translates to fewer jobs.
Last week we had an entire article on the link between automated scheduling and customer happiness, but to drive the point home here’s information from a Digital Marketing Magazine article called “Augmented Intelligence Holds the Key to Superior Customer Moments”:
‘Building customer trust is impossible without a team of engaged employees, who are empowered by their company’s culture and its applications to help them become more productive and efficient. Empowering them with intelligent systems that automate mundane and simple tasks, prompting them with next best actions and the right information at the right time, not only drives performance and productivity, it offers the potential to deliver major boosts to employee satisfaction, which translates to happier customers.’
Intelligent scheduling one a type of augmented intelligence, meaning it helps humans but doesn’t replace them. A traditional diary management system burdens your staff with “mundane tasks” that make them unhappy, which they then pass on to customers—but empowering them with intelligent scheduling can reverse that trend.
The Department: Sales
The Problem: The operations manager can’t handle the demand from sales.
“Sales vs. Operations” is considered an epic battle in the business world.
Part of the reason is that, well, sales wants to get more sales, and operations needs to make sure the business is operating well. This quote from “Supply Chain Management: Sales vs. Operations” is about product sales, but it applies just as well to field services:
‘In many cases, a sales department creates an unrealistic forecast, and the operations department is blamed for having too much inventory. In other cases, the sales department can’t meet its revenue targets because the operations team was too conservative in its planning.’
In field service, the sales department’s job is to line up leads, but without an automated scheduling system to ease the way, the sales team isn’t confident that the operations manager can handle the demand. The result? A demotivated sales force and fewer leads.
The Department: Accounting
The Problem: The accountant has trouble tracking costs.
When your field service business is small, an accountant can easily track costs manually...because there aren’t that many of them. But as the company expands with more jobs, more engineers, more office staff, and more vehicles, the accounting department starts having trouble keeping track of costs.
A traditional diary management system doesn’t offer an easy way to track expenditures, compounding the problem for the accounting department. Automated scheduling software, on the other hand, offers continuous recording of costs so that your accountant can do their job.
The Department: Human Resources
The Problem: Recruiting and retaining staff is difficult, and salary costs are higher.
Scheduling plays a big role in engineer satisfaction, which is crucial in these days where skilled engineers are in high demand. According to workplace solutions provider ManpowerGroup, we're facing the biggest talent shortage since 2006. The number one role employers are finding hardest to fill? The skilled trades, like plumbers and electricians.
With manual scheduling, engineers are often overbooked, leading to burnout—and, in turn, issues with hiring and retention.
Another HR problem related to manual scheduling: You’re paying more in salaries, since you may need more than one operations manager to handle scheduling for all the engineers. An automated booking system improves the operations manager : engineer ratio so the business saves money.
The Department: Fleet Management
The Problem: The fleet manager can’t see (and use) key data.
With traditional diary management software, the fleet management department doesn’t know how much fuel the fleet is using, how safely engineers are driving, and how much maintenance is needed—which can increase costs for the business.
‘Scheduling is a mastered art that directly impacts your employee and vehicle productivity,’ writes Jessie Robinson of Fleetio in her guest post on how to maximise productivity through effective scheduling. ‘Equally important to engineer scheduling is vehicle scheduling and assignments. Recall that the time vehicles spend sitting in the parking lot or maintenance shop equates to lost profit.’
An automated scheduling system tracks everything a fleet manager needs to increase productivity and keep costs down.
If a manual scheduling system might be getting in the way of your field service business’s growth, discover the solutions by downloading our free report “How Intelligent Scheduling Is Changing the Way Field Service Businesses Plan Their Work” below.