If you run a small or medium sized businesses, in all probability you are either a skilled engineer with excellent technical knowledge or you are an entrepreneur (or both).But once your company gets to a certain size, managerial skills take on a greater significance.
A good manager is aware of his or her employees’ strengths and career aspirations and finds appropriate tasks to delegate to them. Not only does this help to lighten the burden on his own shoulders, it allows field engineers and office support staff to build the skillsets that will make their own jobs more satisfying.
However, many owners of field service companies do not delegate effectively. They might want to, but for a number of reasons they feel they can’t. This inability to delegate is one of the main reasons why small businesses do not successfully make the transition from “start-up” to “scale-up”.
"Many owners do not delegate effectively"
Here are a few tips to help you move forward.
1. Schedule jobs more effectively
As your business grows and you employ more engineers for more jobs, scheduling becomes increasingly complex. You can save a lot of time and delegate jobs more effectively if you have a clear view of engineers’ diaries (daily, weekly and monthly) and can link this to further information such as full property information, job details and engineers’ feedback. You will exercise greater control at a strategic level without having to micro-manage operations.
2. Give team members more oversight
So long as information about customers and jobs is all in the boss’s head, on pieces of paper, or even on a computer in the office, it is difficult to build trust. In the old days, managing a business via “command and control” from the centre was the norm. A more modern approach is to share information and devolve power. Today, with the advent of mobile technology, that is so much easier. Information about jobs, customers, parts etc. can be instantly available on a field engineers’ smartphone or tablet.
3. Measure engineers’ performance
One of the reasons that business owners do not delegate is that they are unsure who can be trusted to take on more responsibility. A job management software solution will give you fact-based insights into which engineers are most efficient. Gradually you can delegate greater responsibility to the highest performing engineers, freeing up your own time for growing the business. You can also identify the less well performing engineers and take corrective action (e.g. training and incentives) to make them more productive in future.
4. Manage customer interactions more effectively
We know – if you have your “own way of doing things” it is difficult to let go of managing customers. But delegating tasks such as booking in jobs, dealing with cancellations and responding to customer’s queries becomes so much easier when the relevant information about customer interactions is ready to hand. You can then delegate with greater confidence. With the right technology, whenever an office support person creates an invoice, reminder letter or any other document a log is generated. Likewise, engineers who are onsite also create logs via their mobile devices whenever they create invoices or certificates. This way there is a record of what’s going on and everyone (including you) is kept up-to-date. By automating processes, you therefore stay in control but with less time and stress.
5. Keep track of data: estimates and invoicing
Managing the whole process from creating an estimate through to invoicing based on actual resources expended is a real pain if you do not have the facts readily to hand. In particular, if you are reliant on engineers filling in paper-based time sheets (which are prone to error) you are subjecting yourself to unnecessary effort.
By syncing up your office system with mobile devices used by field engineers you will automate data capture of time and parts usage. This will make it easier for office support staff to generate invoices that are both accurate and attractive – and which you can sign off with confidence.
It is hard for a company owner or manager to “let go” but delegating responsibility is key to successful growth. With technology that is purpose-built for a plumbing business, the boss can exercise greater control with less effort, employees get more job satisfaction and customers receive better service. A win-win-win!
Click the image below to watch Will, our customer, talking about how Commusoft helps him and his 7 office staff manage the business.