Ever finished a tough day at work and thought, “I could use a drink”? We’ve all been there.
And ironically, the bar owner on the other end of that mojito shaker faces many of the same challenges when it comes to shift management. Just like a bar owner, you must retain a talented and friendly staff, prepare for seasonal demand, comply with stringent regulations, and keep a close eye on customer complaints. And just like a bar owner, you need to put a big old smile on your face every single day and try to motivate your field service techs.
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect cocktail or recipe to make shift management challenges disappear altogether. But there are certainly some tactics you can implement each day to make things more efficient and enjoyable.
Like a fine cocktail, a dash of key ingredients mixed just right will make all the difference. Here are three field service shift management tips from behind the bar for improving efficiency and keeping employees happy.
1. Improve Communication
Working at a bar and in the field both get loud, busy, and distracting. (Did she say mojito or Doritos?) Getting an order of cheesy fries to a table, or bringing the right unit to a wireless service install, both require healthy communication. Logistical complications, communication errors, parts discrepancies, or even vehicle malfunctions, are a few common hurdles to scheduling efficiency. But despite all the field service technology involved, successful scheduling is as much about artful communication as hard scientific management.
Professionals must have incredible soft skills, human resources candor, a detail-oriented attitude, and significant fleet management and scheduling experience. And every field service vertical has its own nuances, after all. Which is why the success or failure of your scheduling all boils down to communication. Try the following model, which is commonly used in bars during pre-shift meetings:
- Hear what your field techs have to say first. Ask what went well, or poorly in the past week. If you listen first, communication becomes a two-way dialogue and your staff will feel more invested.
- Offer a simple plan for how the following week is going to be better, for the organization and staff.
- End meetings, or one-off communication with positivity. You want your field techs getting in their trucks feeling upbeat and excited to interface with customers.
2. Offer Incentives
Bartenders, waiters, and most other restaurant folk live and die on the almighty tip. Their income is therefore directly correlated with customer satisfaction and how busy the restaurant is. This usually means they’ll go the extra mile for customers in order to come out of shift on top.
While field service techs don’t work on tips, there are a few simple ways to apply this model to incentivize staff in roughly the same fashion. Open the door to an “effort in, dollar out” model, and you’ll likely see performance and customer satisfaction go up. Here are some incentives to consider:
- Link your bonus structure to the callbacks each month. Consider giving field techs with the fewest callbacks a bump.
- Pay technicians a cut when their referral leads turn into deals. Or, develop a points program they can reward for cash or gift cards based on number of referrals and deals.
Call Service Revenue Leaderboard
- Compensate technicians who beat the average call service revenue in a given month.
- Pick a metric that field techs like to compete over, and offer gift cards, free meals, movie tickets or another fun reward each month to the winner. Let the techs decide the competition to get them invested.
3. Keep Track of What Matters Most
If a bartender shows up five minutes late but has incredible customer service skills, a good manager knows they should go easy on the tardiness. On the other hand, if a bartender makes amazing drinks but is stealing a few tips on the side, a good manager also knows it’s time for a serious wake-up call.
The same psychology applies in field service management. Knowing which small infractions to let slide, and which key metrics to focus on for success, can make or break your daily life managing field techs and their schedules. Here are some things you’ll want to track:
- Let’s throw the “big brother” argument out the window right now. Knowing the location of your technicians at all times builds accountability into service operations and supports more intelligent scheduling.
- If you have customer portals, keep an eye on them. If your customers are on social media, listen to what they are saying. If callbacks are how you hear from customers, by all means pick up the phone. However you track your customers’ satisfaction with tech performance, keep close tabs.
Field Tech Utilization
- Calculate this by dividing time spent performing repairs or on-site by total time logged. Keeping an eye on this will tell you in an instant how your individual techs, and overall workforce is doing from a productivity standpoint.
Whether your field operations are large or small, implementing some of the basic principles above will reduce headaches in your shift management. And if this isn’t enough, maybe it’s time to pour a drink.