Route for a Team: Tips and Technology YOU Can UseBy My Service Depot on Friday, October 4, 2019
These tools and tech tips can help organize your service routes and help your field service business increase efficiency.
When you run a field service company, your success hinges on a few key factors. You need skilled service workers who can work efficiently and professionally. You also need a fleet of vehicles that run well, an inventory of common parts so that your techs don’t have to drive across town every time they need a new part, and the organizational skills to keep the whole operation efficient enough to turn a profit.
Most days, this is harder than it looks.
Route planning is critical to putting everything together. When you have a mobile workforce, you can’t afford to make appointments that send them from one side of town to the other and back again. You simply can’t complete as many jobs that way. If you take the lead and manage their efforts, you can ensure that no time—or trip—is wasted.
The only real solution? Sit down and plan every job for every technician. You can do this in several ways. For one, you could assign a set number of tasks to each worker and let them organize their own routes. Of course, do this and you risk overlooking your customers’ specific scheduling requirements. Also, your workers may not plan their workflows as efficiently as possible, which could cause backlogs in the schedule (or unhappy customers).
You could also assign your techs their jobs by location. They may receive a different number of tasks, but that way you can at least somewhat minimize travel time.
You can take the time to map out each employee’s service route by hand or using a free maps program like Google Maps. This allows you to give your team an outline of where to go and offer them turn-by-turn directions for getting to each appointment. With a little trial and error, you can set solid schedules that maximize what each service person can handle.
This strategy may work out if you only have a handful of workers or don’t have too much work coming in. But trying to develop optimal maps for your technicians by hand when you a ton of work pouring in ever day? You might need some help. It takes time to manually optimize schedules. In fact, it can easily become a full time gig. Of course, if you don’t have the funds to throw at staffing up, you can do the next best thing; turn to technology.
Many service companies get started with scheduling via Google Calendar. Google Calendar allows users to add location data to tasks on the scheduler, giving it a couple pieces of critical functionality.
Unfortunately, Google Calendar also has some severe limitations for field service work. It doesn’t offer any integration with your customer list, work orders, inventory, or billing. It doesn’t feature a map view either, making it difficult to get a sense of where jobs sit in relation to each other. Google Calendar works great as a starting point for small companies, but it can’t keep up with dedicated field service management tools.
Dedicated scheduling software streamlines the entire routing process. Smart Service stands out as one of the top choices out there. Smart Service offers drag and drop scheduling, and gives users a map view of those tasks. It also enables you to determine each tech’s workload capacity so that you can make sure that no one is overscheduled or underbooked.
In Smart Service, users can set reminders and attach additional information to each work order. It lets you append pictures of the job site, customer preferences, and other essential details to each entry. Plus, Smart Service integrates with QuickBooks so you can streamline billing and accounting in addition to routing and scheduling. In this way, Smart Service eliminates the duplicated efforts that you get when you try to do everything manually.
Routing your Team
Every service company has a strategy for scheduling their techs, for better or worse. Taking steps to maximize the abilities of your workers by adding a dedicated route scheduling program to your operational workflow will pay massive dividends. Most field service companies will recoup the initial investment quickly through improved efficiency.