The Smart Service Dispatch

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October 19, 2020

 

Soft Skills in the Field Service Business: Adaptability

Soft skills are one of the most important skill sets to cultivate amongst your team.

Today we will dive into the world of soft skills and their importance for field techs and office staff in the field service industry. Over the course of a series of articles we will go over the most common soft skills, how they impact your business (both in the office and in the field), and what you and your employees can do to improve them.

What are soft skills?

Before we go into too much detail, we should establish a definition for soft skills. A soft skill is a quality, skill, or behavior most commonly demonstrated through personal or interpersonal interaction. There are five main categories for the soft skills: work ethic, communication, creativity, problem solving, and adaptability.

Today we will focus on a few adaptability traits.

Soft Skills: Adaptability

Adaptability is a must for employees and owners alike. While workers in any industry can fall into routine, an unwillingness to adapt can lead to much bigger problems down the road. In the business world especially, things have a way of changing at an accelerated pace. A company that does not innovate will inevitably fall behind.

To counteract this, look for in employees with flexibility, organization, and enthusiasm. The proper team will allow you to make the best decisions for your service company instead of working around people who refuse to change.

Flexibility

A flexible employee demonstrates the ability to take on new tasks and will always help when needed. Some employees show up just looking to go through the motions, others will show up ready for whatever the day throws at them. Flexible employees understand that some things have to change. Having this type of team player on your team will ensure that your field service company can thrive and implement new policies without resistance. Keeping too many team members around who are not flexible can lead to low moral. Workers bring the whole team down by refusing to assist others or having a miserable attitude.

Flexibility impacts all facets of business, but for techs out in the field, flexibility may look a bit different compared to the office side. For example, a flexible person out in the field may need to use different tools than what they are accustomed to. They might also get pushed and pulled from one job site to another based on company need.

On the other hand, office staff might have to implement new software or changes to how various procedures get handled. So, while flexibility needs to be a standard across the board for all employees, how employees deal with this will vary based on their position within the company. 

One of the hardest challenges to overcome as a leader? Helping others get better at skills that cannot necessarily be taught. Remember, most soft skills are based on many factors. People acquire soft skills through various life experiences. This is what makes soft skills so hard to coach. If people have never had to be or were never taught to be flexible, that will make them exponentially more complicated to coach.

So, how does one become more flexible? Practice flexibility all the time, even in little things (like changing up a regular sandwich order). Research what makes a person flexible and mimic those behaviors. 

Organization

Now that we’ve addressed flexibility, we’ll take a look at organization, one of the easiest soft skill to learn. The improvement of this soft skill simply comes down to repetition and self-discipline. By having the self-discipline to practice better organizational skills, you can see an improvement in a very short time. 

How does an unorganized person have an impact on the bottom line? Let’s look at an HVAC technician out in the field and a member of the office dispatch team. For the field worker, organization is a critical aspect of their job. Knowing the location of an item or tool simply saves time. If you save 1-2 minutes per job by organizing parts or tools, you can save 5-10 minutes a day, 25-50 per week, and 1300-2600 a year. That works out to 21-43 hours! (It also means paying someone $515-$1,056 each year to look for parts.) Now, imagine utilizing those 21-43 hours to schedule 2-4 new HVAC unit installs. You would go from a $1,056 loss to a $6,800 – $13,600 gain! As a last step, multiply those numbers by the number of techs you have. You can clearly see why getting organized will make a big difference for your business!

The office dispatcher is no different. If they waste time with poor organization or clunky software, you will run into a similar issue. A field service management software package like Smart Service can make a big difference here. Check out how much you can save, simply by going digital:

More on soft skills:

How to Develop a Good Field Service Technician into a Great Field Service Technician