If you run an HVAC company and are concerned about the efficiency or effectiveness of your technicians, there are a few different considerations you need to run through.
Step 1: How are you measuring effectiveness?This varies by HVAC company. The most widely used metric for technician effectiveness is probably first-time fix rate, although some companies will use revenue generated, new contracts generated, or percentage of completed jobs vs. invoiced jobs. Obviously, you should choose what’s best for your business model -- basically what KPI actually shows that your business is growing, or fading, so that you can adjust. The important thing in this stage is to make sure you track something with value. If you track nothing and use “gut feel” to say, “I believe our technicians are effective,” that’s not going to cut it in a more data-driven business environment of 2016 and beyond. Lesson: determine, track/measure, analyze, make decisions from that.
Step 2: Where are your technicians falling short? Even if you’re making tons of money and showing growth, nothing will be totally perfect. There are always areas where your technicians can improve. Now comes the delicate balance part, however: you don’t want to over-extend your technicians, or heap more responsibilities on them. You are a service business, and thus are mostly evaluated by the quality of service. The quality of service comes directly from the technicians, so you want to make sure their focus is two-fold: (1.) providing great service and (2.) understanding those metrics from Step 1. They shouldn’t be doing 900 different things for you while seeing clients. This will burn them out. That said, in each case -- each specific technician who works for you -- there will be some obvious strengths and some obvious weaknesses. How can you maximize the strengths while minimizing the weaknesses? Quick tip: consider pairing technicians together in a kind of “mentorship” or apprenticeship arrangement to help skills flow between them (from strong in one area to weak in the same area).
Step 3: What major organizational system are you using? This is key. In most examples of technician shortcomings, the issue is less about technician skills or aptitudes. It’s more about how the technician gets information from the office and how he or she uses that information moving through different appointments in a day. The best field service organizations -- and especially the best small businesses where resources are tighter --have an organized, integrated system that allows for mostly open (some proprietary information will always be protected) dialogue between office, technicians, and customers. Think of it in these terms:
● If a technician is going to be late, the customer can be automatically notified
● If there is a change to what the customer needs fixed, the technician can be automatically notified -- and his or her GPS and inventory needs can be updated.
This organizational system uses the field service office as a central hub, with the technician and customer as spokes -- but everything is interconnected and integrated so that everyone is happy (customer) or productive (technician).
The common name for this system is Field Service Management software, and it comes in all shapes, sizes, and customizations. Somewhat surprisingly, there are stats out there that only about 3 in 8 (37-40%) of FSOs use this right now; especially among the small businesses, you still see a lot of pencil-and-paper backed up with filing cabinets.
Step 4: Pricing FSM software will cost you money, yes. And it might be expensive relative to the number of users you need to onboard onto it, and/or the pricing structure of the FSM software option you choose. Pardon this cliche, but oftentimes you need to spend money to make money. This is one of those times. Field Service Management software will improve your productivity and efficiency -- and if you’d like to learn a little bit more about how exactly that happens, download our complimentary eBook on technician efficiency now. If you have any questions, definitely let us know. We love to help SMB FSOs develop a plan for productivity, customer engagement, and growth.