Trending Service Tech

HVAC Technician Uniforms and What's Trending

HVAC Technician Uniforms and What’s Trending

Let’s be honest here. For most of the last 20-30 years, HVAC technician uniforms—along with the attire of other branches across numerous field service industries—have looked something like this:

Now, while Jason here—we’re not exactly sure if that’s his real name, but he looks like a “Jason” to us—could perhaps be wearing more specific clothing like a shirt with a name-brand logo across his chest, the key point is this: nobody is confusing Jason with:

HVAC service technician uniforms have never been fashionable or trendy, and would certainly not be “Blue-Steel-approved.” The hard hats, the steel-toed boots, and the generic t-shirts worn by field service technicians are meant to be suited to the tasks at hand. The goal is function, not fashion. However, we have noticed that certain companies are improving upon the fashionable aspects of the traditional HVAC technician uniforms, and it has us wondering: could HVAC service technician uniforms be evolving into a new market sector for fashion retailers?

It might be. For example, back in the summer of 2013, Wrangler released a new “construction pant.” Along with Wrangler’s new pants, Carhartt created a “high-visibility, zip-front, Class 3, thermal-lined sweatshirt” for HVAC and other field service industry technicians—and it’s only about $90. There’s also this piece of apparel from Scotchlite:

Talk about pops of color! Sturdy pants! This is a man with all the answers.

All joking aside, the HVAC service technician uniform and apparel sector of the field service industry is big business. As another example, Gartner has predicted that wearable technology such as mounted headsets or Google Glass eyewear could save the field service industry $1 billion by 2017—and surely even more by 2018. The real-time, on-site data gathered by some of these devices like this wrist-mounted computer —

— can be shared across different departments in your field service organization for more effective marketing and forecasting. Ultimately, the goal to utilizing wearable technology as part of your business’s HVAC technician uniforms is to achieve an increased first-time fix rate, better reviews, and increased revenue generation. And we all know this stitch of wisdom to be true: it doesn’t hurt to look good while you’re doing all of these tasks.

The rise of wearable technology in the workplace, and incorporating these wearables into your HVAC technician uniforms is inevitable and logical. HVAC and other field service technicians spend all day at jobsites with customers, and are oftentimes in conditions that make it critical to have the right type of clothing in order to complete a job safely and in a timely manner. When Wrangler released the construction pant that is displayed in the link above, the company noted that, “A workman’s clothing is one of the most important tools he depends on during demanding hours on the job.” This statement is indeed quite true.

In today’s working environment, one of the trendiest “accessories” that pairs well with HVAC service technician uniforms is of course:

No, that’s not a “murse” (man-purse.) It’s an iPad/Surface/tablet. For decades, field service technicians didn’t carry or utilize a lot of technology-driven devices. They mainly carried tools, jobsite materials, and inventory items to customer locations.

That’s drastically changed. As field service companies begin to rapidly adopt mobile devices and field service management software—like the product we develop—more integration and connectivity has been realized in HVAC and other field service industry businesses. The principles of interconnectedness even extend to technicians in the field.

Our mobile software has FSM integration with all of your other business practices so that everything is automatically updated as it is happening—both on the desktop version and on technicians’ mobile apps. There’s even offline mobile work tracking that syncs with your desktop versions as soon as the mobile device reconnects.

Although we wouldn’t necessarily recommend a loose-fitting t-shirt in the field at most jobsites, we would encourage you to sport this number:

What are the implications of making this your companies go-to HVAC technician uniform? There are two things that can happen when you wear that shirt:

The customer laughs, and a customer relationship begins to be established.
The customer is not pleased—meaning you really shouldn’t have worn that shirt.

Simply because we worry that your customers would react in the way option (2) describes, we recommend not making that t-shirt part of your HVAC service technicians’ uniforms. However, while we’re on the topic of clothes you probably should not wear to a customer jobsite, here’s one more look for your viewing pleasure:

Finally, here is one last fun fact for the road: If you do a Google Images search for “service technician attire,” one of your top image hits is this:

Admittedly, we don’t know Victoria Beckham’s (Posh Spice) full résumé, but we would bet that she never worked as a field service tech.

That connection to the world of high fashion aside, field service clothing—including HVAC service technician uniforms—is likely to remain more functional than fabulous for several generations. It’s much more about getting the work done in an efficient manner than the client commenting on the pops of color on your techs’ t-shirts, and the trendy flare on their work pants. Accessorizing HVAC technician uniforms is more likely to be tablet and mobile based than hard hat and tool belt driven in the coming years. (Although, in reality, your hard hat and tool belt won’t be going anywhere.)

This shift to field techs being constantly surrounded by—and utilizing new—technology is one of a host of changes taking place in field service industries today. To understand more about the workplace and jobsite environment of these industries—and consider how to embrace the change management practices that get your team aligned and comfortable with changing technology toward—download our eBook about getting ready for 2018 now.

Prepare for 2017

Wearable Tech

Benefits of Wearable Technology for Field Service Businesses

Benefits of Wearable Technology for Field Service Businesses

‘Wearables’ are any kind electronic technologies that can be incorporated into clothing and other accessories and comfortably worn on the body. These wearables are essentially miniature computers that go wherever your techs go, measuring many different types of data that impact jobs performed by your field service industry business.

Two of the more prominent, mainstream examples of wearables in recent years are Google Glass and the Apple Watch, and in some ways both of these products have been viewed as failures. There is a genuine concern felt within the field service industry business world that wearable technology in the workplace is merely a trendy, experimental phase, and may not be able to generate any revenue growth in the long run.

However, the benefits of wearable technology in the field service industry are numerous—disproving the commonly held belief that wearable technology in the workplace is an ineffective, wasted investment. We talk a lot on this blog about the benefits of field service management software, so it is only natural that we should mention and explain other emerging technologies that can help increase your field service business’s bottom line.

As you read through this article, consider these possible applications that showcase the benefits of wearable technology for field service technicians:

Glasses or contact lenses: A field technician can use these state-of-the-art glasses or contact lenses to see customer data, warranty information, and/or manuals as he or she repairs a machine at a customer jobsite. Here is an example of a technician pulling up some information via Microsoft’s HoloLens—an augmented reality platform that involves wearing glasses:

If you ignore the potential blue of Facebook along the top of that photo and truly believe this man is hard at work, you can get a good idea of the benefits of wearable technology in the workplace and on jobsites. As NBC News recently noted: Smart glasses might be “dead” to consumers, but they’re thriving on factory floors.

Voice and gesture control: Using voice activation and gesture resignation technologies, an employee in your business’s back office could call up a series of invoices or a particular daily schedule hands-free. This is one benefit of wearable technology in the workplace: your employee can multitask, and focus on typing information into a work order without having to dive four to five clicks deep into another scheduling program to find the information for which he or she is looking. The picture below showcases hands-free, voice and movement recognition, and provides an example of what gesture control looks like—admittedly this image is not from a field service context, but it might give you a better idea:

For additional context, there’s always this:

Health monitors: The mainstream way to think about this type of wearable technology is in terms of a FitBit or the ‘Health’ area of an iPhone. However, these wearables could monitor breathing, heart rates, and other vital health data pertaining to technicians in working dangerous or enclosed environments. This is another benefit of wearable technology in the workplace: it allows help to arrive sooner in the case of emergencies, and gives these emergency personnel access to health information that could save an employee’s life. In this example, a field tech is wearing both glasses (from above) and a health monitor sensor contained within the glove:

And from a pop culture context, well …

Smart clothing: Similar to other wearable technology in the workplace like health monitors, smart clothing could signal if a driver is experiencing fatigue during a long day of jobsite appointments, or these garments could determine if employees are moving heavy items using incorrect form. (Not bending at the knees?) Here’s an example from Gadget Review:

This picture shows what is called a Flexi Freeze Ice Vest, and this wearable is just what you want if the air-conditioning system is broken! It comes with three removable, reusable ice panels that keep you cool and comfortable for a couple of hours—or until the ice melts. Field service technicians can reap the benefits of this wearable technology in the workplace and on jobsites when the temperatures are soaring above average, and they have to be exposed to the sun and extreme temperatures. We should also note that there are many pieces of smart clothing that trap heat for the opposite effect should your technicians be exposed to the elements during the winter.

Haptics: Haptics is the science of applying tactile sensation to human interaction with computers. When you type on your smartphone, haptics play a roll when the small vibrations from your fingertips touch your devices screen, and your device registers that you have typed a letter. The benefits of wearable technology in terms of haptics in the field service industry is best seen in products called ‘data gloves.’ Technicians can wear such gloves when fixing machines, and then the machines can provide feedback when the parts have been properly adjusted. Using haptics in the form of data gloves can increase first-time fix rates. Below is a basic illustration of what haptics looks like:

And while admittedly this is underwater (where only a small percentage of field service techs end up working), this is what a haptics get-up looks like on a person:

One of the more complicated set-ups you may ever feast your eyes upon:

Why does all this matter? These wearable technology developments are already big deals in some field service settings, especially in a training and development context. Utilizing wearables in the workplace allows your company to have access to data pertaining to how your technicians are performing in the field with clients—i.e. whether they are being effective at the various motions that make up any appointment. When you combine some of these wearables with concepts like augmented reality (placing a virtual world on top of the existing world you see) or virtual reality (creating a new world from scratch), the implications for training or scheduling are massive.

You can send a less-experienced tech to a big client job and a more experienced technician can guide them remotely through the steps required to complete the job using wearables and augmented reality. This is a major benefit of wearable technology: it reduces the scheduling pressure on your best techs, and makes it much easier to run your business in an efficient manner.

A lot of these concepts not only involve the idea of changing technology, but also mobility. Another benefit of wearable technology is that field service technicians on jobsites can be easily connected to office and customers via mobile. In fact, people agree that mobile is the biggest game-changer in the field service industry over the last few years—even more so than the Cloud. To learn more about the importance of FSM integration, mobile, and why you should invest in mobile-first solutions, check out the eBook below.

Mobility eBook Download


Best HVAC Service Business Puns, HVAC Humor and How to Sneak Them in

Best HVAC Service Business Puns, HVAC Humor and How to Sneak Them in

Working in the HVAC industry is serious business, and it can oftentimes lead an HVAC technician into some highly stressful situations–leaving little time for hvac humor. Let’s say that you have a client and his or her cooling system breaks down during a long week complete with sunny skies and ninety-degree weather—oh, and let’s add that this client lives in the middle of a Nevada desert, for good measure. You can imagine that your client will already be unhappy at best due to his or her misfortune.
Now, if you send one of your HVAC technicians to this particular client’s location, and said technician lacks the right parts on the truck –which means that he or she has to drive to one of your company’s warehouses, or back to headquarters to procure the necessary materials to finish the job—your client will be even more unhappy.

If you replace “cooling system” with “heating system,” “summer” with “winter,” and “Nevada desert” with “Montana mountains,” the same problem results: a disgruntled customer who may or may not be tempted to throw any unattached object at your technician in his or her Hulk-like fury.

What’s the best way to deal with this worst-case-scenario? Believe it or not, there are two avenues you can take when faced with an upset customer.

Option #1:

Provide the highest quality of service possible within a reasonable time frame.
This option is essential to owning and operating an HVAC business. Delivering on your company’s standards for high performance is the essence of how you’ll grow your HVAC business. More on that in a few moments.

Option #2:

Hire HVAC technicians who know how to diffuse a tough situation with humor because, let’s face it: who can really resist laughing at a bad pun (or HVAC humor) when it’s delivered with conviction?

Not everyone chooses the second track when faced with an unhappy client because, again, HVAC installations and repairs require serious thought and labor. However, laughter is essential to life, so why not attempt to brighten dismal circumstances with some quality—or not-so-quality—HVAC humor?

In a recent Forbes study pertaining to stress at work, survey respondents rated their home-life stress at a ‘5’ on a 1-10 scale. These same people’s amounts of perceived stress while at work? A whopping ‘6.4’ on the same 1-10 scale. That data leads us to believe that your technicians will enter into a lot of stressful jobsite situations, and having a plan to implement some HVAC humor when field work gets tense is always a good strategy to cope with the occasional dissatisfied customer.

In an attempt to help your technicians add some more HVAC jokes to their repertoires, we are offering you a few service business puns to try out the next time a jobsite repair goes awry. Although HVAC puns aren’t always funny—which is actually most of the time, but I digress—, they can certainly help diffuse a potentially stressful situation.

Drum roll, please…

The “Going Out” HVAC Pun

Target audience: The fresh twenty-one-year-old crowd all the way through those in their mid-thirties.

Technician: “When did your AC go out?”

Client: “Last night.”

Technician: “Well, I hope it had a good time.”

** clangs cymbals **

The “Ducts” Pun

Target audience: Those clients who are older than thirty, or work in the finance or insurance industries.

“Well you know,” a technician says to a client, “HVAC technicians are more effective because we always have all of our ducts in a row.”

** gong sound **

The “Invention” Pun

Target audience: Customers who are young enough to question your technician expertise.

Turn to a client and nonchalantly say, “We were working on AC before it was cool.”

** sad trumpet noise **

The “Flip Around” Pun

Target audience: Anyone and everyone who appears to understand sarcasm.

The technician says to the client, “Well, your furnace has a few problems, but it could be worse.”

The client is relieved! “Oh, that’s good,” she says.

Technician: “Yeah! It could be my furnace instead of yours. That’d be worse!”

** Krusty the Clown screeching sound **

The “Three Little Pigs” HVAC Joke

Target audience: Customers in their forties who still understand the childhood story reference.

Setup: “Why did the Three Little Pigs buy an electric furnace instead of a gas one?”

Knock it down: “The neighbors didn’t want to be near a swine flue.”

** car horn **

The Classic “Cross the Road” Technician Joke

Target audience: EVERYONE! Here’s an all-timer! Ready?

“Why did the AC repairman cross the road?”

(intense pause for dramatic effect)

“He opened the unit and found a wasp’s nest in it.”

** Ed McMahon yelling ‘Hey’ sound **

A Few Onsite Gags

A quick note of caution here: Never resort to this level of HVAC humor with your company’s newer customers. Only break out these tried-and-true onsite jokes on customers with whom you have experience and rapport. Here is a brief compilation of a few of our greatest gags:

Place a fake truck door that appears to fall off when you open it over the top of your vehicle’s real door.
Show up with singed eyebrows—you know, from that furnace repair that left you a little crispy earlier in the day.
Roll up to the block, and walk up to five other houses before knocking on your client’s door.

Let’s Get Back to the Serious Matters.

These HVAC jokes are great ways to secure some laughs from your customers, and calm a potentially stressful situation, which is wonderful. However, as we mentioned earlier in this post, the real key to growing your HVAC business is by making sure your technicians complete onsite jobs in efficient, timely manners.

One of the easiest ways to help optimize your technicians’ jobsite success is to integrate your business with CRM scheduling software, which is typically called field service management (FSM) software. This FSM software is an investment worth considering in order prepare for the latter half of 2017, and to start 2018 on the right foot. What other programs should you be considering for your HVAC business? We’ve got you covered with this eBook.

Prepare for 2017

Tech Downtime

The 5 Reasons Your Techs Have Too Much Downtime

The 5 Reasons Your Techs Have Too Much Downtime

If the first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club, you can probably argue the first rule of field service operations is that you don’t want field service tech downtime. Your technicians are the lifeblood of your business, whether you’re doing electric, HVAC, plumbing, roofing, or anything else. They’re the people in front of customers. Referrals and retention will come from how they work with those customers. That’s the simplest explanation for field service revenue, and we’re not even done with the first paragraph! Where’s our award?

All kidding aside, you want to minimize downtime. Usually there are five culprits to why techs have too much downtime:

Too Many Technicians
Practices Are Ineffective
Poor Communication with Clients
Slow Day

Let’s work through these one-by-one and try to eliminate some of your tech downtime problems.

Too Many Technicians: Sometimes we all fall into this trap — see, if we feel busy, then we assume everyone else is busy. When we think that way, we can overshoot on hiring. If you have 10 techs for the work of 5, you have two options: find more work (leads, new business) so that the 5 downtime technicians aren’t sitting on their hands all day, or part ways with 5 of your techs. We don’t condone firing people normally, but five technicians with downtime most of the week is just sucking money out of your business.

Practices Are Ineffective: A lot of FSOs fall into this one, especially if they’re still predominantly paper-based. It’s almost 2017. Use a system. Specifically, use field service management (FSM) software. This will coordinate/integrate the different aspects of your business, from routing to inventory to customer information. Think of it as a route scheduling software, but with all of your other business processes integrated as well. It makes a lot of your practices more effective roughly 12 hours after installing. Do it!

Poor Communication with Clients: Communication isn’t ideal at many field service businesses (or many companies overall), but here’s the problem with the client side. If you communicate poorly with clients/customers, then your techs are usually waiting on the client when they arrive on-site (because, well, the client had no idea what window the tech would be arriving in). Almost everyone you’ll be interacting with has a smartphone by now. Get a mobile-friendly (or mobile-first) field service management software and ping (notify) clients right to the phone of the primary contact. Update technician schedules that way. Keep everyone on the same page. It drastically reduces downtime.

Off-Season: This is a hard one to fix. There are things you can be doing in the off-season, though. Here are some examples. One option is to put some of your technicians on seasonal contracts, which means they can make a bunch of money in the main periods — and then do odd jobs in the slower periods. If you’re worried that it might not be seasonal downtime and that your business is declining, check this blog out about deseasonalizing your sales.

Slow Day: Again, hard one to beat. But you shouldn’t be having slow days, right? You should be growing your business. Again, we sell field service software so we are biased — but we’d recommend looking into it. It pays dividends very quickly. The old business adage is: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Well, let’s grow!

We put together an entire eBook (it’s not super long, don’t worry) on in steps to increase tech efficiency — i.e. eliminating downtime. Give it a read. If you have any questions, let us know.

Technicians Efficiency

Retain Service Workers

How to Retain Service Workers in Field Service

How to Retain Service Workers in Field Service

If you run any type of business, your focus tends to be more on product/process/service than people. This isn’t true of all organizational leaders, but it is true of many. Product and service ultimately drive revenue, and people do come and go. You might have one to two (or more) “lieutenants” who work with you for decades, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. Across all industries, including field service verticals, an average North American worker spends about 4.6 years at a job. (That’s actually about the same number as 35-40 years ago, which defeats some of the ideas that millennials are turning over jobs faster and faster.)

Still, while your focus might be on the quality of service being provided or the products you can monetize, turnover is bad for any organization. To retain service workers in field service can be difficult. If you lose good technicians, you have to (a) find new technicians — which is costly — and then (b) train those technicians on how you work, as opposed to the previous places they might have worked. It’s all costly, and the experience of your customers can suffer as you’re dealing with turnover. That can hurt SLA renewals and referrals. Soon, this people issue — turnover — just became a legitimate bottom-line issue for you.

What can be done?

First, we need to think about why people leave jobs. Usually (backed by decades of research), the primary reasons for people leaving jobs are:

Have poor management
Are not satisfied with compensation
Feel overly stressed
Don’t believe there are opportunities for growth at their specific companies
Have communication issues that lead to blame games

Those would be the “big five” of why people leave their jobs, technicians and back-office employees included. (Another reason not listed here is “moving away,” but that is often hard for a field service manager to control in the first place.)

If these are the five reasons that cause technicians to bolt, then reversing all of the five would help them stay, right? In that case:

Have better management
Pay them above market rates
Find ways to reduce stress
Provide new opportunities for them to learn different skills and broaden themselves
Improve communication

This second list of bullets, though … that’s pretty challenging for most companies. There is some good research from a guy named Paul Zak, who studies companies and trust, about how to lessen turnover in a variety of roles. He talks about trusting your employees (technicians) in a variety of different situations — show them they matter and that you believe in them. It’s the secret science of keeping them around. (This idea speaks to “have better management,” “find ways to reduce stress,” and “improve communication” in those bullet points above.) Some companies have started implementing mobile solutions to provide more autonomy to technicians without giving up information.

The sticky wicket in all this is “pay them above market rates,” which is often a challenge for small business FSOs. The little secret on that, however: If your technicians are happier and more engaged with their work, they’ll be better with customers. This leads to more referrals and retention, which leads to more money, which means you can actually pay above market. (The math there isn’t perfect, but generally speaking better revenue periods allow for better technician salaries.) Small field service business growth can be achieved simply through retention. By providing above market rates, you will not only engage your current workforce but now you can afford to hire better techs.

Because we work with FSOs on implementing field service management software, we’re big believers that a lot of these challenges (the first five bullet points) can be solved by using FSM software. In fact, we put together an eBook on getting the most out of FSM software and it addresses some of these topics around turnover too. If you’re just kicking the tires still on the idea of FSM software and want to look through some of the potential benefits, this is a good download option for you. If you’re interested, we can definitely direct you to some resources around costing it all out.

FSM Software

Route Scheduling

Route Scheduling Software - Important for Field Service Businesses

Boosting Sales in the Slow Season for HVAC Companies

A high-quality customer experience is vital to your field service organization’s reputation and bottom line. Oftentimes, field service businesses fall short of meeting customers’ expectations when it comes to arriving on time to fix emergency issues with their HVAC units, plumbing, and the like.

To put it simply, your field service business drives revenue, secures repeat business, and more than likely receives future customer referrals when your technicians are in front of customers working on repairs and installations. What doesn’t help your business’s bottom line is when your technicians are stuck in their trucks while sitting in traffic, or even driving every which way trying to find the job location because they lack a good and reliable route planning and scheduling software.

If your company is not currently utilizing route scheduling software to help your technicians arrive at jobsites as quickly as possible, then your business is potentially losing money and future business. While your field service technicians are sitting in highway construction, or are busy zig-zagging across the map on their ways to jobsites, the customers who are waiting on your techs to arrive could be losing thousands or millions of dollars in revenue while their machines or parts are down, waiting to be repaired. This is costly for not only for your customers, but for your field service business as well.

Then, there is the Bullwhip Effect. The Bullwhip Effect happens when your first appointment of the day runs late, which causes your technicians’ second, third, fourth, etc. appointments to fall behind schedule. Falling behind schedule leads to unhappy customers and lost revenue.

In order to reduce the Bullwhip Effect and boost revenue, your company should be using field service business management software that assists in creating effective technician schedules—keeping each tech in a certain geographic area while making his or her workday driving routes more linear and efficient.

Your customers require top-notch experiences when calling upon your company to repair heating and cooling systems, busted pipes, or other similar field service issues, which means that your business needs to have top-notch route scheduling software. The quicker your technicians can get to each jobsite and complete the required repair, the better in terms of customer satisfaction and retention.

How Route Scheduling Software is Changing Field Service Management

Before the advent of route scheduling software, most field service organizations did scheduling by hand. A tedious, time-consuming task, scheduling field service technicians and creating workday routes by hand often led—and for those companies still scheduling using a pen and paper, it often leads—to ineffective technician workdays that are less adaptable to emergency field service calls from customers.

If your company is still using the pen-and-paper method instead of route planning and scheduling software, know that there is a more effective way to route your technicians, and save your office and scheduling personnel a lot of headaches. Field service business management software makes scheduling easier by providing your office and scheduling employees with a giant master calendar that uses click-and-drop functionality to organize and rearrange technician appointments.

Along with helping out your scheduling department employees, field technician software helps minimize driving time, which gets your company’s techs to jobsites quicker, and allows your scheduling department to book more appointments in a given day. Booking more jobs in one day increases your field service business’s revenue, making route scheduling software a worthwhile investment.

When your field service business uses route scheduling software that considers drive time, traffic conditions, appointment locations, and even technician skill sets, you can increase—and even potentially double—your revenue. For example, if your company has ten technicians who are scheduled for three appointments each day, and each job pays $100, that amounts to $15,000 per work week. (10 techs x 3 appointments x 5 days x $100)

However, when your company employs route scheduling software to create more direct driving routes with less traffic for your techs, you can book more appointments per day for each of these technicians. Cutting down on drive time may allow your technicians to have, oh let’s say, six appointments in one day instead of three. If your company has ten technicians who are scheduled for six appointments each day, and each job pays $100, that amounts to $30,000! (10 techs x 6 appointments x 5 days x $100)

Those numbers are certainly not insignificant.

Unlike tangible benefits such as revenue—but certainly just as important—, route scheduling software also allows your technicians to have better, less stressful work weeks. Route planning and scheduling software makes it so your technicians are not sitting in traffic for hours, or driving unnecessary amounts of miles between appointments. Better, more efficient routing means when technicians do reach customer jobsites, they are less frustrated, and are better able to concentrate on the task at hand—making the customers’ overall experiences better, and creating an avenue for future business and referrals.

Integrating Field Service Business Management Software is the Key to Success

After reading this article, you may be thinking, “I’m already investing in work order management software, a CRM, mobile technician tracking, and tons of other individual software programs, and now I have to get this too?!” Not necessarily. Your field service business can become better at scheduling and increase profitability by simply integrating software.

All-in-one field service business management software allows your entire company with all of its different departments to collaborate. The scheduling department cannot simply set up five appointments on their own. Scheduling employees need to work with dispatch on routing employees, and they need to understand customers’ needs and how those needs impact inventory levels, etc. All of your field service business’s departments need to be integrated to create excellent customer experiences. Integrating your field service business management software improves your company’s first-time fix rate, which keeps scheduling on target.

Although we understand that field service business management software presents an additional cost, it also helps generate revenue for your company. In order to help your field service business boost its bottom line, we have just released a scheduling and routing update in our Optsy software because we want to give you the ability to rearrange routes, and group these routes according to technician skill sets.

Not only have we updated our route scheduling software, but we have also put together an eBook on revenue-generating methods for small- to medium-sized field service organizations, as well as a guide to technician efficiency in field service that you can download now for free. Also, do some research and find a field service software that is right for you, and integrates the software solutions you need to reach your goals. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, and find out how Optsy works the way you do!

Technicians Efficiency

Increase Efficiency

Steps to Increase Your Technicians' Efficiency

Steps to Increase Your Technicians’ Efficiency

By some measures, the productivity app market is growing about 150% per year. Everyone wants to be more productive. In an era where “busy” can pile up quickly (tasks, responsibilities, and checklists), it’s often hard to navigate from “busy” over to “productive.” (They don’t mean the same thing, although many people fail to understand this.)

This is crucial in terms of your technicians. You can send techs into the field to work with clients and you can design processes by which they are “busy,” which means they have a lot to do and they’re running from place to place. That’s not good. “Busy” technicians will eventually get frustrated and leave you — maybe for a competitor.

You don’t want your technicians to be “busy.” You actually need them to be productive.

But how does that happen?

There are thousands of articles on the Internet about increasing productivity and effectiveness, and dozens of those are about service technicians specifically. Many of those articles, though, contain generic advice that’s hard to immediately implement — or they contain so much advice that you wouldn’t know where to start on your path to making your technicians more effective.

We tried to find the Goldilocks spot on this topic: not too in depth, but not too generic either. We wanted to help you focus on a few key priorities for consistently getting the most out of your technicians.

We narrowed it down to three. You can download this offer now (for free) and also get a quick visual reminder to go with it. These three focal points work for almost every type of FSO, but if you have specific questions about managing the technicians in your business as they relate to your business model, let us know. We work with hundreds of FSOs annually, oftentimes of the small business variety, and we’d love to help you too.

Technicians Efficiency

Improve Field Service

Improve Field Service Employee Retention With Mobile

Improve Field Service Employee Retention With Mobile

We’ve written many posts on the Optsy blog about using mobile and field service management tools to improve customer satisfaction, and obviously that makes sense: customers pay for your service and help drive revenue for your company.

It’s important to remember the other side of the equation, though: your employees. Some organizations even view them as ‘internal customers.’ Regardless of what specific terminology you use, it’s important to retain employees as well. While there can sometimes be an attitude that people are interchangeable and your services and processes make you money, this isn’t 100% accurate. Finding a new person — be it a back-office employee or a technician — takes time, and then training this person to do the job successfully takes more time. You lose (a) knowledge of your business and (b) effective use of time whenever an employee leaves your organization. Both of those make it harder to compete in the marketplace — and we didn’t even mention that it’s possible your employee left for a direct competitor.

So, the point is: you need to focus on employee retention as much as you focus on customer satisfaction. And much like mobile helps a lot with customer satisfaction, it can also help with employee retention.

You will see this primarily on the technician side. Because of a high degree of specialized knowledge, technicians are often the hardest employees for FSOs to replace.

If you have a good mobile platform that’s integrated with your other systems, your technicians should theoretically be able to:

See all their appointments in a given day from their phones
See how close they are to one another and have the option to re-adjust the order based on drive time
Have customer data and core problems/issues in their phones as well
Have customer history with notes, also on mobile
Have a link-up with inventory to make sure they have everything they need for the day, or be able to build in time to visit a warehouse or supply center
Be able to invoice the customers directly when the jobs are completed on-site

All those aspects will make technicians feel like they have the assets necessary to do their jobs effectively; in short form, it makes them feel respected as members of the overall FSO. Respect is a major factor for employee retention, and that’s been held up by research.

Now consider a mobile platform or solution that isn’t well-integrated, so this happens:

The technicians lack customer data, history, and information
The technicians can see their appointments and realize the driving pattern makes no sense, but have little ability to change it
Inventory isn’t linked, so the technicians are often arriving at customer sites unprepared
In order to invoice clients, the technicians need to drive back to a home office or just say “I’ll come back another time”

The technicians will ultimately get frustrated at all the logistical problems preventing them from doing their jobs effectively — and ultimately, they’ll likely look for new jobs (possibly with competitors).

Interestingly, many small business FSOs design or work with mobile solutions in an effort to attract and retain customers, but the bigger value-add to a great mobile solution is the retention of employees who feel more engaged and less frustrated by the processes of the organization.

Two birds with one stone. That’s always a good thing in time-crunched businesses.

If you’re looking to grow your field service SMB, we’ve also prepared an eBook about revenue-generation models, ideas, and principles. It doesn’t reference employee retention per se, but it does speak to the two sides of growing revenue: the process side (your operations) and the planning side (your goals and priorities). They must be aligned for success. You can download the eBook and we’re always here to answer any questions specific to your organization.

Great Technicians

How to Attract and Hire Great Technicians

How to Attract and Hire Great Technicians

For far too many small businesses, the turnover rate in the field-service industry is exceptionally high. Part of the reason that turnover is so high lies in the fact that companies are simply not hiring the right candidates. From discovering what questions you need to ask to learning how to spot the ideal technician, the following post will help you hire smart in 2016 and the years to come!

How Much Do Techs Make and Other Questions to Ask Before You Create a Job Listing

Before you can even think about posting a listing for a new HVAC, plumber, electrician, or general service technician, you need to consider a few questions. First and foremost, you need to determine if your company has the money needed to hire a new employee. By asking yourself, “Can I afford to hire another tech?,” you can begin to think more clearly about your current and future business objectives. Will a new tech fit in with your future business goals? If so, what type of tech do you need to hire to help you meet these goals. Should it be someone with more experience or an agent that you are going to train on the job? These types of questions should then be applied to the following factors to creating an advertisement that will attract a great technician.

How To Attract Great Technicians in Three Easy Steps

Step 1. Figure Out Who You’re Looking For

The previous questions have helped you to determine what position you need to fill, which means it is now time to determine what type of candidate you want to hire. To find the type of HVAC, electrician, plumber, or other field service technician you need to hire, you need to think about exactly what the job entails on a day-to-day basis.

Step 2. Turn Your Most Valued Technicians Into Recruiters

The best technicians often come from internal referrals. Before you create a classified ad, ask your most valued technicians if they know of any qualified technicians who are currently looking for these types of jobs. If your employees don’t have any new hire suggestions, then make sure that your employees are at least involved in the interview process; after all, your field service technicians will know the personality as well as skill set that is needed.

Step 3. Test for Excellent Agent Training and Interpersonal Skills

Reviewing a candidate’s job experience is the first step to understanding if he or she has the skills needed to successfully meet all of the job requirements. However, testing candidates is a great way to make sure that they have had the proper training. Present your candidates with potential problem scenarios. For example, “How should you handle a disgruntled customer?,” or “What should you look for if the customer is complaining that the heat in the home isn’t matching the set temperature?” The former question tests the candidate’s interpersonal skills, while the latter question tests their technical skill set. From figuring out exactly who you are looking for, to thoroughly testing each candidate’s technical and interpersonal skills before making a decision, these three steps are designed to help you streamline your hiring process by helping your business attract the top candidates.

Best Salesperson

Your Technician Is Your Best Salesperson

Your Technician Is Your Best Salesperson

In field service, your technicians are generally the first people customers see. If, for example, you are in the HVAC industry, your customers may have talked to you or people from your company on the phone, but they’re meeting your HVAC technicians in person. With that in mind, you need to make sure you hire technicians that are also good salespeople, so you can increase sales and keep your customers happy. There are two main areas to consider when it comes to your technicians: how to increase your service revenue and how to hire employees that will help you do that effectively.

How to Increase Service Revenue

Service revenue can be looked at in a couple of ways. It can include add-ons and extra money spent by customers when the technicians are at their house. However, it can also include money that is spent later, as a result of the information provided by the technicians during visits. Both of those ways of adding more revenue are significant, and can really increase your bottom line. If your technicians aren’t good salespeople, though, you could be missing out on a lot of revenue that your business could otherwise really use.

As your technicians work with the customers, they can provide information about the services they are performing and the options for the future. While there may not be that many services needed by some customers, other service calls will warrant further discussion of upgrades, more services, or other types of improvements that could be needed or wanted.

Customers may have questions, too, and if your technicians can’t answer them, that can undermine the trust that customers have in your technicians and in your company as a whole. To make sure your technicians can do their jobs and answer customer questions, you can train them and give them plenty of knowledge, but that won’t necessarily make them good at selling additional services.

How to Hire Employees Who Can Be Good Salespeople

In order to really see your technicians increase your service revenue, you need to know how to hire employees. You want workers who are personable and who are focused on doing their best for your customers. The more polite and friendly your service employees are, the more comfortable most customers are going to feel with them. That can lead customers to ask more questions, and to trust your company and your technicians to provide them with more services that they may want and need.

Some of the services that your technicians can offer may not even be services that your customers know they need, but once they learn about those services they may realize the value of what’s being offered to them. That’s much more likely to happen if you have technicians who are good salespeople. When you’re hiring employees, consider that carefully. The knowledge needed can be taught, but the personality of a salesperson is something that comes much more naturally to some people than it does to others. That personality should be the main focus of your hiring efforts.