Your business is going into its peak time of year. You’ve been planning, assessing, and expanding to meet the needs of your business and your customers. Part of that planning process is evaluating the tools you need to make that happen. It’s the age-old adage of, “measure twice and cut once.”
No matter when your busy season comes, it has a tendency to quickly creep up on you. It may be tempting to relax in preparation for the intense work that lies ahead, but the better play would be to start stepping up your planning efforts now and take immediate steps to set yourself up for a great season.
Start by taking a comprehensive look at your business this time last year. Leverage historical reports and notes on what worked and what didn’t. Examine why customers left, and what you could have done better, faster, or differently. Try to undertake this assessment as honestly and with as little emotion as possible. You undoubtedly have invested tons of time, energy, and resources into everything you did last year, but don’t let that color your perception of how things went.
Come up with ways to attract new clients.
While you’re at it, research what your competitors are doing and what other companies in your industry have done in other markets and see if some of these activities may also work in your area. If you tried something several years ago that worked great, consider bringing it back.
Clearly convey any new processes, pricing, and features you’ve decided to implement. These could be brochures, postcards, or inhouse posters.
Research and identify ways to improve customer service.
Mobile tools are a great way to help improve the customer experience and increase loyalty.
Tweak and improve administrative processes.
This is a great time to consider new technologies and applications that could make your daily operations more streamlined and customer friendly. Smart technician routing, customer portals, and easy online payments are proven ways to maximize efficiency and profitability in the field service industry.
Review your pricing.
It should be in line with what others in your area are charging. Prices that are too high or too low could cost you customers.
Set sales and production goals for your employees.
Determine what’s reasonable as compared to last year and clearly communicate it to all of your employees.
Review the employee recruitment efforts you made last year.
Think about whether the employees you ultimately hired were the best fit for your company and your vision for the future. Research best practices in hiring employees and decide whether your hiring and interviewing methods are the best for what you need.
Honestly evaluate your products, vehicles, and equipment.
Make sure all your vehicles and equipment are in good shape for another season and conduct any maintenance that you may have been putting off.
Make sure all your products and services are still what’s right for your community and your market.
Once you’ve created your plan for a successful season, it’s time to make sure you have the best team possible.
It’s unsurprising so many field service providers consider recruitment and retention a huge challenge. In today’s economy, unemployment remains at a nearly 50-year low, which gives employees the freedom to easily jump to other opportunities if their current job doesn’t meet their personal needs. Their skill and personality will set the tone for all future interactions. That means they play an enormous role in whether a one-time customer becomes a loyal customer.
You’re always recruiting, regardless of the season. Spring brings more access (graduates). Get a jump on the competition with a strong technician retention plan.
Leverage your existing technicians to source, find, and build a killer team. And make sure you have the tools they need to be successful.
Make sure your job postings reflect who you are and the true scope of the job.
This isn’t the time to be vague. Tell prospective applicants about perks or features of the job that may set you apart. These could include your benefits package, flexible hours, or access to a local gym.
Be up front about your benefits package and make sure it is competitive.
The best benefits packages include paid vacation and sick days, health and life insurance, and a retirement savings plan.
Don’t wait to call and interview candidates who seem to have the qualities you’re looking for when they apply.
They’re probably also applying elsewhere and could accept another job if you delay your initial contact.
Interview technician candidates thoughtfully and encourage them to ask questions about your business during the process.
Make sure they have a very clear picture of what exactly the technician job entails and how it works at your business.
Retaining technicians should be a big priority for your business. When technicians quit, it becomes harder to meet the needs of your customers in a timely and efficient way. Even worse, departing technicians may take some of your loyal customers with them when they leave. You’re also left with the significant cost of hiring and training a replacement.
You can avoid all these problems while smoothly running and scaling your business by working to retain your technicians.
When people feel knowledgeable in their job, they do it better. That simple philosophy should guide your training processes. Provide thorough training for all of your technicians as well as opportunities to gain additional certifications for more complex and specialized jobs. Continued growth and adequate training will show them that you are investing in them for the long term, something they’ll want to do for you, too.
Establish open lines of communication with your technicians. Regularly check in with them and ask for their feedback, opinions, and ideas. Let them know you value their feedback and their expertise, particularly on issues related to work out in the field.
Nobody likes feeling stuck, but many field service companies are guilty of leaving their technicians feeling like they have no path toward progress within the company. Make sure your top technicians know they can have a great future with you. Provide additional training and professional development and encourage those who aspire to one day become managers. By fostering and growing your own talent, you secure employee loyalty while developing exactly the kind of employees you need to fuel your growth plan.
Working at a place that feels oppressive or not any fun is a deal breaker for many employees. Make sure your technicians feel appreciated when they do a good job. Give them kudos for it publicly and privately present them with thoughtful thank-you cards or small gift cards. You also should strive to have occasional staff gatherings or fun events to help keep morale up, especially during your busy season.
In order for your technicians to see as many customers as possible during the busiest time of the year, it’s necessary to equip them for success. That’s where prioritizing technology and other tools can help you be ready when the calls start pouring in.
Inspect all of the equipment your technicians use, including vehicles, sprayers, foggers, PPE, ladders, and any other items typically used on the job. Make sure they’re in good shape and replace or repair anything that needs attention.
Mobile apps and easy-to-use technology (that does not require an Internet connection) that are both customer friendly and help you do business easier and more efficiently, should be assessed. If your staff needs additional training to get the most out of these technology solutions, partner with a company who support you and your staff.
Speaking of training, new technicians and those who are seeking additional certifications should be getting those now.
While the busy season will find everyone trying their best to keep as many customers as possible, the real focus should be taking care of your technicians. The increased workload and stress can cause even the calmest and most experienced technicians to crack. Unfortunately, once burnout sets in, quitting can seem like the only way out or worse, going to a competitor.
When something has to go in the name of more productivity, don’t let that thing be your company fun. Schedule activities outside the work day and/or provide ways to reward them with things they can do with their families. A gift card for a night out, movie tickets, gas cards (yep, they work!). It’s the little gestures that go a long way. The tougher the workload gets, the more vital these fun breaks are.
The busy season is the exact wrong time to try out new initiatives and projects. That’s what the off season is for. Maintain the usual expectations and stay focused on providing great service and staying efficient.
When your technicians begin seeing a big increase in their customer volume, that’s when it’s time for managers to take a few calls themselves. It will keep them grounded in what the job is all about and will let your team know they’re not out there alone.
A piece of broken equipment, a flat tire, or a dead cell phone can feel catastrophic under a heavy workload. When you hear something isn’t working correctly, fix it immediately.
Your technicians need to know you have their back. Spend time listening to and addressing their concerns and frustrations. Reward those who you see go the extra mile and take the time to listen. That sets a great example for everyone in the office and on the road.
We hope this guide has been helpful. Whether you’re looking to add efficiencies, make things easier for your employees, improve your customer experience, increase sales, or anything in between, FieldRoutes is committed to helping your business reach its full potential.
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