Field schedule optimization: Every issue and how to solve it

Integrate your CRM with other tools

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How to connect your integrations to your CRM platform?

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Techbit is the next-gen CRM platform designed for modern sales teams

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Why using the right CRM can make your team close more sales?

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Field schedule optimization: Every issue and how to solve it 

Whether you’re in HVAC, plumbing, electrical or any service business, you need a field schedule. Every employee must know where they’re going, what they’re about to do, and how long it might take. More than that, actually — they should spend more time on maintenance than traveling. That’s the optimization equation: informed routes + priorities = more cash in your hands as you complete work orders faster. 

That's easier said than done if you’re bound to traditional scheduling tools. They’re slow, clumsy and outdated. You could be wasting far more time than you realize, and there’s no sense in sticking to manual management anymore. 

So, let’s review the most common scheduling problems and how to overcome them.

What’s wrong with your current scheduling? 

Pen and paper really can’t cut it. The same goes for whiteboard scheduling, which too many field offices still rely on. We imagine you’ve encountered these frustrations yourself, but they’re worth repeating. Writing columns and work order details for every technician, route and inventory checklist takes precious hours away from other activities — like sourcing new customers. 

Meanwhile, you risk getting some details wrong. Mixing up customer service requests and the estimated hours for each project will slow your field teams down, because they have to understand which jobs they should perform first.

Even if you’re using SMS updates or manual spreadsheets, human error can still harm your productivity. This limits growth because scheduling problems will only get worse as more technicians join your field service business. 

Overall, poor scheduling can lead to: 

  • Significant delays on preventive or emergency maintenance. Your workforce will struggle to grasp what’s required for every task, and without real-time communication, wait longer to get the right tools or bring in more specialized support. 
  • Additional time wasted on driving from one random place to the next. Your productivity hinges on keeping fuel costs and travel time down, helping a technician get straight to the task at hand. If they aren’t sure how to plan their service route for the day, they can’t complete several maintenance jobs close by, meaning they’ll have to travel more often. 
  • A constant need to visit the office before heading out on field assignments — a commute that doesn’t help your bottom line. 
  • Unnecessary repeat visits for complex service requests that could be completed in a single day with more guidance and planning. 

Basically, there’s a lot riding on schedule optimization. Your people, processes and profit margin will benefit from fewer manual updates and the right assigned priorities for field technicians who can complete every job effectively without delays. 

What does a smart, efficient schedule look like? 

Now that we’ve summarized what a schedule shouldn’t do, let’s dive into what it should. The fundamentals aren’t complicated. Your main choice is deciding how to create an optimized schedule without burdening your administrative staff. 

Better route optimization  

Picture this: your crew has a list of scheduled work orders they can check out on their phones before they even jump in their trucks in the morning. Thanks to schedule optimization, these jobs are on a map, so every technician knows where they’re headed and what work they need to do. That means they can group and complete several jobs close by without swinging by again later that day or during the week. 

Easy, rapid contact between field and office staff 

What happens when schedules are switched up? Maybe a job gets canceled or changed. Without simple communications tools, how does the office staff know what’s going on with the crew out in the field? Quick changes can make planning a headache. But, if you’re able to chat to each other in real time, no one’s left scratching their heads during the workday. Optimization is partly about staying flexible with who’s needed for a job or what tools they should bring. Field service management with constant, easy communication can improve scheduling tenfold!

Automated priorities 

We’ve already mentioned that some service requests can be more valuable or time-sensitive than others. Ordering them properly — finishing the largest, most profitable jobs first before moving onto the rest — is right at the heart of schedule optimization. However, you should also try to automate the process. Creating work orders, enhancing them with documentation and service histories, and making them more or less urgent is way easier with templates and intelligent scheduling tools that handle the small stuff for you.

Fewer overheads and expenses 

When you plan field service requests to a T, you have a much better idea of the inventory you’ll purchase, keep and use for preventive maintenance. This is important because buying too much inventory — or not enough — can be costly: You’re either paying for something that’ll depreciate over time or discovering you don’t have enough equipment for certain projects, which leads to more delays. An optimized schedule solves both of these problems. You and your crew can see what’s proving useful over and over again, letting you focus on buying tools and spare parts that really turn a profit. With fewer, shorter trips, you’ll also cut back on fuel spend across the business, leaving extra cash to spend on inventory, training, vehicles or new hires. 

Informed decisions can take your field service company to the next level. And, we’re ready to support your optimization efforts, replacing the whiteboard on your wall. That’s Operix’s advantage: Helping you to scale and do more with the teams you have, without any second guessing. 

3 ways in which Operix sets up field optimization 

We’ve designed our field service software platform specifically for HVAC businesses and speciality  contractors across the United States. Automated scheduling — along with QuickBooks integration — is a major must-have feature for keeping everyone on track to maximize earnings. With our technology, you’ll have a centralized hub for workflows, time tracking and accurate billing, sharing information when and where it counts. 

Here are three standout abilities that can fine tune your scheduling going forward: 

1. Simple, informed dispatches 

Operix builds work orders when service requests come in, based on standard or custom templates. Set client rates and additional attachments (such as site directions, warranty documents, etc.) give your contractors what they need to make fully informed decisions. 

Even better, you can prioritize orders, set alerts and let our software arrange an automated, feasible schedule for your field staff. They can view due destinations on a real-time GPS in the Operix app, strategizing their route and staying away from the office. Status updates reveal how those work orders are progressing — again, without administrative pressures to check in on technicians.

2. Drag-and-drop scheduling 

Our field management software lets you fill workflows instantly for field specialists who may have a gap in their day, so they can take on assignments nearby. Just drag work orders into free blocks for another contractor; the platform instantly changes their schedule. All the relevant details carry over to the new employee, letting them know what’s due on the service call. 

3. Estimated repair hours 

How long is a maintenance task supposed to last? Schedule optimization benefits from this information, too. Operix work orders have estimated time frames for the requests you’re dealing with, telling field workers what they might expect on the job. This not only gives you a benchmark for good performance (with any variance in actual hours vs. estimated hours), but also allows field teams to gauge when they can realistically serve each customer and move on. 

Want to schedule a demo with us? We’d love to show you what’s waiting to transform and optimize your field service organization, putting more money in your pocket. Give us a call for additional details to improve your management tactics.

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