Truck Roll Optimization & Field Service

Written by Cydney Myers

In field service, truck rolls are a standard part of the job. Whenever a customer calls in to report an issue or schedule a service, whether it’s a checkup, preventative maintenance, a new install, an emergency, etc., and a technician is dispatched and sent on-site – a truck is rolled.

Depending on the size of the service company, the typical process for scheduling a dispatch may look something like this:

  1. A customer calls in or visits the service provider’s website to report the issue and describe the situation.
  2. The customer may talk to a customer service rep when describing the issue. At this time, the rep may be able to offer brief troubleshooting tips in the event of an emergency.
  3. If it’s determined that it’s necessary to send a technician on-site, a ticket is created, and an appointment is scheduled.
  4. A technician is dispatched to the site, and a truck is rolled.

Following this process, an average of 40% of service tickets call for an on-site technician visit. The problem with this method is that it doesn’t always paint the clearest picture of the task at hand for the technician being sent on site. And as a result, they may be sent out blindly to a situation without the proper equipment, scope of work, or skills needed for the job.

And if the truck roll is deemed unnecessary or results in a second truck roll or call back, many service providers often chalk it up to simply being a necessary part and cost of doing business.

 

The “Necessary” Cost of Doing Business

When calculating the cost of a single truck roll, it’s common for service providers to lowball the actual expense they incur each time they send a technician on-site. Reports often claim that the average cost of a single dispatched truck can run between $250 to $500. In reality, once labor, time, vehicle maintenance, and additional resources are factored in, the Technology & Services Industry Association estimates that the actual cost of that single truck roll can run much closer to roughly $1000.

At the end of the day, no matter how you calculate the specific price tag on rolling a truck, the end goal is to have a positive return on investment. And with upwards of $1000 on the line, it’s in a service provider’s best interest to ensure that every truck roll is necessary, efficient, and profitable.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Recent reports have found that approximately 25% of truck rolls are non-value-add (NVA) or avoidable truck rolls, negatively impacting each service provider’s bottom line.

 

Preventing Non-Value-Add & Avoidable Truck Rolls

When operating any business, expenses are inevitable. The key is to ensure that the operating expenses you incur result in a positive return on investment. In field service, the cost of rolling a truck is a necessary expense. But as we found above – not every truck roll is necessary.

For service providers looking to improve operational efficiency, cut costs, and scale their business, minimizing non-value-add and avoidable truck rolls is a great place to start. Truck roll optimization can help you achieve this goal by ensuring that each truck roll is necessary. The technician sent on site has the tools, resources, and insight needed for the job, and the dispatch results in a completed service and happy customer.

 

  1. Utilize remote diagnostics tools to better understand the scope of work and determine if a site visit is actually necessary.

Implementing a technology solution to enable virtual, interactive, and visual remote diagnostics is a valuable resource that can significantly reduce second truck rolls and callbacks. By allowing your techs to virtually assess the task at hand, determine if a site visit is truly necessary, and identify necessary parts and equipment that may need to be ordered ahead of time – you’ll save your team and customers time, money, and potentially avoid a trip on-site completely.

 

  1. Streamline a technician’s time on-site using automated checklists – ensuring each job is done right the first time.

When it’s determined that a truck roll and site visit is, in fact, necessary, it’s important to verify that every technician follows the correct procedures and processes during the visit to ensure that each customer receives quality service. Digital tools that allow you to convert traditional manual checklists into streamlined and automated workflows for technicians to follow while on the job will allow you to fully optimize their time on-site while monitoring and visually documenting work quality and completion.

 

  1. Document completed jobs using a centralized system of record

Reviewing previous jobs can be a huge asset to technicians on the job. Oftentimes, a technician will be dispatched to a repeat customer to service a unit that another member of your team may have previously worked on or even installed. Giving the on-site technician access to the previous technician’s notes about the unit and customer and detailed history about the specific piece of equipment will help them better understand the job and piece of equipment – potentially avoiding a second truck roll.

 

  1. Decrease second truck rolls by 40% by utilizing live and interactive video calling for on the job training, troubleshooting, and support

Given the ongoing labor shortage, you may be working to scale your team and train a new set of greener technicians. And while on-the-job challenges can arise for even the most skilled technicians, newer, less experienced techs may face more challenges on the job – resulting in a call for help while on location. Rather than dispatching another truck on-site, costing you additional time and money, virtual assistance and augmented reality tools can remotely connect newer technicians with more senior team members for faster training and troubleshooting while on the job.

 

  1. Give your techs instant access to a virtual library of unit information, manuals, wireframes, and additional documentation

Knowledge and information are key to truck roll optimization. One of the best ways to improve a technician’s time on-site is by ensuring they have the resources and information needed to complete the task at hand. In field service, technicians are often required to work with a wide range of units and equipment and understanding the ins and outs of every specific unit is no easy feat. Arming your techs with instant access to an easily searchable library of manuals, diagrams, wireframes, training videos, etc., will save them valuable time on the job.

 

In conclusion…

It’s very common for field service providers to think that second truck rolls and NVA dispatches are inevitable and “necessary” costs of doing business. But this isn’t always the case. Innovative technology solutions can help you proactively address issues in your field service processes, optimize your truck rolls, and alleviate unnecessary strain on your business.

 

Cydney Myers is the Marketing Manager for XOi Technologies.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Facing Fear – Don’t Be Afraid

Owning a business can be scary. That’s just the truth of the matter. When you have to make big decisions for yourself and your company, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Annual budget predictions alone are enough to give an owner anxiety! So, how do we deal with fear when running our businesses?

Fear Reactions

Our initial reactions to big decisions can vary. There’s no one right way to react when you start to feel that fear creeping up, but you should be aware of your habits and those around you if you want to communicate effectively. For example, when your team proposes a budget for the coming year, not everyone will react the same way. The more you know about who you’re pitching to or receiving a pitch from, the better you’ll be able to pass information back and forth.

Flight

Some people are more likely to retreat with new information and mull it over before returning with their response. This doesn’t mean they are fleeing forever — they might just need time to formulate a clear response. These kinds of people may not respond to aggressive or loud championing for ideas. You should try a calm, reasoned, and extended conversation to allow for optimal communication.

Fight

Other people operate best in the moment. You might notice these people challenging claims and asking for proof that the new idea will work. Some team members voice their passion loudly or forcefully. If you are one of these people or need to converse with one, be prepared to argue and discuss the merits of the budget or idea in the same sitting. Be confident in your claims and back up your proposal to convince others to agree to it.

Fear Is Challenging

No one really likes to feel afraid, whether it’s of the unknown or the looming growth of the business. However, if you feel fear in some areas of your business, it’s actually a good sign. It can be really easy to become complacent when you start to find some success in your career, but the worst thing you can do is stop challenging yourself.
Fear challenges you. It makes you push yourself to your limits and risk things you care about. Fear also promotes radical growth. You have to be afraid of how far you believe you can go in order to even conceptualize reaching that goal.

Set Scary Goals

It may seem crazy or out of the ordinary to consider setting such high goals but do it anyway. Push those budgets up, have faith in those projections and believe that you can attain great things. When your projected growth starts to scare you a little bit, that’s when you know you’re doing something right.

 

Todd Liles is the CEO of Service Excellence.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Strategic Staffing: How to Staff Your CSR Team for Peak & Shoulder Seasons

When it comes to home services demand, you know the drill: you’re busier when the weather acts up. In an industry reliant on weather patterns and seasonal changes, it’s natural for demand to fluctuate throughout the year. Knowing how and when to adjust customer service staff sizes can be challenging and frustrating for home service companies like yours.

As the Head of Customer Success at Schedule Engine, I’ve (Samantha McDermott of Schedule Engine) noticed a thing or two about how companies handle customer service team staffing throughout the year. I’ve learned a lot in my role working with home service companies of all sizes across different trades. I’m here to share some of my experiences and knowledge to help you build a strategy for your staffing efforts during peak and shoulder seasons.

What Happens During Shoulder Season?

When shoulder season rolls around, you probably face significantly lower call volume than during the remainder of the year. I’d estimate that demand can fluctuate anywhere up to 50%. From a business staffing perspective, shoulder season demand dips present a critical problem. During peak season, you need a robust staff of customer service representatives to manage the high volume of incoming calls and chats. But your customer service representatives (CSRs) have fewer calls and chats to answer when demand dips off.

Common Staffing Strategies

This fluctuation often leads companies to follow one of two staffing strategies, each with its own difficulties.

  1. Staffing for Peak Season

Staffing for peak season is when a company hires a high number of customer service representatives to manage demand at its peak level. As a result, when shoulder season comes and demand curves off, most of the team sits idle.

The problem: You’re covered during peak season, but you have too many employees and not enough work during shoulder season (and therefore, you’re sacrificing profits with higher, unnecessary labor costs).

2.  Staffing for Shoulder Season

Other companies choose to staff for shoulder season and make up for the smaller team during peak season by hiring temporary CSRs. As a result, your team size fluctuates with demand.

The problem: You’re not wasting on costs during shoulder season, but you’re hiring temporary staff that isn’t committed or dedicated to your brand during peak season (and therefore, you’re sacrificing customer service quality).

As you may be able to see, neither of these strategies are particularly effective. These strategies present an even bigger problem when extreme weather events occur. For example, what happens with an unexpected hurricane if you shrink your CSR team for shoulder season? Or a heatwave? Well, you might panic. (Or, you can follow our game-plan for extreme weather event planning and execution).

How To Best Manage Your CSR Team Throughout the Seasons

Unrelated to extreme weather events, there are a few ways that you can manage your team regularly to make up for the issues presented by common staffing strategies:

  • Staff for year-round, not for seasons

Staffing for year-round rather than shoulder seasons is a much better approach to staffing for your business. This strategy can mean:

  • Staffing for peak season and finding ways to leverage the extra talent during shoulder season, or
  • Staffing for shoulder season and relying on a tool like Schedule Engine’s Live Chat and Live Voice services to make up for it during peak season

By stabilizing your year-round CSR staff, you’ll have better employees with better retention, leading to better performance overall—which is much more important than skimping on labor costs here and there.

  • Leverage your extra CSR staff during shoulder season

Suppose you choose to go the “staffing for peak season” route. In that case, you can leverage the extra staff you have during shoulder season to focus on other tasks such as scheduling maintenance appointments and building long-term customer relationships. You have more time and energy to nurture returning customers and improve customer retention, with limited issues answering one-off emergency calls during peak season.

 

Savannah McDermott is the Head of Customer Success at Schedule Engine.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Writing a Confidential Information Memorandum or Known as “Getting Naked”

If you are interested in selling your business and in the process of understanding how to secure the buyer and your prices, you must “get naked” and provide the potential buyer with a detailed package of information about your business. Merger & Acquisition professionals refer to this as Confidential Information Memorandum (CIM). The purpose of the CIM is to provide the buyer with enough information to generate an initial offer, called a Letter of Intent (LOI).

The CIM is a detailed brochure about your company that includes the facts that communicate your business differentiation to other businesses. It is also a marketing document that discusses both the features and benefits. According to “The Art of Selling Your Business” by John Warrillow, the sections that should be included in a CIM are:

Your business and its operations:

  • What makes your business model unique? For example, do you have a specialty that is superior, and you have many accolades in your area?
  • What do you do better than your competitors?
  • What have you figured out that an acquirer could leverage? You may outsource all your accounting, for example, versus doing it internally.

 

Products & Suppliers

  • List your services, organized by the percentage of annual revenue.
  • List your services, organized by the percentage of Gross Margin or Cost of Goods Sold.
  • Rank your top three to five suppliers by your annual spend.

 

Sales & Marketing

  • What is your customer “win” strategy?
  • How much does your customer acquisition cost for a new customer?
  • What is your market share?
  • Explain and emphasize any recurring revenue models (service agreements). Provide churn rates and the lifetime value of a customer.

 

Barriers of Entry

  • What makes your company unique and difficult for competitors to compete with?
  • What type of investment would it take to build what you have created, both time and money?

 

Trends and Opportunities

  • What is exciting in your industry?
  • What is growing or innovating?
  • What have you done in your business to embrace the trends and innovation of the future?

 

Financials

  • Include three years of adjusted P&Ls along with two years of projections.
  • Make sure adjustments are made to the financials to remove any one-time expenses and income that a new buyer would not incur.
  • Replace your compensation expense (salary and bonus) with a market-rate salary for a general manager who would do what you do.

 

Customers

  • Describe your customers by zip code, product sales, and average sale per customer. Do not provide a list of your customers.
  • What markets or products could you offer if you had more resources or capacity?

 

Management Team

  • Describe how well your company would run without you.
  • Show a visual organization chart that includes divisions and salary ranges of the employees.
  • Include a bio of each person in a leadership position, their compensation and incentives, and roles.

 

As you see from this list of items, providing a CIM is tricky when selling your business. You reveal some very intimate details about your company for an audience that may not use with the best intentions. Be careful of the buyer who just wants to learn more about what you do, like your fees, your processes, and your key customer strategies. If something is proprietary, do not expose that in the CIM. Even when a potential buyer signs an NDA, it is difficult to prove they used your proprietary asset to improve their business.

The CIM is not something you take lightly. It takes a lot of work and should not be given to any potential buyer unless you are committed to selling your business. Be prepared to be uncomfortable and know your leverage with a potential buyer.

Lynn Wise is the Founder and CEO of Contractor in Charge.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Cause and Effect – Finding the Root of Your Business Problems

Recently one of my Regional IAQ Training Reps mentioned that during a manager’s meeting with one of his dealers, they pinpointed some problems in the business that were causing a significant decrease in IAQ sales. It is customary for my training team to meet with our dealers’ management team after our onsite sessions to review and analyze the status of their IAQ sales and their effect on top-line revenue and bottom-line profit. This meeting was especially interesting because this dealer’s IAQ sales were down 17% over last year in a booming market. Consumer awareness about IAQ products is at an all-time high, and our dealers’ sales have increased substantially in the past two years. So why the decrease in IAQ sales for this specific dealer? Some of the reasons were obvious, and others were uncovered during this meeting. An action plan was put in place to affect a positive outcome on future sales.

Whether it’s challenges with sales, marketing, financial, manpower, or whatever, problems have always been part of businesses and will continue to be. So as business owners, we need to continually analyze our business, identify the problems, and understand the underlying causes and the effects that follow when they persist. Once establishing the cause of a problem and its effects, you can then tackle the problem better by proposing viable solutions. To this end, the need to undertake cause and effect analysis is vital for business success. It is necessary to understand the root cause of a problem. Whether it is analyzing why equipment or accessory sales are down or any other business challenges, determining the best methods to solve the problem may include implementing new management policies, changing a process, or even repositioning your team members to effectively achieve desired business outcomes by identifying and addressing the root cause of the business problem faced.

Analyzing these problems involves looking backward to what caused the problem, then looking forward with a plan.

Only about two-thirds of startups survive past their second year in business, and many companies that make it past their second year in business continue to struggle to be profitable. There are underlying reasons why this continues to happen, so it is crucial for your business to survive profitably to discover and understand these reasons. Looking backward into your business to find the root causes of your challenges calls for an analysis of past mistakes and problems. You must identify where these past issues have come from and put a plan together for avoiding them in the future.

Once this cause-and-effect analysis has taken place, it can be used for future planning. Looking forward into your business, this analysis is your basic planning tool to create a better future business outcome than you have experienced in the past.

This becomes a five-step process.

1. Identify and describe the problem. Describe the nature of the problem and how it is affecting your business.

2. Brainstorm with your management team the root cause of the problem. Break it down to the people involved, current processes and procedures, the material used, working conditions, etc.

3. Identify all internal and external causes.
a. You have control over your internal causes since they are mostly operational and employee relationship issues.
b. External problems such as supply chain issues, changing laws, weather conditions, the economy are out of your control but still need to be considered so you can adjust your business practices to account for some of these issues and have as much influence as you can on others.

4. Analyze your discoveries in steps one through three and prioritize what you can control and act on. Decide what action can be taken immediately, list what you have control over, identify where you can implement change, and influence what you can with issues out of your control.

5. From here, you can develop your plan of action. This plan should reflect proposed solutions to the problem and identify specifically who is responsible for the appropriate action. A point person should be assigned that holds others accountable to stay on task with target dates set to accomplish all implementation.

Although this process may sound time-consuming and laborious, depending on the issue at hand, it can also be fun. Over 30 years ago in my previous career, I worked for a janitorial and maintenance supply company owned by Howard Teidt. Howard used to have occasional problem-solving meetings that he called “Green-light / Red-light” sessions. We were a small company, and he would invite everyone into the conference room for a meeting. In the first part of the meeting, he called the “Green-light” segment. Howard would present a company problem then tell everyone to turn their green light on. This meant that anything goes. We would throw out solutions no matter how serious or ridiculous they were, and he would write them on a whiteboard. Not only did this foster creative thinking, but it was usually fun and hilarious. Once we exhausted the solutions, Howard would yell “Red-light,” then we would all stop and examine the ideas. The funny nonsense ideas were crossed out, and we were left with some great ideas.

As an example, in one session, the company problem at hand was our increased fuel and delivery cost. We had a company policy that if you placed an order by 2:00 pm, we would deliver your product the next day for free. Howard proposed the question: “How can we cut delivery expenses by $3,000 per month?”  “Green-light!” – on the funny side:

  • Fire John, our driver (he was in the meeting…)
  • Sell the delivery truck and save on insurance.
  • Stop delivering and have our accounts pick up their orders.
  • Quit selling so much.
  • And so on…

“Red-light!”

During the red-light segment of the meeting, after we stopped razzing each other, one of John’s ideas (our truck driver) stood out. He said because of our next-day delivery policy to all our accounts that he was driving all over a four-county area every day fighting traffic and racking up miles trying to get to everyone. John said, “Why don’t we map out our deliveries into smaller territories and offer deliveries only on certain days of the week to each territory?” The sales team was the first to object because “that’s a great selling benefit and we can’t change it now. Our customers will object!”

So, we surveyed our top accounts and discovered that no one really cared if they received their shipment the next day or not and set delivery days would be just fine. We implemented John’s plan, and it saved us thousands of dollars on fuel since he wasn’t driving all over our coverage area every day. This even gave John more time to organize our warehouse, solving another problem!

Green-light / Red-light problem-solving sessions can be fun, and they work!

Taken at face value, this is just another problem-solving tool. Still, any problem-solving process takes commitment to conduct the initial exercise, follow through with the implementation of the set plan, and holding people accountable for making it happen. The causes and effects of business problems won’t just go away. Any analysis and planning process is only as effective as the folks involved want it to be and how capable they are of taking the appropriate action to carry it through to its fruition.

 

Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.