Job Management in a Down Economy: How to Stay Lean and Effective
5 June 2023
We don’t need to go too much into the backstory. The economy is in a weird place. We all know that since the pandemic and Brexit, the economy has suffered big blows in the form of layoffs, budget cuts, supply issues, hugely inflated prices, staffing shortages and more.
And the ongoing uncertainty compounds the ability to plan.
So, how are field service businesses approaching job management right now?
Here are a handful of strategies to consider in 2023 to optimise resources, reduce expenses, and create stable or growing profit margins.
Let’s dive in.
Effective job management: Strategy #1 – Optimise resources
When hiring additional engineers just isn’t an option – because they are like gold dust and because money is tight – optimising job schedules is the way to go.
Sounds obvious. But how are leading field service businesses actually doing this?
There are quite a few ways. Here are the top ones:
📍 GPS tracking
Leveraging live GPS tracking and mapping tools gives greater control of the entire business. With this example, it allows you to find the closest engineer to a job – so you can respond quicker, reduce fuel costs, and book more jobs in.
⚙️ Automated job management
When there are lots of jobs to manage, it can be a nightmare knowing what to prioritise. With some tools, businesses can assign jobs to engineers based on priority, engineers’ skills, and location.
⏰ Real-time job updates
With access to a cloud-based system linked to a mobile app, engineers provide real-time updates for job progress, which instantly updates the job status in the cloud and back-office teams.
The result? This means you can see when an engineer is available… And everyone is on the same page at all times. And by minimising things like travel time, fuel costs, and repeat visits, it’s easy to see how you can achieve efficient job management.
Effective job management: Strategy #2 – Cost control
Of course, you’ll be all over keeping costs low. But there’s a knack for doing it hyper-efficiently.
You can better control costs in the following ways:
📈 Real-time information for financial reporting
If all your job management data is stored in one central place in the cloud, financial reporting – tracking expenses, job margin reports, WIP costs, and predicted costs – are all easy to monitor. Plus, through a visual data reporting dashboard, you can see areas where you can make cost savings.
➕ Outsourcing to subcontractors
💸 Containing costs for each job
With real-time job updates, engineers can provide a live track of expenses associated with each job. Not only does this mean you can invoice correctly, but you can also see how much jobs are costing. And factor this into future quotes and financial forecasting. Plus, as part of pre-planning, you can ensure you only order the parts you need (saving any surplus stock and the cash tied into it).
In short, keeping a close eye on expenses and job profitability for each job makes it much easier to see how you can maintain efficiency across the entire business.
Effective job management: Strategy #3 – Empower engineers
Providing engineers with everything they need to quickly complete jobs the first time is one of the biggest ways to boost effective job management. Because, let’s face it, return trips eat into profit margins and mean you can attend less new jobs to boost revenue.
So, what are leading field service businesses doing here? Here are a handful of best practices to boost effective job management:
✅ Provide engineers with all the job and customer info they need
Thanks to job management software and a good mobile app, all this information can literally be at the engineers’ fingertips. So any photographs, certificates, or notes on the job can easily be accessed to save a lot of troubleshooting and investigative time – meaning jobs can get done quicker so engineers become freer faster.
✅ Keep on top of training and certification
To keep field engineers active and on the road, they’ll need to ensure training is up-to-date. With job management software, you can automate alerts well before things are set to expire and flag constraints so that if a particular certification is needed for a job, you can send the right engineer or arrange training.
If you’re lacking certain skills for a job, given the talent shortage, it may be worth considering upskilling existing team members.
✅ Make processes simpler
You can also automate a lot of the tasks so that engineers can complete work faster, easier, and to a set of standards. For example, you can create templated digital job cards that pre-populate customer information, provide tick-boxes for tasks so that work follows a set standard, and it prompts them if something isn’t complete whilst on site – rather than when it gets reported back to the office and a revisit needs planning in (which slows down invoicing too).
All of this makes it easier for engineers to do their jobs raising productivity levels, quality of service, and morale for the team. And there are plenty of studies that highlight that a motivated team is proven to be much more efficient.
Effective job management: Strategy #4 – Focus on customer service
While keeping costs lean will always be a top priority, customer service often follows closely behind for field service businesses. And it can actually save you money too.
🙌 Self-service customer portals
Customers want to review documents and book appointments whenever they need to – and this may be outside of office hours. This is where digital self-service tools come in. With it, you can improve customer experience, and also save the pressure on your office teams providing the administrative support – the portal does that for you.
📣 Automated communications
Like GPS tracking and alerts and automated appointment reminders (that can be sent via email, SMS – whatever the customer prefers). Customers now expect this level of communication and as it’s automated, there’s less pressure on your resources to manage this.
This also means that you are more likely to get repeat business as it’s frictionless to just click a link to schedule in a job rather than thinking who to call in to do the work.
🚩 Real-time issue flagging
And because your engineers can flag issues while on site, and alert back-office staff, you can quickly address challenges before a customer gets in touch to chase a follow-up action or to raise a complaint.
Ultimately, providing better service also supports building customer loyalty and advocacy – which is exactly what you want in a volatile market that’s also highly saturated with competitors.
Key takeaways for lean and effective job management
There are plenty of ideas that pop up in just those four strategies alone. You can probably really start to see how these approaches help to keep operations lean and optimised so that you can generate as much revenue without the risk of additional hires, for example.
And you’ll have noticed that tech is playing a key role in all this. More specifically: job management software.
If you’re new to job management software, you might want to look at these articles:
- 5 signs your business is ready for job management software
- How does job management software actually save your field service business money
- The ultimate guide to job management software
You can also speak to our job management pros at BigChange.
Keen to see how job management software works? Book a personalised demo and our field service business pros can talk you through the top features that power business growth.
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