Smart Scheduling: Definition and How it Grows Field Service Businesses
10 April 2023
Here’s what smart scheduling is, how it compares to traditional job management processes and practical examples of how it supports field service business growth.
Are you looking to reduce costs, increase revenue, and improve service delivery? Of course you are. That’s why so many field service businesses are now looking at smart scheduling.
But what is smart scheduling?
In this blog post, we’ll explore exactly what smart scheduling is, how it compares to traditional job management processes, provide practical examples of how it supports growth – and outline your next steps.
Let’s dive in.
What is smart scheduling?
Smart scheduling is a clever way to manage jobs within field services. Typically managed through a software platform or mobile app, smart scheduling leverages automation to optimise your engineers’ time. It does this by taking into account a number of factors like traffic congestion, fuel consumption, engineers nearby, home locations – and much more – to allocate the right engineer to a job.
This helps to reduce idle time and overtime – and ultimately helps you to book more jobs with the same resources.
Sound good? But wondering how ‘smart’ scheduling differs from traditional practices. Let’s break it down.
Traditional versus smart scheduling in field services
To better understand how smart scheduling and traditional scheduling and planning methods are different, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each.
Traditional or manual scheduling
Traditional job scheduling leans more on manual or paper-based methods to create job schedules. Typically, you would have someone responsible for owning the schedule and pulling information from multiple places to match an engineer to job requirements.
For example, they’d manually need to check an engineer’s skill sets, qualifications, and proximity to the site.
Here are the major pros and cons of this approach:
✅ The job scheduler becomes the oracle for understanding engineer capabilities
✅ Manual processes can feel less daunting for the less tech-savvy
❌ Inefficient job scheduling – it’s hugely time-consuming and error-prone
❌ Delays job scheduling and leaves you open to bottlenecks (what if the scheduler is off?)
❌ Appointments can even slip through the net entirely – not a great customer experience
Smart and automated scheduling
We’ve already briefly touched on this one in the definition, so we’ll keep this brief. Smart scheduling within a job management solution automates the data review and decision-making process to make job scheduling much quicker and easier and is much less prone to human error.
Let’s dish out the biggest pros and cons.
✅ Much quicker bookings because it literally saves hundreds of hours in admin time
✅ Provides real-time analytics on information that constantly changes (e.g. weather conditions and congestion)
✅ Cost-efficient resourcing (taking into account fuel, overtime, distance etc)
❌ Relies on teams feeling comfortable using the tech (the dispatcher and engineers)
❌ Using a bad smart scheduling solution could cause mayhem if it isn’t fit for purpose
With all this information in mind, it’s clear that smart scheduling is the way forward. It’s quicker, easier, more efficient, and less prone to error. But does it actually help field service businesses grow? In short, yes. Let me tell you why.
How smart scheduling helps field service businesses grow
In a nutshell, smart scheduling intelligently allocates teams, assets, and vehicles to jobs. By taking into account all the factors we’ve mentioned already, it allows field services to lower the cost of scheduled work and deliver winning customer experiences.
Here are just a few examples of how…
Boosts employee productivity 🚀
By optimising resources, field service businesses can book more jobs in. This is a huge selling point for smart scheduling tech, especially with resources being a little scarce right now, and the economy making businesses nervous.
And by sending the right engineer to a job – one that has the skills and accreditations and equipment to complete the job quickly – you can increase first-time fix rates too.
Plus, that engineer can then move on to another job when they complete this one. Much better than sending an engineer who isn’t equipped and may get stuck on site trying to get support to fix something – it isn’t good for their morale either!
👀 Just take a look at this case study example: Medlec boosts productivity by 40% with smart tech.
Reduces service delivery time & improves customer satisfaction ⏳
Smart scheduling is fast. So, not only can you quickly select and allocate an engineer, having considered any additional factors such as distance and skillset, you can also alert them as soon as a new job is scheduled for them.
But beyond this basic functionality, it’s also clever enough to take into account constraints. So, if you need a 2-person team or access to a site restricted to certain times of day, it will create the perfect schedule that takes all this into account.
By minimising travel time and idle time, businesses can reduce the costs of items like fuel, overtime, and more. But also, they can also increase their customer base by taking on more jobs.
And, with automated customer alerts that provide tracking links and ETAs, as well as quicker response rates, high first-time fix rates and first-instance job completions – this is always going to win you more customers.
👀 Here’s another practical example of how a field service business improves operations and service quality with tech.
Creates opportunities to attract more customers 🧲
Here’s a little more on that last note. Smart scheduling can also allow you to create optimal schedules based on customer preferences and requirements.
For example, they may have set times they are available for a site visit or they may have a particular challenge that a skilled engineer needs to attend. Or they may even ask for a preferred engineer that attended last time.
By providing a more personalised experience, you’re more likely to gain repeat custom and gain word-of-mouth referrals to grow your customer base.
👉 Like in this case study: See how Serious grew their business.
Your next steps: What you need to get started with smart scheduling
Just to quickly summarise: Smart scheduling allows field service businesses to create optimal schedules to complete more jobs in a day, delivering on precise customer preferences, all while keeping costs lean.
This is what allows businesses to grow.
Eager to get started?
Here are your next steps:
- Step 1: Review existing processes – Take stock of how you currently manage the job process. What’s creating bottlenecks and risks? This will help with the next step.
- Step 2: Write a list of objectives – You’re going to need a digital solution to allow you to do this automation and so a great place to start, to help you whittle down your options, is to delve into your business needs: what do you actually want smart scheduling software to deliver? Better customer experiences, reduce costs, increase productivity… or all of the above?
- Step 3: Shop around – Using steps one and two, you’ll have an idea of the type of smart scheduling solution you need. Make sure you check out case studies, reviews, training support and more. And always get them to demo the product to see if it actually does what you need – and if it is easy to use.
- Step 4: Reevaluate your processes – Once you’ve narrowed down smart scheduling providers, map out how each solution would slot into your business and if it will actually solve your needs. If you can’t see a fit, bin it.
- Step 5: Going ahead – Having found the right smart scheduling tool for you, you’ll need to prepare implementation. This may mean needing IT support or training. But ideally, the tech will be so clever and easy-to-use that there’ll be minimal need for this so that you can just benefit from the tech asap.
💡Bonus tip: While we’ve focused this blog purely on smart scheduling, for the ultimate lean job management machine, you might be better considering an all-in-one job management solution that includes smart scheduling. You can find out more about job management here.
Ready to see smart scheduling in action? Book a demo with our field service pros and they’ll talk you through how leading field service businesses use smart scheduling tools.
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