7 Ways Field Service Companies Prepare for the Busy Season
- March 3, 2017
- By: Vonigo
Every working person knows and respects their busy season. Whether you run hard in the springtime, hustle all fall, have a three-week window of 24-hr mayhem, or follow the madness set out by fiscal quarters, you know this: the busy season can make or break a business’s success. We’ve put together seven tips that will help get your team into fighting shape, and your bank accounts ready for gains. Put on your trainers: it’s business time.
First, Identify Your Slow Season
Maybe you don’t have a traditional “slow” season. Plumbing and electrician services are less seasonal than, say, landscaping or even junk removal. But you almost certainly have a few weeks where you notice a drop in your sales numbers. Maybe it’s around the holidays, maybe it’s in the height of summer. The key here is to see those times as an opportunity for some administrative work.
Build a Schedule
No matter how many busy seasons you’ve conquered, they can still sneak up on you. But not this year. Because you are going to fire up your job scheduling software and plan out your busy season down to the hour. In the best-case scenario, you optimize your scheduling as soon as your most recent busy season has ended.
This gives you a great opportunity to think about the tweaks that you’ve been thinking about making to your processes, and make changes to your schedule that accommodate such changes. Even if you can’t yet ascribe specific people to the hours you’ve planned out, having a framework based on your existing or expected headcount will make you better able to respond to an uptick in business when it inevitably comes.
Get it all in your field-service scheduling software, and out of your notes and thoughts.
This year, focus on the goals you want to accomplish each month and envision the schedule that you need to build to help you make it happen. You’ll be astounded at how far a little time, with planning, can go.
Book Yourself an Admin Day (Actually, Book a Few)
Identifying your slow periods is only the first step towards planning a series of “Admin Days.” These days can consist of you in a locked office with your laptop, or maybe an off-site with a few folks from your team. The idea behind having a few of these admin days is to give yourself enough focused time to nail the planning so you can move onto the important changes, which will ultimately help grow your business. Do you need to be doing any hiring? Can you improve your training plans for new hires. Are there new policies you want to introduce now that your business has reached that “next level?”
Consider breaking your admin days into three neat piles:
- Handle all the little tasks first. That doesn’t mean you finish it all in a day. It means that you set timelines for completion, and cross the quickest wins off your to-do list first so you can get onto preparing for the busy season. Maybe it’s writing or posting a job ad. Or scheduling the repainting of your trucks. Whenever possible, delegate admin tasks to your team. As the boss, it’s more effective for you to have a “stop doing” list, than a “to do” list. The less busywork on your plate, the more time you’ll have working on your business rather than in it.
- Once the urgent admin things are nailed, make a list of things that you know will make your life easier as you march towards the busy season. Does your staff need to re-certify for anything? Do you need more business cards or promo materials?
- Assign the important tasks to members of your team, and book one more day to discuss everything that’s being done, and anything that’s come-up in the doing. Having buy-in and collective momentum with your team will make for a much smoother and more successful busy season.
Having a plan is valuable: it creates a foothold that helps you follow-through.
Integrate Your Job-Scheduling Software with your Website
Maybe you’re tired of hearing about how to better your website. Well, we live in the age of the internet, and your corner of the web must be kept in good order. Offering your customers a way to book online is a great time-saver for them: it makes it simple for them to check against their own calendar and book services. For your part, it gives you a centralized look at how many work volumes and how many team members you’ll need to deliver great service to your clients.
As you know, labour costs are the biggest expense of any service business. Tightening up your scheduling system helps you keep your labour costs in check, while still maintaining outstanding service levels.
Check on Your Training Credentials
Some training certifications have expiry dates, and sometimes you have deserving employees who are ready to learn a new skill. Your low season is a great time to get everyone re-upped, trained and ready to rip when the schedules get packed.
Training sessions are great for your business’s productivity. They also create opportunities for new members of your team to level-up, and for some team bonding to occur. That’s a win for employees who want to improve their skill sets and become more valuable workers, and for your business that will profit from their efforts down the line.
Prep Your Friends, Family, and Social Calendar Too
Are you due for a vacation? Your family might think that you are. You’ll be a lot more relaxed (and benefit more from the break) if you take some time during your slowest weeks of the year, rather than wanting to be in two places at once in peak season.
Spend some quality time with your friends and family while it’s easiest, and create memories that will last through the peak moneymaking weeks of the year. Your peace of mind (and your family) will thank you.
For employees as well, explain to them that the busy-season means vacation time is at a premium. Setting expectations doesn’t eliminate disappointment, but it definitely helps to manage it. Most staff will be keen to help you crush it during the busy period, and willing to take their breaks during your business’ off-peak times.
When Planning Pays Off
The combination of these approaches doesn’t just result in a clearer, more streamlined high-season for your business — the work of organization is always also the work of prioritization.
By getting your financial house, employee needs and scheduling in order before you set them loose on a packed calendar of bookings, you’re building a better business.
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