For most service contractors, there are two types of work that fuels their success. On one hand, new construction, installation, and in some cases, design-build work, is a good source of one-time revenue. These projects are great for boosting profits. However, ask just about any service contractor and they’ll tell you it’s the recurring service contracts that sustain their businesses for the long haul.
These service contracts — covering the regular maintenance, repair, or replacement of electrical and mechanical systems and equipment — bring in a continual source of revenue. They guarantee regular work for technicians and electricians.
That’s why ensuring that service contracts are dutifully honored and that technicians have the tools needed to be their own managers on the work sites is vital. Since technicians are service contractors’ spokespeople in the field, they need to be armed with the ability to do their jobs quickly and correctly the first time, ultimately pleasing the client and building long-term relationships.
Thankfully, today’s technology is making it easier to accomplish that goal.
Streamlining the back office
Achieving superior service performance starts in the back office. This is where service contracts and actual work has traditionally been managed. In the past, service contracts would have to be managed via manual methods like paperwork and spreadsheets. Creating work orders, scheduling technicians, finding customer or site records when needed, or gathering documents for annual renewals often required countless hours of labor.
Today, leading service contractors rely on powerful ERP software with specific features designed to streamline service work. Work orders can be created with a few clicks of a mouse, relying on powerful client contact databases to fill in historical and site information. Intuitive dispatch boards can schedule technicians and allow the flexibility to change work on the fly based on priority or availability. Service contracts themselves can be automatically drafted and sent out for review and renewals, saving countless hours of preparation.
“I have a good sense these days of what is going on in the organization and I trust the information that I’m getting,” said Hope Voight, COO of Tweet Garot, one of Wisconsin’s largest mechanical contractors, and a user of the service management capabilities in Viewpoint’s Vista™ ERP software.
Mobile empowerment for technicians on the go
The advent of cloud-based software has also provided service contractors with mobile applications that allow their technicians in the field to self-manage their work, improving speed, accuracy and customer satisfaction.
In the past, technicians would be dispatched to locations with a work order. If that work order was simple enough, they could perform the work and be on their way. However, outside of regular, routine, maintenance, most service work is not that cut and dry. Technicians can run into new problems not identified, parts that need to be specially ordered or retrieved, and much more.
That’s why service contractors are finding real value in mobile applications that allow technicians to access the data they need. These digital solutions can provide technicians with the tools to manage work orders, log their time, track parts and inventory, and so much more — all from the field on their mobile device.
“We always feel like the people closest to the work are the ones that make us successful,” said Sonja Rheaume, Vice President of Operations for Portland-based Christenson Electric. “We try to eliminate any barriers between our field electricians and the customers themselves. Our role is to make sure they have the right tools and equipment to do the right job for the customer.”
Meanwhile, cloud computing has given the customer more visibility and involvement in the work being done as well. Online client portals can let customers log in and schedule work, update status and times, see how work is progressing, and even make payments or supply documents when needed.
A win-win scenario
Streamlining service work through leading-edge technology can have long-lasting benefits. Like an electrician without pliers, a service contractor that isn’t equipping its technicians with the right mobile technologies and solutions is going to have a greater difficulty getting the job done right in the field and will ultimately lose valuable business to those that can.
By empowering technicians with the right technology, they can focus on the actual work rather than the paperwork and customer will enjoy a deeper level of satisfaction with the speed and accuracy of the work being done.