How to Schedule More Jobs When You’re Already at Capacity

by

Greg Dooley
VP of Customer Success
June 26, 2018
/
3
minutes to read

Get to the point

  1. Scheduling - Gather information including available and unavailable hours, technician efficiency, and on-call techs scheduled as early as possible.
  2. Pricing strategy - Know how much any after hour call will be. Have your dispatch fee, after hour premium rate, and discounts defined ahead of time.
  3. Compensation strategy- Make sure your team knows how much kick-back they will get for each after-hour job booked and completed. Then make sure they get paid ASAP!

It’s summer, 95 degrees outside, all your technicians have been booked with back-to-back jobs for three weeks straight, they’re booked out for the next two weeks already.

What do you do when another call comes in?

Be Prepared. Make sure your scheduling, pricing strategy, and compensation strategy are set in place for overtime and after hour work.

After-Hour Scheduling

Have your ABCs in order to make your on-call and after hour techs work at peak efficiency for your company.

  1. Availability - It’s important to know when your techs can work, this includes during work hours, and after hours. If a call comes in and your “on-call” technician(s) are already dispatched, you’ll know which technician might be able to pick up another job. Using new calendar events in Pointman, you can even schedule recurring events like “Mike has bowling every Thursday” so you never interrupt him, or waste time on the phone!
  2. Back Ups - Of course, you will always have your primary on-call technician who gets the calls that come during their shift. However, sometimes there might be two calls that come in, or there might be a traffic event that would make his commute to the job practically impossible. That’s when the back-up comes in. Having a primary “on-call” technician and at least TWO other techs who are expecting calls will make your after-hour calls much simpler. You want to have 3 technicians on call, because you don’t want to miss any of those opportunities that come in after hours. You don’t want to miss out on the premium rates, after hour dispatch rate, & outstanding customer service.
  3. Company Van - When a technician is on call for the night, have them bring home a company truck. The tech will save time when they don’t have to drive to the office before heading to the job, and you never want your techs arriving in unmarked vehicles.

Pricing Strategy

It costs more for you to stay operating after hours, so you will have to charge more to your customers to make this business decision sustainable. Knowing how you’ll price consistently can be decided before the busy season even begins.

  1. After Hour Dispatch Fee - This should be a flat rate that is applied to any job that happens outside of your regular hours. (Using a flat rate here helps with any flat-fee commission you offer, but we’ll get into that later.)
  2. After Hour Premium Rate - The premium rate you charge should be determined using basic supply/demand principles. If it is the middle of summer and you get a call for an A/C repair, you will charge more than if that call came at the end of fall. The urgency involved with the call should dictate the increased rate.
  3. Pricing Wiggle Room - Each employee who might end up working on these jobs need to know if the prices given are flexible. Maybe you will allow the Dispatch fee to be $100 instead of $150 if it will help the job get booked. This helps close more deals, and gives good-faith relationships (especially with returning customers).

Compensation Strategy

Everyone who helped make an job happen deserves to be rewarded for their hard work. You can have these benefits to help excite and motivate your team when they are working extra hours.

  1. Technicians - We know you’re already paying these technicians an overtime rate, and their regular commission rate, but with these after-hour jobs, an extra $50 goes a long way. Make sure to always show appreciation to the technician, we need them! Even if the job was a “no-show” or canceled after they were dispatched, we believe they should still get their compensation because they showed the dedication and initiative.
  2. Dispatchers - Whomever took the call should also get a kick-back! Without the dispatcher, the jobs couldn’t get completed. We recommend a $20 bonus for every completed job is a great way to say “thank you”. Now in this situation, if the job isn’t completed (canceled, or no show) the dispatcher wouldn’t get the bonus.
  3. ASAP - Instant Gratification. Getting cash into the hand of your tech and dispatcher the next day makes the pride and excitement so much more real! So give it out ASAP. In Pointman, you have access to received funds within one business day, so you will be able to get them their money, FAST!

Final Tips

  1. If you want the work, answer the phone - This might be a no-brainer, but if you don’t pick up that customer will have called 6 other places before you call them back in an hour.
  • Experience Matters, Customers Notice-  It might be nice to let your veteran technicians never pick up the late shifts, but you need jobs completed well and quickly when they are after hours. If you have to send a second technician on a different day, you’ve lost the revenue. Use Pointman to check your technician efficiency before sending somebody out to a big after-hour job.

Look at Pricing

The start of the year is a great time to look at pricing. Usually, you have an idea of how your company fared the year prior, and you want to ensure you will continue to grow in the months to come. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with respect to spending or saving in our personal lives, and it’s no different for business owners. Making sure your pricing is in line with where it should be is one of the strongest ways to start the year the right way.

Part of looking at your price book is finding where the issues are, and that can take time. An HVAC company in January is going to be very busy, so it’s a difficult time for a close look. However, a plumbing company might not be as busy. Whenever you tackle this job, your best bet is to look at what your labor rates are. Start there, and let it trickle down across the board. Ask yourself, “Are my labor rates helping my business stay profitable?”

Remember, there are many different services out there and many different groups or communities that you can engage. Never hesitate to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner in Florida. What should my labor rates be?” You can build your price from there. There are also some great billable hour calculators available.

Set Goals

There is no better time of year for looking inward than January. Set your personal goals and company goals for the following 12 months. If you can break those down into departmental goals, even better! Perhaps that means a CSR booking closing rates a little better, or a truck doing 250,000 a year rather than 200,000.

Many companies have found that using an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) goal-setting system pays off. Looking for a guidebook when it comes to OKRs? Check out Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. 

One key question is the best way to handle setting goals: Is it smarter for business owners to handle this solo, together with staff, or to delegate completely? 

The best approach is to set goals at the department level. As an owner, you need to take the time to understand what the goals are in each department, and make sure they are in line with your goals for the company. No one likes to set unattainable goals for themselves, so make sure you push your departments to set goals that are lofty, rather than simple ones to feel good about hitting. Entrust your staff to aim higher, and watch how they respond.

Pass Along these Points

There's more where that came from.