How to Schedule Service Calls

Stephanie FigySeptember 28th, 2020
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Whether you're a home service shop that offers emergency services or only provides scheduled service to homeowners, service business scheduling makes a significant impact on the efficiency and profitability of your business. 

For field service management, optimizing tech schedules to complete as many jobs as possible requires planning, vigilance and quick thinking. Quality technology also helps considerably, lifting some of the heavy burden of smart scheduling off your office manager and dispatchers. 

When deciding how to schedule service calls, it’s best to consult your crew and review industry best practices. To get started, check out the following tips on how to schedule service technicians that we’ve discovered produce successful results. 

Evaluate Tech Capacity When Scheduling Jobs

Before you can schedule service calls effectively, gain a concrete understanding of the  manpower your shop offers on a consistent basis. Many service companies employ a variety of positions that do work in the field.

These employees typically include:

  • Full-time service techs

  • Part-time technicians

  • Installers

  • Sales specialists

  • Apprentices/trainees 

Make sure your office—and each individual employee—maintains a clear understanding of their job status and how they will be scheduled for the foreseeable future. Clearly communicate any scheduling changes and welcome input from the people actually doing the schedules and field work.

Plan Ahead for Service Business Scheduling

For some shops, adopting new service business scheduling practices might seem like a moot point. Isn't it all going to get rescheduled anyway? While this certainly happens, it doesn't mean your business shouldn't plan and act intentionally when scheduling future appointments.

Established scheduling practices allow you to release a tentative schedule to your team four to six weeks in advance. Not only does this give your techs important insight into their prospective workload, but a tentative schedule helps CSRs and dispatchers make better, actionable adjustments as needed when scheduling curveballs come hurling across the plate.

Categorize Incoming Service Calls

Optimizing your field service schedule isn't simply about ensuring your team stays busy; it's also about making sure they're as efficient as possible. Geography and technician skills should play a role when assigning service techs to jobs.

For instance, you don't want a single tech zig-zagging across town all day, since that racks up fuel costs and travel time. Instead, try to cluster assignments in a single area.

The same goes for certain skill and equipment needs. Train CSRs and dispatchers about job types and match them to your techs' strengths and weaknesses. You'll be surprised how quickly they learn how to schedule service calls by assigning incoming jobs to the right techs.

Favor the Mornings in Your Service Schedule

If your company offers emergency services (or same-day service), it’s imperative you maintain the resources required to quickly respond to customers’ urgent calls for help. For a lot of shops, this means scheduling known appointments in the mornings whenever possible, leaving more space in the afternoon schedule to respond to new customers and same-day appointments.

This practice isn't right for every shop, but those that specifically aim to dispatch for profit find it maximizes the number of jobs they can complete each day.

Take Advantage of Service Contracts

Maintenance agreements and contracts provide dependable revenue you can count on during your slower seasons and present an opportunity to add recurring appointments to the schedule. 

If your shop offers recurring services to homeowners, train your team to suggest service maintenance contracts and explain the benefits they provide. Not only do homeowners prefer the convenience of scheduled maintenance service, but it allows you to bulk schedule for months into the future.

Use Field Service Scheduling Software

Long gone are the days of whiteboards and sticky notes. Modern digital tools can help significantly with field service management scheduling, especially if you service multiple territories or offer more than one type of home service. Shops of every size use some form of integrated calendar and GPS-based map programs to squeeze the most efficiency and profitability from their schedules.

If possible, look for scheduling software that integrates with other solutions you're using at your shop. If your CSRs, dispatchers, and technicians all operate on different systems, mistakes will happen and your reporting won’t reflect accurate results.

Utilize a Technician Scheduling Calendar

Scheduling software solutions often include a robust technician scheduling calendar. This allows businesses and dispatchers to view the calendar by day or the entire week, or see several months in advance. 

ServiceTitan’s technician scheduling calendar allows you to categorize jobs and add notes to the scheduled job. Dispatchers can also see a tech’s real-time location at any given time to effectively route emergency calls. 

“ServiceTitan’s dispatching software is the biggest, coolest thing about it,” says Dutton Plumbing & Rooter Owner Eric Falconer. “We’re really big on getting the right guy to the right job, and it’s tough to do without the right tools. That wouldn’t be possible without ServiceTitan.”

Maintain an Effective On-Call Policy

On-call policies remain a fact of life for many home service companies, and often prove essential for keeping promises to customers and maintaining a productive schedule. That said, it's important for home service shops to operate with an on-call policy that’s both effective and fair to technicians.

When establishing/modifying an on-call policy, answer the following questions:

  • What's the least number of on-call employees I need at all times?

  • Which employees are eligible for on-call duty?

  • How will rotations work?

  • How does on-call compensation differ from a normal shift?

  • Is there a voluntary on-call option for employees?

  • What “fitness for duty” requirements should you enforce?

Listen to Your Service Techs and Dispatchers

Dealing with so many techs who have busy schedules outside of work complicates field service scheduling. But a crucial part of attracting and maintaining reliable talent in the skilled trades is practicing work policies that seem fair and sensitive to all of your employees’ needs and concerns.

If your scheduling frequently frustrates employees and customers, consider reevaluating how to schedule service calls to turn the situation around. Fostering a healthy work culture requires accessible and adaptable management, so stay aware of employee sentiment to maintain loyalty and improved efficiency from your team.

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and substantially elevate the trajectory of their business. Our comprehensive, cloud-based platform is used by thousands of electrical, HVAC, plumbing, garage door, and chimney sweep shops across the country—and has increased their revenue by an average of 25% in just their first year with us.

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