Avoiding overbooking a technician in the trades comes down to understanding the drive and motivation of every employee.
“You can learn to maximize your job board just by understanding the motivations of the team and how to schedule for it,” said Chris Hunter, ServiceTitan’s Director of Customer Relations and founder and co-owner of the GoTime Success Group.
As the trades struggle to find qualified technicians, retaining a tech becomes more important. A ServiceTitan study into the causes of churn in the trades found that techs who are overbooked are more likely to leave.
The issue matters more as we come out of the pandemic. Employees who seek an optimal work-life balance may not be as open to work that takes away from family time.
For those in charge, Hunter called it “Service Management 101.”
“It can actually help us to make the routing more efficient and get the right tech to the right job,” Hunter said. “It’s the office’s responsibility to keep those technicians in the home and make sure they have the opportunity to be productive the majority of their day. The office staff has to be accountable for it.”
It’s about work-life balance
That means asking techs to work during the times they are supposed to work, but not overburdening them, which has a ripple effect on their family life and their emotional and mental well-being.
“There's one guy who will work from sunup to sundown Monday through Thursday, give you all he's got, nonstop,” Hunter said. “But he has his kids on the weekend. So guess what?”
The answer is obvious. That person should not be booked to the point it takes away from his family time, especially if he makes up for it with his work when he is on the job. (Working too many weekends contributes to churn as well, ServiceTitan’s study found.)
PeopleReady Skilled Trades, which connects tradespeople with work, recently posted on seven ways to promote work-life balance, focusing on construction workers.
“Consider who brings what talents to your team and delegate accordingly,” PeopleReady wrote. “Have a clear strategy for getting a project done and revisit that strategy when necessary. When your workers see that others will share the load with them, that alone can help boost their mood and productivity.”
Go in-depth on field tech hiring demand
Maximize the day before adding techs
Hunter said reducing overbooking is not simply a matter of adding techs.
Another approach would be to use ServiceTitan to analyze what is causing the issue.
“If people analyze their data and see what the average number of calls is per day or what's the productive billable time in a day, they can learn something,” Hunter said. “The industry average was 50%—meaning if I'm a technician, 50% of my day essentially was billed out to a customer. The customer paid for it. Therefore, I've got to find how to pay for that other 50%.
“And it's built into the pricing. The reality is it's actually lower than 50% for a lot of companies. So they may not even need more technicians. They may just need to have a better system in place and actually try to maximize the day.
“This is where software comes in, where it can actually help us do this and make the routing more efficient to get the right tech to the right job.”