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Staffing

For any company  affected by seasonality, staffing for peak demand can be one of the most difficult tasks, but also the most rewarding when it's done well. Proper staffing increases revenue and employee happiness by ensuring your techs are always working the proper amount (with no idle time or overwork), and reduces inefficient cost by ensuring you are only paying when there’s work to do.

Proper staffing starts with accurate workload forecasting.  As long as you have a tracking mechanism to determine workload volume for your company in previous years, the task becomes a lot easier. 

The software does that by tracking call volume, the type of customer making up that call volume, conversion rate and recall tickets (to assess tech training needs and manufacturing issues), providing a better prediction of staffing needs. 

Don’t assume that increasing revenue by 20% in a year requires an increase in staffing of 20%.  In the Commercial space, a 20% increase in revenue doesn’t necessarily mean you need 20% more dispatchers. It may not even mean you need to increase the field staff by 20%. 

You may be able to increase your revenue by 20% by changing your product mix or by  doing more large tenant improvements that don't require as much staff per dollar of revenue as service calls.  Conversely, if you are doing more service calls you may need to increase field staff by 30% to see a  20% increase in revenue.  

One of the best ways to make informed decisions is to track historical volumes and metrics. ServiceTitan unlocks the power of your internal data. 

That’s why Trevor Lively, owner of the booming family business, Blue Jay Irrigation, in London, Ontario, Canada, splits his 50-50 business into separate Business Units for commercial and residential. 

“I wanted to separate it out so I could really understand the peaks and valleys within residential versus commercial and the revenue that's coming in,” he said. “And also so that I could do more capacity planning, and understand how many technicians we need for which type of service.”

That’s because of different demands on commercial vs. residential technicians in the irrigation industry. 

“In commercial, you're not as much customer interactive, but you tend to get more difficult problems,” Lively said. “Maybe you need a technician who is a little less personable, but has a lot of field knowledge, whereas with residential you need someone who's a little more personable and not necessarily needing that in-depth field knowledge.”

The commercial busy season doesn’t mirror the residential busy season, Gonzales said. Rather, it flows more with fiscal years, with companies spending money in December or January to keep it in the budget for the following year. 

While the Covid-19 pandemic made that commercial busy season even less predictable, it was already less predictable than residential.

“Really,” Gonzales said, “we have been trying to figure out the peaks and the valleys since we started our commercial side.”

Before ServiceTitan, that process involved assessing call volume to the CSRs and adjusting staffing accordingly. It was, she says, hit and miss. 

“(Trying to track call volume on paper) sounds ridiculous because it was, but trying to staff appropriately off demand you can't accurately track was so hard,” Gonzales said. “Because we would often overstaff, then have people sitting around frustrated, and then understaff and have people burn out because they were working too much. 

“ServiceTitan really helped us find that sweet spot.”

To anticipate staffing for dispatchers or CSRs, ServiceTitan tracks inbound call volumes.  This can be done by: 

  1. Clicking on the magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner of the screen when you are looking at the dispatch board or dashboard.

  2. From there you can select “Calls” from the dropdown on the top of the search screen and set the dates on which you want to check call volumes.  

  3. Be sure to click on “Call Direction” and click “inbound” to ensure that you are selecting inbound calls only.  

  4. Search for inbound calls in the same month of the previous year, then compare them to current call volumes.   

    1. If the inbound call volume is up 10%, you may need 10% more call takers than last year.

    2. Alternatively, you could choose to free up 10% more call capacity for  your existing CSRs by  delegating some of their work elsewhere or automating some of their workflows entirely. 

Also, check the number of calls each person is answering via the main dashboard.  If three of your call takers are answering 400 calls per month on average and one is only taking 200, the data will point out the gap. The data also allows you to set a standard for calls taken before bringing on more people. 

You can also set daily, weekly, and monthly goals, reward high performers and identify coaching opportunities with ServiceTitan data. 

Commercial Playbook Staffing 1

As long as your employees who answer phones are booking calls correctly, you should be able to see your call booking rate per employee on the dashboard.  

Many companies notice a decrease in call booking rate in the busy months because the schedule gets filled up and the customers don’t want to wait.  If this is the case, it’s a sure sign that there was more demand than could have been filled during that time period. Keep that in mind when forecasting for the field staff.

The search screen is powerful, with tons of other metrics, including ways to track field performance. For now, we will limit the notes to back-office employees, but we’ll talk about other ways to monitor field performance for staffing as well. To find out even more about the search screen, check out this Knowledge Base article

For forecasting field performance (and therefore staffing appropriately against it), use performance dashboards or automated reports within ServiceTitan.  There is another article about reporting in this playbook and it can be found here:

https://www.servicetitan.com/field-service-management/reporting

When staffing for the busy season, most contractors are going to look at two metrics:

  1. Average ticket of a technician in a given Business Unit (again highlighting their importance).

  2. The number of jobs a technician can complete per day.

The math after having these two items is pretty simple.  

  • Take your total revenue goal for the month and divide it by the average ticket per job to figure out how many jobs must be done in order to achieve the goal. 

  • Then divide that number by the amount of jobs that a technician can do in a day.  The result is how many technician days you need to fill for the month.  

  • Divide that number by the number of working days in the month and you get the number of techs you need for the month.  

It's critical here to know these numbers well in advance of the need for those technicians.  For instance, if your goal shows you need five more technicians in May than you currently have, you need to know that in January or sooner to begin the hiring and training process.  

Given the difficulty in hiring technicians, the more notice, the better.  

The best part? All of these numbers can be pulled from the reporting section in ServiceTitan. We know these are mission-critical to running your business and have set up different reports and knowledge base articles that showcase how to best access and use these (and other) key metrics: