In our last newsletter, we wrote an article entitled “Who Is Responsible for “Out of Service” Elevators?” in relation to the Elevator Reliability Act. The proposed bill put the onus on the contractors when an elevator goes down. If we look at the big picture, there are many factors that ensure an overall safe and effective elevator system. With the astronomical number of elevators, which is growing steadily every year, there are bound to be outages, downtime and, although rare, accidents. So who is accountable for all these elevators?
Equipment manufacturers must install elevators and escalators that meet the strictest safety requirements.
Building architects and designers must design the envelope in which these machines sit, meeting all of the fire safety, seismic, environmental and structural conditions needed for a safe system.
Maintenance service providers must perform the monthly and/or yearly safety tests and inspections, and follow the Maintenance Contract.
Building personnel must keep elevator cars and lobbies free of debris or other hazards.
State, municipal or third-party inspectors provide an unbiased perspective, making sure the equipment is in safe operating condition and that the MCP is in order and being adhered to.
Finally, the building owner has the ultimate responsibility to see that all of these players are performing their jobs properly and that the equipment is safe for its riders.
Elevator safety and maintenance is a team effort. A comprehensive, connected field service management software can help contractors, inspectors, and building owners keep their elevators moving and their riders safe.
As employment in the construction industry contributes to 6.4% of Ontario’s workforce, delayed payments are bound to negatively affect our Canadian economy. A prompt payment act would benefit the 1.3 million people working in Canada’s construction sector. Many countries around the world including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. have implemented a prompt payment legislation so why has Canada not yet taken the plunge?
Over the last decade, these delayed payments have grown immensely leading to job losses, slowed projects and small business bankruptcies. Largely affected by overdue payments are Canada’s trade contractors. While they wait for payment, they must still pay their staff and suppliers. This causes an increase in construction costs to customers. This results in a reduction in the amount of hiring and training that a firm can take on leading to declining growth across the sector and limiting the long-term availability of skilled labor.
Since 2015, the Canadian government has created a new legislation to resolve the issues in regards to prompt payment. Bill S-224 or the Prompt Payment Act was created in order to promote consistency and punctuality when it comes to payments. The new legislation aims to not only help contractors, workers and their families, but it aims to help stimulate the overall economy.
As the legislation was introduced, there has been immense support for the bill including the Contractors Division of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada (MCAC). Support from these associations that both happen to also be a part of the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada (NTCCC) helped take the bill to the Senate so quickly.
To read more about Canada’s Prompt Payment Act, or to express your support, click here.
Field service management software has transformed the field service business. The process of scheduling field service appointments and dispatching techs to jobs has been streamlined to allow for a more efficient and effective process. Connected mobile software has made it easier for service technicians to access the information they need on site. However, having access to field service management software is not enough if your team isn’t asking the right questions to get the most out of the software. Here are 8 questions every field service manager should be asking:
Where are my field service technicians?
In order to send the most qualified and available field service technicians to each service call, field service managers have to know where their staff is. Using field service management software, technicians can geo-map their location on their mobile device giving schedulers/dispatchers a comprehensive overview of who is available at any given time to answer a service call. This ensures that customers’ requests are met as quickly and efficiently as possible.
How much time is needed to complete the service call?
Service technicians can easily record the start and end times by pressing the respective button on their mobile device. They can even add break times. An accurate log of time spent on a service call synched in real-time so that management has a precise record of how much time a job has taken. The customer can then sign off confirming how much time was spent on the task. This KPI is not only helpful for field service managers trying to organize an efficient field service schedule but is also useful to refer to this information in order to give customers a rough idea of how long a particular service call might take.
Is the customer satisfied with the service?
Plain and simple, customers want the best quality in the shortest amount of time. Call back rates, or first-time fix, is one of the most vital metrics in measuring field service performance. Having to make a second appointment was more frustrating for 61% of respondents than waiting time for appointments and technician not arriving on time. In today’s competitive environment, just showing up isn’t good enough. The technician must have the parts, the skills, and the information to solve the problem on the first visit. A poor first-time fix number not only reflects poor field service processes, but is also an indicator of disgruntled customers, likely customer attrition, and reduced service profitability. The ability to measure and manage your call back rate is the first step to improving your field service processes, achieving operational excellence and having satisfied, loyal customers.
What is our Return on Investment (ROI)?
By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), field service managers create a precise expense analysis that offers them detailed insight into the ROI. Using this data, they can adjust processes in order to maximize workflow by optimizing logistics, managing inventory and auto-scheduling the best technician for each job. All of this amounts to increased first-time fix rates. And, once again, companies with high first-time fix rates perform better on KPIs like customer retention, service level agreement (SLA) compliance and customer satisfaction than their counterparts with lower first-time fix rates.
How can I increase the number of field service appointments per day?
Field service management software has given schedulers/dispatchers the power to implement intelligent workforce scheduling. Using a system of connected devices can ensure that service technicians with the right skills are sent to field service calls. The same software also makes it possible for them to maintain a real-time inventory overview, find the easiest route to the job site, and know the location and history of the equipment. With all this information at their fingertips, service technicians can work more quickly and efficiently, which results in a substantial increase in service calls per day and, of course, revenue.
How else can I increase the first-time-fix-rate?
Sometimes, having the right parts and the best people available on a field service call are not enough. Service technicians can not keep track of every issue and all possible solutions. Should they run into trouble while on a service call, a connected field service management software that is equipped with checklists and notes and photo’s from previous service calls can help the tech determine the next course of action. This is very important for field service companies as decreasing your call-back rate will increase your revenue.
How can I sell more service contracts?
Often technicians find themselves at a job when a customer approaches and asks for a quote on a new job or a new piece of equipment that needs service. Empower your field techs to communicate sales opportunities right on their mobile device. With the click of a button, a new case can be created and sent off to the sales team for immediate follow-up.
How can I best manage the knowledge we have?
Service technicians are the key to quality field services. It is critical that knowledge be shared and made available to them. It is just as essential that knowledge be centralized and secured so that employees who retire, leave the company, are off sick, or busy on another job do not take all their valuable knowledge with them. By linking field techs with each other and with back office personnel, mobile technology keeps everyone within the organization in sync, transcending the limitations of geography. A comprehensive field service management software helps build easily accessible knowledge bases so field workers can access information anywhere, anytime, regardless of their location.
Field service companies know that technology is propelling the field service industry in a new direction. How quickly and efficiently they implement these technologies and processes into their business practices will determine how profitable they become and how satisfied their customers are.
Contact FIELDBOSS to learn how you can take the necessary steps to keep pace with the transformations in the field service industry.
The HVAC industry has been steadily growing over the last few years and, according to a recent article on hvac.com, it looks like that trend is going to continue.
The HVACR systems market was an $81.1 billion market as of 2015. According to the article, the market is expected to grow by 5.5 percent each year through 2020, making the HVACR market worth $130.7 billion by that time. Refrigeration is expected to be a major player in this growth, as the demand for food processing and cold storage expands. Booming construction markets are adding demand for contractors as the residential construction market is back, and economic activity is increasing, expanding the need for residential and commercial HVAC services.
Despite projected industry growth, the HVACR industry is expecting to see a talent shortage of over 138,000 employees by 2022! Why do these worker shortages exist? One reason is that the HVACR industry is growing fast. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21 percent increase in HVACR mechanic and installer jobs through 2022, nearly twice the projected growth of overall employment. Another is that many HVACR workers will soon leave the workforce: The U.S. Social Security Administration estimates that 22 percent of the nation’s overall workforce will retire by 2022. Statistics show one new HVACR worker for every four retiring. Another reason for the lack of technical workers is that bright, ambitious, young people think of the trades as a lesser calling compared to the more popular career paths, such as computer programming, application design, investment banking, etc. High schools do not encourage the trades and students believe the trades do not offer sexy and glamorous careers.
The rapid growth of the HVACR industry, combined with the high number of workers retiring, and the small amount of new graduates creates a huge problem for both the public and HVACR contractors alike. This gap could leave homeowners, hospitals, schools, and virtually any building with heating, air conditioning, hot water or refrigeration lacking service for installation, maintenance or retrofitting. Contractors won’t be able to keep up with the demand for service creating intense competition, unhappy customers, and lost revenue.
According to industry professionals, the key to overcoming the talent shortage is to continue encouraging contractors and educational associations to work together to:
Attract new young talent by promoting the HVACR industry
Recruit more women and minorities into HVACR training programs
6. Implement the latest field service technologies to attract new talent and keep current staff happy
With contractors and educational associations working together to resolve the skill shortage, the future looks bright for HVAC service companies. Construction activity is forecast to increase in both residential and nonresidential markets. Corporate profit and per capita disposable income will also enable businesses and homeowners to upgrade their existing HVAC systems. The federal and state governments will continue to incentivize the move toward more energy-efficient systems via tax credits, supporting industry growth. Looks like a great time to be in the HVAC-R industry!
Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how our comprehensive field service management software can help your HVACR Company keep up with the fast-paced industry growth
It may be funny to watch the cast of the TV comedy “The Big Bang Theory” detour around a broken elevator by climbing up and down several flights of stairs for the last 10 seasons, but no one living through downed elevators is laughing.
In last month’s newsletter, we wrote about a private member’s bill proposed in Ontario, Canada that aims to tackle the major problem of unreliable, broken-down elevators. The proposed act has caused a lot of discussion and debate around the topic of who is responsible for the timely repair of buildings elevators.
While the proposed bill is making its way through the lengthy path to legislation, the Ontario government is trying to get to the bottom of what is causing the high number of elevator outages or otherwise poor service and, most importantly, to find the best solutions. In order to do so, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has ordered the provincial safety agency to commission the necessary research. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority – TSSA – is now calling for bids to do the research and report on potential solutions by mid-October. The winning bidders must find out how bad the problem is, the causes, and report on legislative and non-legislative steps municipal, provincial or federal entities should take to deal with the issue. The winning bidder will also be required to investigate what, if anything, other jurisdictions such as New York, London or Singapore have done to address the problems.
Although the proposed Bill was not meant to target independent contractors, the Canadian Elevator Contractors Association has identified numerous shortcomings of Bill 109, which essentially frees property owners from a number of responsibilities to building tenants, and places an unfair onus on elevator contractors.
Old elevators with obsolete components may take longer to find parts so having 14 days (and in some cases 7) to fix a problem might be unrealistic.
Building owners who fail to pay contractors: The proposed Bill 109 states: “The contractor responsible for maintaining an elevator that becomes unavailable for use because it needs repair shall ensure that the elevator is repaired.” The bill does not define what “contractor responsible” entails. With most elevator contracts, some or all causes of breakdowns are not included in the contract and the building owner must pay extra for these situations. Who then is responsible if the owner has not authorized or paid for the repair? As currently written, the bill does nothing to alleviate the situation; in fact, it just confuses it more.
Building owners who fail to budget and invest the money in upgrading their elevators soon enough results in the elevators becoming more unreliable and taking longer to repair as they age.
The causes of many elevator shutdowns are often outside of the control of the elevator contractors, such as flooding. In situations like this, a 2-week turnaround is just not possible since a substantial portion of each elevator must be replaced or rebuilt to satisfy TSSA’s safety requirements.
No matter what city, state or country you live in, elevator safety and maintenance is the responsibility of both contractors and building owners.
FIELDBOSS LIFT can help Ontario contractors cope with The Elevator Reliability Act by:
Staying on top of maintenance projects by auto-scheduling the dates into your companies schedule and dispatch system. When it’s time for maintenance, it will not only alert you to the job but have all the client and asset information ready to go.
Elevator contractors can better negotiate with building owners by offering a real time link to the maintenance service schedules and tasks agreed upon for maintenance that the device actually requires for proper operating conditions.
Staying accountable! Contractors can offer building owners real time notifications when maintenance is being performed and can send photographic or video evidence that tasks are complete and payment is due.
Documenting everything. In the event that a problem does occur, the documentation and reports that FIELDBOSS LIFT stores can act as proof that you and your staff did everything in your power to assure that the elevators were running properly.
Storing data, like information on how to operate equipment, user manuals, regulatory documents (such as OSHA standards), warranty and vendor information – virtually every piece of data you can think of. Having this info at hand is crucial in times of outages and mission-critical situations. Just pull up your elevator’s record and you are all set!
Collaborating with building owners on maintenance contracts that make sense for the device and for the contractor will help balance the onus of responsibility while at the same time allow contractors to get proper budgets to maintain equipment and earn an appropriate profit for the skills, risk and investment they take on.
Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how not only to protect your customers in times of crisis, but your business as well.
The service promise that customers hold their contractors to is not too far-reaching: ensure that the equipment and/or assets under contract remain operational. Is that too much to ask?
According to Aberdeen research, the most aggravating occurrence and the primary reason that customers complain about a service organization involves their inability to fix it right the first time. Call back rates, or first-time fix, is one of the most vital metrics in measuring field service performance. Having to make a second appointment was more frustrating for 61% of respondents than waiting time for appointments and technician not arriving on time. In today’s competitive environment, just showing up isn’t good enough. The technician must have the parts, the skills, and the information to solve the problem on the first visit. A poor first-time fix number not only reflects poor field service processes, but is also an indicator of disgruntled customers, likely customer attrition, and reduced service profitability. The ability to measure and manage your call back rate is the first step to improving your field service processes and achieving operational excellence.
Improving your call back number requires the ability to capture and analyze critical data in real-time. A configurable call back dashboard can facilitate the easy monitoring of this important metric. The configurable dashboards provide you with easy to read graphs and charts that visually alert you to what is working and what is not. Is there a certain technician that is struggling with first-time fix? Is it a particular client? A bad month? How much money are you losing on second and third truck rolls? Once you have this real-time information readily available, it will be easy to analyze what caused the deficit and allow management to quickly adjust as necessary. Performance dashboards facilitate getting the right information to the right users at the right time to optimize decisions, enhance efficiency, and accelerate results.
Today’s fast-paced, competitive service environment demands a top-notch call-back rate. Having the right data in hand is critical to making informed decisions, rather than managing your service business on “gut feel”. Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how to keep customers happy and service revenues flowing by cutting your call back rate and improving your first time fix.
In order to grow, be successful and stay ahead of the competition, field service organizations must improve the visibility of their business. Improved visibility is not only essential for business owners and managers but the back office team and their service technicians as well. From knowing what jobs are being worked on in real-time to tracking weekly trends with accurate data, it is only through having 24/7 access to key information that field service companies can start to run the most effective, efficient organization possible.
A comprehensive field service management software solution eliminates the operational blind spots and helps achieve the visibility your company needs in order to grow.
With improved visibility, you will:
Access Real-Time Business Intelligence, 24/7
Business owners and managers need to know what is happening in their business at any time no matter where they are. Whether they are in the office or out and about they need to have a good understanding of what is actually happening at that moment and be able to easily view all their key information in a single place. Dashboards and 360° record views are perfect for a quick glance at important data on the go.
Extend the Back Office into the Field
The connection between the back office and the field are essential in any service operation. The right field service solution gives the whole organization the ability to manage the workflow seamlessly and keeps all operational elements connected. A constant two-way flow of information between the teams keeps everybody up to speed with what is happening.
Paperwork causes field service organizations constant headaches. Whether it is completed on time or not at all, delayed as workers don’t go into offices for days at a time, or inevitably being lost, paperwork most certainly leads to costly mistakes. Jobs may not be marked as completed so they are left outstanding and work is not invoiced. When a field service solution is integrated with the back office, data just needs to be captured once and all systems are updated automatically creating improved visibility across the workflow. It means that no data is lost or delayed waiting on paperwork to be sent in and an audit trail is in place.
The combination of improved instant, real-time visibility and flow of information with the longer term identification of trends are critical to business and revenue growth. Trends will show best practice, uncover problems and show profitability by customer, service or product. This will help improve service, retain customers and increase the productivity of technicians.
Improve Customer Service
Access to information in real-time significantly helps the back office and the field technicians work together to provide the highest level of service to your customers. Through one cohesive system, the field worker has access to the job history and customer records allowing for a more detailed understanding of not only the task at hand but also what has happened before and why. This means better decision-making and ultimately improved resolution for the customer.
A field service organization’s daily operation is constantly changing and the business has to adjust in real-time as it happens. Appointments cancelled, emergency jobs created, or jobs taking longer than anticipated all require a schedule that can be adjusted in a matter of seconds. With the right field service software, once a job is scheduled, technicians instantly see all the information they need to complete the job and, with the system being updated continuously, operations can keep tabs on jobs at all times. Field techs can then document the work from the job site much more quickly, using drop down menus on their mobile and then capture the customer’s signature electronically – all significantly reducing the time taken to close out work orders.
Field service solutions that are designed specifically for the mobile environment have the ability for mobile workers to use their device offline, which ensures that there is no loss of data while out in the field.
The benefits of improved visibility are far reaching for field service companies and touch all departments and employees in the company. For the business owner or manager, the health of the business is easily monitored as customizable reports can be run, allowing focus on driving higher overall revenue and increased margins. The service manager sees real-time status updates of all jobs across the teams, and for the field technician critical information can be accessed and shared in real time in the office and the field. For those in the back office, invoices can be automated immediately upon job completion, achieving a quicker payment cycle.
Last month, ThyssenKrupp was convicted for elevator safety violations. The court found them guilty for not fulfilling maintenance requirements and putting the public at risk. “This accident occurred because of ThyssenKrupp’s negligence in fulfilling its contractual and regulatory obligations to maintain the elevator. It is unconscionable that an elevator contractor would compromise public safety by not replacing the drive sheave when it was badly worn. This is a very serious safety violation and the court’s guilty verdict sends a clear message to ThyssenKrupp and the elevator industry that TSSA will hold elevator companies accountable when they fail to complete required maintenance tasks”, said Roger Neate, TSSA’s Director of Elevating and Amusement Devices.
In October, elevators maintained by Fujitec were involved in a serious accident. Fujitec is the same company that was fined $500,000 in 2011 for an accident that occurred in 2006. This was the largest fine for a safety violation in the history of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority(TSSA). A TSSA investigation found three safety infractions, including putting into service an “unsafe elevator” and failing to inspect or examine an elevator at regular intervals. “The incident could have been entirely prevented and five passengers would not have had their lives upended had Fujitec followed the safety regulations and conducted proper elevator maintenance mandated in Ontario,” said Roland Hadaller, TSSA’s Director of Elevating Devices Safety at the time.
The job of the TSSA (Technical Standards & Safety Authority) is to examine elevating devices prior to start-up and periodically during operation to ensure compliance with the TSSA Act, Regulations and adopted safety codes and standards. Inspectors seek to control the public’s exposure to dangerous situations. If hazards exist, they evaluate the amount of risk it poses to the public and issue compliance orders to the owners/license holders of the device. In extremely hazardous situations, inspectors have the authority to remove the elevating device from operation.
No matter what city, province, state or country you live in, elevator contractors are responsible for following regulations, maintaining their elevators, and ensuring not only the public’s safety but their employees as well. A comprehensive elevator management software solution can help your elevator company provide the highest quality preventive maintenance program that will keep you compliant with regulations, keep your customers happy, increase your revenues and keep your elevators moving safely. With automatic alerts to notify you of your maintenance jobs, detailed checklists with tasks, all the historical data of previous work done and parts used, lists of all code required tests, and so much more, your elevator service company will always be organized, efficient and prepared for every maintenance job. With an all-inclusive elevator contractor software solution, implementing these programs has never been easier.
Contact FIELDBOSS and learn how automating your preventive maintenance programs will keep your elevators safe and your company compliant.
Earlier this year, Microsoft added two new data centres in Canada to their growing list of data center regions for Office 365 for business services. The new data centers, located in Toronto and Quebec, were opened to support the ongoing customer demand and usage growth. The cloud continues to gain acceptance over traditional on-premises data storage servers due to its flexibility and cost efficiency. Cloud services can free smaller enterprises from spending money on IT infrastructure and offers data security on par or superior to on-site storage. This is all part of Microsoft’s multi-billion ongoing global commitment to cloud infrastructure and research. The exact locations of the data centers aren’t revealed as they typically restrict access and feature high security such as motion detectors to guard against physical and cyber-attacks.
So, do you ever wonder where your Microsoft Dynamics cloud data hangs out? Well, this web page shows you where your data goes once you hit that save button.
The field service industry has been facing huge challenges: the aging workforce reaching retirement age, key employees leaving and a lack of skilled workers to replace them. The fear of losing key staff is one of the greatest challenges field service companies face, as these employees take with them all the knowledge and customer relationships they have built up over the years. The fact is, it’s cheaper, easier and generally preferable to retain skilled, loyal workers so it’s important to invest in your staff to prevent employee churn, increase productivity, and improve morale across your workforce.
Here are a couple of investments that will have lasting, positive effects for your workers and your field service organization:
1. Invest in Training
While training technicians on the job may seem obvious, routine training is easy to overlook in service organizations, especially busy ones. Providing continuous training for your technicians, whether it’s in person or online, will help them master various repairs, inspection processes, solidify their understanding of the operation and ensure they have the skillset needed to fulfill your customers’ maintenance agreements. If you need to teach new topics quickly, facilitate a newsletter or company blog that details trending product issues and provides instructions/tools needed to address those issues.
2. Invest in a Comprehensive Field Service Solution that Includes Mobile
Making your technicians’ jobs easier and work-lives happier will lead to a more productive organization and ensure employee loyalty. That’s why investing in a field service management software and mobile solution is imperative; it allows your techs to work better and faster. With a mobile app at their fingertips, techs can:
· View schedules in real-time
· Update technician status and labor time
· Track and manage assets and inventory
· Gain full access to service & work-order history
· View warranty and contract details
· Access repair instructions
· Perform inspections
3. Invest in Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration Tools
Field service companies must eliminate the tribal knowledge within their organization. Invest in an automated solution to collect, centralize, and organize all your data and documentation so it’s always up to date and accessible to anyone in the company. You can also have your senior-level technicians grow your documentation library by having them create troubleshooting guides and videos while on the job which can be shared and viewed by newer technicians. It is important to promote a team-based culture and communication programs to encourage greater levels of collaboration among field technicians. With your best technicians’ wisdom stored in a company-wide database, you won’t lose that expert knowledge when they do retire or leave the company.
4. Prevent Employee Churn
Measure your field technician’s status frequently. Knowing what drives your technicians is integral to ensuring you can keep them around for the long haul and prevent a premature exit from the team. More and more service organizations are beginning to monitor and measure their field service team’s engagement and, more importantly, acting on what they gather. If you don’t know there is a problem, you won’t be able to address it.
5. Show Your Appreciation
One of the best ways to improve employee relationships is by showing them they’re appreciated and preparing them with the right training and tools. Your technicians will thank you with their hard work and loyalty.
6. Establish Mentors and Coaches
Retain retiring workers in part-time training or technical support roles and as mentors and coaches to pass along knowledge. Retiring workers and top field technicians can help shape and train the next crop of workers. Underperforming organizations don’t even know who their top technicians are and therefore don’t know they should both keep those employees and give them ways to help the entire team learn how to excel at service. Mentorship programs will play a bigger role in service as the wave of millennials coming into the workforce continues to grow and the baby boomers retire. Build a bridge between your expert workers and the next wave of technicians.
When key employees leave your field service company, they take their individual knowledge, expertise and customer relationships with them. You must do everything you can to keep your top people on your team for as long as you can.