Canada’s Prompt Payment Act: Why it Needs to Pass

atologwiAs 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.

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8 Questions Every Field Service Manager Should Be Asking

cashflowField 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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1.  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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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How To Attract And Retain Top Millennial Talent In The HVAC Workforce

Technician_kpis_featureMillennials are the single largest demographic in the workforce today, outnumbering generation x and the baby boomers. Millennials, which are defined as individuals in between the ages of 18 and 34, aren’t done their invasion yet. Construction Executive reports that as much as 40% of the millennial generation are still in high school or post-secondary school and have yet to grace the workforce with their presence. So that means the future of the modern workforce involves integrating the habits and methods of young millennials with traditional ways of doing business. This could mean big changes to a few large aspects of how business is typically done.

Millennials are consistently described by their older peers as “good with technology”. This common description is without a doubt grained in some truth; millennials are the first generation to grow up with computers as a common household device rather than a novelty. They are the first generation to really popularize and inhabit online social networks and communities. So when millennials show up for work and see what they perceive as old and out-dated business practices still in place, they are not inclined to stick around.

So how can established HVAC contractors hope to attract and retain top millennial talent going forward? One possible solution is the adoption of technology in all business processes. Millennials intuitively understand and see value in upending old ways of doing things and replacing it with something newer and faster. As a demographic, they are more open to new experiences and less concerned with a conservative attitude towards business processes. If things can be done better using a new process, millennials are inclined to be on board.

This is where FIELDBOSS® enters the picture. FIELDBOSS® is exactly what technologically-inclined millennials prospecting for job opportunities will want to see at HVAC contracting companies. Top millennial talent wants to be assured that the company they decide to work for is doing everything they can to be at the forefront of the industry. That means having a sophisticated, industry-specific software that helps the business run smoothly and efficiently. It means not relying on carbon paper and copying information on clipboards to transfer data. It means having a searchable database of clients and job sites, or being able to view real-time profit on a work order.

Millennials know that the world is changing. They have grown up in a world of rapid technological development and quick change. What would your world view be like if you were in middle school while the iPhone made its debut and you barely remember the time before everyone had the internet on their phones? The key to attracting and retaining the best of the incoming millennials is presenting a business environment that they can work with. And since millennials are only going to become more and more of a prominent force in the workforce, you can expect that this trend will only increase. For more information about FIELDBOSS®, please contact us here.

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The HVAC Industry Is Growing Amid Workforce Challenges

havcThe 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:

  1. Attract new young talent by promoting the HVACR industry
  2. Create clear credentials and/or accreditation programs
  3. Retain and train new instructors
  4. Improve recruitment practices
  5. Recruit more women and minorities into HVACR training programs
  6. 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

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Do You Know Your Call Back Rate?

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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.

 

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How Does the R-22 Phase Out Effect You?

r22-logo-phaseoutA recent article on hvac.com talked about a hot topic for HVAC companies these days: the R-22 phase out. The elimination of production of R-22 is now only two years away.  This coolant has been linked to ozone layer damage and is being substituted by more environmentally friendly alternatives.

What does this mean for the HVAC industry and your business?

Supply and demand: The price to repair an R—22 AC has risen as the production of this coolant slows.  By the year 2020, there will be no production of R-22 making the demand for this product completely outweigh the supply. Some contractors are stocking up on the refrigerant at today’s price to ensure they have access to the product and a stable price – until the supply runs out. Availability is becoming an issue. You must have a plan B.

Repair or replace/keep consumers informed: It is up to the contractors to educate their customers on the long-term vs short-term costs so they can make informed decisions on whether investing in a new, more environmentally friendly system would be the best choice.  Replacing the whole system would be more costly than simply repairing it, but consumers must be aware of the environmental issues with R-22, its decreasing supply, and the end of its availability in just a few short years. While reclaimed R-22 refrigerant will still be available, it will be in high demand, and its cost will be high. Ultimately, the R-22 phase out shows the evolution of the HVAC industry. New products are better and safer.

Prospective sales for contractors: The end of R-22 allows for great upselling opportunities.  Customers who are in need of recharges may be persuaded to replace their system with a new, environmentally friendly piece of equipment. Obviously, the R-22 phase out gives contractors a great opportunity to upsell. Walk into a repair; walk out with a new install. Government regulation, supply and demand, and environmental concern support replacement. When you educate your customers about this industry shift, they will recognize the need to follow. It’s not simply upselling, but rather making the move now rather than later.

How is your company responding to the R-22 phase out? How are your customers responding? Are you taking advantage of the opportunity for new system sales, or devising a way to support R-22 demand? Whichever way you decide to go, a comprehensive field service management software offers the resources you need to run a successful contracting/service business. From marketing assistance to increased customer visibility to all the hot leads that will increase your revenue, the right software can be your business toolbox.

Contact FIELDBOSS to learn more.

To read the full article click here: HVAC Blog – Resources, Articles & Tips from the Experts | HVAC.com

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FIELDBOSS® Feature of the Month: Accounting & Service Systems Integration

Dynamics GPFIELDBOSS®’s most complex and valued feature for field service organizations is the integration of their accounting and service systems. FIELDBOSS® has hundreds of awesome features but the one we had to get right first was connecting a strong accounting system to a strong service system. With an integrated system, management, office staff and field tech’s will increase productivity and do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. If you run disconnected business systems, it can result in additional effort to re-enter information such as customer information or job data. This wastes time and resources, and leads to data discrepancies and lost revenue.

Our approach when developing FIELDBOSS® was to leverage the best technology and functionality platform available so we could focus on solving industry problems and staying ahead of industry trends. The key to the system is our ability to update a work order in real time with accounting information so users have a constant view of revenue, costs, margins and markups. With 42 integration points, the work order and other objects, such as projects and dashboards, are updated continuously. Currently integrated with Microsoft GP, we plan to expand our accounting system integration to other commonly used accounting systems in the near future.

So what happens when you use an integrated system like FIELDBOSS®? You get an optimized system that helps you: invoice faster, increase your revenue, grow your business and leave a trail of happy customers.

Contact FIELDBOSS® to learn more about all the amazing features.

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Preparing for a Successful Implementation


7-tips-to-successful-ehs-software-implementationFailing to prepare is preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Your field service company has realized they need help as workflow inefficiencies and disconnected systems are preventing growth and limiting revenue. After months and months of searching for new field service software, your team has finally found a solution they like. There is only one thing left standing between your service operation and pure, unhindered efficiency: a successful implementation.

Here are some must-haves to ensure a successful implementation:

  • Managers who are committed to leveraging technologies for organizational productivity and situational awareness.
  • A strong accounting person who is responsible for the success of the implementation, coupled with a strong operations person.
  • A person solely dedicated to maintenance contracts, if you have more than 50 contracts.
  • Adequate time for testing your new business process in a test environment.
  • One staff member who has a passion for doing a deeper dive into the new system post-implementation.
  • Iterative improvements based on the existing and future capabilities of the Microsoft platform and improvements to FIELDBOSS®

An unprepared and poorly planned implementation will not only discourage employees from using the new program but also destroy any benefits the software would have provided. Take the time to plan and do it right. Your employees and customers will thank you.

Contact FIELDBOSS® to learn how to plan for a system conversion, how to spot implementation risks before they happen and how to set and measure the ROI and Payback on such projects.

Join us at the NAEC Convention in Orlando this Fall where we will be speaking about Business System Conversions – Best Practices, Lessons Learned and ROI Expectations. Looking forward to seeing you there.

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The Future Looks Bright for The HVACR Industry in 2017

compressor of air conditionA recent AHR Expo and ASHRAE Journal survey sent to more than 1,400 HVACR manufacturers worldwide had an overwhelmingly positive response for improving economic prospects in 2017. Based on survey results, 86 percent of the respondents expect their sales to grow in the coming year.

The survey contained nine questions relating to anticipated overall market and individual business performance.  Results were then compared to a similar survey sent in the Fall of 2015, which assessed Show exhibitors’ expectations for 2016.  The positive survey results combined with the largest turnout ever for the AHR Expo leads industry professionals to anticipate a stellar year for business activity across the industry.

Some interesting results:

  • When asked to rate prospects for business in 2017, 98 percent of survey participants indicated a positive outlook. Within these responses, 24 percent answered “excellent,” representing nearly a 10 percent increase from 2016. Additionally, 54 percent responded “good” and 20 percent responded, “fair,” with only two percent rating prospects as “poor” for the coming year.
  • 86 percent of survey respondents said they expected their business to increase in 2017. Of these, 27 percent believed their business would increase by more than 10 percent, indicating a 6 percent jump from 2016. Respondents forecasting their business growth to be between five and 10 percent in 2017 increased five percent from 2016 to a total of 38 percent.
  • Thirty-eight percent of survey participants shared that maintenance and replacement applications would provide the best prospects for business in 2017, representing a 10 percent increase from 2016 survey results. Retrofit and renovation applications, indicated by 32 percent of respondents as providing the best business prospects, decreased 10 percent from 2016. New construction held steady at 30 percent, in exact alignment with the response percentage from 2016’s survey.
  • Overall, the light commercial market was identified as offering the most promising outlook for 2017, with 74 percent of respondents rating it as excellent or good. The hospitals/healthcare market followed, receiving a combined total of 71 percent excellent and good ratings, and the heavy commercial market came in at a close third, with a combined 70 percent of excellent and good ratings. Laboratory and cleanroom applications represented the category of least anticipated growth next year, with less than half (46 percent) of respondents indicating either an excellent or good business outlook in its regard.

Now is the perfect time to grow your HVAC Company. In order to take advantage of the anticipated industry growth, your company must be in a strong position to tackle the changing landscape of customer demands, competition, rising costs, new government regulations, and more. Use tools that will help grow your company and lead to success. An end-to-end field service management software solution can connect the data between the field, office, equipment and customers. So while your competitors may be distracted trying to understand who needs to be where and what needs to be done, your company can focus on taking more jobs, strengthening customer & staff loyalty, and growing your business.

Take advantage of today’s opportunity for growth and combine that with the best end-to-end field service software solution and you are bound to reap the benefits. There is no doubt; it’s a good time to be an HVAC contractor!

Contact FIELDBOSS to learn how we can help you grow your HVAC-R business.

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Unclog the Back Office by Optimizing Schedule and Dispatch

Service CalendarA flexible, connected scheduling software is critical for field service organizations that are looking for ways to provide superior customer service while reducing operating costs. Customers increasingly want faster service resolution at a lower cost; improving scheduling and field technician efficiency is one of the ways to effectively achieve that goal.

When searching for a field service management software solution for your business, it is important to look for one that integrates the mobile field service with the back office, allowing data from the technicians, the scheduling engine, and the business systems to be seamlessly integrated. This not only improves scheduling efficiency, it also provides enhanced visibility into the service operation so that managers can better measure performance and create an auditable data trail to establish a service baseline, improve processes, and reduce costs. A comprehensive solution will give field service organizations the opportunity to improve management of costs associated with the schedule/dispatch operation and return service visits that can be avoided via improved scheduling.

 

Automated dispatching, scheduling, and routing can have a direct impact on service costs by:

Improving Technician Productivity

Rather than managing their schedules and dealing with dispatchers, technicians can spend more time working with customers and completing service activities. Having access to a map allows technicians to not only efficiently complete their routes but also quickly and easily locate the nearest parts depot. Improved scheduling makes technicians more efficient and productive, enabling them to complete more service calls per day. Even adding one work order per technician per day can increase revenues without adding staff. And by helping them work more efficiently, service companies can reduce or eliminate costly overtime.

Improving Scheduling of Preventive Maintenance

Scheduling preventive maintenance (PM) work between break/fix calls can be a challenge. By automating and incorporating PM calls into the scheduling system, they can automatically be assigned based on technician location and other factors. If technicians have some free time between jobs, they can easily see what maintenance activities are coming up, what the closest location is and take advantage of what otherwise would have been wasted time. Technician proficiency helps improve customer loyalty and can generate add-on business.

Reducing Non-Value-Added Time

In a manual dispatch environment, technicians and dispatchers spend an enormous amount of time on the phone, leaving and responding to messages. An automated solution can eliminate phone calls and reduce reliance on direct contact between the dispatcher and the field saving hours per day allowing schedulers and technicians to be focusing their time on satisfying customers.

Improving First Time Fix Rate

One of the most aggravating incidents for any customer is when a return trip needs to be made because the technician couldn’t resolve the issue on the first visit. First-time fix rate is one of the most vital metrics in measuring field service performance. For companies burdened by low first-time fix rates, the extra expenses required to resolve jobs not fixed the first time add up quickly: multiple extra truck rolls, extra labor, increased dispatch energy and attention, and lost service opportunities elsewhere. The higher your first-time fix rate is, the greater capacity your team will have to make more service calls in a day and service new customers at the lowest possible operational cost. An intelligent dispatch/scheduling solution plays a key role in making that possible.

Reducing Drive Time

Automated scheduling only solves part of the problem relative to getting the right techs to a given location. Routing those technicians is equally important. Routing systems can guide technicians efficiently from one job to the next. Better routing can reduce the amount of drive time between jobs helping technicians arrive on time, complete more work orders per day and even reduce fuel consumption. With the cost of fuel continuing to rise, reducing unnecessary drive time can be a major contributor to reducing operational costs.

Reducing Dispatcher-to-Technician Ratios

Manual dispatching requires a high number of dispatch personnel to manage a given group of technicians, primarily because of the amount of time spent on the phone and dealing with a daily barrage of scheduled and emergency service visits for multiple customers. By automating these processes, the total number of dispatchers can be significantly reduced.

Optimal field service automation is more than just electronically managing work orders. A fully integrated field service solution is required in order to increase productivity while lowering costs. A key component of this solution is a highly automated scheduling, dispatch, and routing system that will ensure that qualified technicians arrive at the job site on time, with the right tools and parts while taking into account technician availability, location, travel time, SLA requirements, and many other factors. The result is improved technician productivity and customer service, and a reduction in operational costs.

Contact FIELDBOSS and see how we can help you get your technicians where they need to be while reducing your operational costs to increase revenue.

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