by Fred Ode

Q:

The economy has forced our company to diversify into new areas of construction. One area that we are trying to grow is a service contracting division. At this point, we are not very efficient at scheduling and dispatching our technicians. My boss would like to hire an additional dispatcher to help manage the scheduling, work orders and billing, but I'm not convinced. I've checked out some dispatch systems online, and I don't have a good feel for what we need. At what point is it worth the investment?

Charles

 

A:

As you well know, service contracting is a very competitive industry with a growing demand by customers for faster service delivery. To stay profitable, you must be as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

For that reason, many service contractors are dumping their white boards for software that's designed to streamline day-to-day operations. And it's a smart move, no matter how large your service operation. Not only can the right technology help you improve efficiency and workforce productivity, but a good system can also lead to better customer service, faster billing and greater cash flow.

At a minimum, service dispatch technology should give you the capability of quickly assigning calls and managing schedules. Some systems offer advanced features, such as drag-and-drop dispatch boards, which help to increase efficiency and usability of call management screens. Another helpful tool is the ability to communicate with technicians via e-mail, texting or mobile phone for better communications and enhanced productivity. Finally, you may want to consider whether or not your system integrates seamlessly with accounting. In addition to timely billing and inventory/equipment management, end-to-end solutions help to increase data accuracy and eliminate duplicate data entry.

So at what point is it worth the investment, Charles? I would say that if your service business is not operating efficiently, you have definitely reached that point.

 

Fred

Construction Business Owner, February 2010