Different times of the year require a shift in strategy to manage your field technicians effectively. If it was a perfect world, you could easily execute your maintenance plans along with the traditional break/fix repair activities, but we don’t live in such world. Many times, you just don’t have the staff to cover your maintenance plans as well as be responsive to your customer when equipment downtime increases.
Hiring temporary staff can cost you in the long run
Adding new or temporary employees is an expensive endeavor, especially if much of your work includes on-site repair and equipment maintenance. Providing a service van with the appropriate inventory and tools along with a qualified maintenance tech can easily cost you over $100,000 a year annually. When your busy season is over, you are faced with the decision of who and when to downsize your team.
You may need to be creative with managing your maintenance schedules to serve the needs of your customers with minimal equipment downtime.
Maintenance challenges during a strong construction season
Early in my career, I was challenged with dealing with an extremely large fleet of equipment that required extensive preventive maintenance, especially during a strong construction season. Logically, the longer hours required more frequent maintenance and along with that would come the expected equipment failures.
Many of my competitors would hire seasonal techs, rent service vans, purchase needed tools to accommodate the increase demand of a heavy construction season. Hiring criteria became a sliding scale as the tech that normally wouldn’t get hired to a reputable firm was seen working on some of their most valued customer’s equipment.
Choosing a different maintence strategy than your competition
Instead, I transitioned to a strategy of having my technicians execute our maintenance work orders on overtime. This took a hit on the margins on the maintenance contracts for customer owned equipment and increased overhead on the company owned fleet.
In return, we were able to execute our equipment maintenance plans according to the prescribed schedules and we were able to hold down equipment failures to record low levels. We also found a significant windfall, when new customers would call us up, requesting service because their existing service company was unable to respond in a timely manner to their equipment service needs. We also found that our equipment was available rather than having a large backlog of equipment that was sitting in the maintenance queue.
Efficiency does not aways quickly translate to profitability
Some of the customers we picked up during those times eventually became the cornerstone of our business. These companies learned that we executed efficiently and keep their equipment running with minimal failure. Efficiency does not always quickly translate to profitability, but rest assured that it eventually will. We were able to grow our service team by 40% over a three year period and increased profitability in both maintenance plans and break/fix.
Make your staff and customers happy
We also learned that our employees appreciated the additional hours that accumulated. We either paid overtime or let them have extended vacation during designed times of the year. Overall it was a win for the company, employees and our customers.