Equipment versus Workforce Management

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Equipment Analytics

A colleague recently sent me a link to a great source of heavy equipment information– analytics.  This and several included articles discussed Caterpillar’s new move towards analytic software to better predict routine service and overall equipment performance.  There is little doubt that all equipment benefits from a program of routine and preventative maintenance.  Taking charge of routine maintenance will always decrease the need for emergency maintenance.

ac23ecca-6f1d-4b01-a4c0-67e5404483b0 though it was interesting that the same online source had a section dedicated to the changing workforce in this field.  In other words, discussing equipment scheduling, up time, efficiency, and ROI of equipment, the publication lamented about the aging and decreasing pool of qualified candidates for performing this type of work.  Although there are fundamental differences between how equipment is managed as opposed to a field workforce, fundamentally they have the same goal.  Increase productivity and best utilize resources available.  Before we ask the question if the labor pool is shrinking, shouldn’t we first ask if we are using the existing workforce efficiently?

Effort being made in the equipment analytics field would be much more effective if it also combined analytics about field service.  For example, field management software will tell you what parts to replace and at what interval.  it may also estimate the time required to repair.  To truly understand the cost of maintaining equipment and it’s impact on efficiency requires more information.  How long did it take to effect repairs?  How far does a tech have to travel to complete the repairs.  Does it make sense to combine several repairs even if they are not required due to the travel time?

The answer is complicated and it is as much about equipment as it is about manpower, scheduling, and parts inventory.  Equipment manufacturers, dealers, and customers would benefit from programs that take into account the big picture.  Equipment and service management software must combined, or at least merged to provide true analysis of ROI.


Selling Through Service

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During the past few years, many field service organizations have moved from a product manufacturing business model to a combination of manufacturing and product-centric services. Howard Lightfoot, a Roadshow speaker and author of “Made to Serve” explained that this “servitization” of the manufacturing industry enables companies to develop stronger customer relationships than was possible with a pure manufacturing model. Take Alstom, a transportation manufacturer that produces trains for the U.K. rail network, among other worldwide contracts.  The company charges its customers based on an “availability” model, meaning customers only pay when the trains are up and running. If a train goes down, so does Alstom’s revenue. This creates a relationship based on trust with the customer and holds Alstom’s field service organization accountable for downtime.”You’ve got to keep on top of your game and ensure your service delivery system is slick and up to the task,” said Lightfoot.

The Promise of Selling Through Service

Field service technicians are an untapped resource when it comes to sales, as Dave Hart, ServiceMax’s vice president of global customer transformation, explained. Every technician interaction is a sales opportunity, yet 45 percent of companies don’t use their technicians to share sales leads. Not convinced the missed opportunity is that big? According to Hart, if each of the approximately 5.5 million technicians in the U.S. were to generate $1of revenue per day, it would create $1.2 billion in new field service revenue every year in the U.S. alone.  Field service techs just have advantages that salespeople lack. Technicians are trusted customer advisors, and companies need to adopt a culture that empowers technicians to create revenue. “You need to invest in your trusted advisors as revenue generators,” Hart said.  Revenue generation is central to Tyco Fire Protection’s European service business, which installs large-scale fire protection systems. Brian Whittle, service delivery director for Tyco’s EMEA division, said the company aims to increase its revenue from service for a simple reason: Installation revenue is a one-time deal, but service revenue is recurring. To increase recurring service revenue, Tyco moved its processes from paper and ERP to cloud and mobile technologies, including iPads.

reposted from through service


Rethinking “Disadvantages” of Remote Field Teams

group active ron palinkas field serviceRemote field teams are becoming ever more popular in today’s day and age. In fact, according to a report from Global Workplace Analytics, there was an 80% increase in “telecommuting” employees between 2005 and 2012. Remote employees experience many unique benefits and challenges as part of the nature of their work. This post will analyze three perceived “disadvantages” of remote work and discuss how they can be viewed as advantages.

1. Lack of Connection to Company Culture

Company culture is typically cultivated through brief interactions that happen in a traditional office setting. However, remote field employees do not have the opportunity to partake in casual conversations by the water cooler or lunch breaks with their colleagues. Because of this deficit, hiring managers need to be sure to employ individuals who align well with the values of the organization. If such individuals are hired, they will feel connected to the organization, rather than isolated.

In order for remote workers to forge bonds with each other, an efficient means of communication must be in place. Since field employees can’t tap their co-worker on the shoulder when they have a question or just want to have a conversation, it is critical that they are able to reach out in other ways. Utilizing technologies that have instant message and/or billboard announcement functions is an excellent way to foster a sense of community within remote teams. Employees will feel like part of a team, and engagement will increase when they can contact their peers or managers in real-time. Managers can use the communications functions of a mobile software solution to provide words of encouragement to their employees or reminders of organizational goals. By implementing these communications practices, company culture can be promoted from any virtual location and remote employees will feel more akin to their team members.

2. Inability to Work Together in Real-Time

Because remote field representatives are working independently across multiple locations, it can be difficult to collaborate with each other in real-time. Fortunately, there is  technology available to mitigate this problem as described above. Nevertheless, being unable to work together at a moment’s notice presents some unique advantages for field reps.

Remote employees actually have the potential to work more productively than their office counterparts because they tend to encounter fewer distractions. Throughout the day, an office employee may have to abruptly stop working to attend a meeting, speak with a colleague, or respond to a number of other disruptions. Field employees will not experience these types of disturbances and therefore can focus their attention on value-building tasks. If an organization is using a chat function to keep remote workers connected, the field employee has the option to brush off an instant message temporarily for the sake of tending to a more relevant duty. This ability to work asynchronously lets field reps budget their time more effectively, boosting productivity.

3. Little Face-to-Face Interaction with Other Members of the Organization

Remote field reps face more obstacles relating to communication than office employees do. It is obviously much simpler to communicate in an office environment, where all team members are working in a shared space. This luxury doesn’t exist for remote employees, so they have learned to adapt to the circumstances.

Field reps need to make a more deliberate effort to communicate with their peers or management. Because of this, their communication tends to be clearer and more on-task than that of their office counterparts. Remote employees are also more likely to make use of technologies that improve communication processes, as opposed to only relying on telephone calls and email. In a sense, technology replaces physical space as the place where naturally flowing communication occurs.

Working outside of a central office location certainly has an effect on how field employees accomplish goals. With the incorporation of technology in the remote workforce, gaps in communication can be easily bridged and company culture can be fostered from virtually anywhere an employee is working. Remote field reps are also able to work more productively and with less distractions than typical office employees. Additionally, remote field employees tend to be better communicators because the nature of their job demands it. These examples highlight how field teams can overcome challenges associated with working remotely.

by Victoria Vessella.  Victoria Vessella is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly. With experience in working in public relations, she is dedicated to creating high-quality content that is relevant and helpful to readers

originally posted on

Kilo Two Bravo: Leadership in Combat

maxresdefault ron palinkas national service manager

wk-kilo1113-1Kilo Two Bravo is an impressive movie I recently watched on Netflix.  I have always been interested in movies that addressed the stress, camaraderie, and duty that are experienced by those who share moments in combat.  There are may excellent movies that document the personal side of combat.  Twelve O’Clock High and Hanoi Hilton are two great examples.



eda9610ba304e2107f1755e803fd75cd ron palinkas national service managerKilo Two Bravo is the story of a British Unit in Afghanistan.  Their mission is to stand watch over an important Dam in Kajaki. In the course of observing the Taliban setting up a roadblock an element goes to a better firing position.  The group finds themselves in the middle of a minefield,  with one of their teammates critically injured.  As other units rush to the scene to assist several other mines are set off injuring more comrades.  The teams find themselves in a difficult position.  Unable to move in the minefield they must figure out how to render aid to those injured as time begins to run out for those critically injured.

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Kilo Two Bravo is a departure form other war movies about the period.  The tempo of the movie is set by the urgency of the injuries.  Rather than focusing on a battle, it focuses on true selflessness for others.  Available on Netflix streaming it is a great movie to check out.


Are Tattoos Stigmatized in Field Service?

shutterstock_233152156-450x300A technician is often the sole face-to-face customer interaction point following a sale. So, what happens when a technician shows up for an interview, or to a customer location, with visible tattoos? Is it an assured way to lose credibility, or should a technician’s skills trump his or her appearance?

Tattoos are common these days — nearly one-quarter of adult Americans sport at least one, according to the Pew Research Center — but they can still carry a stigma. Appearance undoubtedly matters for front-line workers, such as service technicians, who work inside customers’ homes and businesses. But should a little ink prevent professional, skilled technicians from getting a job, or gaining a customer’s trust?
Contractor magazine editor Candace Roulo put the question to readers in a recent article. “Does a tattoo make or break how well someone can do a job?,” she asks. “Plus, do tattoos really offend people that much? I can think of many more offensive things in the service industry, such as rude behavior, bad customer service and a bad attitude.”

Tattooed technicians might have to work harder to win over a skeptical customer or manager, but technicians’ skills often trump appearances. Crisara, a former contractor himself who now runs consulting and training programs for contractors, says he’s seen those stigmas melt away once customers get to know the technician. He’s also experienced it himself with former employees and clients. “They won me over with their skills,” says Crisara.

Contractors and managers who don’t allow technicians to have a tattoo might want to give their customers more credit.

“If the leader of a company says to hide the tattoos, they’re trying to hide the real person from their customers. That’s not a sound policy,” says Crisara. “There’s a balance in the person you’re looking for. The balance is not between tattoos and appearance. It’s really between the technician’s ability to communicate value and the technical skills.”

Crisara’s advice for inked techs is simple: win customers (and management) over with confidence, technical aptitude and great service. “The statement of service has to be louder than the tattoo,” he says. “A tattoo is only skin deep, but the level of service goes deeper — and you have to amplify that more than the tattoo.”

Would you hire a technician with visible tattoos? And if you’re a technician, do you cover your tattoos while on the clock?

reprinted from and field service   By Derek Korte

Calculating Technician Utilization

Dashboard-HVAC of technician utilization has been a hot topic in the field service industry.  Once calculated only in terms of billable hours, the move towards servitization has precipitated a change in how companies look at utilization.

In the past, utilization was based on one metric–billable hours.  Utilization was easy to calculate billable hours divided by total hours.  This benefits of this metric is that it does not take into account holiday, vacation, paperwork, or time that billable hours are not available.

Contemporary calculations were an answer to the common statement in the field “I do a lot more than just repair equipment…”  This statement is true.  The challenge has been to categorize and track hours in a way that reflects what the service department is actually doing.  For example, a service rep may have a long standing relationship with a customer who is interested in upgrading their current equipment.  The sales rep has asked that the service rep accompany him on a sales visit to the customer.  Is this something the service department should do? Absolutely.  Is it billable labor? Well,that depends…

The concept of utilization has evolved into new categories.  Terms like value and non-value added have helped to better highlight the influence service reps have on an organizations success.  Sales, tech support, and continuous improvement efforts.  So how can you reconcile activities that benefit the company yet do not fall into the very straightforward “billable labor” category?  There is little doubt these other activities support the businesses interest.  The challenge is to develop a policy and a set of procedures that recognizes the service group of organization for supporting these activities.

Many organizations are moving to a sliding scale for recognition of these non-billable labor hours.  The goal of a service department is to provide service.  Servitization philosophy states that there is value to non-billable activities.  It is up to the organization to decide the value of those activities are within the organization.

Service departments are capable of providing more than just service to internal and external customers.  The challenge is to develop the procedures to make sure departments receive financial and operational recognition for those activities.  The first step is to decide what you want your service team to do.  Second step is to develop a metric and launch a definitive method to measure progress and completion.

A well-run service department can do more for your organization than just fix things.