Productivity: Schedule Logically

When I owned a glass replacement company, initially I would go anywhere I was asked to go by my customer. I would go to the north side of town in the morning and the south side after lunch and then back to the north side again in late afternoon. This was relatively easy to do in my mid-sized market and necessary in building a clientele and a customer base. Even today, I would advise new entrepreneurs to do what was needed to build their base.

However, there comes a time in every successful business that fine tuning is called for, and that includes scheduling of the production staff. However, sometimes scheduling is the last thing adjusted because the owner equates running all over town with customer service. I disagree.

Customer service is defined as doing what was promised when it was promised. If you read my previous post about controlling the conversation, promised delivery is not necessarily immediate delivery. The installation can take place today, tomorrow or next week if that is what is called for, but the promise is what counts.

Nothing eats profits more than chaotic scheduling. Fuel is burned, vehicle life is drained, technicians are stressed and the customer is frequently left waiting. This does not bode well for the new business owner. Being productively inefficient may make you busy, but not profitable. Fine tuning demands changing your scheduling philosophy.  

Here is my advice:

—Don’t promise specific times of day on a mobile run. Too many things can happen during the day that will cause the technician to miss the appointment. Find out where the vehicle will be during the day and during what time periods. At best, give customers a morning or afternoon estimate. If the customer truly needs a specific time, schedule a shop job.

—Make an effort to schedule jobs for the next day so trends can be observed. If a particular part of the service area is clumping up, it makes sense to send a tech that way and build up the day with more jobs in that area. As you grow in the number of technicians, the more areas of your territory you can do every day. Otherwise, schedule a directional run every other day so the entire territory is covered on a timely basis.

—Be careful about adding jobs at the end of the day. Good technicians can get a lot done, but it is annoying to get back to the shop and then be sent back out only to discover that the customer is surprised that you were out there so soon. In other words, the customer did not demand immediate service, the boss did, and doing so cost him more profit than it was worth. Do not confuse immediate service with good service.

—Those being said, save room for emergency jobs. Every now and then there is a sidelite knocked out or a back glass out that needs to be done immediately. Make these the exception instead of the rule.

—Have the technician call the scheduled customers before going to the job. This makes sure that the customer is where they are suppose to be and gives the customer a head’s up of when the technician will arrive.

Once the scheduling is mastered, the profits rise and the customers are well serviced.