Field Service Best Practices For Electricians And Service Pros
April 24, 2023
See how electrician software can help work around shortages of supplies, electricians, and changes in demand with these best practices that maintain service and profitability.
All field service businesses want to increase revenue and drive growth. No surprises there: it’s an obvious goal for most businesses. But recent years have made things a little tricky – particularly given the volatile UK economy.
For electrician businesses, this has come in the form of:
Rising material costs (and actually getting hold of stock) – costs that have either impacted profit margins or been passed to customers… A conundrum that can hugely impact pricing competitiveness.
A fight for skilled tradespeople – with increased demand pushing up salaries, impacting profit margins and resulting in electrical businesses being unable to meet demand fast enough.
Change in demand – given the huge inflation in energy costs and risks of blackouts, customers want more energy-efficient products and solutions. Like solar panels, charge-points, alternative energy sources… All of which may have a big impact on your business model. And, of course, there are also new gas boilers being phased out by 2035 so new products like heat pumps will take over.
To add to this, there are also new safety and building regulations and the pre-existing carbon-neutral targets need to be taken into account. It’s a pretty tall order of accommodations.
So, where do you go from here?
To survive and thrive, electrician businesses are looking for ways to improve productivity, cut costs and support business growth.
In this blog, we’ll look at exactly how leading field service businesses – and electrician businesses – are achieving these goals.
Let’s dive in.
5 field service best practices for revenue growth 🚀
Whilst profits are the driving force, electrician businesses need to ensure they deliver high-quality work, excellent customer service, and ensure safety for both field workers and customers. It's a bit of a balancing act.
So, before we get started on five best practices, let’s look at the silver bullet leading field service businesses are leveraging to make achieving all this so much easier 👇
Why electricians are turning to tech
You’ve probably started to notice the rise of technology within the electrical contracting industry. It’s becoming a hot trend for field services.
Why? Because the use of new tech has innovative new key features that allow businesses to do things like provide self-serve portals for customers, or allow them to optimise operations – and book more jobs or react to emergencies and new bookings much faster.
Essentially, certain tech is becoming a must-have to compete and get better profit margins.
Let’s just look at one example.
More and more businesses are investing in field service software – this is now up to 19% since 2021. This uplift shows the importance businesses place on building a strong and secure foundation for their digital operations, prioritising support for employee productivity, tracking, and analysing business data to optimise performance.
In fact, according to this new report by Gartner, improving productivity is the top motivation for purchasing software (across all sectors).
With this in mind, let’s look at some best practices – to see how electrical contractor software practically supports electrical service businesses?
#1: Stand out against competitors
There are two key factors that make an electrician business stand out: Price and quality of service. For those that have had to put their prices up due to the challenges we mentioned at the start, quality of service becomes the differentiator.
And businesses that have embedded software for electricians hoping to win customer loyalty, with key features like live tracking, have found that the improved customer service goes far beyond better comms.
Take this as an example. York-based electrical-vehicle charge point installer, Mcnally EV, can now complete jobs quicker and the first time, because their electrical engineers have access to full job information, such as customer documents, on their mobile device.
Plus, with some software for electricians, you can instantly follow up onsite visits and job completions with customer feedback requests. This provides a window to see exactly how teams perform out in the field and what you can do to improve service – particularly by being able to follow up promptly with those that flag issues.
Ultimately, by delivering this level of electrical service, leading field service businesses build a positive reputation, retain clients, and experience word-of-mouth promo.
#2: Keep up with regulations and maintain safety
Essential to protecting both your electricians and your customers, this is a big part of your business. And while electrical contracting businesses are well-versed in compliance and adhering to regulations, it doesn’t make the time and costly burden of them any easier.
So, what best practices can you follow to improve this? Here are just a couple of ways leading businesses do:
Standardise safety assessments: Leveraging software for electricians, you can generate pre-built checklists for every type of job. This ensures electricians follow a consistent and safe approach to installations. It acts as a sort of tick box exercise that prompts actions – like taking photos of completed work and uploading risk assessments.
Force completion of customer risk assessments: If you use a tech solution for job management, you can force completions of risk assessments prior to starting a job or mandate the reading of site-specific safety docs… All thanks to documentation being easily accessible and the system flagging any compulsory training in advance.
The bottom line here is that protecting people is of paramount importance. If you can standardise the processes to ensure requirements are met, and inevitably simplify and speed up the process, then team members are more likely to follow it. While this makes the process more efficient, it also helps prevent costly accidents and reputational damage.
#3: Optimise your resources
This one ties back to the labour shortages that we mentioned in the introduction. Even with all the budget and hiring resources, you may still struggle to find additional electrician team members. So, what now?
As just one example, savvy electrical businesses, like Future Group, are improving productivity by 80% by being more efficient with team members’ time.
For example, they’re doing things like:
Ensuring electricians have all the kit and information – and sending an engineer that has the right accreditation and experience – to complete a job on the first visit.
Reducing travel time by optimising routes – leveraging job management software to check for traffic congestion and predicted field costs for each journey.
Tracking electricians – and sending the nearest engineer, based on current and home locations, to a site.
Investing in and using specialist tools, like thermal imaging cameras or multimeters, to help electricians diagnose problems more quickly and accurately… ultimately reducing the time spent on each job.
In summary, this is how they’re remaining competitive and profitable.
#4: Improve communication
Ultimately, better communication helps any electrical company to keep customers and colleagues in the loop on job progress and be more responsive. For example, you can use tools to track an electrician's live locations so that customers can visibly see on a map how far they are from their site.
But what you want to hear about is the best practices here that enable lean operations.
The biggest recommendation here is preparation. So, from the start of a job, you can do certain things to deliver high-quality work and minimise downtime. Like:
Pre-visit site assessment: So you can document the exact stock and tools that are needed and you can identify potential hazards – which you can flag to the electrician in advance… This may mean only certain electricians are able to go to the site. Plus, you can document full customer history and notes, covering everything from detailed machine location, make and model number to a gate code and opening hours to save time and return visits.
Getting everything ready: You can then order the stock needed for that particular job and ensure the electrician is notified of needing to collect it and take any specialist electrical equipment before going to the job – so they can safely complete it the first time.
Ultimately, this reduces downtime, increases first-time fix rates and just saves unnecessary revisits. All of which improve the customer experience too.
#5: Keep tabs on stock
We’ve mentioned stock a few times so we’ll keep this one relatively brief.
To keep costs down, leading electrical businesses are doing several things, like:
Ordering stock to individual jobs – so that they don’t have unnecessary surplus
Using field service software to find nearest stockists – so if an electrician comes across a challenge while on-site, they can find the nearest stockists (whether that’s a supplier or if it’s in the back of a colleague’s van)... Again reducing downtime.
Using job management software to monitor stock volumes of regular items (actually in their warehouses/stock rooms) – because some things you will always need and it makes sense to buy in bulk for discounts and speed of job management. Plus, you can also set email/SMS alerts for minimum stock levels allowing you time to re-order and avoid a stock-out.
This approach can be a life-saver when faced with seemingly random and instant stock shortages of items – which would otherwise hold you back.
Bonus electrical service best practice
Here’s a bonus best practice that not many follow. 👇
While it’s not necessarily one tech can help with – it’s a great way to learn of new tech innovations that can help you to achieve all of the above. As well as help you to address changes in demand.
And that’s through continuous education. By staying up-to-date with the latest advancements and best practices, your electricians are better placed to complete jobs faster and to a better standard.
So keep a lookout and attend trade shows and conferences, follow industry publications, network with other professionals in the industry through collaborative projects and even mentoring programmes.
Struggling to hire? Consider upskilling team members by putting them through advanced training so that they can get new certifications. This opens the doors for more job opportunities for you and boosts morale internally when teams feel valued. Plus, it looks better externally if you’re seen to be keeping up with the latest industry advancements.
Failing that, you can access a network of trusted electrical contractors that can help (find out more about networks here).
Drive growth today with field service best practices
So, to drive efficiency, deliver high-quality and compliant installations, maintain safety and produce happy customers – and essentially be in a better position to compete on price and quality – these are the best practices you need to follow: