5 Steps to Superior Installations & Service

Identifiying Key Performance Indicators

Information equals power for a growing company. Finding issues in order to correct them is a basic necessity for any dealer to stay afloat, but identifying best practices and techniques that work are crucial for growth.

High Value in GPS Vehicle Tracking

Dealers using GPS technology have observed reduced drive time, shrinking gas bills, more calls completed per day and closer adherence to schedules. Having vehicles outfitted with GPS devices that report back to the home office in conjunction with using mobile devices also allows dealers to adopt a live schedule system where dispatchers can alter the schedules in real-time.

“[The GPS service] allows us to at a glance see where the technicians are at any given time,” says Custom Alarm COO Melissa Brinkman. “This is especially helpful when we have last-minute customer calls or we need to deliver a part to another technician. It also has allowed us to better respond to customers who call stating that the technician wasn’t onsite and for how long. It is also extremely helpful in the wintertime to ensure the technicians aren’t running [idling] for an extended period of time. There are auto reports on technicians running their trucks, just to warm up.”
GPS tracking can generate reports of excessive speeding or idling. Getting a dealer’s technicians to drive just 30 miles less in one day total while estimating 15 miles to the gallon, saves two gallons of gas per day. Saving 10 gallons a week at $3.50 for 50 weeks adds up to $1,750 in a year’s time.

Tim Creenan of Amherst Alarm says his company was very open with its technicians when it added GPS devices to its fleet in 2006. “We came at it as a positive thing to help manage their schedule so we could see where the trucks were and reroute people midday if needed,” he says. “But we did have somebody who didn’t believe the GPS was working and decided he was going home for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. Consequently, after a discussion he doesn’t work here anymore.”

Some of the most useful key performance indicators for installation and service departments include: 1) the total number of service calls completed in a day; and 2) the daily average number of service calls a tech can complete. These may sound basic, but the first step is to establish a baseline so that over- and under-performance can become obvious and to measure improvement.
“Whenever you can automate something, you can make your entire operation more efficient,” says Safe Systems President Larry Halpern. “We automate so we can do more work. Through SedonaSync, our people get vital information on things they need to see right on their desktop.” The company uses morning reports automatically created by sales numbers for the month that allows them to see how much new RMR has been sold. “Could I get online and run those reports and look at that data myself? Sure, but boy is it nice to have the E-mail there when I start my day.”
The company also has a weekly meeting to inspect key performance indicators (KPIs) in its installation and service departments and identify outliers. It measures productivity across every account, sliced by sales, technician and job type. More often than not it finds positive outliers in its performance. “And we found types of work that we do best and the type of jobs we shouldn’t be doing,” Wrzesinski says.

For its service department, Custom Alarm regularly measures the number of service tickets completed every week against how many of them were billed and how many were ‘no charge’ tickets. The company also measures the number of ‘callbacks’ and ‘go-backs’ still outstanding as well as unresolved tickets. In its installation department, Custom measures the total weekly number of jobs billed and total dollars in revenue billed. The company splits that by project manager as well. The number of callbacks generated from the installation team and the inventory levels each tech is maintaining week to week are also reviewed.

“By reviewing and understanding how our business ebbs and flows, we can better respond to anomalies and make corrections much quicker,” Brinkman says. “An example is looking at the total dollars billed per week. Even if we have a low week, we look at the next week and if that isn’t up, we are following up with the installation team to fi
nd out where we are at with finishing jobs and/or generating billing. This has allowed us to have more consistent billing week to week as well as people are more aware of what is flowing through the funnel and doing their part to move it to the billing stage as quickly as possible.”

Creating a Painless Billing Process

For Custom Alarm, keeping the customer happy through the billing process is paramount and concern about being contrary to that was holding some employees back when it was time to invoice for installation or service. Service customers were regularly unhappy about having to pay travel costs. And in some new installations, the company was unsure of when to bill, especially in cases when the customer was holding up the installation process.

“We address it by talking with the customer as it relates to the service issues and working toward a mutually agreeable solution for billing,” Brinkman says. “On the installation end, we evaluate where we are at in the completion of the total job and then determine that we either bill it or we wait.”

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