Blog

9th December 2015

Winter Preparation Tips for the Field Service Industry

Field service industries can experience difficulties during the winter months due to unforeseen weather conditions. Therefore, we've prepared some tips to see you through to spring

The UK’s weather is unpredictable, with experts unable to agree whether this coming winter will be mild or harsh. Issues arise when unpredictable weather creates unforeseen complications, which is why it’s imperative to ensure you’re prepared for any eventuality. As reported on cloudcomputing-news.net, a survey by telecoms provider Daisy Group, suggests that, “adverse weather conditions prevent an estimated three million UK workers from completing their normal work responsibilities each year”. And, “a third of UK businesses were affected by transport problems, power cuts or broadband and phone line failures caused by inclement weather over the past two years.” However, what’s concerning is that according to The Federation of Small Businesses, three out of five (59%) small businesses do not have a plan in place to deal with extreme weather conditions such as floods and snowstorms.

Tips to ensure you’re prepared:

Enable access to data anytime, anywhere.
Implement mobile strategies such as BYOD and cloud technologies that allow your staff to gain access to vital business data anytime, anywhere. What’s more, the ability to access real-time information on their own mobile phone or tablet will be invaluable, aiding the completion of tasks and helping maintain communications with members of their team through a device they’re familiar with.

Maintain open communication.
To ensure you maintain a high level of customer service, equip your staff with the means to utilise multiple communication channels, including calls via landlines, mobiles or VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocols), along with email, social media and web portals. This will enable staff to communicate effectively and set customer expectations, by keeping customers informed they are less likely to become dissatisfied.

Plan and automate your finances.
Payment delays can occur when companies close over the holiday period, or staff are on annual leave. To minimise the impact this can have on your business it’s important to log details of closures that may affect you. By recording this information and implementing an automated process you’ll be able to automatically send out invoices and chase payments in advance.

Make sure you’re covered.
If you’re staff are unable to attend to client requests due to harsh weather conditions, illness or annual leave, you will be incapable of maintaining your service levels, which could affect your reputation. To avoid this you should plan ahead, creating a contingency plan that will ensure you’re covered. You could go one better by investing in an intelligent software solution that can identify the skill sets of your workforce for you and highlight areas of weakness. NAVscheduler for example uses in-built maps and colour coded skills categories, to easily allocate calls to the right people with the right skills. If the allocated person cannot get to the customer, this software will identify someone else who is available within the area and with the right skill set.

Know your suppliers.
In the winter months it is possible you will experience issues with your supply chain, due to high demand, closure or bad weather. Ensure you are prepared for this by identifying required stock levels and lead times from your key suppliers. If lead times are longer than normal or you anticipate there may be challenges maintaining stock levels required, you can source alternative items or suppliers in advance.

Ensure staff safety.
Your staff are your most valuable asset, therefore it’s imperative you take the necessary precautions to ensure you’re mobile engineers are safe. Service all vehicles before the harsh weather sets is and equip them with GPS. This will allow you to monitor staff movements and help breakdown services and emergency services find them should the need arise. Provide staff with blankets, torches, water, salt and shovels in case they get stranded in bad weather.

Preparing for the New Year
Winter is the ideal time to review both your successes and failures in order to formulate a strategy to protect your business in the coming year. By identifying what is required to keep your business going you’re able to minimise the impact potential issues can cause and provide your customers with a continued high level of service. 

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