Your engineers are only working 25% of the time, but they aren’t ripping you off, it’s simply your fault.

Sounds bad but it’s true. It’s easy to dismiss this as some engineers will take the p***! But the reality is skilled engineers waste time every day. The list includes chasing for parts needed on a job, completing paperwork, going to a job they can’t complete, going out of their way to collect a part to fix a breakdown everyone’s screaming about. The occasional chatting to a colleague or taking a slightly longer break doesn’t account for as much loss of time compared to the rest.

Yet nearly every service operation I know of aspires to this ideal “get the right engineer, to the right place, at the right time with the right parts and we will be successful”.

It’s a great mantra but if engineers only spend 25% of their time doing engineering tasks, you can clearly see that across the service industry, we’re not getting the right engineer to the right job with the right stuff as much as we’d like!

We worked with a client with a sole focus on engineer utilisation – the aim was to get a minimum of one more job, per engineer, per day – a really SMART objective to start with.

We took each ‘time drain’ and resolved it using the knowledge of the people & processes and using the system to simplify everything and make it measurable.

Here’s some aspects of what we did: –

To get the right engineer each time we recorded engineer skill sets by job type categories – so the system will only allow a person with the correct skills to be assigned to each job, thus reducing the number of failed visits.

We used a scheduling system that shows engineer availability and location, this enabled the scheduler to assign the nearest skilled engineer and reschedule work easily.

Incorporated travel times between zones on a large site, this is similar to integrating with proven route planning software to reduce travel time, but this time we were considering how long it takes for someone to move between jobs within a large environment, so when there’s an urgent breakdown that costs money you know who is the closet person who can fix it.

Introduced dynamic van stock, ensuring engineers carry fast-moving items and never run out, meaning an increase in first-time fix rates.

Provided a mobile app that sends data seamlessly, in real-time, between engineers and Service Managers so no matter where you are (even for Manager’s working remotely) everyone can see the data they need on each job and Managers have full visibility and powerful management information to make good decisions.

The result: We increased by more than one extra job, per engineer, per day and improved utilisation rates by 20% – and this was just the start.

So before you think your engineering team are lazy or that your Service Managers are disorganised, consider the industry average and how you can make it better in your business, every improvement you make increases your productivity and gets you ahead of your competition.