That Magic Number: Are You Sending Too Many Techs to the Jobsite, or Not Enough?

Posted by Stacey Papp

When people talk about what they’d like for a superpower, the ones that usually come up are the ability to fly or teleport, superhuman strength, powers of invisibility and that ilk. The truth is, while the powers we see in the “X-Men” or comic book hero movies would be pretty awesome to possess, there are humbler superpowers that might be handier on a day-to-day basis – you know, during the times when you aren’t out saving the world.

Imagine if you could predict the weather without error – not only would you be the most popular meteorologist in the world, but your barbecues would never get rained out and you’d always know exactly which coat to wear. 

If you could magically stop traffic from happening before it started, you’d save yourself and millions of people hours of frustration, reduce (but probably not completely eliminate) road rage and give everyone whole chunks of their lives back – you’d be a hero for sure. 

Or the gift of foresight – not the heavy-duty, seeing-the-end-of-the-world-and-your-own-death kind, but the kind of helpful, low-level premonitions that would tell you when your kid is about to spill her juice, when your in-laws are planning to stop in for a surprise visit, or when your car is about to blow a tire – that would be pretty handy.

For a fleet business, having this kind of foresight would come be useful daily, in plenty of ways – among other things, it would help answer the question fleet managers and dispatchers often ask themselves: Am I sending too many field techs to a jobsite, or not enough?

Fortunately, you don’t need to be Carnac the Magnificent to be able to run the business more efficiently by better estimating the right number of field techs. Check out the below tips:

Remember the past. Take into account historical demand during a given time of year or for a type of job. Run reports based on past data and look at how many techs were sent out for a given scenario. Was the job done on time – or did it take less or more time than estimated? 

Watch for outliers. Elements like operating environment and tech training and skill levels can affect the number of guys needed to get a job done. If you send a crew of rookies, they’re probably not working as fast or as well as your seasoned techs, and circumstances like weather conditions or the jobsite itself can affect overall efficiency for everyone.  

Do some math. You can calculate staffing requirements using the average number of labor hours each type of asset in the fleet consumes (i.e., labor demand); the average number of labor hours each tech on staff can produce (i.e., labor supply); and details about the fleet and fleet maintenance practices that can fundamentally impact the data analysis and calculations.

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If the techs get to the jobsite and realize the order was an underestimate and there are too few of them, the crew leader should have a way to alert the back office that more guys are needed ASAP, so the dispatcher to spring into action and reroute another truck or send out more people.
These four tips require the ability to maintain constant communication between all employees, track driver/tech behavior and location, and use the data to make educated decisions instead of just guessing. 

Employing fleet management software allows managers to run detailed reports using near real-time and historical data to back up decisions and take action. Dispatchers can see where everyone is to allow on-the-fly decisions and adjustments. A mobile app gives everyone the ability to instantly ping each other and update info as it comes in via tablet or phone. And those are the kinds of superpowers that come in handy every day.

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