Reliable technical workers are any company’s most valuable assets. Pool and spa service companies, in particular, are seeing accelerated retirement rates and a historic inability to attract young, tech-savvy workers. In the long term, it’s an issue that will impact a company’s bottom line, hinder growth and negatively affect customer service.
In dealing with this problem, the pool and spa industry is not alone by any means. More than 37% of the workforce in the United States is 55 or older, and about 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day, the AARP announced. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’ve seen a decline in skilled workers, and many people nearing retirement age opting to retire early.
A recent survey found the skilled labor gap has significantly impacted employers in the following ways:
- 42% of employers reported a reduced ability to serve their customers.
- 42% reported reduced competitiveness and productivity.
- 30% reported increased turnover.
- 26% reported lower staff morale.
- 25% were forced to offer higher compensation to recruit or retain staff.
Companies have had to pivot in the face of dramatic change amid the talent shortages by adopting innovative technologies to maximize efficiency, including broader acceptance of remote workers and diagnostics, increased focus on field service automation, and rapid adoption of new collaboration tools.
As enterprises in the field service industry struggle to fill the talent gap, pool and spa services must continue finding ways to improve operational efficiencies. This can be done successfully by implementing new cloud-based field service management (FSM) technology, which will help companies maximize existing talent. Because workers in the pool and spa industry spend much of their time in the field, one of the critical challenges they face in optimizing their field services is how to decrease time spent on tasks like reports and time management.
In addition to improving overall efficiency and productivity, digitizing field operations also helps to attract new, younger talent as digital FSM modernizes antiquated, tedious administrative tasks. Organizations that leverage digital mobility find it easier to recruit younger resources than those that are stuck in the processes of the past — digital natives expect digital experiences, regardless of whether the core activities of the job are manual.
Here are five ways FSM technology can automate and streamline an assortment of processes to further increase productivity amid talent shortages and beyond:
- Streamlined customer management enables managers to quickly access individual customer details like location, billing terms, activity notes, invoices, payments, audit history, service history and future schedules, parts lists and more.
- Efficient scheduling and dispatching features can minimize the time it takes to schedule jobs, giving managers insight into all team members’ activities and availability. A map-based schedule can also clearly show where jobs are located and when they are occurring, all in one view. This eliminates paper schedules and the risk of accidentally erasing whiteboard appointment information. Scheduling and dispatching through FSM tech provides real-time updates on workloads and job status on any device, eliminating data silos and connecting a pinched workforce to the information they need when needed.
- Digital work orders and estimates empower technicians to manage these processes on mobile devices. This includes helpful features such as project quotes, product and service demos, and the ability to capture photos, sketches, notes and signatures. Estimates can then be easily converted to work orders. Managers can view and track estimated reports to get insight into wins and losses, helping make sense of the most in-demand products. This also provides advanced insights into the strengths and weaknesses of performance to keep the business growing.
- Digital invoicing and payments allow businesses to build invoice templates that are tailored to their business by using logos, contact information, photos or sketches, then export them to a PDF to share directly with the customer. Managers can build a catalog of products, services, and bundles associated with pricing and tax rates, removing all guesswork when performing manual invoicing. In addition, digital invoicing allows the customer to make payments on the spot, helping with cash flow and optimizing the customer experience. This will ensure accurate invoicing every time, allowing companies to provide all parties involved with the assurance that each invoice reflects actual work performed and products sold.
- Smart accounting eliminates the headache of entering payments and accounting information across multiple places — a monotonous, time-intensive task. A real-time, two-way sync with third-party digital accounting software eliminates the potential for human data entry errors. It provides a way to update invoices, customer records and other information automatically.
FSM tech will improve experiences for pool and spa professionals working in the field by streamlining their workflow, allowing them more time to focus on tasks that require increased attention. Along the way, digitized FSM will mitigate staffing gaps, doing more with less to improve field service effectiveness within a business. This goes beyond advanced insights for upper management to sit back and analyze. In short, evolving employee expectations while keeping pace with customer expectations will create a more attractive field service environment, further strengthening your ability to draw in new talent.
Enda Hennigan is a senior product manager at GPS Insight.