How do you avoid the summer schedules headache?

Fortunately for your business, field operations do not cease during the two summer months! But how do you “make sure of things” when your employees’ holidays complicate scheduling?

In many areas of business, summer is very far from being a quiet time for field teams, quite the contrary! Certain B2B service calls, typically boiler maintenance operations in schools and other local authority buildings, are prioritized during this period. It is no different for B2C companies because many individuals use their holidays to begin building projects, have materials or furniture delivered, or, spurred on by the energy transition, have a new heating system installed before the winter. The difficulty for companies that don’t simply shut up shop for their annual shutdown it is to have the necessary personnel to carry out these assignments at a time when their field operatives – maintenance technicians, installers, delivery personnel, diagnostician’s, experts, collection staff, etc. – are less numerous, because of well-deserved holidays.

The keyword: anticipate!

Employees’ holiday dates are easy to schedule well before the summer season starts. Moreover, holiday periods are often determined by the collective agreement applicable to the company, bearing in mind that, barring an exemption, the law entitles employees to take 12 continuous working days’ leave during the period from 1st May to 31st October. Do not forget that, as an employer,

>> you have to notify your employees of the holiday period at least 2 months before it begins;

>> you cannot amend your employees holiday start dates less than one month before the initially scheduled dates.

If your company is open throughout the summer, asking your employees to apply for leave as early as possible is the best way of:

  • satisfying the greatest number of co-workers as to their desired holiday dates, while taking account of operations and service calls that are already scheduled for each of them throughout the summer;
  • ensuring that all skill sets are covered for each week during this period, so that you can not only perform the usual routes or already scheduled operations, but also satisfy new customers at the earliest opportunity, respond to unforeseen requests by existing customers, and of course, deal with emergencies.

Conducting this planning work very early on also enables you to anticipate the possible recruitment of staff on open-ended contracts or else interim staff to temporarily top up your teams. Anticipation is essential given the current tensions in certain trades. Temporary employment agencies will of course always manage to find you a driver-delivery person at a moment’s notice. Things are more complicated if you are looking for ten or so for the first half of August, and even more so if you need a maintenance technician familiar with a particular brand or appliance. The earlier you notify your requirements to the recruitment agencies, the more likely it is they will put forward people with the right profile, possessing the required skills and experience.

Finally, if you typically employ subcontractors for certain routes/service calls, early holiday planning for your employees will enable you to provide clarity for your partners, who in turn will be able to organize themselves accordingly.

Play the flexibility card…

The temporary reduction in your headcount or the increased use of external reinforcements during the summer must not prevent you from responding to demand as efficiently as possible. This requires a degree of flexibility in defining service call sectors or typical delivery areas. If the delivery person covering zone A is on holiday for 3 weeks, the proper functioning of your company requires the delivery personnel responsible for zones B and C adjacent to zone A to be able to replace him, properly of course…

>> With our Territory Manager territorial segmentation solution, there is nothing to stop you amending existing service call sectors for a specific period. The distribution of delivery points in zone A between delivery personnel in zones B and C can be achieved according to criteria of your choosing: the known workload, the delivery personnel’s departure point, the maximum distance they can cover in one route, geographical constraints, requirements peculiar to certain service locations (delivery in the morning only, for example), etc.

>> By performing this temporary re-segmentation well before the beginning of the holiday period, you are not springing any surprises on your co-workers: you involve them in defining their delivery or service call zone and you refine its perimeter with them by manually reassigning the problematic service/customer locations (because they are too distant, for example). Not only does this give you the assurance that the entire territory to be served will indeed be covered throughout the summer, it also means there will be no last-minute push-back by your operatives.

This recommendation also applies to your subcontractors and partners. By communicating to them several weeks in advance the map of the territory for which they will be responsible this summer, along with information on the customers they need to cover for, you are enabling them to organize themselves as best they can, in a win-win logic.

Simplify your operatives’ daily routine

To safeguard your company’s profitability and satisfy your customers, summer is the period during which, more than ever, you need to optimize the distribution of service calls between available co-workers and their routes, be they regular or variable. With a reduced headcount, it is even more crucial than at normal times that they keep their mileage down and spend as much time as possible on calls. Nomadia software makes this very easy for you to do. With TourSolver, for example, you automatically calculate an optimal route from a simple address file.

>> The software takes account of speed limits and determines the order in which addresses will be served to minimize mileage and maximize the number of points served throughout the day.

>> By specifying the theoretical duration of each call, you generate schedules and route maps for each co-worker that they can comply with because the algorithm takes account of reality on the ground and their business constraints.

>> Additional advantage, you can temporarily open access to our optimization software to your sub-contractors and partners to share information and enable them as well to calculate optimized routes based on your own criteria.

Finally, so that each route and each call proceeds optimally for your co-workers and customers, your field operatives not only need realistic route plans but also all the information they need properly to complete their assignment – especially if they are attending a call outside their usual perimeter or are calling on customers they do not know.  A mobile business application will avoid them unnecessary stress and wasted time. How? By providing them with on the road guidance without them having to enter each address on a stand-alone GPS device, by clearly providing them with access to the characteristics of the equipment/installations and customer history. With our mobile business applications, all this is done from one and the same interface, which is why your co-workers and subcontractors can easily notify their call start and end times and publish their call reports. This is a lot easier and faster than juggling between several applications! This is also a good way of performing as many administrative tasks as possible in the field, freeing up time for peaceful, fine summer evenings…

In writing this, we are well aware that the summer is already well underway and that it is a bit late to recommend that you anticipate… But as the question of summer schedules arises each year, why not dispose of this headache once and for all by discovering how our solutions can help your scheduling teams and mobile co-workers to be more efficient – both in the summer and winter?

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