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Restaurant style scheduling

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by FIMCO-MEISTER, Jun 15, 2008.


    Messages: 18,668

    When you go to a restaurant that is crowded you put your name on a list and wait til a table clears out and your name is up. I bring this up because irrigation service scheduling may be the toughest kind of scheduling out there. When i handle the calls I can immediately factor in my knowledge of the system, the customers expectation, location, landscape, (I can remember the names of dogs my customers had 20 years ago.) In my head I also have stored all the incomplete jobs we have to leave time gaps open for. i can also predict the troubleshooting problems, type of valve it most likely is, material needed to remind myself or Henry to pick them up a day or two ahead of time. Which customers need a courtesy call and which customers we can use as flex time to make the day work. In other words scheduling is this symphony playing in my head and I'm a maestro putting it all together. Only problem is that it consumes a lot of time and requires me to handle the calls and be in constant contact with customers and service techs. In turning scheduling over to a person who lacks the knowledge of what irrigation service entails all that goes out the window. I'm wondering about no longer giving exact appt times but just putting people on a list and giving them a 1 week out or whatever your backlog is time frame and when there name comes up on the list calling them to schedule. This allows for existing jobs to be completely finished before moving on. Time to sell add ons without worrying about getting to the next job on time. Avoids the gas expense of return trips to finish. Avoids the headache of rescheduling due to weather. Allows for scaling back when it gets hot to protect the health and attitude of the service techs. (It is already hot here for June) Best of all the phone answerer can just explain that we are running a list and are two weeks out when we get close we will call you and schedule. Just to assure the customer they are being treated fairly they can go to a website to see their name moving up the list like when you check the restaurant list.

    Thoughts please.
  2. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,575

    The customers without internet access won't be thrilled, but it might work. All praise flex-time customers!
  3. zemzabob

    zemzabob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 321

    interesting concept.
  4. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,219

    Peter, you have hit the nail on the head, absolutely dead on. I am just starting to train my sister to do the scheduling and office work for two months. She has already gotten frustrated at how I have done things over the last 13+ years. But it's the way I have done it and it works.

    She will not know to schedule any jobs that need go backs unless we tell her. And I sometimes can't get my guys to tell ME for two or three days, or I find it on their work order when I finally get all the paperwork from them.

    But I don't know how well what you are thinking about will work. Maybe it will in your area where you don't have the overwhelming aspect of start ups and freeze damage. I would want to know when you'd be coming out. Not a 1-2 week "range". What if the day before you can get there, you call the person up, and they can not meet you due to other commitments? Will it be another week when you are back in the area? Or will it be the next day? If the HO doesn't need to be there - outdoor controllers and shutoffs -then it may not be a problem if it's not an emergency. I do that with some easy problems - clogged nozzles, slightly leaking bonnet, one head hitting the house kind of problems. Do you give an EXACT time? Or a time window? Mornings I give a one hour window, afternoons a two hour window.

    If you can make it work though, that's great.
  5. CAPT Stream Rotar

    CAPT Stream Rotar LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,193

    not a bad idea pete..

    recently i thought of an idea where if the customer is not home email them pics of the install or new clock..

    kind of like a safegaurd that their plants and turf are ok..
    just another thought..
  6. londonrain

    londonrain LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,129

    Peter I am the same way with customers when they leave a message...I know their names , their location, the type of systems, their pets, valve locations, etc... This really helps in scheduling how much time is needed. I have been doing an average of 10 service calls a day solo....I am scheduling calls about 5-7 work days out for new customers and 2-3 days for existing customers. The problem with making your loyal customers wait 2 weeks for 1 head replacement is they will call someone else and that is a easy repair job. Maybe put new customers on the 2 week list or the ones that want more that 1-2 hrs worth of work. This time of the year I only do repairs on getting the systems up and running and tell them I will do revamps... IE move heads, add heads, etc... in the fall and winter.

    I give a 30 min window on when I will arrive...10:00-10:30

    Messages: 18,668

    You would keep calling to get that customer scheduled. In other words they stay at the top of the list until done. Never schedule more than two days out. Three at max. Keep a float person (me for now) who handles the quick easies to get them out of the way. Have the call screener get as much info as possible to save you phone time and allow you to think. Ultimately you will end up doing the final scheduling.

    Messages: 18,668

    Do you bump new customers to make way for existing if you get a bunch of calls? Treating old customers better than new has always been a struggle for me. To me rescheduling is a sign of failure. When you call a customer to reschedule you are telling them that you mismanaged your time.

    Also redos are a strike while it is hot type of deal. The same enthusiasm for a redo may wane by fall and winter.
  9. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,219

    But there is no way we run all over town for one job. I won't have us running back and forth to different parts of town, wasting billable time, and fuel. My customers know that we schedule neighborhoods together.
  10. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,219

    I'm the same as London, existing customers are getting the 5-7 day treatment now, and new are 7-10. Revamps and add ons are starting to get scheduled for late this month. Some for July.

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