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Scheduling For Profit: the Real Secret to Dispatching for Profit

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Dispatch-for-profit is a philosophy that has taken the HVAC world by storm, and for good reason. But its much lesser known cousin, scheduling-for-profit, is actually even more important.

Suppose you have 10 maintenance technicians doing four jobs per day, and on average 12 of these are systems 10 years or older, making them replacement opportunities. The dispatch-for-profit philosophy says that you should assign these to your three best technicians, maximizing your average ticket size.

But there’s a serious problem with this way of thinking: every day is different. If your dispatchers show up on Monday and there are 18 10+ maintenance jobs on the board, they’re going to have to assign them to lower-performing technicians. Then, on Tuesday, there may be only six 10+ maintenance jobs, and now your best technicians are being underutilized. This is an absolute disaster for your profits, because converting on replacement opportunities is the key to a profitable HVAC business.

Some companies solve this by separately keeping track of the number of 10+ and under 10 calls booked for each day. This is certainly a step in the right direction, but it’s a small one.

The true power of scheduling-for-profit comes from understanding how maintenance and demand interact. Demand rates in HVAC are driven heavily by weather, which we can, at least to some extent, predict. Scheduling maintenance jobs–especially replacement opportunities–on days with lots of demand calls is lighting money on fire, because you will have to start assigning high opportunity jobs to lower performing techs. Similarly, failing to schedule 10+ maintenance jobs on low-demand days leaves your best technicians–who are your most valuable asset–underutilized. Using weather forecasts to decide when to schedule your maintenance calls is an incredibly powerful tool for maximizing right-tech-right-job matching.

Finally, there’s routing efficiency. Consider this simple experiment: Choose four addresses randomly from your territory and find the shortest route that visits all of them. Now, choose forty addresses from your territory and put them into ten groups of four so that the total distance traveled is minimized. We’ve run this experiment, and the results are clear: optimizing across 10 days reduces driving by 60% compared to optimizing in a single day, regardless of the number of technicians at your company. And in reality, maintenance calls can often be scheduled for much more than 10 days in the future, allowing even further optimization. Many technicians spend three hours per day driving; reducing that by 60% adds an extra 108 minutes to their day, allowing them to complete an entire extra job.

The problem is, CSRs can’t look at hundreds of shifts at once and evaluate all of these factors while providing a good customer experience. That’s why we automate all of these calculations with Probook and show your CSRs the most profitable dates for a job directly on your FSM’s call screen. With Probook, your CSRs can focus all their attention on providing a good customer experience while we take care of maximizing efficiency for your business.

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