Why your business card isn’t big enough to list every additional job title that contributes to successfully managing a field service operation
Talent and retention are among the most important challenges businesses face today, and those challenges are felt even more acutely in the industries traditionally viewed as blue collar in nature. Field service companies, for example, struggle to find talented service technicians to repair, maintain, inspect or install their customers’ equipment.
It’s not only technical talent that is difficult to source, however. Just as challenging can be finding management staff who can effectively recruit, organize and lead a service team through the daily ups, downs and frenetic unpredictability of field service work. The hats of a Service Manager range from analytical, data-crunching skills and technical savvy to ‘soft skills’ like communication, leadership and teamwork.
Though they won’t show up on many Service Manager job descriptions, here are 9 hats that nevertheless come into play often while on the job:
As the Service Manager, you will be the Captain of the ship’s crew, charged with instilling confidence, and getting everyone rowing in the same direction. From a day to day operational perspective, it will be your battle-tested skills that will need to chart the course and weather the storms.
When considering the impressive scale and scope of the people, their technical skills, vehicles, equipment and parts that go into a successful service operation, all of which need continuous assignment and direction, it’s clear that orchestrating the schedule of those moving parts is among the Service Manager’s most important duties. There are few better ways to strike the right note with field service customers than to provide them with an accurate ETA appointment schedule window, an on-time technician visit and a first-visit resolution.
Training, like teaching, is a tried and true means of elevating technician team performance, morale, retention and winning the confidence of customers. Donning the professorial sweater to train team members is an ongoing task, and unlike the University Professor, probably won’t include the benefit of a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) to do the heavy lifting.
- Motivational Speaker:
Who will get the team energized, motivated and enthusiastically working to accomplish your service organization’s mission? While motivating the team as a whole with eloquent speeches and screeds is part of the job, so too are the individual, personal conversations with technicians, salespeople and other team members that need a boost.
- Talent Agent:
Whether it’s vocational schools, job boards, apprenticeship programs or university recruiting, the Service Manager is likely to own (or at least co-own) both the recruiting and retention activities for the service technician workforce. Great technicians continue to be in short supply, so attracting talent will consume a tremendous amount of your time and energy.
Fielding a team that’s competitive, works well together and makes the most of its talents are just some of the many coaching duties of the Service Manager. You’ll also be responsible for crafting a game plan, knowing when the game plan needs adjustment, and keeping your cool when the other team wins.
- Silo Breaker:
Achieving a cohesive view of how the service business is really performing, with enough supporting detail to create concrete recommendations for improvements that can increase revenue, and control or reduce costs, isn’t always possible with often-antiquated, in-place business systems. The Service Manager plays an integral role in turning a growth vision into reality by breaking down the silos of information that exist in disparate software packages, filing cabinets and Excel spreadsheets.
- Tech Support Representative:
If you’ve been effective as a Silo Breaker, your technicians will likely soon be using a mobile field service app to collect work orders from the field. Transitioning from a paper or spreadsheet-based process to a single field service app is a major undertaking, and your technicians will look to you for support from everything to app features to tech support issues.
- Fire Fighter:
As a Service Manager, the customer service “fires” are likely to come early and often, particularly if the service provided applies to mission-critical equipment that cannot be down. Not only that, but there will probably multiple fires burning at the same time. The important decisions about which ‘fire’ to fight first, how and with whom, will in large part be up to the Service Manager.
- Futurist: Service Managers that can consistently wear each of the afore-mentioned hats, all of which are now required to run a tight field service ship, can look beyond the short term and begin to paint the picture and set the stage for the future of the organization.
Conclusion: In Appreciation of the Service Manager
The modern Service Manager’s job incorporates many roles that might not make their way into the official job description, but are nonetheless an integral part of succeeding. Though Service Managers are often under-appreciated, the expansive responsibilities, pace, high pressure and variety of their work provide a challenge that can be professionally rewarding. With the bird’s eye view of field service management that our software affords us, we hope that we’ve helped you gain a greater appreciation for the Service Manager.