Like many businesses that send workers into the field, pool service companies face a frustrating challenge. It’s difficult to have visibility into workers’ actual activities and needs when managers can’t be around to observe.
How do you know your employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing when you’re not there? How do you know whether employees have everything they need if you can’t see how they are performing their jobs?
You might just be having the occasional cellphone or text contact, getting incomplete, self-reported, unverifiable information about your employees’ location and work results. That’s not an ideal situation for you, your customers — or your employees.
In pool service, the challenge is steeper, while the stakes are higher. Many of the workers companies hire are seasonal and young. They don’t necessarily expect to rise up the corporate ladder. And they may not always possess the maturity and professionalism to work well independently.
Yet these employees are also critical to the health of your business. They represent your company to the public and to your customers. More importantly, they protect the safety of people who swim in your pools.
That’s why it’s vital to have a carefully considered protocol for managing remote workers. Your most important tool is open, frequent communication. But you’ll be wise to boost frequent communication with tech solutions that make life a little easier for field-service businesses, especially pool management companies.
Here are some tips for managing your pool service employees:
- Measure. You’ve probably heard this: You can’t improve what you don’t measure. So make sure your service technicians and other workers know what’s important to you, and how you’ll measure their success.
Whether it’s service calls per day, number of complaints and compliments lodged, the quality and depth of reporting, or some other set of metrics, be sure that staff know exactly what you’re looking at — and what you’re seeing.
- Communicate — often and openly. Set up regular times to talk with staff, and keep those appointments. Consider using an app like Skype, which makes video calls and instant messaging easy.
Go over those metrics with them during these discussions, of course, but be sure to hear them out, too. Your mobile employees are your best source for what’s going on at your different sites. You won’t have insight into that, or to what your workers’ needs are, if you’re doing all the talking.
- Focus on deliverables whenever possible. Because you can’t see what your employees are doing, it’s best to focus, when possible, on what your staff has done. If you’ve set a standard for your service technicians, such as the number of jobs performed per day, then focus more on that more than, say, the numbers of hours they logged on a timesheet. (You can still use a timesheet to help inform whether you’ve set the right standard.)
Of course, you can see how tricky oversight becomes with traditional paper reporting. When those timesheets, repair reports, job estimates, incident reports, and other documents are coming in on paper, there’s an inevitable delay — often lasting weeks — between when the documentation comes in and when you can collect, analyze, and respond to the data.
To simplify the process and save time, many pool service operators are turning to technology. For example, they’re using mobile forms like those offered by GoCanvas, which:
- Make it easier for employees to complete and submit forms. Say adios to bad handwriting, incomplete fields, or documents that get lost or wet. As soon as your employees complete the form on their phone or tablet, you can access it.
- Spend less time creating reports. Because your forms are now digital, you can easily access large amounts of information on, say, how many pools Technician A serviced today, this week, or this month, and compare that to technicians B through Z. Accurate and updated information will help inform the standards you set for employees and serve as the basis of your conversations with them.
- Keep track of employees via geolocation. Each mobile form is automatically stamped with the date, time, and location (try that with paper forms). Combine that with the real-time location information you get from an app like Glympse, and you get a complete picture of what your staff was doing when and where throughout the day.
So how can you get started? A simple way to start is to download the GoCanvas app to your own phone or tablet. Then sign up for a free trial to start using pool service-related apps like this Agreement Form, this Call Report, or any of a bevy of others made for pool businesses in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere.
In pool service, you can’t afford not to manage your on-site employees successfully. Safety and your company’s reputation depend on it.