With gas prices hovering at $4 per gallon nationwide, field service fleets are looking for ways to keep fuel costs under control. Passing rising gas prices on in the form of higher prices to customers may seem like an obvious solution for field service teams. However, that tactic certainly won’t win them any fans among consumers, whose spending habits may be affected by rising gas prices as well. A greener, more proactive approach is preferable — combining a little common sense with a reliable GPS can save money without affecting customers.

Everyone in the field service industry is suffering from gas woes. Luckily, they’re probably already equipped with the tools to ease some of that pain at the pump. Arming fleets with mobile solutions should be every field service manager’s top priority as they work to chip away at rising fuel costs and associated overhead. Techs need to put down their clipboards and cast aside the old-fashioned mentality of reporting to a home office. Field service, by nature, is a highly mobile industry. Managers must upgrade the tools of their trade to stay in the game.

If you’ve got GPS, use it! Most smartphones come with some form of GPS, an invaluable tool that shouldn’t be underestimated. Service vans aren’t exactly known for fuel efficiency, so a wrong turn can mean several dollars worth of wasted gas, not to mention time. “Better yet, buy a solution that allows you to provide your drivers with the most efficient driving route based on where they need to go throughout the day,” suggests FieldSync Mobile Solutions blog.

Skip the office and head straight to the job. Unless inventory needs to be restocked, technicians should have everything they need to complete their rounds the moment they walk out their front doors. If it makes sense and saves money for your fleet, let your techs take their service vans home with them, advises The Service Coach. Reduce unnecessary wear and tear by allowing techs to put their mobile phones to work. Rather than touching base in person, check in over the phone and send them directly to the next job.

Count on complications. It’s a happy day when everything goes according to plan, but those days are typically few and far between. Again, all it takes is a phone call to adjust your techs’ schedules when a traffic jam or a job that runs late throws off the schedule. All a tech needs is the basic details of a work order to fill in for a delayed colleague. A simple email or text will suffice, but field service technology can offer a more thorough platform for storing this info. No need to waste a trip to the office when the job details can be transmitted with the click of a button.

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ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.