For field service organizations, summertime can mean busy schedules and packed work order queues. And there could be even more work to go around this summer. The latest economic numbers suggest growth, with strong rebounds in manufacturing and other service industries. Here’s a look at what the economic climate portends for service firms, and how managers can keep technicians motivated and productive during the dog days of summer: 

Despite Dip, Economy Poised for Rebound

The U.S. economy shrank last quarter for the first time since 2011, according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce report. But there’s good news on the horizon for service organizations. Experts predict four percent economic growth this quarter, which ends in June, with strong growth in manufacturing and other industries. That’s a welcome change for service organizations that struggled at the beginning of the year.

Read more at Reuters

GPS Tracking a Boon to Vending Industry

Field service managers across industries are investing in technology to stay competitive. In the vending industry, the technology push has led to high-tech machines that connect to the Internet to deliver a personalized customer experience. The inventory inside the machines is also getting more advanced. In addition to Cokes, chips and cookies, people can now purchase everything from electronics to power tools.

The latest area for technology innovation involves the fleets themselves that transport the inventory and machines. Transportation is one of the biggest expenses in the vending industry, and it’s critical to limit those costs given high gas prices and stiff competition. GPS fleet tracking is one answer, according to Daniel Valentine, product marketing manager at fleet management provider NexTraq. Valentine says vending owners can use GPS tracking to turn their operations into well-oiled machines. He identifies several benefits, including improved scheduling, higher customer loyalty and lower costs.

Read more at The Vending Times

How ‘Smart’ Highways Could Benefit Service Fleets

There are big changes ahead for fleet managers: self-driving cars, electric vehicles and mobile devices that sync with a vehicle’s entertainment system. But the pavement is due for a facelift, too. Entrepreneurs and scientists are working on innovations that will make roadways safer and more responsive to drivers. Consider a future in which streetlights automatically turn on when they sense traffic, highways that can report a traffic jam, paint that alerts drivers when conditions are slick or icy and roads that charge an electric vehicle’s batteries.

The safety and efficiency improvements for fleets aren’t hard to imagine when (or if) these technologies become widespread on American highways and byways.

Read more at The Connective 2.0

Beat the Summertime Slump

For service technicians, summer can mean long hours on-site or in the sun, counting the days until that much-deserved vacation. With a little effort, however, office-bound managers can minimize summer dips in productivity. Zeynep Ilgaz, founder of drug manufacturing company Confirm BioSciences, offers several tips to keep employees happy and engaged during the summer months:

  • Give ’em a break: “People are ready for a break after the winter. The warm weather and long days enable people to be outdoors, get their minds off work and replenish themselves,” says Ilgaz. “Parents want to use that time to connect as a family.”
  • Offer perks: Managers can offer perks such as team barbeques, or raffles for time off and cash bonuses, to boost teamwork and to motivate employees. “Bring the fun of summer into the workplace so people can enjoy it even when they’re not on vacation,” says Ilgaz.

Read more at Entrepreneur

[Images via Can Stock Photo]