Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared on Field Technologies Online and is adapted here with permission. Here, Sarah Nicastro speaks with Mark Kragenbring, field service operations manager at Westmor Industries, about using metrics to motivate technicians and improve performance.

Mark Kragenbring Westmor Industries

Mark Kragenbring

Westmor Industries is North America’s largest fueling equipment and services provider. The company has more than 500 employees and provides products used to store, transport and dispense petroleum, propane and other liquids and gasses from pipeline to pump. Westmor also provides its customers with aftermarket support such as parts sales, product repair, infrastructure installation and in-field services.

I met Mark Kragenbring, Westmor’s field service operations manager, at ServiceMax’s Maximize conference in June in San Francisco. Westmor utilizes the ServiceMax field service solution and was speaking at the conference specifically about how the company is using KPIs to measure and maximize field technicians’ performance — and how it takes the insight its field service solution provides and really puts it to work.

Why is it so important for field service leaders to use KPIs?

Kragenbring: At Westmor, we use field service KPIs for two main reasons. First, KPIs provide important visibility to our management team. They allow our managers to gauge production at a glance and give them the ability to quickly address any negative indicators. The information helps us know instantly if we’re on the right or wrong track — day by day, week by week. If our first-time fix rate is off for the week, we can look at it right then to determine why and what we need to do to address that problem rather than letting it snowball.

Second, the use of KPIs creates accountability and competition among the field technicians, which encourages them to be more productive. One of the challenges with our service techs is that they are all remote. They visit the office only once, maybe twice per year. Creating accountability can be challenging due to that lack of in-person interaction and connection. Rather than depending on their own motivation for productivity, using KPIs to illustrate performance of all technicians allows each of them to see how they are comparing with one another. This facilitates a healthy sense of competition.

What are the top field service performance metrics your team tracks?

Our top three KPIs are first-time fix rate, technician productivity, and days to invoice. Here’s why each of these is so important to Westmor.

First-Time Fix: If we have to return to a site to fix a problem, our customers are reluctant to pay for the second trip. Typically the customer will pay for any additional parts and labor required on the return trip but will never pay for the additional trip charge. Not getting paid for return trips had a large impact on our profit margins for time and material jobs, and we’ve made a deliberate effort to limit our return trips by tracking first-time fixes. Making this indicator visible to our technicians creates competition and the desire to limit return trips as well as improve margins.

Rather than depending on their own motivation for productivity, using KPIs to illustrate performance of all technicians allows each of them to see how they are comparing with one another.

Technician Productivity: Our profitability is directly related to our field team’s productivity in the field. By creating visibility into productivity for the entire staff, it puts positive pressure on the technicians in the field to perform at a high level and increase their time spent punched into direct labor work orders.

Days to Invoice: In the past, our billing department was a bottleneck and created an opportunity for lost revenue in that our customers were billed 60 days or more after the work was performed. In some instances, the item we fixed had broken again and had been fixed a second time before we even billed for the first repair, resulting in customers not paying for work performed. The root cause for the lag in time from work order completed to invoicing was a lack of complete information (including hours worked, diagnostics, parts used) as all record keeping was on paper or on a white board. Pieces of paper would literally get walked across the parking lot over to the parts department to get processed and then walked back over to billing to get invoiced. Saleforce and ServiceMax and the ability to process work orders in real time, we have cut our work order completed to invoice turn time from 60 days or more to fewer than five business days.

Read the full story at Field Technologies Online