Thinking about subcontracting? Let’s talk about how you can motivate your external field technicians so they want to work for you again and again.
In this article, you’ll find 5 best practices for hiring and managing subcontractors, along with the benefits of using field service software when managing your field jobs and technicians.
After many meetings and tough negotiations, you’ve finally landed the huge field project that you were working so hard for. Congratulations!
However, once the initial euphoria has passed, you realise that this job might take more resources than you previously thought. Your current team of field technicians is simply too small to work on this project and take care of all the other jobs in the pipeline.
It’s time for subcontracting.
Hiring independent contractors allows your business to
- benefit from a broader range of skills (important for out-of-the-ordinary field jobs that require special skills)
- reach a completely new geographical location (a huge benefit for getting business in more remote areas)
- save costs if you’re operating in a fluctuating industry.
However, subcontracting for field service delivery also poses challenges:
- Finding the right subcontractors, to begin with, can be a difficult and time-consuming task
- Ensuring subcontractors comply with the company’s regulatory and standards requirements
- Defining the scope of work, and the expectation for completion
- Maintaining accountability for individual tasks
- Managing documents and files
- Maintaining workplace happiness and morale.
That being said, many of these challenges are not necessary and can be overcome with the right processes, use of tools/software and with proper onboarding of the outsourced field team.
Let’s tackle these challenges with these 5 best practices for subcontracting in the field service industry:
1. Make technology your ally - use field service software
Managing a field service business without the use of software is hard at the best of times. But when it comes to subcontracting, it becomes a must.
The main benefit is that it acts as a single source of truth, minimising confusion with the subcontractors. For instance, with Emvisage Field Workflow Software you can give 3rd party field technicians temporary access, and assign jobs and individual tasks. This way accountability is ensured, even for tasks that may not be listed out in the contract.
It also ensures that contractors fill in forms of warranty and other regulatory purposes, just the way you need them to. All the documents are managed in one place and it helps you with record-keeping and making sure that everyone is paid accurately. Another plus: No lost documents, as technicians can simply upload photos and other paperwork with their smartphones.
2. Hire the right people - use networks to find subcontractors
Your people, your team in the office, and your technicians in the field are your most important assets. You know that already, that’s why I’m sure you invest a lot of time and effort when hiring new team members.
But do you choose your contractors with the same caution and care, as your employees?
When you find the right partner for subcontracting you can avoid limitations such as incorrect skillset and increase performance at the job.
Talk to your peers in the industry and ask about recommendations and use industry listing websites to find the right subcontractor for your needs. Again, make technology work for you!
3. Create a team spirit - make the contractors part of your team
Contractors prefer to work for employers that make them feel part of the team. It’s no surprise. Nobody wants to be seen as a simple “resource”, we humans long to be part of something, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
Contractors are also more likely to return to workplaces that they were happy to be working for, reducing churn of experienced workers, means skills and training aren’t lost. This allows you to make more accurate plans when it comes to new jobs and outsourcing technicians.
How can you make them feel part of the team?
You could organise informal drinks with your in-house and outsourced team and let them get to know each other outside the job site. Let them know what’s going on in your company and show them they are a valuable addition to the overall business success.
In a nutshell, let them experience what it feels like to be a team member of your company.
Tip: Let your contractors wear your company’s uniform/shirts. This gives you two benefits at once: your field technician feels that he’s part of the team, while your customer won’t notice that you’re using subcontractors to complete the job.
4. Keep your communication clear - for instructions and praise alike
Communication is one of the most important parts of teamwork, regardless if you work with in-house staff or contractors. If you want the field job to be done fast and smoothly, keep the communication open.
Clearly defining the scope of work for the project at hand, and explaining the subcontractor’s part of the job helps ensure that the work is done correctly the first time around.
Schedule regular calls and check-ups to make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them and what the next steps are. This helps everyone, your back-office staff included, understand what their liabilities and responsibilities are.
Regular and consistent communication makes it easier to give feedback too. Let your 3rd party field technicians know when they’ve done a good job. Honest appreciation makes them want to work with you again.
On that note, when you express dissatisfaction in a constructive manner you can ensure that there are no hard feelings, but the necessary improvements are still possible.
5. Avoid excessive micromanagement - let them work in their own ways
One of the many reasons why your contractor entered the freelance market is that they can be their own boss and remain their autonomy and freedom to a certain extent.
Many have an entrepreneurial mindset and don’t like being excessively told what to, and how to do the job. It’s better to manage them through specific outcomes, rather than giving explicit instructions for every little task. This will save you and your team time and makes your contractor feel like he’s a trusted member of the organisation.
Summary: 5 best practices when working with subcontractors in field service
- Use field service software, such as Emvisage, to easily manage your field teams and digitise paperwork.
- Talk to your peers in the industry and ask about recommendations and use industry listing websites to find the right subcontractor for your needs.
- Reduce churn of experienced workers by making them feel part of the team and genuinely caring about their work satisfaction.
- Schedule regular calls and check-ups to make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them and what the next steps are. This helps everyone, your back-office staff included, understand what their liabilities and responsibilities are.
- It’s better to manage contractors through specific outcomes, rather than giving explicit instructions for every little task.
We hope these tips and best practices help you hiring and working with subcontracted field technicians. If you’ve got any more questions about organising field teams and optimising workflows, simply drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.