Last month I discussed ways to increase dispatch productivity. This time I'll focus on ways to increase productivity in other office functions.

If the office runs smoothly, the likelihood is that the field will run more smoothly - at least as it relates to getting parts, getting invoices sent, orders, etc. You have to give the office personnel the tools that they need to do their jobs right. You make sure that the field personnel have the proper tools to do their jobs. The office needs proper tools too. Here are some tools to help improve office productivity:

1. People who spend their day on the telephone need headsets. They are much more efficient (i.e. they can use two hands if necessary to do their work) than holding the telephone or putting it between a shoulder and an ear. You'll have a lot less stress on people's backs, necks, etc. when a headset is used.

2. Make sure the office personnel have good chairs and their computers (if they use them) are at the right height. This eliminates eye strain, back problems, etc.

3. Give the office people the space they need to properly do their jobs. This means the ability to concentrate without being interrupted. I realize that the first priority of people answering the telephone is the telephone. However, if you require thee employees to do other tasks, then there may be times they need to concentrate on them. In these cases you have to have back up - other people to answer the telephone while they get their work done.

4. Review all of the tasks that you are doing manually and see whether they are duplicated or can be computerized. In addition, I've seen offices with two different computer systems and information from one must manually be put into the other. This takes time. Examine how much time it takes and see whether it would be more efficient to have one computer system. Do a cost benefit analysis of one computer vs. two. The transition takes time and is often a hair-raising experience. Usually after the system has been in place for a while it becomes easier and less time consuming.

5. Make sure the office personnel get a break. A 30-minute lunch is essential to get away from their desk and clean their heads out. This reduces stress and helps them concentrate on the work that needs to be done.

6. Make sure that all payables and receivables are up to date each week. This saves time at the end of the month and you can be sure that the information that you are getting on your final statements is accurate. Technicians should not keep service tickets in their trucks for months. All packing slips should be turned in with the paperwork. All materials lists should be turned in as the materials are used.

During the past several months I have written about ways to improve productivity. Hopefully I have given you ideas to use which can help you streamline operations and increase profitability.

Copyright, 2000, Ruth King. All rights reserved.

Ruth King's American Contractors Exchange

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Norcross, GA 30093


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