After several months of being stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns, many Australians have set their sights on home improvement. In fact, wait times are becoming much longer as renovation and construction services in New South Wales surge in demand. However, this sudden influx of work orders poses challenges for different industries. Supply chains are struggling to cope with demand, negatively impacting material delivery and pricing.
This disruption also affects trade services, delaying operations and causing a backlog to build up. If you’re one of these trades businesses, here are a few steps you can take to reduce the work backlog.
Prioritise work orders
A big mistake companies make is organising work orders on a first-come, first-serve basis. The problem with this is that different jobs have varying deadlines and levels of importance. Instead, what you should do is identify and address your most urgent tasks first. For example, renovation and maintenance jobs that have a short and strict deadline should take top priority. If you have several equally important and urgent tasks, focus on the ones you can do quickly and at the least cost. Doing so gets more tasks off your plate sooner and prevents clients from waiting longer than they have to.
Manage client expectations
Certain work orders are bound to get pushed back when you have a full backlog. As such, you need to manage client expectations so they don’t suddenly cancel their work orders. The best way to do this is to be upfront and honest about project details and timelines. Dedicated client portals are great tools for engaging customers throughout the entire project. With these portals, you can give clients comprehensive updates on material orders, schedules, job progress, and even technician ETAs. More often than not, clients will appreciate this level of transparency and be more understanding when services are delayed due to backlog issues.
Prepare project templates
Project templates layout all the stages of jobs you do regularly from start to finish. They cover work orders for sourcing the right materials and equipment, conducting site surveys, and executing construction activities. Your templates can also establish default timelines, budgets, and schedules for standard jobs, which can be customised for specific job requirements. These features expedite the planning phase, so you can quickly mobilise your team and whittle down your backlog.
Improve job schedules
While it’s tempting to overschedule to get through your backlog, it can actually have a detrimental effect on your team. Packed schedules can cause stress, increase the risk of injury, and lead to rushed, sloppy work. In contrast, a good schedule finds the right balance between maximising your team’s time and well-being.
Using a structured and automated scheduling system is key to achieving this balance. With automated scheduling, work orders can be assigned based on qualifications, availability, and location parameters. This way, you can prevent projects from falling behind due to late arrivals, scheduling conflicts, and shoddy workmanship. You can even factor in workload preferences into your scheduling system so technicians aren’t constantly being rushed along tasks on the backlog.
Hire more workers
Bringing in extra hands can significantly lighten the load when dealing with high volumes of work. That’s why you should coordinate with your HR team about recruiting more seasonal workers and subcontractors. Leveraging project-based hires helps you manage your backlog without being tied down by a large permanent workforce.
To ramp up hiring, post targeted job descriptions on established recruitment websites like SEEK and hipages. You can also widen your pool of candidates by setting up apprenticeship programmes and asking current workers for referrals.
Get jobs done right the first time
Working correctly and efficiently is a surefire method of reducing delays and backlogs. With job checklists, you can outline all the tasks field technicians are required to do to meet project deliverables. These checklists can cover everything from a methodology for site inspections to safe work procedures. You should also register your team on subcontractor management portals. These portals allow you to communicate with subcontractors and seasonal workers about shift assignments, job specifications, on-site incidents, and more.
Maintain a healthy cash flow
Managing your cash flow wisely is essential during seasons when you’re handling multiple projects at once. This involves monitoring your expenses to avoid budget overruns that may bleed into future projects and speeding up payments with digitised invoicing. Maintaining a healthy cash flow also means you need to stop undercutting prices to win more jobs. All that this strategy will do is increase costs in the short term and add to your already full backlog.
When you’re dealing with a massive backlog of work, use WorkBuddy. As a leading job management system, WorkBuddy provides the features you need to stay organised and on top of your projects. From project templates and checklists to automated scheduling and invoicing, WorkBuddy has it all. Book a demo today to learn more!